Saturday, March 29, 2014

Autism Answer: What Are You Used To?

When my husband and I were dating, he was consistently amazed at how accepting my mom and dad were. Whenever he'd dated a white woman before, the parents were horribly cruel. He was used to them blaming him for every hardship and never inviting him into their homes. So, by simply seeing him as an equal my parents seemed impressive and brave. 

When my brother would be greeted with happy smiles by my sons rather than, "What do you want, Uncle Rye?" his entire mood shifted to one of comfort and returned kindness. Because my brother had a habit of coming over only when he wanted something he'd gotten used to people steeling themselves for a request, and being less than excited about seeing him. But when we remembered not to assume and instead just be inviting, he'd often forget what it was he wanted in the first place. Because in truth whatever it was usually had everything to do with trying to feel happy, and our own joy had given him that.

When I wake my sons up on school days and they get ready for the day without trying to stay home, or trying to talk themselves out of trying to stay home, but instead just dress and brush and deodorize while chatting, I am proud of them. I'm used to Shay hiding under the covers and grumbling about needing just one more hour of sleep, and Declyn talking to me about why he should stay home and then talking to himself about why he shouldn't talk to me about staying home. So the days that my boys are comfortable about school in the mornings, I'm impressed and giddy!

When I go to the store with my brother, Dar, and his flicking fingers and random happy jumps and claps have nearby shoppers pulling their children closer and offering sad nods my way, I'm uncomfortable and confused. I'm used to beautiful smiles and waves from strangers, so when the world behaves with fear or pity, it stands out.

But guess what? I used to be used to shoppers acting uncomfortable and judgmental. So this new normal is fabulous! And it was very on purpose. My mom taught us to be open and comfortable and introduce ourselves to folks who were interested. She taught us to be an example of how to be so that the shoppers could take cues from us.

Because when the world behaves with acceptance and kindness, we are encouraged to go out more often, and since I am in the world I may as well start with me! 

Keep an eye on what you're used to, and feel free to take steps to change it when necessary. My husband has slowly gotten used to being accepted, and now expects it. My brother comes over more often just to hang out, and is now used to being greeted with happy hellos. My sons used to get up comfortably for school and now they don't, so I'm no longer used to simple and stress free mornings. Noticing this has encouraged me to take steps to discover what's different. Turns out, it's pretty much all about girls and unrequited love. So, I'm helping them through.... best I can!

My point is, take advantage of noticing what you're used to so that you can follow the clues when things are unusual, and you can celebrate when the thing you're used to is something wonderful and intentional! 

This weekend my boys and I will be dancing in the living room, watching movies, hiking with the dogs, and saying "we'll clean up in one hour" a lot. I can be pretty sure of that, because it's what we're used to. And we love it!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)