Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Autism Answer: Vote For What You Want

Author's Note: I wrote most of this post on my Facebook page in 2012. Seems like not much has changed, except perhaps we're deeper in the problem. I find that rather interesting and revealing.  

Okay... don't run away! I know you don't want another political post. I'm not going to highlight politics so much as parenting. The whole voting thing is beyond me, being a Canadian living in TX I'm not invited to the voting party. 

So I'll host my own party, in totally my style! I'm hoping you'll join in the games!

Today people are going to the polls to support those they hope will have a role in government. I think we can all agree that life will not be over if the folks we don't want to win, win. Neither will it become simple and peaceful if the folks we do want to win, win, either. I'm seeing an interesting parenting (autism or not) perspective here. Check this out:

IT'S NOT THE END: When we discover what new laws passed, what party will be the majority, who the presidential candidates will be, and eventually who the president for the following four years will be, yadda, yadda, it is a big deal, but it isn't the end. It may be tempting to get angry or feel desolate. It may be tempting to feel better than or like you've won. I say, don't! I say celebrate if you want, feel bummed if you want, but then keep on expecting and asking for change. PARENTING: When we discover that our kids have autism, we can feel desolate or angry, just as having a child that's terribly talented and well behaved can make us feel better than. Oops! It's okay to take a moment to regroup, or to celebrate our children's skills and abilities, but it's not the end. There will be more to do!

VOTE FOR WHAT YOU WANT: I hear and read lots of talk about voting for the party or candidate that is more likely to win rather than the one you actually support, just so that the party or candidate you don't want will lose. I say, don't! I say, vote for what you want! PARENTING: If you see that your child has an interest in mechanics, and the world tells you that letting him learn with tools or getting your hopes too high is dangerous, that you should maybe buy him a toy car but stick to skills that are going to be easier, don't! Teach safety, follow interests and motivators, learn together. Vote for what you want. 

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Vote for what you want. Often that means taking time to get clarity on what that is. Too often we get caught in a stream of wanting what everyone else around us seems to be wanting, or wanting to fight against the stream. Politics is a justifiably passionate issue, whether we participate or not we are all affected. But when we take the time to know what we really want, rather than automatically wanting what our fellow "team mates" are saying we should want, we ask smarter questions and expect more authentic work from our politicians. PARENTING: Parenting opinions are also passionate, justifiably so. Our children deserve to have grown ups that debate, discuss, and explore parenting with passion and open minds. But even here we get caught up in a stream of wanting what everyone seems to be fighting for. The rights to an education! My child's independence! Manners! A job in the future for my kiddo! Talking! etc. These are all valuable things to want, but why do you want them? I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess it has something to do with loving your child and wanting them to feel valuable and happy. So, focus on that. Vote for that. Be sure you get to the core of what you and your child want, then help your child find, be, and practice the skills and hobbies that get them there. Help your child vote for what she wants! 

THERE ARE MORE OPTIONS: Mainstream media would have you believe that there are only a few options. Only a couple of political party. Pshaw! There's more out there, plenty of other qualified and brilliant options! Don't forget about third parties and independents and, well, maybe even you! PARENTING: Have you noticed how often mainstream therapies and education do more harm than good? Drug the kids to get through a school day? And that's normal? No thanks! There is so much more out there! Neurofeedback, diets, homeschooling, nature, apprenticing, painting, computer games, all kinds of things you can take advantage of to teach and help your loved ones! Be creative and personalize for what works with your beliefs, your child, and your home. There are more options than we can imagine, so go ahead and imagine! Invent, mix and match, have fun!

CAMPAIGN WITH KINDNESS: I may not be able to vote, but I sure can be offended and covered in poop with all the slinging that's been going on around me. And I've noticed that the negativity and fear have pretty much spread like cancer. To the point where kids are crying about it. I say, don't! I say, campaign with kindness! PARENTING: Our kids are challenged. They have pains, pixelated vision, intention tremors, gut issues, speech problems etc. that we could focus on and get upset about or sad about or frightened about. OR we could focus on what's working, the amazing attempts and accomplishments! We can get excited about ways to help solve the problems, rather than focus on the danger of the problems. This alone won't make the challenges go away, and believe me--they're not forgotten. But the shift in attitude makes an amazing difference that's hard to believe!! We are more likely to find solutions, and in the meantime we're wearing a healthier attitude. One that our children will pick up on and hopefully hold onto. To be constantly applauded for our attempts and achievements, to be consistently surrounded by the belief that we can figure this stuff out, is much more motivating than being constantly told what not to do and what's wrong with us, even if told kindly. 

DON'T NOT VOTE: Lot's of people are just sick and tired of the whole system. No matter who's in office, money in politics tends to overwhelm even the fanciest and bravest of leaders. But when so many people fought so hard, losing lives and freedom, for your right to vote, your right to be heard, staying home isn't the best way to say thank-you. So I say, don't! I say, speak up and be heard! For those of us that can't vote that means sharing our thoughts and spending our money with purpose. PARENTING: When my brothers were adopted, autism was so rare hardly anyone had heard of it or had a clue what they were looking at when seeing my brothers' adorably odd (and often dangerous!) habits. All four of my brothers could easily have been institutionalized, and my mom had to fight for Dar not to be. But pioneers like my mom, and many other moms and teachers and therapists before and after her, fought for their rights. Fought (as much as it hurts my heart to say this!) to have my brothers seen as people of value. So when you're told (by others or yourself) that your child will never be able to lead a life of comfort or value, don't give up and not vote! Be heard and make change! It's not always going to be easy. Heck, it's rarely going to be easy, but it's always going to be worth it!!

I just got back from driving my youngest brother to the airport. He's on his way to California where he'll get to see my mom, have a little neurofeedback and a short break from work. Nothing fancy, nothing extraordinary. Except, because my mom voted for him, supported him, campaigned with kindness and never gave up.....
IT IS!!!!

So, in elections and laws and policy, speak up and vote for what you want rather than against what you don't want. And let's do the same in our parenting. When my sons or brothers used to stim, speak abruptly, have a meltdown, or seek sensory fulfillment by pressing lips on heaters or poking a stranger's boobs, it was my mom's innate understanding of helping them find what they could do to help themselves rather than focusing on what people didn't want them to do that gave them the tools they use today. She voted for what she, and they, wanted. Almost always. 

Not only is that why everyone has gone waaaaaaaaaaay beyond what they were "supposed" to be able to do, but it's also why my mom (who is an excellent example of a visionary and a leader) could live her life knowing, confidently, that she consistently lived and voted for what she believed in. 

Vote for what you want and know, with confidence, that you are backing up your beliefs by giving them your energy and your vote! 

Happy voting, at home and at the polls, friends!! 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)