Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Autism Answer: Freedom

I like to think about freedom. The necessity of it, the danger in it, and the challenges it offers.

But mostly, the necessity of it.

For those of us with small children, and for those of us with friends or family who have a disability or dysfunction that makes freedom even more dangerous or challenging, I feel we are still correct in caring about the necessity of freedom. We are also, however, put in a position to explore it more deeply.

If we're raising ourselves and our children with an eye on independence, and I believe most of us are, then we must allow for freedom. The two are, well, dependent on each other. 

Now, let's take a second if we may to chat about "independence" before I lose some of you and before my mom rolls her eyes at my hypocrisy. (She knows me really well and independence is not a thing I appear to value. giggle!) 

It is true, I do not highlight or seek or even see as an important goal an independence that strictly means to live on your own, pay your own bills, make your own meals, get yourself where you need or want to go, or even to dress your own self. These are all things we can strive for in our personal version of independence, but for a few of us some of these are entirely impossible and for many of us one or more of these would merely get in the way of discovering a different more fulfilling type of independence. 

For example, perhaps I want to write and produce my own movies but am so busy trying to pay all my own bills I don't have the creative energy or time. Or, perhaps I am severely autistic and many of these things are so far from my capabilities that I give up and don't seek to discover the places independence can be mine. And, of course, a gazillion possibilities in-between. 

To raise ourselves and our loved ones with an eye on independence means, to me, to seek forward motion, skill acquisition, and personal passions. It means to overcome the fears that inherently accompany trying to learn to do something we badly want to do in order to practice and believe in our ability to do it. 

And here, we meet up with our friend freedom again. 

It is necessary to have the freedom to try. It is dangerous, we can be hurt. It is challenging, we will be inconvenienced by the freedom we allow others. Yet, it is necessary. 

Let's find those places where we are not giving ourselves, or someone we love, the freedom necessary to move forward in the way they desire. Perhaps we're pushing for an independence that interrupts a possibility - for reasons of fear, an interest in fitting in, or trying to impress folks we rarely see but will be visiting over the holidays - or maybe we're merely not allowing enough freedom because we are afraid of the hurt (physical and/or emotional) that is most likely to happen when we're free to try new things. Things we're not yet good at. Particularly, things we care about being good at. 

Let's find those places and make changes. Allow for freedom. It's okay, I think, if we give ourselves limits but let's not limit ourselves. Let's not say no, or stop, when we're in unfamiliar territory only because it is unfamiliar. Or only because people are staring and pointing and judging our choices.

Freedom is dangerous. It is challenging. It is vulnerable. It is also exciting, invigorating, filled with possibilities and wonder. 

It is also necessary. 

I invite us to navigate it well and with good intentions. 

Feel free to disagree with me. ;D

But for folks who feel similarly, who feel that giving ourselves and our  loved one's freedom - despite the dangers and challenges - is a necessary goal, here's a gift for you.

My mom (Dr. Lynette Louise, aka "The Brain Broad", international brain and behavior expert) and my brother, Dar, tried out the GPS SmartSole a few years ago and were excited about the possibilities! Particularly the possibilities offered in the freedom created by the product. 

They were so excited, they partnered up!

Check out this GPS SmartSole video starring them:


Have a look at their website, GPS SmartSole, see if this (or any of the other products they provide) will work for you and your family.

Part of seeking freedom is seeking tools or environments that allow it. 

I hope you have a safe, fun, and free holiday season my friends!!
Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)