So much of what I want to say about Little Star is attitudinal.
Everything lately – when I talk to our volunteers, when we discuss challenging behaviours, when we talk about the progress she has made and even the ones she has yet to make, when coming up with games for the playroom, being with her, and managing expectations of autistic kids (less is more, none even better)… Seems to boil down or lead back to attitude.
As Raun Kaufman would say, ATTITUDE FIRST!!!
No. 1 for me is I LOVE my child the way she is, no matter where she is developmentally. Even if she stays as she is for the rest of her life, I love her the same and always. So I am not here to fix her, I am here to love and accept her. This is the basis of the Son-rise approach. Regardless of all those recovery stories – all true but really just the tip of the iceberg, because SR parents know that all recovery the SR way starts here. This way we are always happy no matter what the outcome. Some stories lead to recovery, some don’t, but it doesn’t matter because we love our kids and appreciate the simple joys of being with them every day. And that simple joy and love sets us free… For the parents, to love without expectation, and for the child, to receive love without an emotional price tag. It is liberating.
To think about Bears and Samahria and how Son-rise started, just them in a quiet bathroom and their severely autistic son. All they wondered, all Samahria wondered, was how do I show my son that I love him in a way that he can understand? That was all. And that was the birth of it all.
No. 2 is LET GO. This is not anything definite in the books or manuals comes up again and again in different ways. Let go of guilt and anxiety. Let go of expectations. Let go of those “bad moments” your child will inadvertently have, they do not define how she will be the rest of the day or for all time. Let go of seeing them as bad moments, but see them as your child doing what she needs to do to overcome sensory overload, discomfort or whatever challenges she is facing. Your child can recover from a tantrum in a heartbeat and so can you. Let go of expecting life and your child to be a certain way and embrace what it is today.
No. 3 is HOLD ON. I know it’s kind of paradoxical but holding on is not the opposite of letting go. We live in a world that forces binaries on us but a binary is just a social construct. It is only true if you believe it to be true. Hold on and believe in yourself and in your child. Hold on to the belief that my child is both fragile and resilient and so am I, and we are all capable of being amazing and achieving the impossible! This is not expectation mind you, this is knowing that we can both do the best we can and that is perfect. We have our developmental goals and we are persistent in hitting them again and again, in all sorts of ways, from all angles, and in the funnest lightest way possible, without expectation so we never get disappointed and we never give up. Personally this is the hardest attitude to cultivate because I want to be careful to not slide in to expectation… Hope without expectation is an interesting attitude to cultivate, to say the least!
With HOPE (no. 4) our interaction and games in the playroom and happy totally following the wants of the child… Even when Little Star plays with us we want her to want to play with us. If the child doesn’t want to play we go back to joining her in a loving and accepting spirit. This way every look, every smile, every interaction is meaningful because she wants to, not just because we ask her to. With hope everything in the playroom is fun, even we are just lying down and hiding under the pillows.
There are probably more attitude stuff but these are the ones on my mind today. Everyday is an adventure, and everyday I learn more about my child and myself. Little Star is a great giver of love and affection and she already embodies all those attitudes without any lessons 😊 as the adult am still playing catch up but having lots of fun in doing so!
Remember… I am exactly who I believe myself to be. It does not matter one iota what others think of me or my child. Attitude is the start of everything. So if we have the attitude, then there is nothing stopping us from being that fun, creative, present, loving and accepting playmate for our child 🎉