When autism is part of your life, you usually have lots going on. There are medical concerns, different therapies, school-related activities, community activities…the list goes on and on.
Some days you may sit back and wonder what is actually helping your child and what is not. I think all parents want to see their child learning new things, developing knowledge, moving forward, having good behaviours, rather than bad ones, socializing, more conversation – sometimes it feels like its all clumped together.
There are days for me personally when I want things to happen quicker than they do or I want to stop something because I haven’t seen immediate results. Let’s face it, we are all inpatient aren’t we?
I was having a conversation with another parent of a child on the spectrum the other day. Her child is much younger than my son, but nevertheless, autism has brought us together. We were laughing about some of the things that our respective kids have done in the past and just talking about things in general. I realized after our conversation how many gains our son had actually made.
I remember when he was younger and he used to run and climb on absolutely everything in sight. I was in such great physical shape because I had to always keep up with him. Now, I could actually sit down while he does his homework and I can’t believe at how calm and focused he is compared to his younger years.
I must admit that I don’t always recognize the absolute huge “gains” he has made until I actually think about it.
Some of the personal gains he has made is him being responsible for getting ready in the morning or when we go out somewhere. He knows where everything is and he can do all of the tasks and get all of the things that he needs for the day. It wasn’t always like this. We used to have to tell him what to do, we had pictures of what he needed to bring and wear in the morning. In this area, we have come such a long way.
Waiting was such an issue in the past. He had trouble waiting even for short periods of time. Everything had to be instant and he would get very upset if it wasn’t. Today, this is an entirely different story.
Our son used to get really anxious and upset when things in his day changed with or without notice. If something came up in our house and we couldn’t do something or if something was different, he wouldn’t always want to co-operate.
If things at school changed in his day, he wasn’t always able to handle these changes and sometimes negative behaviours would occur. Now he is very adjustable and he listens to reason and is able to cope amazingly.
Up until about three years ago, our son did not like it if I wasn’t around during his “home time.” He was very attached to me and didn’t like me going anywhere without him. He didn’t care if his Dad was home, he just always wanted me to be around. Today, he’s fine with me not being there. He has grown so much in this area. If I am going to be late, I can call or text and let him know that I am on my way. He may not like it, but he’s okay with it.
These as well as many more significant gains have made our family home life so much more manageable and peaceful.
I think it’s always important to look at the gains of our children, whatever they may be. They are different for each individual and it may not always be learning something new, it may just be not doing something disruptive.
If it is a small gain, or a huge gain, make sure you can recognize the gains that have been made with your child. This will keep you grounded and give you the strength to keep going on and pushing for more. Also, be sure to tell your child how great they are doing!
One day, I know we will get to the top of the staircase!