We just finished a 4 week training on Communication.
It left me with a deep sense of fulfillment.
Most of all I was touched by the sincerity of the parents who participated.
4 of the 5 participants had children in their teens.
The youngest was only 5 years old.
And this baby of the class stole everyone’s hearts.
Week after week the parents showed up and submitted videos on their children.
Hard working moms (and dads), willing to take advice and change their way of communication for the benefit of their children.
The realisation hit home once again: our autism journey is a marathon and not a sprint.
In the running world, sprinting and marathon races are on opposite ends of the spectrum and require very different skills. While both are challenging and require intense training, asprint focuses on the short term, a marathon focuses on the long run.
I thought of my friend, Sujatha Jain who is marathon runner. I wanted a real life experience from a marathon runner.
She laughed as she commented that she had in fact, written an article on her experience of running a marathon.
Her words stayed with me, “The simple tweak lies in the mindset you bring to the table. If you think you are willing to appreciate the process and the the effort you put in, instead of just your ultimate goal- you become unstoppable on the growth path.
Wise words, indeed.
And words that each parent can apply to their lives.
As I continued to think about how our lives as parents of autistic children relate with marathon runners, the following words flashed in my mind.
Our journeys get tough, there is no denying that. Being prepared is important.
The ability to endure is half the battle won.
Connect with like minded people who sail in the same boat as you.
Trust me, a problem shared is a problem halved.
You build stamina by taking care of yourself first. No, it’s not selfish.
I ask every parent, ‘what do you do for yourself?’
As parents we need to be strong and determined for the sake of our children.
Determination is very important because it enables us to persist in the face of difficulties. It makes us march fearlessly ahead with faith until we achieve our goal. Since life is never smooth, many of us fall off when we come across obstacles. But with determination, we can overcome any type of obstacle.
5. Expecting setbacks
Life is certainly not a bed of roses. Expect the good and the bad. Move along, despite everything.
With our children, we may encounter unexpected twists and turns.
Sometimes there are behavior issues, illness, anxiety.
This is life. And it doesn’t mean we should give up.
6. Optimum utilization of resources
We all have limited resources- time, energy and money.
It’s important to focus on what will benefit your child.
I see many young parents ‘shopping’.
I’m not judging you- I did it too.
On hindsight, I could have avoided a lot of it.
By asking myself this question- Is this truly beneficial for my child, how will It help in the long haul, am I just doing this because I need to do something and I don’t know what.
Keep these questions in mind and do your research.
7. Emerge victorious
Your autistic child deserves a good quality of life. And so do you.
Don’t stop till you get here.
Enjoy beautiful moments with your child. These moments are precious. And this time will not come back again.
It’s a marathon and not a sprint.
To prepare for this marathon, we’ll have to:
Build endurance Work on our stamina Have our purpose in mind Be determined Expect setbacks Utilize our resources judiciously And finally- Emerge victorious
Perhaps all this ties up with what my friend Sujatha mentioned:
If you think you are willing to appreciate the process and the the effort you put in, instead of just your ultimate goal- you become unstoppable on the growth path.
I pray we all become unstoppable.
More than anything else, each of our children/students become unstoppable in their life’s journey.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.