How You Can Dare Greatly And Help Your Autistic Child Emerge Strongly
Those were the days when I would dream of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
We believed Baba visited in our dreams at his will.
Such dreams were laden with important messages.
I can clearly see the scene, as if it happened yesterday. I carried a young Mohit in my arms and begged Baba to make him well.
Baba applied kumkum (auspicious, red turmeric powder) to my forehead. Then he held my hand and led me to a pond.
He voiced the fatal words, “throw him.”
I stood there flabbergasted. “Throw him?” I asked.
“Yes. Throw him.”
Sensing my apprehension, he repeated, “throw him.”
And I did.
It took me 2 decades to figure out what it meant to ‘throw him.’
1. Throw your attachment
Attachment takes on many hues. Attachment to people, results and situations- is one of my weaknesses.
Mothers are naturally attached to their children. It’s a law of life.
But we cannot control results. We cannot make our children the way we want them to be.
They have their own destiny. Our job is to guide and support. They will emerge to live up to their potential.
Both my children have hammered this truth in my life.
Kahlil Gibran said it decades ago.
2. Throw old belief systems
The old belief system says autistic individuals cannot have a good quality of life.
Fear surrounds us as we think of the bleakly painted future of our children.
The pediatrician’s words still echo in my ears. “The autism prognosis is not good. He will get worse as he grows older.”
This pronouncement was made 26 years ago.
Those words haunted me. And unfortunately, I bought into the belief.
It took years to hush the negative voices in my head.
After years of struggle, I decided to throw away the old belief system.
Autistic individuals can have a good quality of life.
Yes, they can become independent and make their own decisions. They can enjoy meaningful friendships and relationships. They can be successfully employed or engage in assisted employment.
3. Throw your prejudices
Autistic individuals are different but not less.
Even if they don’t speak, they are not less in any way.
Please drop the judgments and assumptions.
“I don’t need ‘fixing’ or a cure. I need accommodations, patience and for people to let me be me. Isn’t that what you want? Autism is complicated to you, but simple to us. It’s a way. A different way of BEing. One that cannot be compared to yours. So stop basing your observations on what you know.
Trying to navigate in this world is hard. So help us. Protect us. And we’ll help you see things in a whole different light. One you are not aware is there.”
– Lexington Sherbin
4. Throw the label
The label helps us understand what our children go through.
But it should not come in the way of accessing quality services or limit them in any way.
How many parents and professionals give up on the child once they hear the child has autism?
Suddenly the expectations drop.
Continue to believe your child will grow and emerge strong.
Don’t let the label of autism become a self fulfilling prophecy
5. Throw your fears
You are capable of taking care of your child.
Your child will grow and flourish.
Don’t let your eyes deceive you.
Train them to look at your child with wisdom and compassion instead.
Face the situation head on. I know it’s difficult. Fighting fear is an ongoing battle.
Take that courageous step. Step out of your comfort zone.
Do the thing that frightens you.
For example: You avoid stepping out with your child to the supermarket because you fear your child will have a meltdown or behave badly.
Your fears are not unfounded. It may have happened in the past.
But can you challenge your fear today?
Step out of the fear zone and do a quick round of the supermarket.
Buy just one thing- a quick in and out.
Build on this one step at a time.
Go back tomorrow and spend a couple minutes more.
Let me know how it goes.
I speak from a place of encouragement, not a pedestal.
Working on ‘throwing your child’ is a lesson of a lifetime.
It’s an ongoing process, like peeling the layers of an onion.
I have made some progress over the years.
I still have miles to go before I sleep.
A passage from Herbie Hancock’s book titled, Possibilities, hit home big time.
Herbie is an influential and beloved jazz musician.
The memoir began with a powerful story about a 20 something Herbie playing in the legendary Miles Davis band.
As they built up towards a thrilling finale solo with Miles, Herbie played an awfully horrible note.
He was horrified and embarrassed. He had not idea where the note came from.
Miles glanced at him and winked. Smiling, he took it ahead from there.
He transformed the wrong note into the right one.
Unleashing a scintillating solo, which drove the crowd crazy!
Herbie says, “It took me years to understand what happened in that moment on stage. As soon as I played the chord, I judged it. In my mind it was the “wrong” chord. But Miles never judged it- he just heard it as a sound that had happened, and he instantly took it on as a challenge, a question of How can I integrate that chord into everything else we’re doing? And because he didn’t judge it, he was able to run with it, to turn it into something amazing. Miles trusted the band, and he trusted himself, and he always encouraged us to do the same.”
When we finally throw our attachments and fears, discard old labels and belief systems, release all prejudices- we will become free from judgments – like the great Miles Davis.
We will create beauty and majesty in the lives of our children.
They will flourish and blossom. Amazing stuff will happen.
Are you ready to join me on this journey, Dear Friend?