What A Painful Back Spasm Taught Me

Due to a bad muscle spasm, I was laid up in bed for a couple of days.
The pain and discomfort had me mostly immobile.
Even getting out of bed to visit the washroom took incredible strength. It was agonizing, to say the least.

 

In situations like this, reflection comes easily.
I realized how much I took for granted in life.

 

Through all this, my predominant thoughts were with Mohit.
My worries and fears were about his well being.
I was so grateful that Anil was able to be with him and supervise his medications etc.
I realized, once again, the importance of family.
Support from family members, every body working in unity, is of utmost importance.

 

A parallel thought accompanying this was how important it was to work on Mohit’s independence.
He’s an adult now. He pretty much manages on his own. However, due to his seizures, he needs to be monitored. We can’t just leave him alone for long stretches of time.

 

I wanted to share a few of my reflections with you.
These are questions you could ask yourself.

 

1. Is my child independent?

 

Independence in self help skills flashed in my mind.
If your child is able to take care of his/her daily needs, your life will be easier. You will not have just be the caregiver. You can do so much more.

 

No matter what: make sure your child/ adolescent/adult is independent with self care.
Bathing, brushing, grooming, eating independently are essential.

 

If there is a choice, spend time on building independence in daily skills of living, rather than on focusing on academics.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Yes, I know it’s important to build literacy.

 

But it’s equally important for your child to be able to bathe and dress himself, brush his teeth independently.

 

A mother of an 8 year old shared how embarrassed she felt when she fed her son at a restaurant. When she realized that bystanders gave her weird glances, she became conscious of what she was doing.

 

She was then determined for him to feed himself independently.

 

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2. Does my child know how to entertain herself when given free time?

 

It’s important to expose your child to a wide variety of activities.

 

Temple Grandin, a huge autism advocate shared the following:

 

Yes. Parents and teachers should strive to encourage a child’s creativity. When I was in elementary school, my mother always encouraged my ability In art. It is important to broaden out the talent. If I had been left alone, the only thing I would have drawn would have been horse heads. To expand your child’s ability, encourage making drawings of things that are related to a child’s fixation. I was encouraged to draw other things. Some examples would be the horse’s stable or a place you might ride a horse. He/she needs to learn how to do drawings that other people will want and appreciate.
Children who love Legos should graduate to using real wood working tools when they are 10 to 11 years old. There is a huge shortage of workers in highly skilled trades such as electronics, plumbing, auto mechanics and welding. Children who leard they like using tools may be good at these careers.
– Temple Grandin

 

Recently, a parent asked about what to do if the child kept playing the same computer games.

My response was to introduce a couple of new games by playing them in front of the child. Be invitational, let him try.

 

I’ve tried this with my students. Initially, they may resist. But in a couple of days, you may see them trying out the new game.

 

With Mohit’s art work, we used the same strategy.
We systematically moved from 3 inch by 6 inch sheets of paper to large sized Fabriano sheets of 32 inches by 24 inches.

 

We did the same with canvases. From small one foot by one foot canvases, we moved to 6 feet by 6 feet (over a period of a year).

 

Be systematic and consistent.

 

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3. Are all family members  physically healthy?

 

The physical health of all family members is important.

I’ve personally been through many ups and downs with regards to health of family members.

It becomes our responsibility to take care of our health for the sake of our children. (And our own, of course)

 

Get regular health check ups conducted. Stay strong and in good health.

 

Anil, my husband has had a few heart related issues.
But through this pandemic, he has maintained his walking schedule. He also follows a healthy diet.

 

However, I haven’t been that diligent. I need to get back to my routine of yoga/ walking/ work outs. This article serves as a reminder to me as well!

 

4. Are all family members mentally healthy?

 

The pandemic has brought mental health issues to the fore front as well.

With the children we’ve seen anxiety creeping in. Disrupted sleep cycles are common too.

Regulation becomes really important at this point of time.

 

The uncertainty has created emotional and financial uncertainties in the minds of other family members too.

 

Mental-And-Physical-Health

 

It’s absolutely alright to reach out to a councellor or mental health professional at this point of time.

 

5. Did I do my best today?

 

One day at a time…
Do the best you can today and then the next day and so on.

 

On reflection, you may find you didn’t actually do your best.
But that’s okay. Get up, dust yourself and keep going.

 

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Life has a way of teaching us.
When Mohit was younger, I didn’t reflect too much on all of this.
I always felt, “I have time.”

 

But who knows how much time we really have?
Do what you can today to ensure your child’s and family’s well being.

 

This famous quote from Steve Jobs, always jolts me back to reality.

 

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

– Steve Jobs
Commencement at Stanford University, 2005

 

I was jolted to reality due to my back spasm and immobility.
But you don’t’ have to wait for life to give you a reminder.

 

Kamini Lakhani

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.

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