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Follow the child…

There’s a reason — a good-enough reason — that each autistic person has embraced a particular interest. Find that reason, and you will find them, hiding in there, and maybe get a glimpse of their underlying capacities. In our experience, we found that showing authentic interest will help them feel dignity and impel them to show you more, complete with maps and navigational tools that may help to guide their development, their growth. Revealed capability, in turn, may lead to a better understanding of what’s possible in the lives of many people who are challenged.

Reaching my Autistic son through Disney – Ron Suskind

The quote above is from a powerful article about how a family learned to reconnect with their autistic son, and how they used the medium of these films to teach him life skills as well as academics. It is fascinating and terrifying.

Terrifying because this was not a path laid out before them in a manual or even a methodology shared with them by therapists or doctors. This was a journey they discovered on their own, almost by accident. In how many cases though are keys such as this never identified? The keys needed to unlock a soul. Unlock a life, in part possible through countless hours of dedicated therapy and schooling, much of it through private resources.

So much is required. As the article notes, this family spends about 90 thousand dollars a year on these resources. Of course, the financial commitment is way beyond reality for most families.

Outside of that however, the quote above references the part of this that I take to heart the most. Finances aside, the time and energy this family dedicated throughout this child’s life is where I see the deeper message. The outside resources often can provide an insight not previously visible and offer avenues of opportunity not previous explored…in the end though – it all comes home.

With that reminder parents and family members of children such as this must take a deep breath and try not to freak out. That is often the reaction. We have to do it all and do it right now. I totally fall into this category. So much so my hands were shaky after I read this. I felt with everything in me that I hold the ability to open these doors for Kimberly and I must do so immediately.

The truth is, it is not me. It is her. She holds the ability. I must help in every way I can, but I am not in her head. Regardless of how hard I try, I cannot get in there…at least not yet. We need to follow her lead, not dismiss her interests as quirky or in need of modifying. What we can do also, is revisit our goals and methods. Maybe try something new. This is something I have put off too long. I am thankful for this inspiration.

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  1. Hi Dani!

    Loved this bit of writing you just posted! While our journeys are different, I felt like I could completely relate to your words! I think you’ve just tackled the overall struggle of parenting 101!

    I’ve always struggled with the follow the child vs. freaking out if I can’t find the key to whatever development stage “we” are in. Four of our children are now teenagers… and what amazing years are these! The choices and consequences or life feel so BIG and INTENSE!

    And yet, if I can step back and follow the child (one is almost 20 now!) it all goes so much more smoothly. To have the patience to listen and guide later… ah, it’s a skill that i still need so much practice in!

    Anyhoo–just wanted to say thank you–and keep on, keeping on! Love you, Ann

    • I thought of you and as I wrote that title. you are an inspiration to me as a parent on many levels. glad you enjoyed it!

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