My Outer Shell
Staying with my commitment to be authentic, today, my outer layer defenses are down. For those sci-fi fans, “My shields are down! I’m taking damage to my hull. I need to divert power to raise the shields and avert attack!”
My First Layer is that outward core. The outward me that you see. Outside, I am highly educated about autism, ABA treatment, parent stress effects, etc. I am currently home schooling my 11 year old son. We have a wonderful home school classroom with everything that he could possibly need to learn. I am always adapting curriculum to make concepts accessible for him. This includes creating step-by-step instructions for complex concepts (e.g. long division, double digit multiplication, reading comprehension). I find iPad apps that help make learning fun for him. I mix things up to make things interesting. We have a visual schedule with icons laminated on a schedule board, the works. So, I’m pretty put together, right?
That’s the outside layer. That’s my confidence and experience that often aids me and others when teaching children with autism. But, inside me there is this panic. “He needs to be independent!” my brain is screaming. “He needs to be able to read and comprehend so that he can take care of himself in the future. He needs to understand math and numbers to handle his money. He needs to be able to communicate.” These are the most basic goals I have for my son. When we are having a difficult day, like today, and he is not cooperating and has shut me out, I feel this raw panic. I remind myself, “I can’t give up! I have to endure, remain calm, have patience, and push through. He NEEDS to learn. His life will depend on it. His independent life.”
So, are there kids and adults with autism who are not independent? Sure, and I am not, in any way, diminishing their accomplishments or their lives. To live in this authentic moment, I am simply communicating MY truth. Right now, I am feeling a lump in my throat that is stuck right in the front of my neck. It is painful. I need to regroup and get back in the trenches. Sounds like battle, huh? In a way, it is. But it’s a battle where you LOVE your attacker. You take hits, attacks, emotional bombs, but you have to continue to fight for the other side. Because, the other side is YOUR side too. I am fighting to win a war where I want the other side to be victorious. When he wins, I win.
In the meantime, the easy way out is surrender. Stop fighting the war. Let him stay inside his shell and only attend to what interests him. But, this is not an option. I can’t stop. To stop is to give up. I am not that person.
Funny thing, I recognize the power in acceptance: to non-judgmentally view what is without attaching any negative thoughts or projecting negative outcomes. When I look at it from that perspective, giving up the war of teaching him does not necessarily equate with – he will not be independent in the future. See how my emotions in the moment cast all sorts of conclusions? Letting go actually releases that lump in my throat. I feel it subsiding already.
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