Lessons Learnt from a mother's story - Sensory issues, Uncovering Talents etc.
A mother shared her story about her son's sensory issues and talent in music. I believe her experience is eye-opening for all of us and teaches us many lessons, including but not limited to:
Practical Strategies to Cope With Sensory - each have their own ways. For this mother, one of the ways is reducing the frequency of attending events with heavy sensory stimuli (e.g. weddings etc.), and to be prepared to have to take her son out of the venue to a quieter place when he gets overloaded.
Accepting your "New Kind of Normal", and even Embracing It. And Finding Your own Happiness
In this mother and son example: No birthday parties. Limited weddings. Dad and Mum not attending weddings together but separately so that one parent can take care of the child at home without the exposure to sensory overload.
Doesn't sound like a so-called "typical life", yet as she say "Accept it". Two powerful words! This is her different kind of normal, in the sense that it is part of the norm in their family life. They learn to accept it and to redefine/reframe/create their own definitions and framework of happiness, in their own ways, instead of force fitting themselves into societal norms and be restricted by those norms to find happiness.
Acceptance is a journey. I took some time to accept too, and still journeying on that. Few years ago I used to sometimes wish I was not autistic (due to my challenges in life). I have much less of such a thought now (probably attributable in part to being part of our wonderful autism community where I feel belonged, accepted, valued and can serve others as well).
I recently have had people asking me "how did you overcome (autism)?" (I don't know why people have such a misimpression that I have overcome my challenges).
My answer to that is:
- I don't. I still face challenges and hardships day to day. I still clash with people (unintentionally) when interacting with NTs who don't understand autism
- and importantly, I add it this point - we DON'T overcome autism. Autism is a part of us. We grow into it. We learn to embrace it, and the beauty and diversity that flows from it.
Uncovering and Developing Talents
like what this mum did in leveraging on her son's talent in piano/music. Many autistics have strengths, some have talent, a tiny proportion (5% perhaps) have savant skills.
Leverage on that and turn them into opportunities (to be honest, I still have NOT figured out how to do that for myself 😢😂🤣) .
This mum had engaged a piano coach to help her son develop this talent. I also heard that there are art coaches who help autistics develop their talent in art (drawing etc )
Prioritise your Autistic child's WELL-BEING and MENTAL HEALTH over Society Perceptions and your 'Face'
There are parents (including mine) who make the mistake of 'normalising' their autistic children's behaviour... not realising it is done at the expense of the child's mental health.
It is important to understand the autistic person's UNDERLYING emotion/cause for the behaviour rather than stem the behaviour which makes it worse. E.g. if a child is stimming due to anxiety, trying to stop the stimming without dealing with the underlying anxiety makes the anxiety worse!!
Let your autistic child (for caregivers) or autistic self (for autistic people) be happy in HIS/HER/YOUR OWN TERMS
This parent did not impose her son to go for more weddings and birthday parties. If he is happier with playing the piano at home, let him do so.
(Of course in a case where the autistic child WANTS to go for birthday parties etc , then it is a different strategy)
Letting the Comforts of YOUR OWN HOME be an Environment Where the Autistic Child/Wdult can BE HIMSELF/HERSELF, including behaviours whom you or society otherwise deems as "weird" or "unacceptable"
We live in an Asian culture where there is a lot of society norms, stigma, judgement. Unlike Western culture, Asia doesn't seem to value people on the basis that they are 'different'.
Of course we hope that changes but in the meantime, if home is not a safe environment, where else can be for us?
My parents do make that mistake at home e.g. asking to stop making strange sounds and screams at home.... my point to them is where else I can do it?? I can't do it at work... I wish they will let me behave in whatever unusual ways I want at home.
How to make home a safe environment is something we each need to explore on our own. For some, it could be sensory tools or other kind of environment changes. For some it could be the piano. For some it could be letting us be ourselves even with unusual behaviours otherwise not acceptable in the public.
1) Prioritise Happiness and Well-Being over making the autistic person's behaviour "less autistic". For all we know, that may come naturally when happiness level increases.
2) An Autistic Australian lady (who is also a mum of autisitic kids) shared with me and a few of my autistic friends, that her parents embraced her BECAUSE OF her autism, NOT in spite of it.
- FOOD FOR THOUGHT.