It’s really funny how things I read or see will suddenly prompt me to want to write, and it’s happened again with a post I’ve just read on Facebook. The content of the poem I’ve just been reading has also coincided with Lorie’s first Autism Drama Group this morning so it struck more of a chord than it would have normally.
I’ve always loved this saying from Nelson Mandela
I was privileged enough this morning to be able to spend a few hours with the children on the spectrum who attended the group and what a fabulous bunch they were. I watched them struggle with the activities Lorie was asking them to get involved with because everything she was doing was a challenge for them. The game where they had to make eye contact, lying still on the floor whilst she talked them through a relaxation session, gently passing a ball from person to person to help remember their names etc…..
All of the activities were designed to target helping them with various aspects of their lives that they find challenging in our illogical, neurotypical world. But they all rose to the challenge and started to find their way, every tiny second of eye contact a huge achievement, every moment spent staying still so difficult, working in a team and communicating with their team members so frustrating and Lorie rewarding their accomplishments with permission to run around the room for a minute and chocolate coins.
And underneath the hyperactive behaviour and the struggles their unique personalities shone through, each and every one of them an absolute gem if people were only prepared to get to know their individual styles and see the brilliant minds behind. I fell in love with each and every one of them.
How does all of this tie in with the poem then? The poem was about Christmas eve written by the father of a non-verbal autistic child and the first part made me smile. He spoke of how simple life becomes when you have a child on the spectrum, how you celebrate the tiniest little victory and how proud you are as a parent when they finally manage something new.
As the poem went on however, it became about how hard is was for the writer and how much he had struggled and how people shouldn’t judge him as a father. I wouldn’t hesitate to agree that parenting an autistic child isn’t easy all the time but it is incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my children, I wouldn’t alter the struggles, in fact, I feel privileged to have been a part of their success in life. I wouldn’t be the person I am without having been through their incredible journey with them and I have so much to thank them for.
So, the poem was lovely but I’ve always preferred to keep the focus on the children’s accomplishments rather than on my own struggles, that way, I’ve managed to maintain a much more positive outlook on life generally and enjoy their journey’s alongside them.