There’s Always Another Way

DSCN1471Isn’t this baby precious? If I chose to pick it up, it could bite me in order to defend itself. It could bite me and inject venom, thereby injuring or even killing me. But I didn’t grab the shovel and kill it. I grabbed the shovel, scooped it up, put it in a bucket,and took it out back to the field. Am I saying you should do this? You can, if it feels right to you. But don’t sue me if you get bit, ok? What I’m saying is; it didn’t feel right to me, to kill it. So I didn’t. I moved it to a new location.

There can be a serious lack of communication between the child with Autism and the parent taking care of their child. Not because the child has nothing to say, but because they don’t know how to express it. Instead of getting upset over the little things, it’s best to try and understand what is behind the source of frustration; and change it! For example; my little man can’t hold a banana and eat it. He will be 2 very shortly and still likes to shove food into the back of his throat. For this reason, we have to break the banana up into bite sized pieces for him. But, Little Man, doesn’t like the slimy feeling that a banana has when it is sliced with a knife. To be quite honest, I don’t like it either. So I tried breaking pieces off for him. He doesn’t like “pieces” of the banana, they have to be circles. Why? I have no idea. Is it a source of great frustration at 5 am when you need to do a million things and you accidentally break off a chunk of banana instead of a perfect circle and he refuses to eat it? Heck yeah it does. But he doesn’t like it.

As I held out the piece of banana to him; I looked at myself from his eyes. I saw my frustrated face and anger in my voice when I said to him “it’s ok, it’s still a banana.” And I tried to see from his point of view. Do I understand why it needs to be a circle? No. Will I ever understand? Probably not. But I could see it was important to him. He NEEDS it to take the form of a circle. And when I show him my angry face and I have frustration in my voice and I’m in a hurry, he doesn’t understand why. So instead of wasting energy trying to “fix” his idea of the ideal banana, instead of trying to understand WHY it is the ideal shape for him, I CARED that it mattered to him. I cared that the banana needed to be circular. So the next piece of banana, I pealed it off “just so” and gave it to him in perfect circular form. He didn’t smile in recognition of my understanding of the situation, but he also didn’t yell in frustration over the lack of the banana’s form. I was no longer angry and he was no longer frustrated.

Sometimes it is impossible to see things from another person’s perspective. Literally. I can never understand things from his perspective, because I am not him. But I can care about things from his perspective and I can change the way I see things for myself. I can see that something matters to him and therefore matters to me. I can change my actions to accommodate his perspective and show respect for his feelings. There is always another way to a bad situation. The next time your child wants to line things against the wall and screams when they fall down; don’t get angry. Don’t get frustrated because you don’t understand why it is important that they line up. Instead, understand that it just IS important that they line up.

Take things one step at a time and forgive yourself when you get frustrated. It took you this long to understand the world you live in and it will take some time before you understand the world they live in. Just remember to make the things that are important to them, important to you.

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