Accept Autism

Aug 30, 2022

Today I want to talk about the seven practices. This is actually the beginning of a series on the seven practices that we do seven days a week in order to create confident adulting with our autistic high school graduates.

Today I want to talk about our Sunday practice, which is acceptance. Accepting "what is'. Not as easy as it sounds.

So how do we accept autism?

We do that by first noticing the thoughts that our brain offers us. They are probably thoughts that we've practiced for many years, but really haven't actually noticed the results that they're creating in our life.

Example thoughts that I've that I've thought myself, that I've heard from my clients, that I've seen on Facebook Pages supporting families with autistic young adults start with, "If only..."

  • If only autism just didn't exist,
  • if only we had known earlier that they had autism. We could have fixed things. We would have done a better job as parents as their parents,
  • if only they had more friends.
  • If only I wasn't autistic, then I would be a better parent.
  • If only life were different, then things could be better.

Good to know that we're thinking those things. And that's just our brain, doing what it does best, which is to look at the situation and figure out what should we be learning from what's going on?

The trouble is that when we live in, "if only land," I'm not sure that we're effective creating the life that we want now.

I think that we can take notice of the poem that is so often said, in so many recovery groups,

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change and the wisdom to know the difference.

Really incredible virtues that the American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr put together in a simple poem that just resonates all over. All over the world. Serenity, courage and wisdom, what virtues. Those are good ones to guide us.

Now how are we doing that? I mean, I've I've I actually embroidered this same as when back when you did that sort of thing. On a sampler for a friend of mine that got married is as their wedding presents. So I could obviously known in this poem for a very long time. And yet, I wasn't, I don't know I get it, but how do I apply it?

And so here's what I suggest, We apply this in sort of our mental training, practice mental fitness training practice, and it's one way use our minds to train our brains to work harder for us.

And this applies to everyone on the planet. This applies to parents to high school graduates to grandparents everyone. What we want to do is keep our brain as strong as it can be for the rest of our lives. So how do we do that? And I believe that the best tool I've found so far in my 65 years, is the STEAR Map.

It's where we take the advice of the poem and we separate the situation from our thoughts about it. And that's how we have the wisdom to recognize what we can and cannot control. There's a lot of room in here for interpretation.

The German psychologist who was imprisoned in Nazi war camp, Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, the whole book that he wrote, probably wrote in his head long before he actually got published because he was probably writing it while he was in the concentration camp. And, you know, lost all of his family members, including his pregnant wife.

He was saying that the difference between the people who survived and the people who didn't survive that incredibly difficult ordeal, were the ones who noticed that there was a difference, that they had a choice between the situation and their thinking about the situation, and no one could take that away from them even though they were prisoners.

So when we separate out what the situation is from the thought, and we realize that we have all the space in there to create whatever works for us. You know, there's 7.9 billion people on the planet, there's probably 7.9 billion ways to think of any situation.

We choose the thought, which is gonna flavor our emotions which are will generate those actions that we take and create the results that we have in our life. I tell you, separating out what's going on in my life in these five categories has really helped me so much that I just can't it's just, it's really been a clarity tool for me.

And I really believe that if we teach our families how to use this tool, it helps them understand what's going on in that inner voice in their head that's talking to them all the time.

And and then if we can help them understand that, you know, there's there's default thoughts that our survival brain, the midbrain is going to offer us and that's the thinking thoughts that the problem solving thoughts from our frontal cortex are the ones that we really want to listen to, are the ones that are we can make intentional.

So the difference between that part of our brain and that part of our brain, it just explodes, the amount of power that we have over our own choices. So I believe that this is how we begin to accept autism.

And here's the here's the best way I've found to figure it out. So far, is that no matter what thought I have about a situation, sometimes it's a pretty difficult situation, to you know, to reconcile in my brain. So if I attach the thought, "it's okay."

So an example might be, I'm worried that my kids aren't going to be able to make it on their own, and that's okay. Somebody might want that means and why in God's name, would you think that's okay.

Well, it's okay that I'm thinking that. It's okay that I'm worried about it is the point. Not that they're not you know, I'm not okay with them not being okay. But I'm okay with myself worrying about it. Cuz I'm a mom, I love them.

There's a part of me that that worry is absolutely useful. It drives my brain to solve the problems it drives me to come to look for solutions of ways to make the future more positive for them. That worry part, there's a good part of that worry, emotion, even though it's not very pleasant. And in fact, that displeasure, that that discomfort that I feel when I'm in that worry space is really good.

So now I moved to I'm worried about their future, and that's good. I should be worried about their future. I should be looking for ways to make sure that they have enough food, you know, healthy food, a safe place to live and access to health care.

And so I shouldn't be thinking about their financial plans. I shouldn't be doing all of that. So this there's something actually very good about that thought.

And then, "it's a gift," becomes or that is a gift that I can give them. That is the gift that I frankly can give myself is that if I do everything that I know, to help make their future, more solid. I'm going to do that. I'm going to get determined to do that.

So see how that thought. At first it didn't appear to be okay. But it was and I found the reasons why it was okay. I mean, I have to work on it. It's not that you know, it comes automatically to think this way, but I have started to train my brain to think this way.

And I've helped my kids think this way as well. And I gotta tell you, we're making progress together. We really are their future is becoming more and more. They're confident their confidence is more and more weatherproof. In other words, whatever happens around them, they are getting better and better at processing it and making choices that make sense.

It's it's really kind of amazing what's been happening because what, what I've found is that we're actually on the hero's journey In life. And we as parents of autistic high school graduates really are getting quite the education. It's an Ivy League level education in parenting.

I mean, here's what's happened. We decided to become parents. That's our call to adventure and yeah, it is kind of a miracle when we do get a child and in my case, it was adoption. And so now I'm I moved into this, you know, this is a challenge into this challenge.

I've found mentors I've found helpers that have helped me with it all.

You know, like, my son and his beautiful wife just had our another, our eighth grandchild. And she was saying to me the other day, how you know, at first it was like, how do people do this? How you have an infant and keep the house and drive it and do all the things that you have to do pay for things and and she said for the first six months, it was pretty chaotic in our house, but now we're kind of getting into we're getting into a rhythm and and she told me that acceptance she believes is the first step for her was, you know, things aren't always gonna go the way that we planned. They just are not always gonna go the way that we planned.

And in fact, they may even go better than that. Like they didn't expect to love this little guy so much. I mean, they're just born away by the amount of love, parental love that they have for him. And it's just lovely. To watch, you know, the joy that they experience with him and a lot of challenges, too. So this is where they're in that abyss they are transforming into parents. They're transforming from non parents to parents, and they've learned a few things and now they've come up through the, from the unknown to the now I know what I'm doing. And wow, they have strength now. They have strength. They're heroes because they not only have strength for themselves, but they also have strength for their child.

And guess what's going to happen next. They're going to have another one. At least that's what their plans are. And the kids gonna go to kindergarten and all the things that are going to happen that are gonna throw them into this hero's journey again, in this ever, never ending, continuous spiral of improvement our lives are just gonna go that way.

And when we give our, our kids the tools, the practices that can help them have that kind of weatherproof confidence that they can weather the storms of all of those upward spirals through the hero's journey. That's when we're the parent, that as parent we can breathe a big sigh of relief in knowing that we've done the very best we can.

And so, what I want to encourage you to do is to think about life.

  • Like maybe it was meant to happen this way.
  • And maybe my plan isn't as good as what really could happen.
  • And maybe our children are perfect for us.
  • Maybe having an autistic brain is okay.

Let's find the reasons and then we'll evolve to maybe it's a good thing. I mean, think of a focus, they can do enjoyment that they get from they might get to have the best sense of humor. They have a much better sense of humor than I do. So I enjoy that. Think of how well they give they give me for helping me to become a better mom. If we think about autism in that way and being autistic parents in that way. I think they we're going to be a lot more effective at helping them become what have that weatherproof confidence. So we love to think that they're going to have even when they're on their own.

But it's only through the struggle that they're going to get there. It's only through the hero's journey that they're going to create that confidence is only through the discomfort and the learning and the moving on from all of that, that we're going to get to that point.

So if you'd like help on this journey, and I think we all could use some help. Remember, you don't have to do this alone. By going down this path. We can help. We can become the coaches our kids need to help them accept their own struggles. And it's really worth it.

And so what I've created is seven practices, seven days a week that we just do over and over again and each day of the week and it just helps us to be aware of the thinking that we're having. That's creating the situation and thinking that we're having this creating the emotions, the actions and the results.

And I know we can. There's so many great concepts in there in the Art of Adulting that I've learned that I've applied in my family and I'd love to share with you so please consider joining me and other families at the art of adulting where we embrace these seven practices, and we practice them seven days a week to create waterproof confidence together. weatherproof confidence together.

Bye for now.