Sunday, January 22, 2012

Part two, A statement of Hope

Part one ( Click here) is my Mission preview for my then 7 year old…7 years ago. I did one for 2 years, 7 years and 15 years. MY mission preview then, was centered around my son understanding his social world, how to navigate friends and understand other perspectives. When I wrote this mission preview, he was attending a school for children on the spectrum. He had gone there the year before because his behaviors had gotten to where his placement had to change, because what I knew at the time, was not a good match. There were times when his aid would need to restrain him..and this was my wake up call. I needed to do something ELSE for him. The typical route at the time, behavioral conditioning, was not giving him the long term tools he needed…he had lots of skills, but not much else.

As I read over my old previews, I could only say .... mission statement fulfilled. I have blogs about the how to, and my story…and what is RDI click here so I wanted to make this post more about celebrating the ability to understand friendships…and understanding the importance of thinking ahead to *get back* what our kids need. A celebration of not only my son overcoming the obstacles that Autism presents, but the many other children and families who are in this journey... It is quite a journey that we, as parents can instantly relate too with one another! 

So why do I think a mission preview is important in this process? For me, it kept me focused on my goals for my kids. There are short term goals and long term goals…and without a mission…I was getting caught up in the reaction of all the short term issues. I was trying to *get* things to happen, or fix a behavior. Of course necessary, but sometimes thinking long term helped take me out of reaction mode and into proactive mode. I started to look at what my kids needed, as what was missing instead of how to put a band-aid on what they were *doing* at the time.

So as I took my 7 almost 8 year old on a new journey with Relationship Development Intervention, I was able to renew my mindset on what we, as a family needed to achieve. Going through those stages within RDI, each one filling in crucial developmental milestones, worked on both sets of goals, and both kinds of intelligence here…which led my son to the place where he is, a place where he can be in that group of teens, nominated on the snow court.

As I lay awake that night, thinking, I remembered all that the past *inflicted* upon me. 11 years ago Autism was not as common, and in some ways we have come a long way and others we are still stuck in the same old same old. What would have happened if we did not make that change when he was 7? I definitely know we would not be here…I would not be watching him with his friends, as they come over, as he goes over their house… as he attends dances, and is part of the student council. All that my son is doing now, 7 years ago, I was not sure he could get there. Like any mom, I wanted so much for my son to understand relationships. We had a good relationship, but out in the social world, so much MORE is needed in understanding. 14 and 15 year olds do not compensate...they expect you to be on equal playing ground. Thinking ahead to get back would be crucial! Instead of me trying to give him social skills to try and teach him every possible way to handle a conversation ( an impossible task), I instead learned that I needed to address things like resilience, perspective, and true meaningful communication, which was just the beginning. To be able to hold his own with friendships and relationships, communication skills and being able to take a chance are two must haves, along with knowing how to help the other person know we are interested in what they are saying .all the while insuring that our gaze to them shows us this. Yikes, where to start. Friendships do not start in a bubble. Infants are learning resilience which are the building blocks to trust, then grasping the back and forth of communication. Two years olds are already learning how to blend their way of seeing things with our way…which is why it’s called the terrible twos. The ability to understand friendships are grounded back …in development. I had to go back and give my sons that second chance at mastering this, before we could make any real progress.

Maybe your mission preview would read differently. No two are alike…but I encourage you to write it on paper. Visualize where your child needs to be in 2 years, 7 years, 15 years. Then base your goals on what your mission is for your child. This will prevent you looking at your 20 year old …wondering where the time went, faced with the hard truth that skills got them through school…but now what? Start addressing the now what?....NOW! Its never too early nor too late to restore your child’s developmental path to dynamic intelligence!

For more on friendships- Click here

More of my story is here

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