Having a child with ASD or another developmental challenge is not easy. I know first hand! As parents, we’re constantly being pulled in different directions; running hither and yon, always at lightning speed. Looking at the big picture can be challenging. However, making shifts in your present circumstances requires being mindful in the moment – without losing sight of the larger picture. One productive step is to objectively look at your situation without the distraction of the daily grind. It may be helpful for you to explore the following during a conversation with a trusted friend or family member.
Focusing on Our Strengths
In order to make positive shifts, you must take stock of where you are. Before you examine what’s wrong, I invite you to step back and look at the strengths you have working in your favour. At some point, I do this with all clients, and believe me, they are often shocked at what comes up!
Let’s start with your child’s strengths. Then we’re going to look at yours, and those of your partner (work with me here!). Here are some ideas to guide you:
My child’s strengths are: (examples) – sense of humour, caring, creative, intelligent, sensitive, skilled at ____, fun-loving, great at sharing, loves his family, great with little children, wonderful with animals, etc.
As a guide to my child (parent), my strengths are: (examples) – affectionate, patient, creative, resourceful, hopeful, fun-loving, encouraging, resilient, disciplined, flexible, determined, sense of humour, great at ____, etc.
Now, I invite you to come up with ways you can really capitalize on these strengths! Consider what you do well. Acknowledge yourself for your strengths! Put the best of who you are to good use. Use a strength to address a minor challenge at home, or to plan something that you and your child can do together.
Now, let’s look at your child, and assume that he loves humour. Create some time just for you and your child; enjoy a funny movie together, or pick out a crazy book you’ll both enjoy from the library. Don’t let other distractions get in the way; this time is about your relationship. It’s worth it! The laundry can wait!
Stepping back and looking at the big picture is a simple strategy. However, using what’s already working in your favour, in a conscious manner, can bring surprising delights! A little connecting can go a long way, and pave the way toward a deeper connection with your child.
Sue Simmons is a parent of a child diagnosed with Asperger’s at 5, Sue has experienced the heartache and frustration that you likely know yourself. She has worked with families affected with ASD since 2002, after founding the first ASD support group in the Kawarthas. Since that time she has spent countless hours helping families in crisis, and in need of educational support and advocacy. She has held volunteer positions at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s ASD Team, and Special Education Advisory Committee. In 2006, Sue began training with Psychologists Dr.‘s Gutstein and Sheely at the Connection Center in Houston TX, to become a Certified Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®)Consultant. She has successfully re-certified every year since.