When it’s OK, to Say NO

by | Jan 17, 2018 | Basics of Autism

The following article was published on the saiconnections blog page. You can read the original article here.

“You’re not a good mother. You don’t spend enough time with your child. Look at how she responds to me,” Said a Special Educator to Pallavi, whose daughter is 17 and has multiple difficulties.

Pallavi was horrified. Her self esteem was shaken. She called a couple of trusted professionals who had supported her over the years. They both reassured her she was a fine, caring mother. She took this torture treatment from the educator for a couple of months, before firmly standing up for her self and letting the teacher go.

You could be in a situation similar to Pallavi. You don’t like the way a situation is going, but you still continue with it. You start doubting yourself. Your self esteem gets badly bruised, but you don’t know how to get out of the situation.

It’s time to face the situation squarely. Accept it’s harming you. Like Pallavi, have the courage to say, ‘No. I will no longer accept this.’

I created a ‘no’ list for the families I work with. Today, I’d like to share it with you.

Be courageous and say ‘no’ in the following circumstances.

1. Say ‘no’ to more intervention

When you’re young and impressionable you don’t want to miss out on anything. You’ve heard of FOMO right? (Fear of Missing Out) So you try everything everybody suggests.

Well, it doesn’t work. I’ve been there and done that. It’s better to take a couple of effective interventions and therapies and stick to those rather than trying everything in sight.

Trying many things makes you feel like you’re doing a lot.You could liken it to spot jogging. You could be exerting yourself, but actually you’re not covering distance.

Remember less is more.

2. Say ‘no’ to disrespect

By disrespect, I mean disrespect to you or your child.

If you are talked down to, that’s a clue for you to walk away. Don’t tolerate it. If somebody talks about your child in derogatory terms or doesn’t treat him/her well – please take action.

20 years ago, Mohit’s school Principal told me, “ I don’t know why we take students who we’re not equipped to take care of.” She made it sound like she was doing us a favour by admitting Mohit to her school.

I felt small and demeaned.

I didn’t say anything then. I continued for one more with that school. I still feel terrible about what I did. If the principal’s attitude was such, how would the teachers and teacher’s assistants be treating my son?

Don’t make the same mistake as me. Learn to stand up for your child and your self.

Remember, you get what you tolerate.

Related Post: The Hope of Happiness for Those with ASD 

3. Say ‘no’ to rigidity

Consider rigidity a red flag. Beware of ‘it’s always been done this way.’ You as a parent, know your child the best. Yes, the professional has knowledge of the subject – but you have knowledge about your child.

There are wonderful professionals out there, who will provide expertise and consider what you have to say too. Those are the professionals who you should surround yourself with.

Should what was valid 25 years ago, be equally valid today? We’ve advanced in every field. We understand autism and our children a lot more. We’ve got to be flexible with how we teach our students.

When we look at the world of autism – we think of speech therapy, occupational therapy and special ed. Yes, they’re required. But they need to be modified according to the needs of the child.

The needs of the family also need to be taken into account. Besides working on the child, the mental health of the family needs to be considered.

Also, how your child learns should be on top of the radar. Case in point…One of my students finds it very difficult to express himself using words, but he’s amazing with typing and the visual medium. So we modify our techniques to suit him and help him learn faster.

4. Say ‘no’ to limiting beliefs

Walk away from people who impose limiting beliefs on you or your child.

Just look at what happened to Sweta, Aahan’s mother.

When Aahan was diagnosed at age 5 – the doctor informed her of her son’s prognosis. He said the child would be limited in doing certain things and would need support all his life.

Sweta stormed away from the doctor’s office saying, ‘don’t tell me what my child will or will not do.’

Today Aahan is at Symbiosis College. He’s independent, he travels all over Pune on his own, hangs out with his friends.

Don’t let people impose their limiting beliefs on you. Use the rocks hurled at you as stepping stones. Walk with your child into his glory.

Please do not be limited by people and their views. Remember, your child is much bigger than that.

5. Say ‘no’ to over dependence

Break out of your self imposed shackles. If something worked in the past, it’s not necessary for it to continue forever.

Learn to be reliant on yourself. Build a relationship with your child – so you’re never dependent on anybody to work with your child or tell you what you do.

By all means, seek guidance and apply it – but don’t be over dependent on anybody in life.

You know what? You have it in you. You just need to tap into your own power.

When you say ‘no’ to the wrong things, you open up space for many more good things in your life. You feel good about yourself. If you feel good, so will your child. Do you realize your child understands everything whether he expresses it or not?

He feels your love and support. What a joy to have your parents support you when the rest of the world misunderstands or misjudges you?

Be the mother who stands up for her child. Say ‘no’ to open up beautiful vistas in your child’s life.

Kamini Lakhani is a, RDI® program consultant and the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center). She has over 19 years of experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and currently serves as the director of our RDI Professional Training Center in Mumbai. She is the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center).


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