“ We can mourn what isn’t or celebrate what is! Happiness is a choice and misery is optional not inevitable” Barry Neil Kaufman
I spent 3 years of my son’s “autism” life, prior to implementing the Son-Rise program, following traditional autism treatment therapies. We were all miserable, and I constantly felt the pressure of giving my son the chance at a “normal” life, all the while never really firstly doing the most important work with him. Son-rise taught me that the first step in my son’s recovery was to truly love and accept him as he is without needing him to change or grow in order to do so. With love and acceptance, we give someone the room to grow and the safety to try things that are uncomfortable for them which ultimately empowers them to become the greatest version of themselves. My son has progressed and conquered so many “unreachable” society-imposed limits as a result of just putting this one thing into practice in our lives and in his Son-Rise program.
I returned from that magical mountain top in Massachusetts after attending the Son-Rise Maximum Impact advanced training almost 3 months ago now and learned so much about myself, my life, my children and my family while there. I felt empowered and re-instilled all of the Son-Rise fundamentals into my life that had gotten us this far.
Then……… the election happened.
With all of the election controversy going on, I had found myself slowly crawling back into my hole, my safe space. I had deactivated my Facebook account, not because I didn’t agree with the view points being discussed, but because of how these view points were being directed to those with opposing views or even toward our current elected president. There was so much hate in the very posts that were meaning to dispel it. This immediately gave me discomfort. Every human being has unmentionables in their past, things they would prefer no one knows about. These moments in our life are our biggest life lessons and we all deserve the opportunity to have someone believe that we can learn from them and be better. I truly believe that the people who don’t “deserve” our love and respect are the ones who need it the most. This is the gift of being human…..to know we are here to help those who need it most, even those undeserving in our judgmental eyes.
“Deciding to embrace an experience without judgements leaves us open to finding elements in every event that serve and teach us. If judging people and experiences as bad brings unhappiness (fear, anxiety, anguish, impatience, anger, sadness), why not put our judgement to work for us by flipping our perspective?” -Barry Kaufman
By opening my self to love and acceptance through my son, I truly learned to love and respect EVERYONE as well as, most importantly, myself. We cannot give what we do not feel inside. My son continues to be my teacher and guide, and what I have learned through him is the reason I know this to be true.
When I think back to beginning this Son-Rise Journey 2-1/2 years ago, I always come back to what I like to call the Staples story. I was reminded of this moment this past weekend and the impact it had on changing the direction of my life since. This was the pivotal moment where I really understood the power love and acceptance can give an individual and the profound effect it would have on me giving myself that gift as well.
Some background…..One of the foundational principles of Son-Rise is joining our children in their exclusive and repetitious activities. These are moments where they are completely in their own world. They are commonly referred to as stimulatory behaviors (or stims). Son-Rise refers to them as isms.
The Staples story:
So I was just returning from start-up 2-1/2 years ago and was ready to hit the ground running. I needed to recruit volunteers so I could run a full-time program. We were at Staples as a family getting copies made of my volunteer flyers. Lucas was running back and forth repeatedly banging the wall on one side of the store then running to the other side of the store and banging that wall (his “stim”). He was yelling loudly and shaking a chew tube (a sensory chewing toy) while doing so. I was looking around the store as he was doing this and everyone around us was staring at him and us. I initially thought to myself, “Oh God, here come the judgements.” Then my thoughts were broken by my amazing daughter who tugged on my arm and asked if she could have a chew tube as well. I pulled one out (I always had extras on hand to keep Luke busy in public places) and gave it to her. She then instinctively joined her brother. If you thought people were looking before, you should’ve seen the looks that came then. Previously I would’ve tried to explain his autism to everyone staring as a way to deflect the judgements and stares, but this felt different. It had dawned on me and I immediately became aware of the reason Lucas only related to his sister at the time. It was because of moments like this and her uncanny ability to love, accept, appreciate and relate to him on his level. I then did what any sane person would do. I left my husband to handle the copies on his own and grabbed my own chew tube to join them. As I did this, I felt the immediate impact it not only had on my son, but on me and my entire family. This is the moment I began to truly love and accept my son and was also the pivitol moment that I let go, became free of judgements and gave myself the gift of my own love and acceptance.
Everything changed for Lucas after that. Some of our amazing developments:
Lucas previously never made eye contact. He makes loads of it now. He wouldn’t allow me to touch, comfort, or love him. Now, he not only allows touch, but asks for hugs, kisses and says I love you. He seeks out interactions with peers, sister and those around him. He enjoys going to sporting events and is no longer afraid of large crowds. Luke asks to go to these events and relishes the energy around him. He was only speaking in rote phrases (memorized speech fragments from movies, etc.). Now he speaks in full beautiful sentences, using simple gestures and appropriate facial expressions. He is fully potty trained and can dress himself. Luke can follow two to three directions and leave the room to complete them. In fact the other day, we were leaving to go somewhere and he got himself dressed, put his coat and boots on independently without even being asked. He is initiating imaginary play and out of the blue last week decided to pretend to be a frog. He is also initiating hellos and goodbyes with the people he knows while using their name and looking at them. There is so much to list, but these are a few.
It’s unbelievable what can happen just by allowing someone to be themselves and truly accepting them as they are.
So I am back on Facebook and writing this entry. I’m putting myself back out there because the only way I know how to dispel hateful comments is by putting loving messages out there and hope that it spreads.
Some pics of some special moments and milestones Lucas has recently reached included below. Enjoy!
Having fun with his sister in public places. Would’ve been guaranteed a sensory overload in the past.
Enjoying a football game watching his volunteer, Carter, play. This was the first time he not only tolerated the overload of stimulus but also thoroughly enjoyed himself…asking to go back every week thereafter.
Lucas enjoying opening his Christmas gift this year and the joy in the anticipation of it. A rarity for us!