Friday, September 13, 2013

The sense of belonging

OK... so there has been a gap between my introduction and first actual post.  Here's why:
I am an acting single mother of two.  Life sometimes takes over and I have to naturally prioritize.

This was the first week of school.  It went relatively well, except for a few episodes of Ali taking off and disappearing.  I met with his mainstream teacher and went over the do's and don'ts... and in the process of explaining things, I realized that the conversation was derailed.  Kind of like therapy: As you're talking to the therapist, you find your answers.

One of the most important parenting tools is presence.  Not just physically.  Mentally.  Emotionally.  All of you has to be present.  Watch and observe your child and they will tell you everything you need to know.  Most of us (myself included) get so wrapped up and tangled in life that we forget watch and sometimes enjoy the little things.  We just want to get through the motions of the day, get them to school safely, feed them, bathe them, put them to sleep... so we miss everything in the middle.  Like truly observing their behavior, or looking for the underlying reason Why he actually walked out of the classroom or disappeared form the cafeteria...

It's partially about relating to his environment... As an autistic child, Ali has no social relationship with his classmates.  He didn't walk into the class, approach another kid (or visa versa), and make a friend.  He doesn't completely understand all the instructions and everything that goes on in the class.  He has no friend in the cafeteria to sit next to.... you get the picture.  There is no anchor.  He doesn't have the sense of belonging, so he takes off.  The conversation with the teacher suddenly pivoted... from "how to instruct him to sit and follow rules" to "facilitating social interactions and creating an environment he can relate to".  That realization made all the difference in the world for me.  And then another thought followed:
Don't we, as non-autistic individuals, seek the same thing?  Who wants to be in an environment where they don't relate to or understand?
Happy Friday everyone!

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