By Jennifer Krumins
Sometimes amidst our grief, we can lose sight of gifts that are easily unobserved if we do not endeavor to recognize them. Kids with autism are such gifts. This is a great time of year to reflect on what gifts and blessings a child with autism may just have given us.
A child with autism taught me to reach beyond what I thought I was capable of doing.
The gift is revealed as you open yourself to be the student. The child will lead if you allow yourself to be lead. The child will push you to new limits, if you allow yourself to grow professionally and personally. Children with autism have given me the will to learn more, to read more, to take courses, to make phone calls and to be tenacious, persistent and collaborative. We do not know the strength we have until we are given it and it isn’t until we are swimming for our lives that the lifesaver arrives. My son and the children I teach have forced me to stretch every inch of comfort level and reach into the realm of REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. When we open ourselves, these kids can make us grow stronger, more capable and more self confident.
A child with autism taught me to live in the present.
Many times I have been hurrying off to some ‘important’ event or errand only to be forced to wait while a child examines the intricate details of a leaf, sniffs a brick wall or explores the feel of sand in his hands. These children often have little care for time; rather they are drawn to the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the world within their immediate grasp. I have learned to stop and take notice of those things that intrigue our friends with autism. Although I still avoid sniffing walls, I have learned to look more deeply into the present moment and to be thankful for it rather than rush past it in order to get to something ‘important.’
A child with autism taught me to re-evaluate my meaning of success.
I have learned that our productivity doesn’t make us loveable; we already are. Our happiness in life doesn’t have to rest on education credentials, financial gain and material prosperity; if it did happiness would elude many humans! Children with challenges have taught me that our purpose lies in what we bring to others; how we enrich the lives of those who know us… and those who don’t. It is about developing our unique gifts, striving to be the best we can be and being at peace with who we are. A child confined to a wheelchair, unable to do anything that the world considers useful, is able, just in her mere presence, to emanate love. She is a child so vulnerable and yet so free of jealousy, suspicion, distrust, greed and competition.
The world may not recognize or even understand the sweet success of a verbal request for juice, the matching of an item with the written word, or the exhilaration of a kiss or a hug from a child who has never reached out to another. The world may never know the sweet joy that comes with a skill that is finally mastered. Life is full of little celebrations that make it rich and rewarding. In our rush to get ahead many of us miss those moments.
This Christmas I offer my deepest gratitude to those children that have autism and other special needs. Thank you for being such patient teachers. Thank you for leading us.
The Value of Affirmations
Our thoughts and our words tell us something about who we say we are and what we believe to be true. Sadly, the power of negative self talk is all too common: “I can’t do that.” “I am not smart enough.” Anyone working with or raising children knows that these thoughts and words can actually create self defeat in learning a new skill. The Little Engine That Could taught us to repeat, “I think I can, I think I can.” He was smart. That little engine knew the power of positive affirmations. Strong, positive affirmations are a powerful way to replace any ideas of limitations and negative self talk that have been internalized over the years.
Repeating an affirmation is inspiring, self affirming and powerful. World class athletes, business leaders and celebrities repeat them daily, so why wouldn’t you? Isn’t it time to start building yourself up? Individuals with autism and those who care about them need to create a strong sense of capability and self worth in order to develop potential in others and in themselves! Okay, so now, repeat after me…
Affirmation: I will take the time to reflect on the gifts that a child with special needs has given me. I will be aware that I am the student and sometimes a child will lead me. I am grateful for small celebrations that bring joy to seemingly mundane events and situations.
Did you say it with feeling? Say it again with more confidence. One more time with all of the power and confidence your voice can convey! Keep saying it throughout the day!
Something to Think About….
“If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.” Alex Noble
“Constant repetition carries conviction.” Robert Collier