Consistency is Key for Autism Recovery
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”---Anthony Robbins
I have written elsewhere about being a do-it-yourself autism parent. But today, I want to write more specifically about the activities you do daily. If you had a job before you had children, I have no doubt that you were prepared for work, had a regular schedule and were productive. If you’re like me, you went to work when you didn’t feel well, and stayed up late preparing for the next day. Maybe you also worked weekends, just to get the job done. There were no excuses.
When we are plunged into the world of autism, the most productive human being can find themselves in a world of confusion and chaos. Suddenly, the best managers have lost control of their home. The most organized find themselves in disarray (except for the toys that their kids line up). The friendliest human resources gal who could diffuse the most challenging personnel issues isn’t speaking to her husband or his mother. The most intelligent and innovative are perplexed, paralyzed.
For this post, I searched for quotes on consistency. Interestingly, the majority came from highly successful entrepreneurs OR from artists who suggested that success came from the consistency of being different from everyone else. It intrigues me that we can merge both the creativity of successful business people and the uniqueness of artists when it comes to autism and boil it down to consistency in pursuit of their goals to achieve what others have not.
Successful entrepreneurs will test different ideas. They won’t get stuck in a rut when things aren’t working. They will see how their target audience responds and re-invent their methods to do more of what the audience responds to. They don’t become attached to ideas that aren’t working. Rather, they discard them quickly and move forward. They can be ruthless in setting aside what distracts them from their goals. They make and keep appointments. Would you consider making an “appointment” in your calendar that has your child’s name on it? It could be after work, after dinner or on weekends. Would you further consider making it like a business meeting, where your child has your full attention, you will let calls go to voicemail, or leave your phone out of the room, silenced? Would you test different ideas and keep track of what works best? (Examples: When I sit away from him by 3 feet, he has a much easier time looking at me. When I bring this toy he engages more than this one. When I wear a silly hat, I feel less inhibited and he seems to enjoy me more.)
Part of the challenge is that you see your child at home, where there are plenty of distractions: other children, personal business, calls, laundry, the list goes on and on. If you haven’t sought help, this would be a great job for a volunteer. Let them play with your other kids while you spend quality time with your child with autism. (Yes, people will volunteer, but this is another post…)
Artists are successful if they have a unique perspective. They don’t copy what other people are doing. They may use similar materials, but they make their work their own. They are out-of-the-box thinkers. If you copy what the mainstream says about autism, you are likely headed for the mainstream’s destination. Conversely, if you look at autism differently, as a physical illness, and consistently peel back each layer of illness, what you will find is a child who is in there, just waiting to emerge. If you try to copy the DAN! model, or biomed, and it doesn’t work, try something else instead of giving up! Your child is unique, and their treatment will be unique, too.
Consistently spend quality time working with your child. Discard what is not working. Make and keep your appointments with them so you can see how they are progressing, at least on a weekly basis. The notes from school are not enough. Therapists are not enough. Make adjustments. And most of all, be different. The world does not yet have the solution for autism. But by consistently being with your child, and looking at them through your own lens, you will find your own solution.