“I don’t care if other people know I have autism and ADHD, they’re part of who I am. Even though they make things really hard sometimes.”
This was what my son declared to me this morning, out of the blue, then he left the room.
When I began this journey of helping families raising children like mine, I believed I needed to equip them to match wits with anyone they might encounter in the course of their adult life after we were gone.
Now I have three sons living with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Challenges. As I look at them, and I look at myself. I realize that I had it all wrong and my son has it right.
🌱 We don’t have to apologize for not being like you.
🌱 We don’t have to overcome every skill gap to spare you the inconvenience of having to do a little work to meet us half way.
🌱 We will commit to increasing our self awareness and educating you about our conditions. Then you can understand better how to relate to us.
🌱 What we ask is that you be teachable and open to the value of diversity.
That’s the key. The energy in this country right now is crying out once and for all to embrace diversity and equality as the norm. That means all differences.
All your benchmarks and averages serve their purposes. They help track “normal” development. But do any of them have anything to do with whether my child is happy, connected or belongs?
I’ve met many academically successful and very depressed, ;onely students. An empty heart isn’t cured by a brain that’s smart.
My sons have very different levels of motivation academically. They also have different visions of success, so I’m needing to learn to be flexible as I guide them.
As a parent I recommend you acknowledge the story you’re telling yourself about who your child needs to be and how they need to show up in the world to be successful.
Our rapidly changing, work from home world is changing what professional looks like and, I hope, allowing more space for the uncontrollably quirky.
Our children need to do more than make a living and keep house. As much as possible they need to have a life, a community (that’s the tough part).
My boys are militant introverts but I keep encouraging them to reach out to others. I hope the world becomes a more welcoming place. One that will make them increasingly more likely to venture out and make an even greater contribution.
Ultimately, my boys are going to learn to love themselves, warts and all. They will be encouraged to measure their success by their goodness rather than goods.
Helping them feel comfortable in their own skin, able to exercise self-compassion and patience when they make mistakes. Your kids can learn to do this too. Especially, when you model it for them.
That’s what I suggest at least. The rest is up to them.
What kind of world would you like to see for your child?