A consistent theme in my writing here is that parenting an autistic child is, first and foremost, nothing more than parenting a child. Yes it is different, and sometimes (OK, much of the time) more difficult than being the parent of a “normal” child, but that doesn’t change the fundamental nature of being a parent.
In response to Steve D‘s call to revisit a favorite post I am reposting Enjoying the Scenery, which I originally posted in February 2006. I don’t know if this is my absolute favorite, but it is right there at the top.
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Sometimes our kids surprise us. We try and try and try to get them to do something, understand something, say something. They go for a long time, apparently ignoring (avoiding?) all of our best attempts. Then, all of a sudden, when we aren’t really looking (or when we’ve kind of given up), they do it, understand it, say it.
At those moments we feel good, not just for our kids and their accomplishments but for ourselves. Sometimes it is hard to put in the long hours, day after day, never quite knowing if it will pay off or not. This is especially true for the parents of autistic kids. But what can you do?
Here is a quote from George Leonard’s The Way of Aikido that struck a chord with me as I’ve been thinking about parenting and autism.
What we call “mastery” can be defined as that mysterious process through which what is at first difficult or even impossible becomes easy and pleasurable through diligent, patient, long-term practice.Most learning occurs while we are on the plateau, when it seems we are making no progress at all. The spurt upward towards mastery merely marks the moment when the results of your training “clicks in.”
To learn anything significant…you must be willing t spend most of your time on the plateau. [T]o join the on the path of mastery, it’s best to love the plateau, to take delight in regular practice not just for the extrinsic rewards it brings, but for its own sake.
Another way of looking at it comes from a saying I heard a while back, but can’t remember where:
A truly happy person enjoys the scenery on a detour
How’s the scenery on your detour?
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Two years later, I can tell you that the scenery is beautiful on this detour of ours. The road does get a bit rough at times, and I have to keep my eye on the road to keep from driving off, but that would be true on any other road as well.