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  • Jody B. Miller

Flipping the Script on Autism: Discover the Simple Question That Changed Everything!

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Raising exceptional children with varied talents and needs, from an autistic child to a budding professional athlete, to an Ivy League prodigy, presents a unique set of challenges that might sometimes seem insurmountable.

In moments of doubt or difficulty, the wisdom of #SteveJobs can be a guiding light. His insights from the 2005 Stanford University commencement speech can be particularly inspiring.

Jobs spoke about the courage it takes to pursue a vision and the faith needed to believe that, despite the obstacles, things will eventually align.

He shared his personal story of resilience: how he was ousted from Apple, faced public embarrassment, and yet, how his return to Apple led to revolutionary innovations like the iPhone.

His experience underlines the truth that life's journey cannot be understood by looking forward; it's only in looking back that the path becomes clear. This perspective asks for trust in a greater force at work in your life.

Adapting Jobs' philosophy to parenting, consider his words:

"You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

Embrace this mindset as you support and guide your children. Trust in their unique paths and in your instincts as a parent. Believing in the journey's eventual sense can provide the strength and perspective needed when the road seems toughest, helping you to cultivate the potential in each of your extraordinary children.

Let’s get more specific…

Raising a child with autism presents a complex array of challenges that extend beyond the everyday parenting dilemmas. Navigating the educational system and advocating for your child's needs can be an especially harrowing journey.

The process of attending IEP meetings, where you're faced with a cadre of professionals all focusing on your child's limitations rather than his abilities, can be incredibly disheartening. It's a scenario that many parents of children with special needs know all too well.

The traditional approach to these meetings can often feel like a barrage of negativity, fixating on deficits and imposing limitations rather than fostering potential. It's a path that can lead to segregated educational experiences, stripping away opportunities for social growth and integration with peers. But as you've discovered, approaching these meetings with determination and a shift in perspective can make a profound difference.

By asking, "What CAN my child do?" can redirect the focus from disability to possibility.

It’s a powerful question that requires educators and therapists to look beyond their assessments and see the child in front of them.

This approach not only brings attention to your child’s strengths but also fosters a more positive and constructive conversation about their education and future.

The shift was inspired and personified in the response of Chris’s kindergarten teacher—a response that highlights the importance of having even one educator who sees a child's potential and commits to nurturing it.

This Kindergarten teacher's promise to teach Chris to read was more than just a commitment to her profession; it was a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of positive expectations.

Taking a proactive stance with the ability to inspire and collaborate with your child’s educational team can tur the tide of his/her academic journey.

The resulting plan, born out of a newfound hope and a focus on abilities, likely contributed greatly to Chris’s success in learning to read and speak.

Chris’s progress is a clear indication that advocacy, rooted in a belief in your child's potential, is crucial.

While confrontation may sometimes seem like the only option, your experience shows that it’s possible to be a strong advocate without it—though it requires patience, persistence, and sometimes the courage to stand as the solitary voice of optimism in a room of doubt.

My story is a message to other parents in similar situations: to lead with questions of capability rather than disability, to hold onto hope, faith, and the belief that things can improve, and to remember that asking "What CAN my child do?" is not just a question, but a catalyst for change.

My journey with Chris reflects a shared experience of many parents with autistic children—working tirelessly behind the scenes, celebrating every triumph, no matter how small, and continuously seeking out the possibilities that lie within their children.

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