If you want to help me, give me hope.
I posted the image above yesterday, and someone very legitimately responded: how? Brenda Rothman at Mama Be Good goes a long way toward answering that question in her post today about Counteracting the Deficit Model of Autism. She offers four suggestions for how parents can see their autistic children as more than what they cannot do. Parents need to form positive images of their kids, and then work on helping both the children themselves and the people who work with them to embrace their potential.
I agree with everything Brenda says here, and I'm especially glad she points out the importance of making time to play:
Between school and therapies, between the drumbeats of fear and anxiety, we forget the whole child. We forget what childhood is for: daydreams, freedom, a grassy yard, exploration, finding secret holes in cabinets, using closets as hideaways, digging tunnels in dirt, looking at sky, no time limits, no tests, and play, lots and lots of play. This kind of childhood is what's going to give our child the foundation, something to fall back on when others in the world deliver joyless, conformist messages.You won't hear about the value of play, of free time, and childhood from doctors and service providers. That's because they don't focus on it. They can't quantify it. Service providers and teachers have their specialties. It's no denigration to say they don't see the whole picture. They aren't supposed to. But the next time one of them suggests therapies and school that take up your child's entire day, their entire childhood, step away.