Oxygen Mask: They’re Listening. Episode 002.

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In our second Oxygen Mask episode, “They’re Listening,” we have an honest conversation about the power of words in shaping how our children see themselves. Setting aside guilt, we step into the power we hold as parents to make a difference in small, consistent ways. We can be thoughtful and intentional about what we share and where. We can find outlets to process the hard stuff. We can practice “pivoting” from energy-sapping conversations about deficits, causes, cures, and strategies to emphasize gratitude, growth, and strengths. Listen and comment: What are some “pivot phrases” you can use to shift from fear or deficits to strengths? Have you ever had an aha moment where you realized your child is listening?

Show Notes:

Check out this kiddo snapshot that describes a child in positive, concrete ways and offers suggestions for successful engagement. Make one with or for your child and use it as a introduction with teachers, camp leaders, caregivers, and others. The snapshot is part of a CEA blog post about summer planning and we’ve since learned that a similar snapshot/picture is used in Person-Centered Planning.

Carly’s Voice, a powerful book by a father-daughter duo in which, among lots of other topics, they discuss what it was like for Carly, who is autistic, to understand and take in the world around her but be unable to communicate verbally for much of her childhood.

Nick Walker’s “What is Autism” offers a neutral definition of autism and a starting point for “pivoting” our own ideas about autism away from deficits and toward differences.

As you try on a strengths-based lens, it may help to understand the “Kingdoms of Autism”. We offer this article to help you better see the “lay of the land” around you. Recognizing the lens that friends, family members, strangers, teachers, and clinicians bring to the conversation can help you orient yourself and “pivot” or translate more readily toward the lens that feels healthy for you, your child, and your family.

Important Content Ahead! While we briefly touched on it here, we will dedicate a future episode to the very important topic of parents having a safe, healthy outlet to process the challenging realities that come with raising a child on the autism spectrum. If your emotional needs aren’t being met, reaching for strengths can feel artificial and stifling. That’s no place to be.

Below, we’ll share a synopsis of “pivot phrases” from listeners this week. Grab ‘em and use ‘em on the playground, in the hallways, and in your neighborhood!

  • “There’s no need to be [sorry], he’s [positive descriptions of child].”
  • “We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that (i.e. causes), but….[name interests].”
  • “We haven’t looked into that [i.e. strategy/“cure”]. We have what we need right now/are doing what we need to do right now.”
  • ”It sure can be hard, but we are OK/have a lot of great people in our lives/have some great things going for us.”

 

Author: Beth

Beth is a wife, mother, researcher and connector. She has two elementary-aged kids, one who is differently wired with autism. Beth has done graduate work and consulting related to youth development and community engagement. She loves advocating for authentic community engagement and contributions of kids and families impacted by autism. She lives in Hopkins, MN.

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