Me and Anava on her 10th birthday

Today is my daughter, Anava’s, 10th birthday.  Holy Moly- how did that happen?  I am amazed that not only has my little girl arrived at double digits (something that she is very proud of!) but this also means I have been a mother for 10 years!

As I reflect on Anava’s 10 years of her life so far, I am in wonder of who she has become.  She is a girl with very independent ideas; she has decided to become a vegetarian, loves playing the guitar anddoing  gymnastics and loves learning how to do things on her own (like cooking and folding laundry).  It has been such an honor for me to see her unfold as a person and learn more about who she is, how she works, how she thinks, what friends she chooses and how she responds to different events in her life.

Being her mother, and a mother of all 3 of my children, is an ongoing process of letting each child be my teacher.  It is my intention, and life’s work, to support them into becoming who they want to be, versus pushing them to grow into what I think they should become.  Meeting each child where they are at, learning who they are and helping them to grow in the direction they want to grow in can be a challenge sometimes.  But when I do come from that place, I feel at my best as a parent.  I am most able to enjoy each child as a person and I see each child flourish as a result. Instead of asking myself “what can I teach them?” I try to ask myself, “what can they teach me?”

How does this apply to a child with autism,who at times is completely in his own world?  In the Son-Rise Program, meeting your child where he is and seeing your child as a teacher is a fundamental principle. Joining your child when he is in an exclusive, repetitious activity (also know in Son-Rise as an ‘ism’) is they key way to do this.

Here are 4 reasons why joining can help empower your child in who he is and inspire him to move towards us and bring his true self more fully into our world:

*Joining communicates respect.  By joining your child while he is being exclusive, you are communicating, through your actions, that you respect your child’s need to take care of himself through his exclusive and repetitious behavior.  By demonstrating this respect, you make yourself more attractive to your child and he is more likely to move towards you when he is ready.

*Joining helps you learn more about your child.  By doing exactly what your child is doing (whether it be lining up toys in an exact order, drawing the same picture over and over again or talking about the same topic), you give yourself the opportunity to learn more about what your child is doing and what he might be gaining from this activity (it can be so soothing and relaxing to do the same activity in the exact same way over and over again).  This will give you insight into what your child gravitates towards (like watching things spin) and you can use these things as motivations in games when your child is available.

*Joining gives your child the opportunity to build his social muscle of  coming to aninteraction on his own. By joining, you give him the space to initiate (in simple ways, like looking at you or what you are doing).   This is a crucial social skill entirely missed when constantly trying to draw your child out.  Your long term goal is for your child to succeed socially on a playground or in a  classroom with other kids.  Other kids are not going to work  hard to try to get your kid to interact.  It is up to your child to initiate interaction and this will be crucial in his long term success.

*Joining facilitates true and sincere interaction.  By waiting until your child is available, you allow your child to come to the interaction when he is ready.  By doing this, your child will be interactive with you in a way that has a much deeper and authentic quality.

This article is an opportunity for you, if you are new to Son-Rise, to experience the benefits of joining.  If you are a Son-Rise veteran, this is an opportunity for you to refresh and deepen your intentions behind joining and inspire your team to do the same.