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eikonabridge
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05 Oct 2019, 3:23 am

It went like this. I was talking to a mom of an autistic girl that was 5 going into 6 years old. She was homeschooling her daughter. She told me, she did a lot of hands-on life skill development for her daughter. I told her, all that was good, but reading should be the primary focus at that age. She told me, her daughter did read books, but often there was no reading comprehension, that her daughter often just sounded the words. So she tried to teach reading comprehension to her daughter. I shook my head. I said, why would you do that? Why didn't you follow your daughter's interests and develop her from there? I told her, books out there often don't match with children's personal experience or interests, so the best route was for her to create and make up stories and develop her daughter from her interests. I asked, why did you chase after reading comprehension? She said, because the daughter needed to match up to the level of children of her age, so that when the daughter went back to public school one day, she wouldn't feel any lesser than her friends.

Sounds reasonable, right?

But don't people realize what's so wrong in all this?

I mean, I clearly saw escapism in her daughter when I met her. Geez, don't people realize where the escapism comes from?

Why do neurotypical parents always fall into the trap of peer pressure? Why don't they realize they are harming their children?

I mean, all this is so wrong.

Your starting point is: your daughter is defective. Before any of your actions, you are already looking down at your own daughter. You are not treating your daughter as an equal-rights human being. Everything else goes downhills from there.

Respect is a two-way street. What goes around, comes around. I don't know why those parents always make the same mistake. I mean, don't people have eyes? Don't people have brains? If they can see the failure of other families, why do they repeat the exact same mistake, and walk down the exact same path of suffering? They not only make their children suffer, they end up making themselves suffer as well.

Don't they realize that their children cannot be admitted to public schools and be mainstreamed, because of all the mistakes they have made in raising their children?!

I mean, wake up. You've damaged your children enough, you are the reason why they are not developed well enough, and you still want to continue down the same wrong path?

Parents succumb to peer pressure just so easily. Life skills, executive functions, verbal skills, social skills. All those words sound like magical candies to parents' ears.

I mean, why don't people look at what I do with my children?

Instead of succumbing to words from our relatives, or ABA therapists and supervisors, or just about any stranger, I spoon fed my daughter until she was 10 years old. And I am darn proud about it. I am proud that I paid zero attention to other people comments and their sneering.

Instead of chasing after play dates, I would take my daughter to a park, and let her sit alone on a bench, and I would walk away, so that she could observe her surroundings, and let her thoughts flow. Alone, all by herself. I would only observe my daughter from far away, to make sure she was safe.

Why, after I do all those weird things, my daughter's life skills, executive functions, verbal skills, and social skills, all end up ahead of her autistic peers? Why?

Why those parents that chase after life skills, executive functions, verbal skills, social skills, end up having underdeveloped children with severe escapism that cannot learn anything from anyone? Why?

This was the letter my daughter left on her desk in her classroom, a few weeks ago, for the school's "Back-to-School Night" event, when parents went to school (without children) to meet their classroom teachers. Read it. (As always, I have changed my daughter's name in my public materials. There is no secret about her real name, but it's just a way for me to show respect to her.)

Image

Do you guys even read the part about "Thank you for letting me be myself"??! !

Why do other parents have to look down on their own children, and then cause so much misery in their family life? Do you expect those parents will ever one day receive a letter like the one my daughter wrote for me?

Surely not, right? What are their children going to write about? "Thank you Mom, for treating me as a defective child from the very beginning"??! !

What goes around, comes around. Respect your children. Don't treat them as defective human beings in need of therapies. Stop succumbing to peer pressure from people around you: relatives, ABA therapists, school teachers, psychologists. strangers. None of those people have any clue about autism. Once you think that you need to chase down life skills, executive functions, verbal skills, social skills for your children, you are already not respecting your children. You are already thinking that your children are defective.

Instead, let your children lead you, guide you, onto the paths of their interests. You don't just let your children do what they like to do. Instead, you "modulate in" and leverage their interests to develop new skills for them. Like reading, like writing, like drawing pictures, like math, etc. You develop their brains. There is zero to worry about life skills, executive functions, verbal skills and social skills, because, once the brains of your children are developed, those skills will come automatically. Brains, guys, focus on the development of your children's reasoning skills.


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DW_a_mom
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05 Oct 2019, 7:36 pm

I don't think its peer pressure so much as an assumption that the conventional wisdom which surrounds you exists for a reason, and thus you should listen to it.

It was really freeing to me when I found the sites that ASD individuals post on, and realized that conventional wisdom is all wrong when it comes to the ASD mind. Not everyone, however, is willing to take that leap. We are all, NT and ASD, victims of our own life experiences and assumptions.

Lovely letter from your daughter. I am glad she feels like you are a good parent to her. My ASD son felt the same about me (it is my NT daughter I made more mistakes with).


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eikonabridge
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06 Oct 2019, 9:04 am

DW_a_mom wrote:
It was really freeing to me when I found the sites that ASD individuals post on, and realized that conventional wisdom is all wrong when it comes to the ASD mind. Not everyone, however, is willing to take that leap. We are all, NT and ASD, victims of our own life experiences and assumptions.

Yeah, the fact that I spoon fed my daughter until she was 10 years old, was to make a point. To make the point that these children are perfectly fine, and that they simply have a different schedule. It's the same point I make about my children being able to read books when they were 2 years old, or that my son wrote his first Python computer program at age 5. Once you realize that they are not lesser, but simply different, then you know you don't need to yield to the pressure from other people. You come to accept your children for who they are. This last summer, a school teacher told me there was this great social skills program during summer that might be good for my son. I declined her offer immediately. I mean, what other parents are daring enough to do the kinds of things I do? If your starting point is to tell me that my son is defective in need of other people filling in his weakness, sorry, I don't buy that. My son will socialize whenever and wherever he wants to. For people that he knows or likes, I see zero socialization issues in my son. I am simply following up the words in the letter I wrote to my son for his 8th birthday: "... Don’t let the world change who you are. Instead, your destiny is to change the world, and bring a better life to other people."

It's a bit like the story of Rosa Park: "People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

I am too tired of giving in.

It's all very simple: treat these kids as equal-rights fellow human beings. Respect them. How is that so hard to do? Take their actions and behaviors as sovereign expressions, and work from there as a starting point. Don't ever describe their behaviors and actions with terms like "disorder," "disability," or "unable to control." Instead, take all that as part of their "nature." Take it as a privilege that you get a chance to be part of their lives. You shouldn't be the driver, you are only the follower. And that, is my attitude. The kids are the leaders. They are the ones that will change our world. Not us.


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DW_a_mom
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06 Oct 2019, 11:12 pm

eikonabridge wrote:
It's all very simple: treat these kids as equal-rights fellow human beings. Respect them. How is that so hard to do? Take their actions and behaviors as sovereign expressions, and work from there as a starting point.


Are you aware that there is a huge segment of society that believes parents NOT being dictators towards their kids, regardless of neurology, are the source of everything that is wrong with young people? They will judge. It has nothing to do with the kids being ASD. They simply believe most kids today are awful and that it is because "modern" parenting philosophies allow us to see our children as *gasp* people we should actually listen to instead of just instructing and setting rules and boundaries for. I've had them conspiratorially whisper in my ear thinking I was like them because my ASD son was so darn perfect in public. But I'm not.

It isn't an ASD thing; it is a "society in transition" thing. IMHO.

My son choose to join a social skills group, by the way, because it was fun. He was allowed to bring a friend with him to an indoor location during lunch and play board games. His friends considered themselves lucky when they were invited to join him. And he got to play board games, his favorite. Personally, I would find out what is involved and run it by your child before rejecting it. Sometimes these "therapies," like a lunch bunch, can be gems of privilege for a child. It depends on who is running it and what the child likes. My son? LOVES board and card games. He thought he was incredibly lucky to go play them at school. Now he invents card games as a hobby.


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Jon81
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09 Oct 2019, 3:05 pm

Beautiful letter. I only wish I could get to read something like that one day.


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