Found out that someone else is using "Extreme Parenthood" as a theme for Special Needs Parents finding their power. So I'm gonna go back to an old favourite - Using your special powers.
Like all super heroes you have to go through turmoil to find your true awesomeness as a special needs parent. But when you do, you can wear your all in one Lycra jumpsuit with pride.
Here is a summary of how to get there. Ripped off from my own, "12 steps" with abbreviation to 5 in the spirit of my own favourite power - impatience!
I will list my own 5 powers of awesomeness at the end. I want you to comment and add yours.
Step One: Admitting you are powerless
The first, is to admit, to allow yourself to believe that nothing you did caused your child's diagnosis to happen. That you had no power to stop it.
My other take is to do the opposite to step one.
REALISE your own power. Once you get through dealing with the shock and have time to adjust your expectations, you have the ability to become your child's best advocate and consultant. You will have to call on resources that you never thought you had, and develop such strength and stamina in the face of the challenges you are about to face. And all of it will be real.
Step Two - Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity??
Not necessarily “A Higher Power” in a religious sense.
But if you can employ the basic principle of the golden rule
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Put good out into the world and then have it come back to you when you need it.
So the “Higher Power” therefore, is that of our COMBINED efforts to manage and support our child's disability.
You gotta have friends. You gotta network. You cannot do this alone.
Reach out, ask for help and when you are ready (it can take 2 years) go out and do some good in the world yourself. You will have learned a lot and have plenty to offer. But for now you need to let the others who have gone before you help.
The best diagnostic, therapeutic and educational services are always parent driven. There is also an informal network of support groups lead by parents and if you need it, formal
Parents who have gone before you, who have fallen into the traps of waiting for non existent services, of pursuing the false gods of expensive treatments.
Parents who know how awful it is to hear the news and walk out of the clinic with that piece of paper that confirms your baby isn't perfect.
Parents who will never tell you to "offer it up" or indeed give you the old "God Help Ye" and "Sure, you'll be grand, you have your OTHER kids"
Please reach out, relinquish absolute control and accept the help that can restore you to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a
"A higher power" as we understand "them".
This just means that you cannot control everything. A lot of people will be happy to let you if you have that tendency but they will also be quick to point out where you have failed – so don't try to do everything yourself.
Be prepared to turn some of your will over to relevant experts and follow what they suggest.
Not just folks in white coats with clip boards and degrees, but folks who have gone before you and tripped over; and are telling you to watch out for that pitfall as you pass by now.
You don't have to give ALL your will up. A lot of the stuff you learned from being a parent/brother/sister/auntie or babysitter will apply. But you will need to re- learn some of it and adapt it. And for that you have to learn to listen and change a bit based on the experience of others.
Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Shortly after my kids were diagnosed I was watching the news one night and saw an image of refugees, who had sailed halfway around the world in a very small boat, being taken on to a large commercial tanker. Mums, Dads, even very small Children being passed up a gangplank to safety and hopefully a better life.
At the time I felt quite keenly how vulnerable they were, and yet how resilient they had to be to get into that boat and survive until rescued. And I got to thinking of what we all might be capable of, given the circumstances.
You see, Autism Parenting can put you in an extreme situation. So I would have some understanding of the levels of inner strength you have to call on in extraordinary situations. You learn things about yourself that you shouldn't have to. But you also learn to call on the most incredible strength and tolerance. If you have it.
So look inside yourself, look for your strengths but don't be afraid of your weaknesses either. If you can see them you can look for help. And focus on what you can do. Just be honest about it.
Step Five: Get a Sponsor!
Just like AA there is going to be someone further along the road to diagnosis and treatment than you are. You can only take in so much information at once so making contact with someone who can tell you what you need, ...
Some resources: www.autismireland.ie
www.facebook.com/lisadom.irishautismaction – A "virtual" support group
And when you are ready, reach out and be someone else's sponsor.
My Five Powers:
5. Sulking. (if the above 4 don't get me what I want)