“My son, Adam, was born in June 2009.He’s the greatest thing I have ever done. And the hardest job I’ve ever had is being a Mummy. Tee is what my niece named me when she started to talk. Now half the world calls me Tee. The other half call me Byn. The last half call me Robyn. And I am terrible at maths”.
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- Adventures in Parenting – Raising a Confident Child - May 27, 2015
When Lynn Schreiber, our esteemed editor and chief, asked me to write a piece about how to raise a confident child I sort of went: um, I dunno!
My son is, after all, not quite six and recently diagnosed with ASD.
But he is, despite not being quite six and with ASD, very confident.
Now to figure out how I did that.
Well, I’m not doing it alone, of course. My husband, his father, has a hand in it. And we do follow a few ‘rules’ that may be helping:
- Tell him, no matter what, that we love him. Always and forever. We may be mad about something he did, but we never stop loving him. No matter what.
- Tell him, all the time, how proud we are of him. He obviously has some additional challenges, thanks to being on the spectrum, and every time he accomplishes something big, we tell him how proud we are. But we also tell him when he does something small.
- Answer all questions from the floor as soon as they are asked. And I mean all questions. Including the one asked a bit too loudly on the street at Belfast City Centre about why Mummy sometimes has blood on her pants. Who knows how long he was wondering about it before it came bursting out in that oh so public place. So I told him, right then and there on street in front of Boots about how it just meant Mummy didn’t have a baby in her tummy and he shouldn’t worry about it.
- Listen to the little things and they’ll tell you the big ones because to them they are all big ones. I actually got that from a friend in the US who posted it on her Facebook. And realized how true it was. Yes, I know more than I will ever want to about Star Wars, Angry Birds and Lego. But my son knows I listen and will continue to listen no matter what he says as what he says is important to him and therefore important to me.
I also think I need to give credit where it’s due and mention his school. He goes to a regular mainstream school and attends a regular mainstream class. And from day 1, when they first suspected he may be autistic, they have been nothing but supportive. They helped me get him referred for an IEP and then for a diagnosis.
And his teachers have been amazing, willing to work with him to the best of their abilities, and his.
And, somehow, this combination of factors have come together to create the little boy who marched right up to his P2 teacher last September and say ‘Hi Mr Carson. Remember me? I’m Adam. I’m in your class today.’ To which Mr Carson replied ‘Hi Adam, of course I remember you! And I think you’re in my class every day this year!’
Then Adam went to gather his gang to play duck duck goose before the bell. Because some things are much more important than saying good bye to Mum and Dad on the first day of school.