What My Son’s Autism Taught Me About Following my Dreams

By Jodi Perez | Parenting

Aug 01

We all have dreams.

For some of us, they may be as simple as being a stay at home mom.
And for others, it may be something a bit more extreme, like becoming an African missionary. But following those dreams has become something of a lost art these days.
We are a world full of Type A people, forcing everyone around us to keep up the appearance of perfection.  We allow that mindset to control our lives and our dreams.

Most of us would choose to live unfulfilled rather than making a choice that others would consider “irrational”.

 

But the concept of considering social norms, is completely lost on a child with autism. A few years ago, when my son was diagnosed, I had no idea what kind of challenges I would be facing.  What I didn’t realize, is that those so-called “problems” were going to teach me alot about myself and my limitation.

And that’s exactly what happened the other day:

“Put your shoes on Ash,” I repeated again staring at my four-year-old in frustration.

He looked back at with a grumpy stare and crossed arms, uttering just one word. “No.”

Ugh.  My other two children, who had put their shoes on 15 minutes ago, were impatiently waiting by the front door.

“Asher, we are going to the park, bud.   You love the park.   Just put your shoes on.”

“No.”   That was it.  No explanation.  No reasoning.  Just No.

At this point, my patience had worn thin and I was prepared to resort to almost any tactic.  I had already tried putting his shoes on myself, which he immediately removed and threw across the room.   I had attempted to bribe him with candy, promises of ice cream after the park, and giving him the first go on the swings.   All of it yielded the exact same response.

One word…………………………..No.

What my child's autism taught me about being determined to succeed. Determination is the key ingredient in following your dreams

He had decided he was not wearing shoes today, even if he missed an opportunity for something he loved.

“Asher,” my tone was angrier now,  “everyone else is ready to go.  Get your shoes on or I’m going to have to leave without you.”    As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were a mistake.  I couldn’t leave him at home and we both knew it.  Regardless, I stood my ground, trying to appear frightening.

He didn’t even bother to respond this time.  He just stared at me.   I could feel desperation and frustration building up inside of me.   How did this 4-year-old have so much power?

“Alright, we’re leaving. Let’s go guys.”  I made a dramatic show of taking the other two kids to the car.  Loudly talking about the park and all the fun we were going to have.   When I finished buckling their seatbelts, I turned back to the house, fully expected to see Asher standing at the door with his shoes on.  Or at very least, standing at the door looking concerned.

But, in reality, he was nowhere in sight.

Now what?

Approaching the door, I opened it and peeked inside.  He wasn’t standing there.  He wasn’t upset or concerned.   In fact, he wasn’t even watching.  He was sitting on the couch, remote in hand, watching cartoons.

ARGGHH!   What child preferred TV to ice cream and the park?    At this point, with two kids in the car, I had no more options.  I quickly scooped him up and carried him kicking and screaming to the car.  I buckled him in while he tantrumed. I placed his shoes on the floor beneath him and got in the front seat.

I was sweating and I was upset but I had won.   “You did what you had to do,” I told myself as I drove. “You showed him who’s boss.”  Then, something occurred to me.

Maybe I hadn’t won at all.  He was in the car, that part was true, but he still didn’t have his shoes on.  The fight wasn’t over.  When we got to the park, I would still have another battle to fight.  Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure If I could win.


Asher has a level of determination
that can ONLY be described as irrational.

Once he has made up his mind, he is determined to have his way.  Mental tactics do not work.   In fact, anything short of physically forcing him does not work.

I’ve spent many hours analyzing just what causes the rest of us to re-work our own agendas to suit his needs.

It’s not just the fact that he throws tantrums. All three of my children have thrown tantrums at points in their lives.  We have never tip-toed around the others hoping not to upset them.   No, Asher has something else.  Something more powerful.

Following your dreams, the one thing you really need to master

Actually, it’s more than one something.
It’s 3 somethings.
If he were an adult, we would call these “somethings” methods.  Because in reality, ANYONE can implement these strategies.

But why would anyone want to do that? you ask.  Because although it’s frustrating for the rest of us, Asher has a natural “ability” to get what he wants out of life.   And lucky me, I get to be the one to come up with methods to combat this ability.  But in all seriousness, I am lucky.  Because I’m learning a valuable life lesson from my child.  And lucky for you too, because I’m going to share

Know what you want

Asher knew what he wanted that day (and every day).  He had decided he was not putting his shoes on+.  Promises of doing things he loved or special treats didn’t lure him in.    He was irrationally determined to have his way.  No one and nothing could persuade him otherwise.  When we have a specific dream in our hearts, we need to get irrational about it.   Our friends and family members don’t like it when we start pursuing something that will change the way our lives intercept each other.   So naturally, they will begin offering you suggestions and other options.  They may even go as far as to explain why you are making a bad decision.  As an adult, this is even more challenging because we can often see the consequences of our choices before we make them.  So allowing ourself to be swayed by something that seems less difficult is a natural choice.   But if you want to follow a dream, you need to keep your eyes on your end goal and don’t allow yourself to be lured away.

 

Don’t justify your decisions

“No.”  that was it.  That was all he offered.  As a mother, that was incredibly frustrating because I had no leg to stand on.  If he had said, “No, I don’t want to wear the green shoes.” or “No, I want to watch TV.”  Then I would have had a something to work with.  I could have picked a different color or promised TV later.  But he gave away nothing.  He felt no need to justify WHY he didn’t want to put his shoes on.  He just didn’t.

We often feel a need for validation.  For someone to tell us they agree with the choice we are making.  But in reality, asking for validation also opens you up to criticism.  If you have a dream, and you want to follow it, don’t ask everyone in your life to validate your decisions.  Of course, asking a spouse or someone else who will be majorly impacted by your decision is a different story, but in general, you don’t need anyone else’s thoughts on the subject.

 

Do not let fear stop you.

I walked out the door. I literally walked out and left him in the house “alone”.  I was out there for at least 3 minutes.  For a 4-year-old, 3 minutes is a long time.  But he wasn’t concerned.  He didn’t stand at the door wondering if he’d missed his chance.  He didn’t cry, afraid of being left alone. He had never been left alone in his life, but there was no fear in him.  Instead, he promptly went back to pursuing his own agenda, oblivious to the world around him.

When you make a decision to let go of something.  Let go of it.  Don’t be afraid of losing out or of what could happen.  Just determine to stick to your decision.  Could something bad happen?  Yes.   But something bad can happen no matter what decision you make.  Choosing the easier road doesn’t offer any guarantees either.   So whenever you feel the fear start creeping up on you, turn away from the door and just keep pursuing your dream.

 

I do want to offer one word of caution.   Like Asher. sometimes we get so focused on our own wants that we don’t think about how that will affect others.  When you decide to follow your dream, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

When I decided I wanted to be a stay at home blogger.  I knew that it was a calling God had placed in my heart and I followed it because I knew it was right.  I had a God-Sized Dream that I had to follow.
I did have to have irrational determination.  I had to ignore what everyone else thought about my dream but I knew I was doing it for the right reason.

Do you have a God-sized dream that you’ve been afraid to share with the world….
Take the first step. SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small fee for anything purchased through a link (at no cost to you.)  I only promote products that I fully support. You can read my full disclosure HERE.

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