Do You Underestimate Your Child’s Potential?

Parenting children is a noble calling.  So is parenting children on the autism spectrum.

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”

Helen Keller

The following article was a guest post from Chantal Sicile-Kira. She originally wrote this article for Laura Schumaker, writer and autism advocate at the San Fransisco Chronicle.   Thank you, Chantal and Laura, for permission to share this excellent article with my readers!

 

3551019373 135ae07155 Do You Underestimate Your Childs Potential?

Autism: Never Underestimate Your Child’s Potential

Last June, my son Jeremy graduated from high school and gave a commencement speech (you can hear it here) in which he highlighted his goals of following in Helen Keller’s footsteps of becoming a college graduate, writer and advocate.

Parents often write to me and ask me how I did it–how I got Jeremy to where he is today. It’s not an easy question to answer. But at the end of the day, I think there are three core beliefs that kept me going:

1. Every human has potential.

As his parent, it was ultimately my responsibility to ensure that Jeremy reached his potential, whatever that might be.

2. Every person is capable of learning.

When Jeremy did not appear to be learning or when the schools gave up, I learned different teaching methods and tried them at home. I never asked the school to try a teaching method I had not tried with Jeremy first, so I had my data and my first-hand experience to show them. This step was not easy, but it has made all the difference in Jeremy’s life.

3. You can best help a person by focusing on his or her abilities, not disabilities.

It is Jeremy’s desire to learn, his style of writing and his sense of humor that will help him become a productive member of society, not his autism or movement differences.

Jeremy’s high school years were hard, but they were years of tremendous growth. He was able to demonstrate his abilities, and as a result he was given the opportunity to learn. Now, he is attending community college part-time and is a staff writer on the college newspaper.

Recently, Jeremy transitioned out of school and into the adult world. As part of the process, he signed up with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. What followed was a year of waiting, meetings and assessments. As a result of this eye-opening experience, as well as research undertaken for my next book, A Full Life With Autism (MacMillan 2012), here are my three core beliefs revisited:

1. Every human has potential.

As his parent, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure that Jeremy discovers his earning potential, whatever that might be. What does your child like to do? What is he or she good at? Find mentors -people you know who work in different fields – to help you figure this out. For example, I met a young woman whose special interest was weddings- she loved looking at bridal magazines and with the help of her family and support staff built an on-line business buying and selling second-hand wedding dresses. We all have to start being more creative in our thinking.

2. Every person is capable of learning.

The Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation around the country are still grappling with this. If you want your adult child to earn a living, see number 1.

3. You can best help a person by focusing on his or her abilities, not their disabilities.

The Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation do not yet understand this concept. They are still trying to fit square pegs in round holes. If you want your adult child to earn a living, See number 1, and network like crazy.

My point here is that when your child transitions out of school, do not expect that someone in a government agency is going to be very helpful in getting him a job or more training. They will only help a select few, and your adult child will most likely be underemployed if he gets a job at all.

Go down those avenues of adult services, but do not let their negativity eat at you. Most of them do not understand the possibilities, they only look at the problems.

There are positive work-related stories in the news in regards to young adults on the spectrum, and every single story is a result of personal involvement from a parent. Any corporation starting programs providing training and hiring people with autism does so because the CEO or Senior VP has a child or a relative or a good friend on the spectrum. Any innovative company or non-profit that is creating job awareness or opportunity was created because some parents had hopes and dreams for their children.

The following article was a guest post from Chantal Sicile-Kira. She originally wrote this article for Laura Schumaker, writer and autism advocate at the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Chantal Sicile-kira is an award-winning author and speaker on autism know for her practical advice to parents and educators, and the founder of Autism College.

In celebration of Autism Awareness Month, Autism College and Momsfightingautism.com are co-sponsoring a free virtual conference with sixteen autism experts, including Temple Grandin as the keynote speaker on April 9 and 10. For more information on the conference, go HERE:

For information on Chantal’s books, go to www.chantalsicile-kira.com.

For more information on Autism College GO HERE.

You can also read more about Laura Schumaker’s most recent book here.

There is hope for the future. But it begins with all of us. It takes a village…

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About Stephen Borgman

 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.

If you're looking for motivational fuel for personal excellence, you've come to the right place!

I'd love to connect with you on Twitter and Facebook. You can subscribe to my letter on the sidebar for fresh motivational fuel delivered to your email inbox on a regular basis.

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If you're looking for a trusted mentor, I recommend Brian R. King from SpectrumMentor.Com.

He is a licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience.

He is also diagnosed with Aspergers himself.

You may want to contact him for one on one mentoring, to learn about conscious dating, or you may benefit from his Parenting With Purpose Community.

Comments

  1. zain from Autism Products
    Twitter: fundraisinforacause
    says:

    after reading this tremendous post I would like to appreciate Chantal Sicile-Kira and Laura for their efforts against Autism! I myself trying to aware peoples about Autism in Pakistan and trying very hard to remove the wrong rumours and practises in our country. Lets pray for the best.

  2. Stephen Borgman says:

    Zain, thank you for sharing.

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