By Laura C., Gardner, KS
I am a mom of three great kids: two sons and a daughter. My sons are on the Autism Spectrum. My oldest son is 18 and has Aspergers Syndrome with ADHD. My second son is 16 and has Aspergers with a receptive language disorder.
Our success as a family is built on some basic principles. Our faith and our attitude have pulled us through some rough times. It will pull us through the challenges ahead. But that’s not the entire key to this success story. The way we’ve parented our children has also made a difference.
My husband and I have focused on three main areas over the years. They include treating our boys as typical kids, having expectations, and fostering an environment of success.
We treat all our children as typical kids. We love and accept our boys where they are at in their development.
Within those parameters, we have and continue to set reasonable boundaries. Our philosophy is that if you don’t set a boundary early, as hard as it might be, you’ll be paying for it later.
The second area we focus on is having expectations. We have the expectation for our kids that they will do their best at the level where they are. As parents, we do our best to encourage and support our kids, meeting each child at his or her own level. A very important part of that support and encouragement is to never play the “should have” game. That is the game where you second guess all of your decisions with the thought of “I should have done this” or “I should have done that”. We don’t play that game. Instead, we keep moving forward!
Lastly, we are intentionally fostering an environment of success for each one of our kids. What makes a successful environment is networking, teamwork, and opportunity. All three pieces are interconnected and you can only have success with all three in place.
Networking is a very important part of our kids’ success. The same “rules” apply as those found in the business world….it’s who you know. It’s who we know that can help us with what we need for our kids. It’s who you know in your team that can open a door of opportunity.
Teamwork includes our family, friends, caregivers, educators, and doctors. Without a team, opportunities are missed, networking is missed, and success falls flat on its face.
We look for every opportunity to help our kids learn and grow as individuals. There are many opportunities everywhere you turn. One example is Special Olympics. This program not only helps our boys to be physically active but it also helps them learn how to work as a member of a team, socialize with peers and adults, and learn many a lesson on winning and losing.
We have never given up on our special needs boys. We are their best advocates, encouragers, and support system. Without this realization, our efforts for success for our children would be in vain.