I was chatting with someone a few days ago when I shared some of thoughts about raising a child with diagnosed differences. My position is that our kids are fine the way they are, that we need to love them as they are right now and convey our acceptance of who they are, at the same time that we believe in their future potential to move beyond the current limitations.
It’s a hard balance, to accept and to simultaneously support and believe in what you don’t yet see but this is the attitude I believe is transformative for every parent struggling with some aspect of a child’s behavior or development.
She exclaimed, “I’m reading a book and it’s exactly what you’re talking about, you’d love it!” – and then went to get it for me.
The book is called Sonrise, written in the 1970s. I don’t generally like the style of books written in the 70s, and honestly, this was no exception. After reading the book I went online to do more research on the Sonrise program, and learned that a video had been made about the Sonrise story.
When the movie began I was dismayed to see it was a 70s movie and I don’t like 70s movies any more than I like 70s books. Sorry if that offends someone, that’s just my feeling.
But I watched The Miracle of Love with a few of my kids (skipping a bit in the beginning because of my impatience) because I believe so strongly in this message and was intrigued to see the portrayal of how this was used to bring a severely autistic child out of autism at a time when there was no hope for kids with a diagnosis like his.
My older kids who watched with me all said it was thought provoking and inspiring; I felt the same way.
It’s unfortunate that there is so much of a focus on rejecting our kids’ behaviors when we deem them unacceptable. That’s really our societal approach, and there are therapeutic approaches that have elements of this attitude built in. A parent attending one of my classes once asked me how this idea applied to kids with autism. I told her that in that case, you need to go into their world and from there bring them into your world. That’s exactly what the Sonrise program advocates, which has become famous throughout the world.
It’s intrinsically about the power of love. It transforms a parent, it transforms a child, it transforms a family.
It’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. It’s a powerful but subtle and nuanced position, and it’s taken me a lot of conscious thought to figure out how to find this balance inside of myself. I continue to work on this, to maintain my balance and that means sometimes I lose my balance! But the effort has been worth it, as it’s changed me at the same time it’s helped me to support the different needs of each of my children.