I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ where he discussed the idea that we often openly share our goals about things we are going to give up (sweets, carbs, TV, alcohol, etc) but we are not as keen to share our goals about what he calls “going up”. These are positive, moving forward, achievement based goals. Not what you are going to stop doing as much as what you are going to start doing.
This made me think about how much energy we in the autism world put into stopping behaviors, symptoms, and other experiences that we label as bad or negative. We identify things we would like our child to give up or change but are not as quick to identify and talk about things we hope our kids will achieve, or in Godin’s words “going up”.
Why are we much quicker to talk about the giving up and not the going up when it comes to autism?
We are told early and often that our child “might not be like the other kids”. Do we then begin putting our own limitations on our children? Are we afraid that if we dream big and set high goals for our kids they might not achieve those goals…and then what? We are hurt, embarrassed, disappointed?
In autism and in life what seems to often keep us from dreaming big is our own fear of failure and disappointment. A long line of “what if’s…”
I would add another what if: What if our own limited expectations are holding back our children from doing great things?
Every child is different and “going up” to great things is different for all of us. Let me encourage you that there is little lost in speaking up and sharing big hopes and dreams. Maybe there is even something gained in talking out loud a little more about going up and a little less about giving up.
After all, your child is listening, other families are listening, and somewhere inside you are listening to your own voice as well.