Our son Brandon was born in 1995. Up until he was of school age we were always told how ‘perfect’ our son was. We were always asked “what is your secret?" My answer, “I don’t have one. I am a new mum.”
Once school started we were constantly told of our sons ‘faults’ - his ‘problems’ and his ‘mistakes’. He seemed just fine at home when he was on his own or just with me - put another person in the equation, and downhill it went. WHAT HAVE WE DONE WRONG?
Obviously as parents we blamed ourselves, why wouldn't we? Especially when society was judging us greatly and slowly isolating us as a family. Not to mention the education institution removing our son daily in front of his peers, and showing him that he was not welcomed nor acceptable to be amongst others.
As years went by we saw our son rapidly be reduced to a person who was surviving on:
• Low self esteem
• Self hate
• Being a mistake
When you hear your child saying:
• “What is wrong with me?”
• “Why was I born?”
• “I hate myself.”
• “I am a mistake.”
• “I am dumb.”
• “I am useless.”
• “I wish I was dead.”
Alarm bells go off …you know changes need to happen. We knew it was time for us to make the changes we wanted for our son, and not to leave it in the hope that OTHERS would change.
STEPS WE TOOK THAT ALLOWED OUR SON TO FEEL JOY:
1. Re-evaluate our expectations.
2. Learn about Autism / Aspergers / ASD, yet keep it in perspective.
3. Tune in to who our child genuinely was, not what the stereotypical child is, based on social beliefs.
4. Took snippets of the knowledge out there yet still kept grounded as to what we as parents wanted, and what wonderful knowledge we could instill in our son.
5. Remember to separate facts and opinions/personal beliefs.
6. Keep reminding ourselves that as parents we held the most power.
Empowerment = Success!
- We taught our son with compassion not insults.
- We helped our son to love himself as a whole and to embrace his differences.
- We helped him learn positive ways to work with his differences not to fight them.
- We loved and still love our son as a whole.
- We look at mistakes as lessons not as major stuff-ups.
- We took our power back as parents.
- We were our sons best advocates and will not let anyone run him down.
I will share with you our personal experiences so that you may appreciate where these books have originated from. I am firstly a mother of two uniquely made children, Brandon and Jessica.
When I had Brandon, my husband and I thought all was good, but that was until we entered the social scene of the educational institutions. That is when, from day one, we were told quite openly and freely about our sons ‘mistakes’ and ‘ problems’, his differences just were not accepted.
After many years of searching for an answer, a real answer, and not just judgments and insults and personal opinions on our parenting skills or our home environment, we were informed our son had ASD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder. This led us down a longer road on the search for a ‘cure’, because when we were told he was a ‘mistake’, the natural response was to try and ‘fix’ the mistake. We thought we were doing the right thing.
After years of taking our son to be analyzed, observed and constantly labeled, it started to take its toll on us and on him. Brandon rapidly went downhill, knowing he was different and knowing he was not accepted by his peers or by society in itself. Being accepted is a normal and natural yearning that humans need and hope for. The more Brandon was isolated and excluded, the lower he became within himself, and self hate, self loathing, depression, hate, sadness, and resentment took over.
As parents, we took a step back. We broke the years and experiences down into facts, started putting all the different opinions, theories and attitudes into perspective. We came to the realization that we needed to take our control back. We needed to start looking within ourselves to find out what our family’s needs were, as a collective unit and what we really hoped for Brandon and more importantly we started asking Brandon what he wanted.
We knew that we had to try a different unique way of looking at how we were parenting. We realized that we firstly had to address the issues that could be changed in him. This required collective philosophies and actions instead of just focusing on what the medical model was telling us, but it needed to be done without giving our children the message that they were not ‘good’ enough.
We re-evaluated our belief system in the medical model and realized that they are there for a purpose which is to help us but they don’t hold all the answers. We realized that our son’s main area of undoing was in social situations. Whenever he stepped amongst others, he struggled greatly in reading other people’s body language and changes in their behaviors and attitudes. This is when we made the decision to take things into our own hands and fill Brandon with the knowledge that he lacked in.
We stopped looking at our child as wrong, different or odd. We stopped going against his grain. Once we started walking with him, and we all walked the same path, Brandon was open to learning and getting the knowledge of how the world works, or as I have called my books, “The Rules of the Game”. This is where the books originated from. They come directly from the experiences Brandon has had during his everyday life and the things we have done as a family to help him through these times.
I believe that my husband has worked hard enough to provide a home and good life for us all and I did not want him to have work even harder to help support us to pay for all the additional costs involved and all the traveling and emotional stress involved, just so we could take Brandon to a stranger who could only see him once a fortnight and who saw him as broken. This made no sense!
I live what many parents live every day. I am a mother before I am a professional. I have studied in the field of disability but I hold a strong position in the knowledge standpoint, this means I am not promoting text books theories to you, I am handing you real life strategies that work, when coupled with, consistency, encouragement and open mindedness.
I decided to share my books after receiving a lot of positive feedback from parents and other people who shared the same philosophies. I also wanted to help parents learn how to help their own children, without having the added burden of high costs.
My books are real, as are the customer reviews, and they are a testament to themselves as my son now proudly sits all day in school and is bringing marks home of 85% along with A’s and B’s and C’s. Not bad for someone who has only spent the last three years FULL TIME in school!
Our daughter Jessica, who is seven years old, now can place great perspective on social situations during her day by using her mind to unravel the confusion that being around other people and their unique ways can cause.
Our children have learned how to see what they may be putting out there in the world that may bring back a negative response, yet more importantly they also know when the responsibility lays on others and have learned to not take it on board. This is all due to us as parents taking our control back and talking to and listening to our children. It is about seeing them as who they were genuinely meant to be and teaching them how to be proud of whom they are.
Reading the stories in the books helped my children to "read" their surroundings, broaden their perspectives, learn morals, respect and self responsibility, and finally experience joy. Once they were able to do this were they then able to succeed academically.
I have a deep compassion for children with Autism / Aspergers / ASD and my goal is to assist parents with obtaining knowledge that will enable their children to evolve in a society that is not always kind and compassionate. I am sharing this information to make it easier for parents to think about what their children need to learn, and how to teach it in a manner that keeps the child's self dignity in tact and keeps the child engaged long enough to absorb it.
Here I am with my 2 beautiful children as we read through the books together.
Jessica, Kerri and Brandon
Rules of The Game