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Lessons From Our Autistic Son

Lessons From Our Autistic Son

My wife and I have been blessed by having a son with autism. You might be wondering how that is a blessing, and I’m here to tell you that it has been a long yet rewarding road filled with lots of love and affection. The learning opportunities have been plenty, and I’ve found it funny the wisdom often manifesting at the most unusual times and ways.

Autism is just becoming mainstream, as the cases increase and there is no plausible explanation as to what is causing it. The spectrums are vast and diverse, making us appreciate how well our son, Scott, is doing. Every step he takes is a mile in our hearts.

To sum it all up, here are the lessons we’ve learned from our autistic son:

Resilience: I won’t give up, daddy.

Babies are some of the most resilient little beings. Our little one decided one day that crawling was no longer fun, so he chose a knee-height wine rack we had on the floor, which was a very interesting target.

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No matter how many obstacles we placed in his way, our little man managed to beat us at our own game.

Scott used that wine rack, stood up, bobbed up and down in a triumphant way, just to realize he conquered Everest and decided to go back to his toys.

From that time on, we have never underestimated his resilience.

Joy is music.

As our little Scott grew older, he discovered The Wiggles, and it almost became a religion. He was two years old and the only word that would came out of his mouth was “Wiggles”.

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When the music played, he started dancing and making sounds. It wasn’t quite singing, but it was beautiful to us to see that usual blank expression turning to a smile.

The madness of playing The Wiggles all day took a toll on my wife, but even she admits that she doesn’t regret it. Music gave Scott so much joy and us hope.

Patience: I can wait here quietly, daddy.

One mustn’t underestimate a child’s ability for patience. I had to go to an emergency appointment. My wife had taken baby Cohen with her, and Scott had no one to look after him. He sat at the doctor’s office quietly reading the children’s books they had. Once I was in with the specialist, he waited 45 minutes while I was being checked by the specialist.

I can still see his little face while he sat on a little stool knowing daddy was seeing the doctor and he did not protest once.

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Kindness: I can share my toys with Cohen.

As the boys were growing up, the sharing of the toys was initially a friction point. Cohen wanted the world and Scott was finding it hard to share with his little brother.

One day, out of the blue, Scott started giving Cohen the most precious toys he had. Scott played with him and made sure he was happy. It was such a wonderful thing to see how the two, from that point on, became partners in crime.

Love: Daddy, can I give you a hug?

Scott’s ability to love has become very tender, as he politely comes up to me and says: “Daddy do you want a hug?” It is such an ice melting moment. In true daddy fashion, I would pick him up, swing him around, and we both burst out in a barrel of laughs. Cohen would then come up and say, “Do it to me; do it to me.” That kind of love is infectious; it gives me a warm glow in my heart as I type these words.

Humor: You look funny, daddy.

Now that both boys are school-aged, Scott has developed a wicked sense of humor. When his favorite show, The Annoying Orange, is on I can hear him laughing from the other end of our house.

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His laughter is so contagious that I now sit down and watch it with him, It is a wonderful way to have a laugh and spend time with him.

He also comes up with songs and changes the words to say funny things about his little brother. Sometimes I can’t help it and laugh, even though I should stop him from picking on Cohen.

Autism has not been a barrier for Scott to become a fully-functional boy. His level of understanding has exceeded our expectations. If you have or know someone with an autistic child, give them your love and understanding.

These simple lessons can help you appreciate how beautifully different these little souls are.

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Louis Salguero

UX, HCD, UCD, GUI, graphic and web designer

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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