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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 April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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