Redefine Normal // Rediscover Hope

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Four Magic Words

As a family, we are experiencing the joy of having an autistic child beginning puberty and being overwhelmed by emotions. As a result, she is just peachy. By peachy I mean angry, confused, violent, sweet, giggly, and wild, sometimes all at the same time, and sometimes in rapid succession.

I feel for my daughter. She just doesn’t comprehend the hormonal changes in her body. And she cannot explain it in a meaningful way to anyone else. But it’s also pretty easy to get aggravated when she acts out.

We have been at a loss for how to help her for a while now.  We have tried everything from bribery to threats to isolation, and nothing seemed to be effective.

Until we stumbled upon four seemingly magic words

Be Nice to Yourself

Such simple words. Such a simple concept. Yet it is bringing real change to our daughter.

We have learned that she almost always acts out because she feels like she just doesn’t measure up.  She just isn’t good enough. Reminding her to be nice to herself makes all the difference in the world.

We learned these magic words when Cindy went bowling the other day. So, she is just not very good at bowling. The strength and coordination are just not there. She was starting to be really aggravated. Glaring at the kids bowling with her. Grumbling. Negative self talk.

Then her teacher spoke those four magic words:

Be Nice to Yourself

And she was nice to herself from that moment. She was able to celebrate her accomplishments. Even better, she was able to compliment other kids when they got strikes, or spares, or new personal best scores.

These words help Cynthia remember that it is always unfair to compare herself to someone else. That person might not be walking the same path as her. He may not have the same challenges she has. Even if he does, maybe he walks his path faster…and that’s okay.

If you are anything like me, hearing this story for the first time really strikes a chord. How often do we look at someone else and feel like we just are not measuring up? It doesn’t always sound like an autistic adolescent’s words though. It might sound more like this:

I am never going to get the same recognition Susie gets at work. Why don’t as many people read my blog as his? My illness will always keep me from being as successful as my friend Kevin.

When thoughts like this begin to crowd your psyche, just remember:

Be Nice to Yourself