On ‘This Is Why’

This Is WhyI titled Monday’s guest-post “This Is Why,” (If you haven’t read it yet, please do so. I promise it’s worth your time. Read it here) and it occurs to me I never alluded to the title in the post. I think that is worth revisiting.

There were so many things that struck me about L’s story: Its similarity to our family’s journey. The role that hockey plays in his child’s development. His willingness to address his son’s emotional and social environment with the same level of concern as his academic one. It’s a story I wouldn’t have known, nor been able to share, were it not for this wonderful online community.

This Is Why … I blog. To join this online community of parents, experts, self-advocates who can relate. Who Get It, down to their core. Who, no matter how unique an issue you think you’re experiencing, have experienced something similar. The connection to this community has helped me gain perspective. it has helped me evolve my thoughts on autism. It has provided useful suggestions. It has been there to say “I stand with you and I understand” in difficult times. It has been there to cheer our successes and say “I understand that is a Not Little Thing.”

This Is Why … We are so grateful to have hockey in Ryan’s life. Participation in team sports has not been without its rocky moments, but the benefits: in socialization, in physical development, in added self-esteem, far outweigh the challenges. When Ryan struggles socially in school, we remind him that he is a well-liked and valued member of his hockey team, and it helps.

This Is Why … It’s so important to look at the whole child’s development. Intellectual, developmental, physical, emotional, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-advocacy. All the academic support in the world won’t matter if the social piece doesn’t work. A successful social support network won’t prevent anxiety from sinking any chance at academic success if steps aren’t taken to mitigate it.

This Is Why … It’s critical to support your child’s affinities. L.’s son did not feel like he fit in at his first high school because he couldn’t make a connection through hockey. Ryan, too, finds it difficult to connect with any boys who don’t share his love of the sport. I am reminded of one of the lesson’s of Ron Suskind’s book “Life, Animated” about recognizing how much his son needed a friend, and that the best way to find one was through his affinity for Disney movies. Some affinities make us uncomfortable, but trying to suppress them in favor of more “normal” interests is not a ticket to success. As Suskind writes, “affinities are a pathway, not a prison.”

Thanks again to L. for sharing his family’s story, and for being a part of this community for which I am so grateful.

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