Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights has begun. On this holiday we light a candle each night, adding more light as the holiday progresses. To me, this holiday is about bringing to light the ‘hidden miracles’ in our lives.
These ‘hidden miracles’ are the wondrous things in your life that you were not looking for, may not notice or do not see as gifts.
In my work with parents of autistic children, I have noticed that parents often see their children with a very specific checklist of goals and skills to achieve in mind. Their eyes are on the prize, searching desperately for signs that their child is moving in that direction (for example, beginning to produce verbal communication, showing interest in others, becoming interested in using the toilet, etc.)
Many of the parents that I work with often watch their children, like a hawk, dutifully tracking their child’s progress in these areas.
Yes, there is tremendous value in having customized goals and tracking progress in those goals (this is a bulk of what I do with the families I work with). However, I have also noticed, that when we are observing our children in this way- our vision becomes quite narrow.
The truth is – all you see is what you are specifically looking for.
When looking at your child with the lenses of growth in specific areas, you do not open yourself to the broader scope of ways that your child might be growing or developing.
You might notice if your child has made a new sound or not- but you might not notice the way your child let his brother play with his favorite toy (versus pushing him away) or that he laughed appropriately at something you did not think he understood.
By looking at your child with a more narrow- goal oriented lens, your child is not being fully seen or experienced for who he/she is.
Plus, you may be missing out on exciting developments simply because you are not looking for them.
How do you use a wider lens to experience your child more fully?
The answer is this simple 2 step process:
1. Ask a new question: In addition to asking yourself, “Is my child making progress in_________ (fill in the blank with the specific goal you are working on with your child)?” add the following question as you start your day:
“What new aspect of my child will I discover today?” or “What new developments will I observe in my child today?”
Asking yourself a more open question leaves you more open to experiencing your child in a broader way.
2. Be open and curious. Be open and curious as your day unfolds to see what new developments or aspects of his/her personality your child might reveal to you. Experience your child with open eyes and an open mind.
By doing this, as in the festival of lights, you create an opportunity to bring to light the hidden miracles in your life with your child. In my experience, this will create a further intimacy in your relationship with your child as well as a deepened sense of wonder for who your child truly is (aside from the IEP’s and checklists).
About the Author:
Tali Berman is an autism specialist, developmental play expert and author of “Play to Grow! Over 200 games to help your special child develop fundamental social skills” (with foreword by Jenny McCarthy). She is also the founder/leader of the Autism Empowerment Telesummit, gathering top autism experts on her elite panel, reaching thousands of families around the globe. You can learn more at: www.taliberman.com.