27 Jun Acceptance is one of the most powerful antidotes to the challenges of neurodiversity
Coming to terms with our own and our kid’s neurodivergent brains is a process. And this process can be easy or really hard. It all comes down to acceptance which is all well and good but let’s face it, this can be easier said than done. But importantly, acceptance is something we absolutely can cultivate with practise and I’m living proof of this. Mindfulness helped me see the world in an entirely new way and it’s become second nature to be accepting. This has been a Godsend for our little family!
When we found out my son is autistic, well before his or my own ADHD diagnosis I somehow had the wisdom not to see it as a catastrophe. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good cry when I called my sister on my way home.
I was in shock.
Even though I knew he was undergoing an assessment, I really didn’t think he was autistic. I had spent the Easter long weekend camping at the “Festival of Love” (I kid you not. I have some amazing friends who hold these amazing events, or at least they did pre Covid…) with about 180 friends and friends of friends. There was dancing till all hours, live music and all sorts of other ‘acts’. And much to Harry’s delight, there was a bouncy castle. He literally bounced for eight hours or more a day, and needless to say, he had an absolute ball and so did I.
It was the first time in a very long time that I saw many old friends and could really let my hair down. And for the first time in so long, I could even have uninterrupted conversations with other adults!
Knowing that I had my appointment with the Child and Youth Mental Health Service to get the results of a long assessment process on Tuesday morning (not ideal, I was beyond exhausted), I said to more than one friend that weekend “I think I’ll be OK if Harry is autistic”.
But as I said, I really didn’t think he was so, of course, I could be super cool about it.
His vocabulary was and still is, incredible and his eye contact is pretty good. He loves people and new places and he is incredibly social and chatty. But I was wrong. He is level two autistic and has significant dyspraxia, which is a kind of a disconnect between the brain and body that makes it incredibly difficult to do most tasks, or at least it takes him a lot longer to learn how to do them, like years longer than others.
Looking back, I’m blown away by just how easily I took the news. I told him straight away and we embraced a positive autistic identity though I didn’t even know this was a thing at the time. It came very naturally to me. I never felt sorry for myself. Although I did feel huge sadness for him, knowing that things were going to be much harder for him than most kids.
But my focus – as always – was on how magnificent my son is, just the way he is.
There is one very simple reason I was able to do this. I have been ‘practising acceptance’ for many, many years. It’s an integral part of mindfulness and yoga philosophy and I have embodied this way of seeing the world at a deep level.
Most people think mindfulness is purely about presence. However, being present is just one part of it.
There are two others: Intention and non-judgement.
Intentionally bringing awareness to the present moment on purpose and without judgement, or at least with as little judgement as possible, is what we are doing when we are being mindful.
Here are some practices to try from the resources section of the Lilo Wellness website
The more you do this, the better you get at both being present, and not judging every single experience in every single moment as either good or bad, favourable or unfavourable, awesome or catastrophic. And this makes the ups and downs of life so much less extreme.