I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with one of my friends who has autism. He’s smart as a whip and says what’s on his mind. We hung out at my house for the afternoon. I learned a lot while I listened to the rapid-fire things he was saying to me…and the things he was saying to no one in particular.
Here are the top 10 things I learned from my friend that day:
#10: It is important to have 100% of the car in the garage before shutting the door. No other percent will do. Always check the percent.
#9: I have a 9-second garage door. (Meaning that it takes 9 seconds for my garage door to close completely.)
#8: It is 533 ft. above sea level in my dining room.
#7: The bathtub in the kids’ bathroom is a hexagon — how could I not have noticed that before? It’s a hexagon. It has six sides. It’s not a honeycomb shape hexagon, but it’s a hexagon alright.
#6: It’s best to eat your cheeseburger top bun first, bottom bun next, and patty last.
#5: It’s a good idea to wait and watch the fan blades come to a complete stop when you turn the fan off. If you let it, watching it stop completely can bring you joy.
#4: The climbing platform in my backyard is approximately 9 feet tall.
#3: The train that we waited on was traveling at about 45 miles per hour. And it had five cars.
#2: One billion grains of sand stored in plastic water bottles weighs about 20 lbs.
#1: And the most important thing I learned from my friend: Stop! Notice the details! Slow down enough to wait for a door to close completely before moving on, or watch a fan come to a complete stop. Notice every street sign — and read the good ones out loud just because. When you enter a room for the first time, stop and take it in — notice the shapes and colors. Stop and notice, for the joy is in the details.
While these may not be extraordinary things to focus on, it does highlight that slowing down and really listening to our kids can bring a joy like no other. The joy of just being with them – not just taking them to therapy or the doctor or to school. Really being present and enjoy the time with them Try it!
Add these lessons to the other ideas you will find in the Self Care section.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.