What do autism and WEAP have in common? Initially, I had no idea, except that I finally had an ally to help Jonathan. But I would learn that it went so much deeper. I had viewed autism as my adversary and in doing so overlooked some important information. Watching autism WEAP was a collaboration all its own, not the battle I had envisioned. I had more to learn from both.
Observing the dream team in action was quite an eye opener over the years. My own take on autism began to shift for the better. Initially, as any parent new to autism, most of the information I had received was negative. From doctors and specialists, the internet and even other parents in similar situations. Horror stories regarding school. IEP’s, home programs, early interventions etc, set my tone for addressing autism. I was gearing up for the fight of my life and I had better be well prepared to obliterate anything autism would send my way. With that attitude it’s a wonder I didn’t send others wanting to run and hide-especially Jonathan. But then I watched my team at work and discovered a better way.
There was no animosity between autism and WEAP. Both respecting the challenges and demands of the other, sometimes yielding, other times resisting. Our team learned when to push autism to Jonathan’s advantage, but also accepted the lessons autism wanted to teach. Mutual respect, common goals and receptiveness to new avenues became the norm. Autism was teachable, smart and had a sense of humor. Because autism was also a part of Jonathan-the little boy they came to know and love, teach and support. It was the most important lesson I learned and once I did, I ran with it.
They say knowledge is power and I couldn’t agree more. I would also add that attitude is a close second. The lessons I learned from WEAP became my own personal road map. The experiences watching his programming month after month and year after year, filled my toolbox. Staying positive and recognizing that each child learns at his own pace, autism or not. Feeling my confidence grow right alongside Jonathan’s as we both were educated by his team. Letting go of the fear of autism and embracing the potential and possibilities. Seeing autism through the eyes of my team gave me both hindsight and foresight to see through a new lens. One where preconceived thoughts, opinions and even misinformation were replaced with hope, experiences and new found knowledge.
Watching autism WEAP was exactly that-watching. Shared commitment towards a common goal was just the beginning. Perseverance and collaboration became the cornerstone that would set the stage for each goal, success and obstacle. Never losing sight that among all of the proactive planning the person at the other end was Jonathan. That seeing is believing, even during the times when we lose sight.
And to always be on the lookout for that next learning curve.