People who live with autism generally have a lot of anxiety within that they deal with on a regular basis. Michael is no different. I can tell by the way he talks about the things that bother him. Mind you, lots of non-autistic people do that too. There are worriers and there are people who are, like a friend of mine and I refer to them, chilled out. Still, a lot of people who have anxiety also have good memories about past events. The only thing is that they tend to remember the worrisome ones more than the positive ones. Michael, myself, and I’m sure tons of other anxious people out there, do have lots of positive memories in their heads too. These come up from time to time like a photograph and we can call on them to elicit pleasure from a happy event. The trick is getting ourselves to call upon them. When the brain is wired a certain way, this is not easy. But I am seeing that by acknowledging that we need to look for the positive more, we will see it. I have taught myself a lot about this in the past year as I worked and continue to work with my particular anxious brain, and I am now trying to teach that to Michael. It is challenging for him to forgive and forget the negative events of the past. Letting go is hard. I know that feeling. Still, even with the difficulties Michael has with memories of past events where challenges occurred, he is often the one who reminds me to focus on the positive memories. He will talk about a fun time he had going out to a certain park, like the time he got to play at a piano open for the public, a nice lunch at his favorite restaurant, and will fondly remember a fun play date with a friend. I realize that he is being grateful for what he has. And that got me thinking about gratitude.
Exceptional Moms, do you practice gratitude in your every day life? How often do you think of the positive things in your life? I know, it’s not always easy. But if your kids tend to dwell in the negative due how their brains work and how challenging the world can be for them at times, it’s a great exercise to practice gratitude for what you have and teach your kids how to do it as well. Or, if they are more connected to positive memories than you are, it’s important to praise them and do more of that yourself. What you think is what you are, as the saying goes. Until next time.