I’ve seen, heard and read it time and time again. For those of us with children on the spectrum, this question is such a concern because of the communication deficits that go along with ASD. Communicating with a non-verbal child or one with limited language skills is very different from that of their typical counterparts. As parents, we can not be certain of their thoughts and feelings. This leaves a question mark, wondering about the state and scale of happiness in that child (with autism).
The good news – With reading and hearing so many responses on this subject, it seems to me that society (or our own little society) knows what truly is important in life….Happiness. This is what we want for our children, no matter what the circumstances. Happiness equates to quality.
In my own journey through the sea of decision making for my son and his best interests, the most valued advice came from my mother. She told me to look at each turn, fork in the road, choice, and/or decision through the eyes of my son’s happiness. Try to put aside my own needs and determine whether the therapy chosen, behavior sought, or information received would benefit my son’s “happy quotient”. If whatever I was mulling over would somehow make my son happier, then the benefits out weigh the negatives (which may be financial, hard work, scheduling, or even discomfort). In the end, my child can and is happy.
This is a bit easier said than done. We first have to find what works for our child. With all the inconsistencies in research and results, information gaps, and the onslaught of alternative options that feed our need to do whatever it takes in deciding what is best is mind boggling. Not to mention, the findings inconclusive. Next, try to find where you are in the Happy Factor by looking at the natural disposition of your child. This, too, can be difficult to assess when there are physical ailments and sensory overload weaseling their way in to confuse the matter. Our child’s baseline is skewed and often results in temper tantrums, stimming, or retracting inward. It is important to remember that these actions are symptoms and are NOT part of our child’s true nature.
So, I go back to the original question that aches at the hearts of many parents and wonder why I am so assured that my son is happy. I truly believe he is. My reliance on my instincts helps. I am a believer of “go with your gut”. Getting in touch with my gut feeling (or instinct) during times of doubt has helped me have confidence in knowing that my son is happy. (1)I urge parents to trust your intuition in answering this, all too important, question. (2)Look at your child. My son exudes joy in most of his daily activities. That is what keeps me going. It is not without some hard work. We create an environment he feels most comfortable in (no matter where or what we are doing). His “happy quotient” filled.
We do have daily break downs, screeching, and plain frustration (for everyone). With each episode, an array of techniques that work for my son (singing, holding, rocking, escaping etc.) are used and handled with sensitivity. I know that each of our children are so different. What works for me may not work for another. I can only offer you (my readers) this:
Follow your innate, parental instincts to find your answer
If you feel you are uncertain, look to the areas of uncertainty and try to find solutions or adjustments that work for you child to fill up his/her “happy quotient”.
Some areas to consider:
He/she is most happy when:
What satisfies him/her (make a list):
What triggers make him/her upset or unmanageable:
What methods ease his/her anxieties before, during and after triggers?
daily he/she enjoys:
Daily he/she needs:
It is more important to look at the parts rather than the whole. It is human nature to focus on the out of the ordinary (sometimes negative) parts. Be fair in your determination and make sure you see what is undeniably good and happy (positive) during daily moments in your child’s life.
I read this week (I think it was a Pampers newsletter), it has been discovered(research, I guess) that very sensitive children, who have a tendency to cry over the slightest thing, also laugh the most. I think that means more happiness for us folks! Let us try to block those overly sensitive moments and focus on the laughter. You may find out your child is one of the happiest.
Need an equation?
What makes you happy?
My happy list begins with: children, hugs, kisses, chocolate, ice cream, sunny days, twirls, tickling, bubbles, clean house, family fun, my daughter’s eyes, my son’s dimple, singing nursery songs, hair styled (only to name a few that has come to mind first)
Back to filling up my children’s happy quotient…