Embracing discomfort for growth – a parent’s experience.

Embracing discomfort for growth – a parent’s experience.

Aspect Autism in Education Conference 

In August, Liberator staff Penny and Ben attended the Aspect Autism in Education conference. This year it was held in Brisbane in the Royal International Conventional Centre and as usual it was an event filled with exceptional speakers and fantastic content.

We spent two days talking and listening to some amazing teachers, parents and clinicians about autism and AAC and how they intersect across both the children’s school and home life.

One standout talk that we listened to was that of a mother of a 5-year-old young girl with autism. The challenges she mentioned that she faced were consistent with so many other parents’ experiences, but there was one quote that was a solid reminder to all there, it was “embrace discomfort for growth”.

This quote was mentioned after the parent explained a situation she found herself in one day. Her young girl with autism was at a café standing in a long line to order food. The young girl was asked what she would like to eat. She looked in the display-window of food, pointing to what she wanted… with her nose. After some encouragement to use her communication device she eventually selected what she wanted to eat.

Now this doesn’t sound too bad, except there was a long line of busy people standing behind the daughter.  Everyone was getting impatient, tapping their feet and sighing, since this was the peak time for that morning coffee-fix! If mum hadn’t been prepared to ignore this very real social pressure, and embrace the discomfort, then her daughter would not have had the opportunity to learn how to communicate in a demanding social situation.

This is just one example of the discomfort a parent can feel every day when raising a child with autism, or another form of disability that interrupts typical social development. It is incredibly common. The reminder to “embrace discomfort for growth” is powerful and remains as something to definitely keep in mind.

The journey of helping a child become a competent communicator can be a tough slog, but hearing a minimally verbal child be able to confidently and quickly communicate what they want, how they feel, or to simply comment on something they see, is enabling and empowering, and is well worth any uncomfortable feelings.

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