Scared to Dream Big for Your Autistic Child?


Do you want your child to get better, but it scares you to even want that?

It’s likely that not much with your child has gone as planned, right? Kind of not going well.

So what’s the point in trying to dream? Because things don’t work out well anyway? I don’t get what I expect. So why dream about things changing?

This is a frustrating place to be stuck.

The Problem

Disappointment is at the root of the problem. Let me explain.

This disappointment problem likely started decades ago for you. For me, I was about four years old. I’ll tell you a little story. I wanted a red balloon from McDonald’s. We only went occasionally and I wanted a cheeseburger and a red balloon. And I thought about it. I thought about it just constantly. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. And it was just becoming this big thing. I was four years old, right!?

We finally went and I got the cheeseburger, but they didn’t have any red balloons. I wanted red. It had to be red. Not some yellow or some other color. For some reason, I had my heart set on a red balloon and I was devastated. A little four-year-old, totally just devastated.

And what that experience taught me was to not want things badly, because the more I wanted something, the greater the potential for heartbreak. So to protect my heart, protect myself, I decided I’m just going to not want things really badly unless it was somehow guaranteed to happen. And you probably have a similar experience with something, maybe something not so simple as a balloon being four years old but for me, that’s where it started. But we all want things in life and when we don’t get them, it hurts and it hurts as deeply as we wanted them.

Let’s fast forward to young adulthood, like teenagers, early 20s, something like that. This is when we start to feel societal pressure, right? Let’s look at something like wearing different clothes, becoming a vegan, or wanting a motorcycle rather than a car. Can you just hear those society voices? Why do you want to wear that? Is it good for you not to eat meat? The motorcycle is dangerous, right? So what do we hear? No, no, no.

The more we want something that is outside of what society deems acceptable, the more resistance we’re going to face. And we all know, the more we want something, the worse we feel for not getting it. So it’s kind of twofold there. Eventually, our dreams start to get smaller and smaller and smaller and that’s not good for us. And it’s definitely not what you want for your child with autism.

Ok, so how do we change things? We need a pivot. We got to pivot. Got to change.

Change is scary. Very true. And it takes work and it means changing our habits and our thoughts. So our small thoughts are the root of the problem because then we dream small. You want to dream big for your job with autism. Big, big, big, big, big. But it hurts to almost want that. I know that’s what it was like for me in the beginning. Let’s learn how to want productively. To dream in a way that feels good.

The Solution

We want to focus on what we want rather than what we don’t want.

I’ll give you an example:

If you think about “I don’t want him getting up at 4 a.m. again!” What’s going to happen? He’s going to wake up at 4 a.m! Do you know why? Because that’s what you don’t want. Thought is focused on it.

Instead, just flip it around: “I want him to sleep through the night.” Do you feel the difference?

Let’s go through that:

I don’t want him getting up at 4 a.m. again. When I say that, what picture comes to your mind? For me, I see a parent looking at the clock at 4 am and being like, “Oh, my goodness, you’re up again at 4:00 am ugh!” That’s what that thought makes me think and feel. Alright, how about this? I want him to sleep through the night. Now, what are you thinking about? Sleeping…. Darkness… Waking up in the morning… Much different right?

Now here’s a tricky thought to untangle. And this is a common one:

“I want her to be well.” What’s the focus there? It’s – Not being well!

This is where our wants can actually make us feel bad and we don’t want our wants to make us feel bad because then we just make our wants smaller and smaller.

Ok, say it again. “I want her to feel well.”

Do you believe it? —-No!

Does that thought make you feel happy? —No!

I want her to be well, but I don’t believe it, don’t believe it will happen, how is it going to happen? If it was going to happen it would have happened already!

Right? Those are the kind of trailing thoughts that come after that. So the step here is to go a little general – until that thought does feel good.

We do have some good days.

“There are many things in my life that happened that I didn’t believe would happen. But they did. And they happened because I’ve worked hard to figure them out. Hmmm …I am good at figuring things out. I’m tenacious!”

“It’s Okay to be tired some days. I never give up. I will do this and I’ll probably laugh at myself for thinking that I couldn’t. I can do this. I’m already doing this.” …And that’s how you make thoughts go general, and you end up feeling happy and pretty good about yourself.

That’s the way you want to dream.

Paying attention to our wants, our dreams, and our thoughts is a way to still have our big dream of a happy and healthy child while feeling good as we work on getting that.

Don’t think of thoughts that make you feel bad. That’s going to just suck your energy and you are going to have no energy or motivation to do anything.

Dream big for your child.
You might be the only one who actually has a big dream for them. So you’ve got to keep dreaming big.
They’re counting on you for doing that, but you got to find a thought that feels good to move the dream along.