Several years ago, my friend Nicole and I, who were both home schooling our sons at the time, spoke on the phone at least four times a week. We shared stories, triumphs, challenges, tears, everything. And laughter – so much laughter. We lived in different states and our boys were very different, but our parenting experiences were much the same. We spoke in great detail about how to get our kids to make eye contact, to tolerate a trip to the grocery store, and about really random challenges like how to get them to wipe their noses on tissues instead of sleeves. One day I asked Nicole for some advice on a topic I can no longer recall. Nicole listened patiently and carefully and offered me the kind of wise advice she always offered.
“It’s genius advice,” I said excitedly.
“It’s recycled advice, Nicole responded.
“What’s recycled advice?” I asked.
“It’s the same advice you gave me last year when I was having this issue,” she said, and laughed her bold infectious laugh.
I love this story because it reminds me of the richness of our friendship, and of how smart and funny my friend is. But I also love it because it reminds me of the power and value of parent support. The story illustrates that it is sometimes easier to see the solution to a problem when you are not the one going through it. Though I had not yet encountered the issue with my son, I was able to help Nicole with some strategies to help her son. Then, remarkably, when the same challenge arose with my son, I could no longer see the solution, but Nicole could. I was lucky to have a friend like Nicole with whom I could share daily joys and struggles, and we both built our parenting skills helping each other. I am hopeful that the Autism Parents Connect community can serve as that supportive friend for other parents, even if you are lucky enough to have a friend like Nicole.
*Nicole read this post and commented that the story also highlights that we often have the answers within, but that it can be hard to access them when other stressful beliefs get in our way. Great point as always, Nicole.