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Michael J. Cameron, Ph.D., BCBA-D Headshot

Desiderata of Families Living With Autism

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Gather your child in your arms, or take them by the hand, and walk willfully in this world. If you capture a judgmental glance, cast by a careless citizen, do your part to ensure that judgment yields to compassion and understanding. Do this for yourself, your kith, and your kin.

Know that your circumstances may refashion your manner -- from untutored to learned, timorous to tempest when the situation warrants, disarranged to organized, and from uninventive to creative. Allow the change.

Exercise caution when you encounter charlatans and sophists. Your belly will help you identify them. Listen to your belly, because such people prey upon vulnerability, grief and desperation. But also watch for and take kindly the counsel of angels, they surely exist. And when an angel enters your life, be liberal with your hugs. Angels are regenerated by hugs.

Let those you trust guide you. Consider their knowledge and soundness and commandeer their wisdom. And know that through the advice of not one, but many, you will cobble, solder, and paste together the lifeway for your child. Be your child's life builder, but always deploy their special materials.

Lasso your child's unique cleverness, personal strengths, and ever-changing interests and use them as the basis for teaching them exactly everything. As far as possible, move downstream.

Guide your child's balanced development and forge your own version of a liberal arts education involving music, the arts, language and communication, arithmetic, literacy, and physical fitness. Then, with repetition, adjust with your child's changes. Do this regardless of your child's appointed geography on the spectrum map.

Measure progress. Measure with a millimeter stick if required. And gather evidence of progress in sound and pictures, laughter, recitals, demonstrations, social interactions, and biological and physiological change. Measure, not one way, but many ways. Require this of yourself, and anyone given the privilege of touching your child's life. And from time to time, take your finger and trace the progression, from back then to here, now. And take the time to recognize and celebrate headway.

Keep interested in your own needs, your health, and balanced development. Then with equal measure, attend to each member of your family. This will matter.

Recruit assistance from your network of family, friends, and community members. Give each person a clear role and purpose. But strive to align all assigned responsibilities to their personal strengths and interests.

Finally, accept that your child's love may be expressed unconventionally, unorthodoxly, and perhaps unusually. But trust the depth and authenticity you feel from their soft gaze and the vibration of their touch.