I love watching families, children, and parents... individually and dynamically. How are they working together? How are they connecting? How are they thriving? What is getting in the way of connection, happiness, and balance?
Added to this I have extensive training in autism developmental play therapy, an approach that respects the child and asks for mostly love and curiosity in the workers (mainly parents.) This works hand in hand with my family social science background as I see each client on a systematic level interacting with their environment, family, and community as best they can in the bodies and with the brains they were given.
Then after all of that I too became a parent. I had my own child to be fascinated with: with her development, personality, and world perception. Parenting changed my career path like nothing else. I realized after becoming a parent that the most helpful thing a parent can have is trust in themselves. Which is hard sometimes when there are millions of parenting styles, developmental approaches, and other people to push their advice on you. On top of that, each child is so different that you can not possibly compare any one to another. This I learned from the birth of my second child. She was so different on day one from my oldest that I had to completely drop my old paradigm believing that nurture was more impactful than nature. While parenting is important, it was and is so obvious to me that my girls are very much wired differently. This means I have to parent them differently. Which I am still learning, is totally okay to do.
Sometimes I think we as parents get so caught up in what we "should" do with our kids that we stop paying attention for ourselves to what actually works with our kids. We also expect ourselves to have all the answers right now and we put all sorts of expectations on our kids to respond consistently. When they don't it can create battles, power struggles, guilt, and lack of trust in ourselves as parents. On top of that there is usually two parents involved somehow (not to mention in-laws), so there are multiple ideas on how to parent. This can create a whole other level or power struggles, confusion, and guilt. (Okay I can't really say that I'm speaking for everyone here, but it definitely feels like this for me sometimes).
This is where I think its kind of fun to let my social scientist step in. Instead of acting as if all of my parenting methods are set in stone, I am constantly tweaking them. First of all you should know that I have a belief that there is no one perfect way to raise a child. I also have a belief that we chose our families and lives for a reason and that all of life's lessons have value even if they can't be seen in the short term. I also believe that I am human and not perfect and that's okay, but that I also have the ability to change my response and attitude in each moment.
So with these beliefs I give myself the freedom to explore parenting techniques for each of my children individually and respectfully. Sometimes some techniques work better than others and I note that in my head and may or may not use that technique again. Once I find techniques that work, I use them on a regular basis (noticing when they don't work well and possibly tweaking them again). My children are still young so I won't pretend that I know everything about raising children. However I know that this is working well for my family and it feels a whole lot better than allowing myself to feel insecure about my parenting being different from someone else's.
To those of you with children with autism this is how I would recommend running home based play programs as well. There are a lot of different professionals out there who will tell you a lot of different ways to raise or help your child. However each child with autism is so different and YOU know them better than anyone. As long as you are approaching your child with love and respect, it is more than okay to experiment with different methods that make sense to you. Just pay attention to your child and see if it helps him/her connect, stay balanced, and grow. Let your child be your guide with what works and what doesn't.
I wish you all ease, trust, and happiness in your own parenting. Please let me know if I can ever be of service to you.