As we’ve navigated Rondel’s diagnostic process, one of the most helpful resources has been Deborah Reber’s podcast Tilt Parenting – and as a dedicated bibliophile, I have found her book Differently Wired to be equally if not more encouraging and challenging. It is currently the bestselling book in Amazon’s Disability Parenting category, and #18 in their overall Parenting list, and in my opinion (having read an early release copy) it deserves that top spot.
In fact, I think this book is important enough that I purchased an extra copy to giveaway, and that giveaway is live now! Head over to the official post to comment for an entry… I think my publicizing of it hasn’t been very effective so you have a good chance of winning 😛
Meanwhile, for the quick takes, here are seven takeaways from the book:
- “It’s time society stopped looking at our kids’ neurodifferences as things in need of fixing […] It’s time for our children to be seen and celebrated for who they truly are.”
- “Parent from a Place of Possibility Instead of Fear” (Tilt 5). I wrote a whole post about this one already, but it is too powerful to pass over now. If I had listened to my fears, Rondel would have missed out on his zoo camp experience, in which he learned and thrived and enjoyed himself every day. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but it does hurt to limit and restrict ourselves and our children because of our fears of what might happen.
- All children – but especially differently wired children – develop on an individual timeline. When that timeline is radically different from the normal majority, it can be really discouraging (I know I’ve been guilty of comparing my children to their similarly-aged cousins and getting worried about how mine are “behind” in various ways!). But allowing that worry to dominate our choices, so that we try to push and mold our children into that normal timeline instead of respecting their own developmental timeline and letting them grow at their own pace, can be detrimental to our relationship with our children and to their self-confidence and future love of learning and success. A friend of mine has stepped out of the comparison trap with her autistic son so completely that every small developmental step is a celebration and a joy, even if it is technically years behind his peers – she simply no longer looks at her son through that lens, and the love and pride she has for him is evident in all her interactions with him. For the rest of us who still struggle with this at times, Differently Wired offers several questions for reflection and challenges for action, to help shift this perspective for the good of the child we love.
- Years ago as a childcare worker I was watching a distracted mom trying to put shoes on her tired two year old. Halfway through the process he started wriggling and crying and trying to push away her hands, and in the moment, thinking he was just being obstinate, she kept trying to put on the shoe. But the real problem was that his sock was twisted, and the seam at the toes was all crooked and uncomfortable – and as soon as someone mentioned that to his mom, she straightened it out and was able to finish putting on his shoes without any problem. Since then I’ve been in that mom’s position (distracted, not fully listening to what my child’s behavior was communicating) many times, but that moment has always stood out to me as an example of how important it is to learn our child’s non-verbal communication. Differently Wired has an entire chapter about behavioral communication, with some practical examples from the author’s relationship with her son, and a question for reflection that I could probably find helpful multiple times every day: “What might my child be trying to communicate to me through their challenging behavior or unexpected emotional reactions?”
- “Because raising differently wired children can place high stress and demands on a relationship, it’s critical that partners learn how to design an alliance, a true collaboration that honors each other’s personal struggles and collectively and consistently works toward a more united, supportive family dynamic. Our children deserve no less.” I think this quote, from Tilt 13 (Align With Your Partner), speaks for itself.
- Tilt 8 (Create a World Where Your Child Can Be Secure) speaks to me on a very personal level, because even as an adult I need help from my husband to maintain a place where I can feel safe and unconditionally loved. How much harder would it be as a child to be navigating a difficult and hostile world without that safe retreat of understanding and support? “When a child is moving through the world differently, they are often all too aware that they don’t quite fit in, which frequently results in their being stuck in fight-or-flight mode. But when parents commit to creating an environment where their child can let down their defenses, there’s no limit to their growth.”
- “…imagine a world where you could ditch the worry, fear, and guilt; where you could talk openly about who your child is without worry of stigma; where you could bring empathy and respect to your parenting; where you could feel present, secure, confident, and yes, even joyful in knowing that you are exactly the parent your child needs. Because, this vision right here? This is how we work toward that larger goal of making the world a more accepting and supportive place for neurodiversity people.”
If you want to make our society a better place for people with all kinds of differences, Differently Wired is a good place to start, because its focus is on helping us change our perspective and spread that new perspective into our communities.