The Power of Belief.


Every one of us is a package of beliefs, perspective, drive and influences.  Those things about us make up who we are and who we can become.  Belief is a simple six letter word.  Do you see it softly, blowing in a breeze, or emblazened in fiery red?  Are you open or closed in your beliefs?  Are they solid or subject to change?

From before I was pregnant, I had a solid core of beliefs.  I knew the essentials of how I would raise my child and how “I” would shape him.  Yes, I understand that he is his own person and has and will have, his own beliefs.  As young as he is though, he is subject to what he takes in through his senses, the influences on his life.  I can say, without any doubt, that as his mother, I spend the most time with him, and I have the power to be his strongest influence.

That makes the core of my beliefs important, not just for me, but to shape who he is and who he will become.  I’m not talking about politics or religion.  I am talking about the foundations from which all of those other decisions come forth.  His core.  His belief in himself.

Throughout my childhood, my mom used to tell me two things that stuck with me for life:

  1. Anything anyone else in the world has used their minds to do, you can do, just as well, if not better.
  2. Never depend on anyone, but yourself for anything.

Those are core to who I am today.  They’re strong, certain, and true to me. I am teaching my son those beliefs too.  I think each of us has certain core wiring within us- that determines what we believe and that makes up who we are.  That wiring influences all our decisions.  Who are you at your core?  Inevitably, the answer comes with, “I believe in…”

So the point is when, as parents, we receive the diagnosis of autism for our child, are we really “grieving”?  I don’t think we cry at some mythical child we supposedly “lost”.  For me, I don’t remember the crying.  I remember something else.

For me, I was shaken at my core.  Everything that I was inside – was tested. Did the shaking of my core cause me to shatter on the other side?  Did I pick up some pieces and leave other “core” beliefs on the ground to be swept away in the wind?  Well, it’s been a long process, that still goes on.  I rock, shake, and bend, but overall, I have remained true to my beliefs.

The way I see it, there is a mainstream world culture.  It beats to the drum of “conformity”.  There’s a strong current demanding that we bend to the will of the masses.  We all want to get along.

There was a belief that the world was flat and that the sun and moon revolved around the Earth.  And if you dared to go beyond what the majority believed, you would be laughed at, ridiculed, jailed, and even burned at the stake as a witch.  So, certainly there was motivation enough to follow the masses.

The majority has a certain set of beliefs about autism.  Within those beliefs, they subject our children to “standardized” tests and measure our children against children without autism.  They use words like delay, no cure, severe, “sorry”, “sympathy”, “no evidence”,  “no cause”, “hold back”, “cognitive deficit”.  If these do not shake your core, well, you haven’t heard them.  We all feel the gut wrenching.  Is it pain?  Grief?  It’s  stressful because, at least for me, it shook the core of who I knew my son to be and tried to instill the ugliness of doubt.

And when you push against a current, a wave of opposing beliefs, it can be exhausting.  It can be hard to find the pocket that will take you where you need to go.  To provide the air, while diving underwater again and again, to come up and fight and remember to breathe.  But either you use your core to keep you going, despite exhaustion, or you fall in step with the opposing current, and call that acceptance.  Sadder still, you fall victim to the undertow and go dark.

At diagnosis, I was informed my son was borderline cognitively impaired.  Those words were the current.  I became a boulder against that current.  It had to swirl and rush around me.  If he had been cognitively impaired, my core belief is that I would have known that too, loved him just as fiercely, and built my decision making for his best interest based upon that. But I did not budge.  They were wrong.  I knew that.  In my soul.

I was advised not to put my son in kindergarten this year, at age five (5) and told he was not socially or cognitively ready and would probably have to repeat.  Again, the current tried to push me.  But I remained steadfast.  Not only was it wrong but I knew he could succeed with neurotypical kindergartners and an aide.   And it came to pass, as I believed.

There may be 1000 reasons that is not right for you.  It was my child, my belief.  He has excelled in kindergarten, academically.  He will be graduating kindergarten in less than a month.  Socially, he has vastly improved and is learning more each day.  They were wrong.  My son’s world is not flat.  It’s a beautiful strong sphere of beauty.

I was told there was no “diagnostic study” and no treatment for his deficits.  Not my belief.  I found diagnostic studies, EEGs and MRIs.  Then, I was told my son might improve on medication, but there were no guarantees.  I knew there would be treatment – and that his deficits would improve.  I did not know how or what – just that it was.

My son’s 6th birthday is this month.  His PPVT-4 form A, receptive language, raw score was 33 (age 2 years and 7 months) six months ago.  In March of this year, his re-tested PPVT-4 form B raw score was 73 (age 4 years and 6 months).  The report said: “This indicates significant receptive language growth beyond the expectations relative to previous function and the 6 months duration between testing.

His EVT-2, expressive language, form A raw score was 47 (age 3 years and 11 months).  In March of this year, his EVT-2 raw score was 78 (age 6 years and one month).  He is not yet 6 years old.  Again, the report notes, “This indicates significant expressive language growth beyond the expectations relative to previous function and the 6-months duration between testing.

Beyond the expectations – beyond the existing science, beyond the odds, he astounded them with his scores.  A difference of this magnitude (18 standard score points) is significant at the 0.01 level and occurs in less than 10% of the population T’s age.”  

Is that luck? Some things are beyond existing science.  From pure science, you could say, he had a really good reaction to medication – plain and simple.  Would he have had that same reaction if I did not believe in him?  And if he did not believe in himself and try?


Some things stem from our cores.  From our beliefs.  We not only shape who we are, we shape who our children are and who they believe they can be at a young age.  We let them know what they can achieve.  We believe in them.  And then, they, in turn, believe in themselves.

I’m not saying I can change the world by some crazy belief.  My son is not going to sprout wings and fly no matter how much I try.  But in my core, and in my heart, I know he is intelligent and has the capability to succeed.  His communication is different – his outward signs are not ones that can be easily read.

Sometimes, my core is shaken.  But I know now, that no one will keep my child from achieving anything he wants to achieve.

Believe in your strength.  Believe in your child. Let your child know you believe.  Tell your child you believe.  Only through belief will you and your child beat the odds and soar beyond the limitations of those who don’t.  

[Heather relinquished her winnings.  Thus, we had to redraw names for the gift card.  This is the name that popped up in our second round :  

Lisa from Between Hope and a Hard Place is our new winner!  Yay to Lisa and thanks to everyone again for participating in going “blue” for Autism Awareness Month! ]

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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31 Responses to The Power of Belief.

  1. blogginglily says:

    I love that T seems to be making such strides of late. How much of that do you attribute to the seizure meds, if any?

    It’s always instructive to remember that even though data is presented linearly, in a nice clean progress chart, there are always outlying data points that defy the function shown. Points that don’t fit “the curve”. It’s a “best fit”, but if you satisfy yourself that the line is as good as it ever gets then you eliminate the possibility that your kiddo could be that chart-defying exception.

    • solodialogue says:

      I attribute a huge part to the seizure meds – huge. But it took me over a year to get referred to the neuro who prescribed them. Meanwhile, I knew there was something and I went down a lot of wrong paths like heading toward alternatives such as oxygen tents and other alternatives. It was only in searching and searching from my core belief that I ended up with Dr. Chez.

      Then, the meds were not expected to work that well. The testing is all based on the usual picture method- spotting words and meanings and communication. I read about the importance of building vocabulary by reading every day with your child. If I did not believe that would make a difference, I would not have done it and how would the tests come out if he had improved but no one exercised the option of capitalizing on his function by working to improve vocabulary and understanding?
      Ultimately, we have the ability to be our children’s best teachers, don’t you think?

  2. Mom2MissK says:

    Thank you for this powerful reminder. At a time when my own belief is being rattled and bent, you’ve come right to the rescue with a timely post reminding me to stay true. I don’t know if it was specifically for me, but even if it wasn’t… it was just what I needed. Thank you, my friend. Thank you.

    • solodialogue says:

      I was thinking of two people especially when I wrote this post. You were one. It just all came together for me from a video Sam at Everyday Aspergers posted together with my reflection after receiving the report from the psychologist who tested Toots. Belief is our foundation. And how many times in our lives is it really shaken? Overall, not many so when it happens, I came to realize we many not actually recognize it for what it is and use it to our advantage. Not that using it is easy, but in my way, I’m trying to say it made a huge difference for us. xoxo

      • Mom2MissK says:

        When I meet you in person — and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna do just that someday — I’m gonna knock you off your feet with the biggest hug ever. 🙂

      • solodialogue says:

        Then we’ll both be on the floor because I’ll be doing the same! I plan to meet Spectrummy Mummy for tea in Paris in 6 years. How about then?! 😉

  3. You really have painted a stirring and colourful picture of what a belief is and what it can do in our lives. I particularly liked the belief cycle and how it impacts.. Being conscious of the fact that ” there is something inside us that is greater than any obstacle” is truly empowering.

    I have been dabbling in different aspects of individual and societal beliefs in my posts and I provide two links that you and other readers might find of some interest.

    http://esgeemusings.com/2011/09/30/on-underlying-beliefs/

    http://esgeemusings.com/2011/12/25/clash-of-our-pillar-beliefs/

    Cheers

    Shakti

  4. Lizbeth says:

    He is making those strides because of you. I know you know that. 🙂

  5. Thanks for expressing what so many parents know. They know their children, they believe in them, and whatever the tests or teachers say, they know their kids best. Great post!

  6. Flannery says:

    Imagine if you’d just taken those initial test scores, accepted that your child was “challenged”, and never pursued something with a neurologist. Because that happens ALL THE TIME.

    Good for you, and Tootles. He will continue to reach new heights, I know it.

  7. utkallie says:

    Those are some amazing gains on those test scores. Never ever give up hope!

  8. How wonderful for Tootles and you!

  9. Blue says:

    Yeah, go T!!! And go you, for being such an amazing mom 😀

  10. Miss Karen, did you write this post for me? Because I feel like the title should’ve been, “Hey Lana! Listen up, lady!” Oh, how I needed to hear this. 99% of the time, I believe. I really, really do. But that nasty little leftover 1% of the time? Man, it can suck the wind right out of my sails. I am STRUGGLING with this school thing. It just feels like there’s so much riding on ME making the RIGHT decision at this CRITICAL time. ACK – the pressure! And now, I’m going to re-read your post. Sounds like I already need to hear it again….

    • solodialogue says:

      Oh Miss Lana! I almost sent you a message to come here. This post was in my heart for everyone but I especially thought of you, Lily, Karla & LM. I know you are struggling and I’m thinking of you. I hope to hear soon that you have found the right place. xoxo

  11. This was a brilliant post. Poetic and deeply intelligent. The graphics are great, too. Your son is so blessed to have you. Have no doubt that your beliefs about him are affecting his growth and capability at a human level and spiritual level. 🙂 Sam

  12. Broot says:

    Ka pai, Karen! An excellent post. 🙂 ((hugs))

  13. eof737 says:

    Glad to read about T’s progress and your shifting views on things… belief does carry power. 😉

  14. SOOO glad I read this! VERY inspirational! All I can think is, “YOU GO, GIRL!”
    I have used your story to inspire those on my Team in my business! THANKS SO MUCH for sharing!

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