by Ryan and Megan’s Mom
This is an excerpt from my book, “I KNOW YOURE IN THERE – Winning Our War Against Autism” about how sometimes FAKING it helps both you and your child:
[My daughter, Megan] …usually had more patience with Ryan than I did. On one particularly difficult day, I was yelling at Ryan again. Megan immediately came to his defense and very calmly gave me a lecture. Her sermon went something like this, “Mom, he’s not going to learn anything if you yell at him. You have to show him the right way to do things.”
She was right. We did have to show Ryan the right way to do things, and we hadn’t been doing that. We either yelled at him or placated him…
My daughter Megan’s words still resonated in my head, but I didn’t know where to look for more and new effective therapies that could show Ryan how to behave differently. Megan wasn’t just talking about Ryan’s challenges; she was talking about mine. Her words lead me to the idea that I had to behave differently if I really wanted Ryan to behave differently.
Megan’s words led to the invention of the Marcia Method for treating autism: If You Don’t Feel It, Just Fake It therapy. I discovered I could change the way Ryan acted just by changing my behavior toward him. It took a year or so after he was first diagnosed to discover this effective therapy. This method started with a little experiment to see just how much my dark thoughts and moods affected him. When he was crabby or out of control, instead of acting scared or defeated, I cranked up the rock and roll music and started dancing around the house like I didn’t have a care in the world. No one can be depressed or defeated when that kind of music is playing. I changed the way Ryan behaved and I changed his mood by acting happy instead of getting angry and frustrated.
Sometimes, instead of upbeat music, my therapy consisted of ignoring bad behavior and changing the scenery just before Ryan was about to melt down. I’d take Ryan, and anyone else who happened to be at our house, for a walk or bike ride. If I didn’t feel like doing either of those things, I threw everyone in the car and we would go somewhere else that might improve our attitudes. Sometimes we went to the park, the lake, or the McDonald’s playground. We’d go anywhere to get us out of the house and into a more positive environment.
The problem with the Marcia Method was that it was all an act. Although it helped Ryan’s disposition, I still felt desperately alone and anxious. I acted like I was happy when I really wasn’t. I was still racked with fear and anxiety about my son’s future. That fear was always there.
In the process of being Dr. Mom, Head Therapist, and OT, sometimes I forgot Ryan needed me to just be his mommy. He wasn’t only a research subject that I was attempting to fix. Ryan also needed to be my son, who just wanted to be loved by his mom. When I remembered this important fact, I sometimes cancelled whatever therapy I had scheduled for the day. For a while, I got to be the mom who pushed her kid on the swing at the park or went for a swim in the community pool. I needed that, and Ryan needed it, too.
When days were hard, I’d give myself a talking to. I needed to be the nice mommy. I forced myself to have patience with Ryan’s extreme and bizarre behaviors. It was necessary to treat him like a kid, instead of the lab rat he so often became. Some days, I would force him to hug me, and I would try to hide the tension I felt when I realized how unnatural the hug felt to both of us.
I’d say, “Ryan, you have to hug me. I’m your mommy, and it’s your job!” I got to be an expert at hiding my true feelings. When I said these things, I never wanted a hug. More often, I was totally disgusted with his weird behaviors and noises. But hiding my true feelings didn’t always work, and sometimes I couldn’t even fake it. On those days, I was not the nice mommy.
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Megan and Ryan’s mom :
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, because he received proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions. To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism” click on http://a.co/a5GWrpM
Contact info for Marcia: