Recognize your worth and know “I” matter: After going through the process of losing my visions and dreams of having a “perfect” child, I questioned my own self-worth as a mother for years. Then I began to place Zachary’s needs ahead of mine and completely began to lose my self. Most mothers of children with special needs, self-care drops to the bottom of list, in priority. When you begin to identify and value your worth, then it propels you to want more and to put the work in, because you believe you deserve more.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Alisha “Ali” Griffith. Dr. Griffith is an autism parenting strategist, transformational speaker and certified professional coach. As a mom of a child living with autism, speech language pathologist and audiologist, this inspired her to become a #1 best-selling author of Au-mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance. Through her service, coaching and empowerment, Dr. Ali has powerfully ignited many to SHIFT their negative self-talk towards positive energy power.
At the beginning of the journey, I was so confused. I was in a constant fog and couldn’t see possibility or probability. I knew that things weren’t right and didn’t want to admit it to anyone else. As a professional working with other special needs families, I saw the responses of other moms, but didn’t ever think that I would be in the same position as them some day. I remembered the day I finally received the big brown envelope in the mail. As I opened the letter from the psychologist’s tests and saw my Zachary’s diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum disorder, I felt my heart dropped to my stomach. That was when I lost my breath, my hope, and my dreams for my son to autism. The odd thing was I didn’t even realize that I was in a mental downslide.
I knew that there was more to life than the constant state of pain and numbness. Even though at that time, I thought Zachary was the source of pain. He was also my why, to getting up each day. I knew that I was his rescue. I also knew that he needed me more than ever and didn’t have the time for self-pity. I watched my mom as a single parent worked her tail off and sacrificed so much for my brother and I. Her entire life was based on grit, so I believe we picked up her strength and passion for surviving through challenges. So, each day I made a step towards rescuing us from the valley of shame, guilt and fear. I remained in constant action.
I was in unfamiliar territory of parenting a child with autism. It was scary, dark and I felt completely powerless. Until I started investing in myself to work on me, using personal development coaching and then becoming a life coach myself. The one thing I always had as a constant through the various adversities in my life, was GRIT in overcoming with a positive mindset, consistent effort and crossing the finish line.
Today, I have fully embraced and accepted my role as an autism mom, a parenting strategist who influences other special needs moms to shift from shame, guilt and loneliness to being bold, empowered and connected. Parenting Zachary led me to become a #1 best-seller of Au-mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance. We are also traveling the world motivating, speaking and coaching on acceptance and inclusion.
My mom is my sounding board, voice of reason and physical support when needed. She has been there at a phone call or text to help me with Zachary and simply when I need a break. For a few years, she would say I don’t know how to help him. I would remind her to be herself. She knew that I was going through inner turmoil, way before I identified it. Yet she was patient for me to recognize it.
My twenty plus years of success as an educator, audiologist and speech language pathologist has provided the tools to help other parents with communication and address parenting concerns. My success in becoming a black belt in martial arts allowed me to co-create a social martial arts program for special needs called So Smart Kids. This also supported the co-creation of my non- profit organization, Smart Fit Fam, Inc., inspiring families of children with special needs in improving wellness, fitness and nutrition.
Au-mazing Moms Retreats to allow my special needs moms access to get away for a few days to focus on self-care, self-love and self-development. Ignite Aumazing Nation Membership group that provides monthly virtual trainings and bi-weekly group support and coaching sessions.
Remember who you were before success occurred. Focus on your strengths and challenges overcame. Remain authentically you with clear communication.
Embrace your Unique. When I help people to start to accept differences and appreciate the beauty of others’ uniqueness, then there would be less bullying, hatred crimes and more LOVE for the self and respect for others. Families and children living with autism and other special needs, will finally feel accepted, included and embraced as being “more than” a diagnosis.
Just Do IT! Nike
This quote has been the source of grit and the confidence needed to try something new and overcoming obstacle. When I am faced with whether to move forward or not, I will hear the words, Just do it. As a result of hearing this quote, I would immediately get into radical action
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