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.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path? I
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.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
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.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
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.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
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.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
- Be present in the present: First before anything else, I had to take some time for myself to identify what was happening. I had to take the time to identify how I was feeling. This allowed the slowing down of the whirlwind to then being present to self. We have to make a conscience effort to be still and then create the strategies to get out of the funk. Your grit comes from the silent moments that leads you to be present in shifting your mindset.
- Powerfully Choose and allow yourself free choice: I was in a constant state of worry of what I was going to do with my child or what will happen with him in the unknown future. I started to look at what I was really going through, from an outside perspective. Looking at it from this perspective allows us to see when we meet a crossroad. At this juncture, we know that a choice needs to be made. To develop grit, you have to make a powerful choice to move forward.
- 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.
- Think and do outside of the box: I realized when I was trying to fit into the box and living by society’s standards, I was always missing the mark. I compared Zachary to all the other children on the playground and always left disappointed. GRIT allows us to embrace being different and to do things that are “different” than others. When you begin to finally release the comparisons, you will then begin to find your true happiness.
- Create a community for accountability so you can no longer feel alone. I absolutely love supporting and coaching other special needs moms, because we become a community with a common bond of similar daily challenges, woes and wins. I am excited to create various platforms where we connect on different levels. GRIT does not mean going through it alone, it requires you to step out of your comfort zone and to get support and accountability to create the results you desire.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
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.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
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.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
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.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Remember who you were before success occurred. Focus on your strengths and challenges overcame. Remain authentically you with clear communication.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
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.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
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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