To some people building relationships is not a comfortable thing…
Consider my Hubs as an example. He’ll happily chat with family, neighbors, and colleagues when the opportunity arises. However, he doesn’t actively seek out people. You could go as far as saying this whole lockdown-stay in the home situation is a dream come true for him: He can work from home in the company of his favorite peeps. Me, on the other hand? I absolutely love love love people!
Building new relationships with people is something I simply love to do.
I mean, just take the post office, for example. To me, it is not just a transaction; it is an opportunity to make somebody's day. And through this attitude, I've got to know my post office ladies so well that going to the post office is more of an excuse to connect with friends rather than a necessity for stamps. Though I’ve moved to the next town over, I’ll still go out of my way to see my ladies and essentially shut the place down as we gleefully catch-up across all the counters!
As an Autism Mama, I take this same approach to all the critical relationships we encounter as we wind our way through this ever-changing maze of autism. Be it doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists, teachers, aides, buddies, social groups, youth pastors - no matter who it is that is impacting my T’s life. I want to know them and have a meaningful connection. This effort is not just for my own social needs. I have seen how though these relationships, we build trust and empathy for each other. And subsequently, we encourage each other to support T in the best possible way.
But reality check... it’s 2020...
We are now in the world of COVID-19 lockdown-social distancing-remote learning. S how am I going to build those specific relationships now? Well, I remember that while so many things have changed, some things really haven't. You know what, people still talk! Yes, it might not be face-to-face (following a hug, of course!), but we still crave interaction deep down. And we find a way to connect - be it at a distance or by zoom or by phone. We still need that personal connection. I’m not walking into the office or IEP meeting with a box of donuts and coffee for the team. I’m not sitting across the table from those I trust to see my T through another year.
But that's not going to stop me from reaching out and getting to know them and build that relationship.
Funnily enough, it works both ways too…
So while I’m here stressing about whether T’s new team is going to be able to connect with him from afar, just then, I learned that our fantastic assistant superintendent had already considered this issue. She brought last-years team together with the new team to ‘handover’ and collectively came up with ideas and strategies that will work best for T in this new world. Additionally, they now know how important that connection is for T too. They even arranged a special zoom meeting for T and his teachers to connect before school had officially started. Wow.
I’ve said it before, and it won't be the last time - but its another reminder that we don’t know all the answers, and sitting there stressing about things doesn’t help. Whatever it might be, you’ll often find that reaching out and spending time to build and nurture a connection transforms the ‘transaction’ to a ‘relationship.’
It is growing in awareness that the relationship is not just about our child's needs and what they should have. It is more in-depth, and it’s about working together to build a road map filled with grace, understanding, and shared goals, which will ultimately make something that will stand the test of time. We have a unique opportunity to do that right now with people craving interaction and creating new ways to be accessible - like teachers at school, making themselves available for parent communication.
Grasp the opportunity and build a solid relationship between being school and home…
You’ll no doubt find it will yield far more than you could ever imagine.
To end my thoughts. How are you focusing on your relationships with your schools? What advice would you have for new parents on our journey? I love hearing from other parents in our community, and I would like to personally invite you to join one or all our parent support groups where we can work together on building stronger relationships. And be there for each other.
Have an awesome start to the Fall season,