Zoom Autism Magazine Issue12 - Page 22

ever, has nothing to do with being a special needs family. When we found out that we had circumstances different from typical families, I went through a short period of what I can only describe as despair. This was because I did not realize that as different as I believed the chal- lenges my family would face would be from the challenges of other families, they really were not so different at all. What I discovered was that every family has chal- lenges, and it is how we rise or fall to face them that define us. It was in the face of these challeng- es that Teddy’s second piece of advice suddenly felt deep and profound. On the surface, saying “let me check with my wife” sounds meek and weak-willed, letting Teddy’s first piece of advice run roughshod over the checking husband. I suppose some people could take it this way, but those people would be wrong. “Let me check with my wife” is all about commu- nication; it is all about equality and partnership. Some partners may feel the need to have one spouse domi- nate the deci- sion-making process—that is their pre- rogative, but in our fam- ily, Jess and I like to think of each other, and treat each other, as equals. This has been a major key to our success as partners and parents. but we do want them to be part of some of the decision-making processes. We want them not to just feel heard; we want them to be heard. How that voice is expressed is different for ev- eryone, my girls included. What I have worked hard to do is learn how to listen, knowing that communication comes in many different forms. The way Katie communicates is different from the way Brooke communicates, which, in turn, is different from the way Jess communicates. I try my best not just to listen to what each is trying to say but to hear it as well. Communication isn’t always easy. Sometimes what worked yesterday will not work today or tomorrow before working again next week, but as long as we continue to validate each other’s voices, we continue to find ways to rise to and overcome the challenges life brings us. Take the time to listen, and happiness will follow. “ What I discovered was that every family has challenges, and it is how we rise or fall to face them that defines us. ” This empowerment of voice is something we have tried to pass down to our girls. They are our children, so they cannot make family decisions, 22 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 23