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11 Things Gilligan's Island Taught Me About Parenting Autistic Kids

11 Things Gilligan's Island Taught Me About Parenting Autistic Kids

1.  It’s never a three hour tour

The weather could start to get rough at any moment, so keep an emergency bag in your car at all times with a spare pair of clothes, some distractions, snacks and a juicebox.

2.  Coconuts have a zillion uses

You don’t have to go broke buying special therapy materials. Rubber bands, old containers, cardboard boxes, velcro, buttons, twist-ties, bottle caps, pegs... you can definitely make do with stuff you already own.

3.  There’s another side to the island

Having autistic kids can make you feel isolated - nobody understands what you’re going through and it’s hard to get out of the house. There’s a world out there that’s bigger than autism (and people who can help might be closer than you think)... but you’ll never find it if you don’t look.

4.  Wearing the same clothes everyday won’t kill you

There will be a million battles to fight, so choose wisely. Does it really matter if your kid wants to wear the same clothes, drive the same route or eat the same food every day?

5.  Every week there’s some new crazy scheme to get off the island

Ignore the hype. Find the information and therapies that make sense for you and give them a chance to work.

6.  When life gives you lemons, turn Hamlet into a musical

Just because things don’t go the way they’re 'supposed to' doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. Find the joy.

7.  Don’t sabotage your own attempts to get help

Jumping up and down waving your arms is a waste of energy and won't get you the support you need.  Work with the people that can help - ask nicely, be reasonable (even if they’re not).  Keep communication lines open and clear (don’t spell SOL when you mean SOS) - tell people exactly what they can do for you.  Learn from mistakes, and don’t let blindspots like ego, anger and resentment get in the way of finding solutions.

8.  The Professor can make a bamboo lie detector but he can’t rescue you

Beware the experts who have all the answers but never actually solve any problems.

9.  Fix the boat

Don't overlook the simple solution. Stay off the internet if it makes you angry. Put the mattress on the floor if the kids like to jump off the bed. Embrace the workaround - not every problem needs (or has) an elaborate answer.

10.  You’ll never get off the island

Instead of wasting your energy trying to get somewhere else, focus on making life good where you are.

11.  Mistakes aren’t the end of the world

You’ll get to try again next week.

This article was first published in April 2012.

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