Can your child with #Autism live up to your definition of success?

The definition of success is likely different for everyone.  Some people equate success with money and power.  Others may see it as mastering a trade or earning promotions at work.

When it comes to defining success, we must be careful, especially in regards to our children with Autism.


It’s very important to remember that depending upon our personal stance as to what makes a person successful or not, we are setting expectations for our children to live up to.

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If our expectations are not realistic or practical, are we not setting our children up for failure?

As a father to 3 boys with Autism, my definition of success is perhaps different than most. For starters, my kids are already successful as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t care about my kids being rich or corporate executives.  It doesn’t matter to me if my kids are on the fast track for promotion or flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

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All I want for my kids is to be happy with their life.  I want them to be as independent as possible and reach their true potential, whatever that may be.

I feel that’s very realistic and I will be here to help my kids every step of the way…

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  1. Kim Gebhardt

    I feel like being happy flipping burgers sounds better than it is in reality. In reality, people have to support themselves and that’s nearly impossible to do while flipping burgers. It all ties together for me, being able to support myself and not have financial worries makes me happier than I would be if I were driving home from work in a car that needed new tires to a house that needed a new roof and trying to figure out how to pay bills with money I just didn’t have.

    I’m not saying you should push your kids into things that will set them up for failure, but you’re not doing them any favors by setting the bar super low either. From reading this blog, I don’t think Gavin will ever be able to live 100% independently, but he could probably have a job doing menial labor which would give him a little more independence and individuality. Elliott might have some challenges, but he will probably be self-sufficient one day. Same with Emmett, though he might face a little more difficulty. Also, the big thing that comes to mind when thinking about your boys is that one day you’ll be gone, which means Gavin will likely end up with one of his brothers and that brother will have to help support him. Do you really want them to continue a cycle of poverty that they had nothing to do with? There is nothing wrong with teaching your kids to aim high, even if they’re autistic. Don’t let their diagnoses cause you to inadvertently hold them back.

      1. Kim Gebhardt

        I freely admit to having strayed from the point but I didn’t miss it at all. I understand that you don’t want to set a super high bar for fear of setting them up to fail, but I do think you set the bar far too low for the E’s. I truly believe they are capable of more than you expect from them. I don’t say this as an insult, I say it because sometimes when you’re in the middle of a whirlwind that’s all you can see. I am nowhere near the whirlwind and as an observer from the outside, it seems that you could raise the bar one notch at a time and still be okay. 🙂

  2. Braden

    You should want them to be the best person they can be and not settle because of a diagnosis or because someone told them they couldn’t.

    That should be the goal…at least it’s mine.

  3. Mike T

    Sometimes people will allow labels to define what they can’t and can’t do. Elliott and the homework manipulation is a great example, as is the “tummy aches” that happen right before school. Once a condition can be used to indulge a desire to not do things you don’t feel like doing, that can become a self-imposed limitation. No, you’re not going to expect Gavin to independently write a business plan for Guardian Locate, but you also wouldn’t wildly praise him for simply washing his hands after using the bathroom.

    Expect what they’re capable of, gently push them to stretch, and praise them in either of those states. As someone diagnosed as a young child as ADD and ASD, I learned early on that you can’t let labels define your life.

    Speaking of paying bills. Check out kimsufi.. They have 2c/4g/1t servers with unlimited transfer for $11 per month. Based on the web log graphs you posted up a while back, that would be overkill, even if you hosted ten sites with the scope/scale of this. IIRC you’re paying something like $140 per month for your current host, which is waaaay high. Heck, you could get 8c/16g/2t from them for $28 per month, if you wanted a monster server.

    1. Thanks for your insight. I get the point and agree with most of what you are saying but of Gavin never remembered to wash his hands after using the bathroom, praising him when he did remember would be appropriate.

      Maybe a child simply saying his name or thank you would be cause for celebration.

      Everyone is different and I agree that not letting labels define ones potential but we just have to be careful that our expectations are realistic.

      This whole thing came about because an Autism Dad made the comment to me that his son with Autism will never be successful because he will never be a corporate executive, accumulate wealth and manage lots of people.

      Perhaps that will help put this post in context.

      As for the server, I’ve used lower end servers and always ran into problems. I’m at 60g right now and getting warnings about space.

      I really appreciate your insight and suggestions. I hope you’ll visit again because you can help a lot of people.. ☺

  4. vipina chacko

    One of the most powerful ways in which this value was impressed on you was in how you learned to define success. Growing up with lots of definitions, success was largely unattainable for most of the people.Spreading awareness of many different things you are aware of can lead to a more accepting and understanding environment for your children.I agree with your point of view that understanding self potential is a staple factor in the way of success.

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