SENSE OF HUMOR IN THE FACE OF CHALLENGES!
When we must deal with challenging situations in life, it is utmost important to develop A SENSE OF HUMOR. In dealing with autism through Parag, I had to learn to smile and sometimes laugh at circumstances that were ludicrous! When we must deal with an enigma like autism which has no cure, it can drag us down to a very dark place. We say that LIFE IS SHORT but for us who are dealing with extraordinary challenges day in and day out, OUR DAYS ARE LONG! One antidote is to DEVELOP A SENSE OF HUMOR. You must be familiar with the song in the classic movie Mary Poppins, “Spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Sense of humor is nothing but a symbolic spoon full of sugar which helps the challenges to go down!
HOW CAN WE DEVELOP SENSE OF HUMOR?
I know many of you may say that people are born with sanguine or melancholic personalities. I believe sense of humor is dictated by what we take in and what we make out of it. The same situation can make a person very upset and another person roll on the floor with laughter. Why we react differently? The answer lies in our UNIQUE PERCEPTION to a situation and then it manifests into different reactions to the same situation. To inculcate sense of humor, ALL WE MUST DO IS LOOSEN UP! WE SHOULD NOT MAKE EVERY INCIDENT A VERY SERIOUS AFFAIR! I wish instead of saying, breathe; it is not the end of the world. We should say SMILE, it is not the end of the world.
EXAMPLE FROM MY DAY TO DAY LIFE!
About eight months back, Parag started throwing the entire gallon of milk in the sink. I realized that he was stimming off the milk go down the drain, in a circular motion! The intervention was to make him pour the milk in the glass, drink that and then keep the milk jar in the fridge. Once he did that I praised him exuberantly for the good job of keeping back the milk. There were times he would drink the milk and throw the rest away when I was not around. I started keeping the milk down stairs in the basement fridge and lock the basement door. He could access it only with my permission and supervision. Gradually, I started keeping it back in the fridge upstairs, only half a gallon jar and that too with enough milk for him to pour in the glass and just a little bit more. If he threw the milk, it would not be a big waste and with small amount of milk to spill in the sink he could not stim because little bit of milk goes down the drain very fast without making the circular motion. If he did not spill the milk, my strategy was working. Parag tried to control his urge but one fine day it would be beyond his control. The good thing was he was not doing it every day, now it was random. Well, one day I saw four glasses lined up in the sink, full of milk. I started laughing. Parag had listened to me, I had been telling him that it is not good to waste milk, so he decided to line up the glasses in the sink and then pour the milk in it. The behavior has been rectified since and he is not pouring away the milk and now he also understands that he should not waste it.
I believe it is very challenging to rectify a behavior and the strategies that we implement takes lot of patience. I could have approached the entire thing with great seriousness and it was my CHOICE to be UPSET or make it into a GAME, the entire time I was implementing the behavioral strategy. The day Parag threw the milk, I thought of it as he won and accepted his win with a smile and the day he did not I celebrated my winning with laughter and joy. This is just one example but mindset to all the behavioral strategies remain the same. SENSE OF HUMOR has been my biggest AMMUNITION in this journey to fight autism.
WHAT DOES SENSE OF HUMOR DO?
IT MAKES US RESILLIENT! Challenges can knock us down but sense of humor makes us BOUNCE BACK! When we fall and we can laugh at it, it loses its sting/pain and we are ready to stand up and put a brave front again! Gradually, sense of humor converts us into a HAPPY PERSON because we learn to LAUGH even in the face of challenges!