Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies are one of my favorite franchises of all time. In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen ANY of these movies, when we first meet Rocky Balboa he is a down-on-his-luck boxer who gets a chance to fight for the heavyweight title against the very popular Apollo Creed. The franchise follows Rocky through the ups and downs of his life and career. Rocky doesn’t always make the best choices, and he isn’t the smartest guy, but he intuitively knows something very important: it is almost impossible to be successful on your own. Having a great team in your corner is key. You also need to constantly evaluate how things are working and adapt (including swapping out team members) along the way. Rocky’s team was critical in his quest to “go the distance.”
Close your eyes and imagine your child is Rocky. They are heading back to the corner of the ring after an exhausting round. Who do you see in their corner? You? Your spouse? A fabulous teacher or school counselor? The practitioner who diagnosed autism? A coach? A therapist? Grandparents? Friends?
Now, imagine your child is training for a fight against a new opponent. They might need a team member to take on a new role or they might need to add someone new in their corner to help with a new challenge. For Rocky, a prime example was the addition of Apollo Creed as his trainer and mentor in some of the later films. This unlikely choice was crucial to his success. Team members may not always be the most obvious choice. What matters is that your family thoughtfully chooses each person for a defined role.
As a parent, it’s easy to fall in the trap of playing all the roles. We wear a lot of hats as we take care of our families – cook, chauffer, supporter, consoler, encourager. And we love to do it – it’s part of the joy and growth of parenting. But it isn’t possible to do it all. We need a trusted team to support and love our child as they navigate transitions to adulthood.
Every situation is unique, but here are a few roles to consider as you build out the team for your autistic child.
- Academics: trusted teachers or guidance counselors
- Medical: doctors or therapists
- Finances: investment advisor
- Support: friends and family, grandparents or aunts & uncles
- Fun: Peers to your child you they can be open and honest
- Specialists: Experts in new challenges
Over the next few months, I’ll be talking more about these shifting team roles. We’ll be hosting webinars focusing on the shifting parental roles and answering your real-life questions. Subscribe to Spectrum Transition Coaching’s emails in the green box above to be the first to know about our upcoming webinar series – Conversations with a Coach – focused on supporting parents of young adults with autism.
I’ll be highlighting fellow experts in this blog series who you may want to add to your team. These experts have contributed their thoughts on a wide variety of topics for you to consider as your family navigates new territory. I’ll also include their contact info if you’d like to learn more or ask specific questions.