As a special needs parent, the demands are overwhelming. It’s next too impossible not to let the daily requirements and routine catastrophes drag you away from the long-term goals and visions. Even when you find yourself possessed by a mission, seeing it through to completion can seem impossible. There are always bumps in the road, and sometimes boulders. No matter how passionate or driven, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. The miracles come when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Lennon & McCartney, Holmes & Watson, the Miracle on Ice, Jobs & Wozniak, The Avengers all demonstrate the power of playing to each’s strengths and “outsourcing” in areas of weakness. At worst it’s just common sense, at best it can be magic. Accomplishing the most you can, whether it’s for one particular child, or for the greater good depends on not wasting time and energy on things you either aren’t particularly good at or don’t enjoy and devoting yourself to those things that suit your own “superpowers.”
Sometimes identifying your weakness is easy, in fact, you know it all too well, and it haunts and taunts you. Other times, it’s elusive. A can’t see the forest for the trees, or to close to have a perspective issue. Take a look around you, at the half-finished projects and unrealized dreams. If you are honest with yourself, you will see how your weakness has derailed your best intentions. Maybe, it’s fear of rejection or defeat. Maybe, it’s mission creep, perfectionism, lack of confidence, or overconfidence. But, once you finally identify it, it’s time to exorcise it. Like Elsa, and hundreds of thousands of young girls have wailed, “Let it Go.” As another blog in the works will tell you “Time is Not on Your Side.” Quit beating your head against the wall and focus on the things you do well, outsource your areas of weakness. I know the idea of giving up is hardly inspirational. But, with apologies to new age positive thinking gurus everywhere no one ever manifests success by wasting their time on anything, but what they do best. Picasso painted, Pavarotti sang, Spielberg directed, and each depended on others to deal with the “little things.” Of course those “little things” were also keys to their success, but letting others deal with things outside their passion and strength was key to that success.
I realized I was a freak years ago. But, only recently through my work began coming to grips with the nature of my neurodiversity. Mind you; I’d come up with plenty of hacks to survive. I didn’t go from a 2.2 high school GPA to top of my law school class to one of the most experienced and successful trial attorneys in Northern California without both insights into my many flaws and support from great friends and coworkers. But, I’ve recently realized I only scratched the surface. Surviving Special Education began as a solo passion project. I realized I could help a limited number of kids one on one by directly representing them. But, I could use my training, background, and experience to arm and prepare other parents, advocates, and attorneys to help many more kids survive and thrive in an often hostile and thoughtless education system. I soon ran into my own ADHD powered traps: impulsiveness, procrastination, drifting focus, sloppiness, and half-finished work product. I also recognised my shortcomings in technology, artistry, and consistency. I began reaching out to others whose strengths were the Yin to my Yang. My son, Matthew, has autism. But, is gifted with technology, music, and art. He’s contributing to the blog, podcast, and other projects in the works. I asked for his help not out of charity or inclusion, but because he brings skills to the team I don’t have. Resisting my need to control, I’m reaching out to automation (Grammarly, Crowdfire, Hootsuite, Dragonspeak), outside experts (Pat Flynn, Amy Porterfield, John Lee Dumas, Darren Rowse) and other colleagues, friends and family to allow me to focus on what I do best, developing and teaching winning legal strategies.
I challenge you to break free from your comfort zone and look around for things and people that will allow you the freedom and relief to focus on your highest value in use. Look for experts you can rely on (As time goes by, I hope I’ll be such a resource), friends and family you can count on, and systems/apps/and software that will ease your struggles. Fight the isolation that comes with raising a special needs child and realize you have a new community, a family that needs each other. Out there are others whose strengths and weaknesses complement your own, and as a team, you can accomplish what none of you could have as individuals. It can be amazing how clear the solutions to others challenges can be when those to your own seem insurmountable. Give others the gift of helping, and in return reap the rewards of helping others. The secret’s out; we’re all in this together.