“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This, from one of the 20th century’s foremost complex thinkers, Albert Einstein, who also said, “I very rarely think in words at all.” And a couple of millenia before Einstein,  Cicero deemed brevity “a great charm of eloquence.” Legions of authors nowadays try to live by William Zinsser’s four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity. We know Einstein, Cicero and Zinsser are right, but brevity can be elusive and the very devil to achieve!

A few years back, one of my writer circles sent me this prompt:  In six words or less, what did your mother teach you? My answers: Don’t dwell on might-have-beens. Life’s too short to be little. God didn’t equip women for camping.

Then I substituted “children” for “mother,” and the list flowed off the page. At the top was Bryce’s own definition of himself: “I choose to be optimistic.” *

I put the question out to my Facebook audience, to remarkable response: every comment—positive. Not one person went near “Friends desert you, strangers are cruel” or “To resent our isolation” or “The meaning of never-ending exhaustion.” Most autism parents do encounter those bleak lessons and moments. But this group, like Bryce, chose to focus on buoyant themes: unconditional love and wonder and life lessons. O, tidings of comfort and joy, indeed.

The thoughts that follow are my own co-mingled with many from my global social media community. Please add yours: In six words or less, what have your children taught you?

Happiness = wanting what you already have.

Live in the moment, every moment.

Always have Plan B . . . and C . . .

To love deeply, and let go.

Don’t over plan or over think.

Pick your battles. Normal is overrated.

Why getting older is a blessing!

There is no “normal.”

They showed me a better world.

To see person, not disability.

Listen between the words.

Love me the way I am.

Reorder priorities to ones that matter.

Unconditional love.  I now understand grace.

“Normal” is a dryer setting.

To have fun, seize the moment.

Be spontaneous. Try anything once.

To laugh in the face of mess.

Be braver than you think possible.

There are always choices.

Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.

She can be own role model.

Love unconditionally. Think of others first.

Compassion. Flexibility. Importance of being yourself.

“Respect my comfort zone.”

Your yummy is my yucky.

It’s a balancing act! I juggle!

Sometimes you need time out too.

Take each day as it comes.

Most people are trying their best.

Alone isn’t always lonely.

Don’t judge people on first appearances.

Works as team, or doesn’t work.

Children sense more than they express.

Never give up trying.

Perspective: view environment as child does.

Take time to be still.

Courage, unconditional love, versatility, acceptance.

Patience, curiosity, unconditional love, compassion, honesty.

Listen to inner voice. Trust instinct.

I can do it!!!


 * Bryce’s 2011 essay, “I Choose to be Optimistic” was published in two national magazines.

“…like everyone, I have stress and it affects me, but now I feel I can defeat it. In envisioning my life going forward, the choice I’ve clarified is something that not only my folks taught me but I’ve learned for myself as I’ve gotten older. Keeping it in mind always is a technique that might falter sometimes in a predicament, but the way it makes my heart feel and how it motivates me is why I choose it. This is what I’ve had all along. I choose to be optimistic.”

© 2015 Ellen Notbohm  www.ellennotbohm.com




Photo © DNF-Style/Dollar Photo Club



One Response to “What our children with autism teach us, in six words or less”

  1. Daphne Reardon says:

    My son has taught me…Unconditional love

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