Today was the last day of my eighth summer as a social skills camp instructor. I really like working with the students on such a relevant skill. Identifying and understanding social cues can be a difficult task for anyone, as a young teenager with autism, the task can be monumental. In addition to crafts and games we had a lesson on a certain social skill twice a day. I include the topic of loving yourself to my lesson daily.
In 1984, I was 14 years old, I lived with my mother and step father along with my younger brother and sister; my older two siblings had already moved into their adult lives. Both my parents worked, and I was left with the chore of babysitting my siblings often. I remember one day walking home from the bus stop and as we were about to cross the street to go to our house, my brother ran out ahead of me into the street without looking, I immediately bolted out after him also without looking, causing a car to loudly screech its brakes as it came with in only a few feet of hitting us both. I was terrified. The minute we walked into the door at home my brother told my mother, that he “almost got hit by a car”. Without hesitation my mother started lecturing me about looking out for my younger siblings and that I, as the “big sister” was supposed to “take care’ of them. As she finished yelling at me, I went to my bedroom laid on the bed and wondered; I was almost hit too, im taking care of him, but who was taking care of me.
The self-care message to most children, especially teens, is mostly proper hygiene. At 14, I knew about keeping my body, hair and teeth clean. I knew to wear clean clothes and neat hair, what I didn’t know was how to love myself, and treat myself good. Most children don’t at that young age. This is exactly why I included self-love into every lesson. How well you treat yourself usually dictates how others treat you.
The definition of selflove is regarding for one’s own well-being and happiness. I look at this definition as one caring for themselves so that they are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy to give to others.