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My parking skills are fodder for family jokes and general snarking.

I avoid parallel parking as much as possible. I have been known to abandon an event if I can’t find an easy place to parallel park. At the age of 50, one of my friends taught me how to parallel park, and I was able to do it, sort of. I consider getting within 12 inches of the curb a victory. At an angle, mind you.

I admit it, I am the person guilty of pulling into a pull through parking space and not pulling through far enough. So I have developed the habit of pulling through and matching my door to the car next to mine.

“Mom, try again.” “No Mom, that spot’s too small. Try another one.” “Well, it’s not that crooked.” “I guess that’s good enough…not bad for you, Mom.”

Parking is not my strength, as anyone in the family will tell you. I have developed strategies for coping, though, and I get on with life.

My strengths are writing, spelling, analysis. I enjoy getting together with people in small groups or one on one. I hate large, noisy events…where I can’t hear or make myself heard. Although I can do math, I am not the extra credit kind of gal. My hand and eye coordination is atrocious – when the Zumba instructor says move right, my body moves left – bumping into the person next to me. I am that person.

Mostly, I muddle through life, It’s okay to say, that’s good enough. Or I am unable to do something, and that is okay.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Very few people are actually well rounded and good at everything. Our autistic kids are the same way.

We knew early on that Will was not going to be an athlete. In a way that was advantageous for keeping him safe – he was no Houdini. He didn’t climb the cupboards, or open windows. He stayed in his crib because he fell out once and that hurt. Will never hurt himself the same way more than once. He never tripped over the same thing twice. That was a indication of one of his strengths – his visual memory.

We also knew early on that Will had strengths in music, so we encouraged that with piano lessons. There are books for kids who don’t know how to read. He was a late reader, but that quickly developed into a strength.

So early on, be alert for your child’s strengths. It is important to work on some of our children’s weaknesses, enough to help them cope. If tying shoes is not to be, velcro shoes are an acceptable option. Maybe athletics are a strength, but learning to read enough to cope, is good enough. Will never learned to ride a bike. Learning to swim was not learned, due in part to sensory issues. He can live his life without knowing how to swim. It’s not ideal, and he may learn it someday. Mary’s spelling is atrocious, but she can read. Before she could read (8th grade), she coped by listening to books on tape, asking others to help, and always ordering a chicken sandwich from the menu.

One of my weaknesses is parking, which members of my family would be delighted to tell you. But I’ve learned how to cope, and put up with the joking. I am willing to say, that’s good enough, I’ll try again, and sometimes I give up for today.

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