A few years ago, I became my brother's primary caretaker, as he is too far on the adult autistic spectrum for independent living. Rather than dwell on the things he couldn't do, we focused on his strengths. It is not an easy road by any means, being a sister, pseudo-mother, and caretaker to a sibling. But it is enriching all the same.
One of his best skills is art, and he has always wanted to be a childrens' artist. When I became his caretaker, I was determined not to just tell him to keep trying. I was going to help him move forward, however small the steps were to get there. So we laid out his goals and some milestones, and we started the slow process of transitioning from concept to reality.
It was not a fast success by any means. One of the symptoms of the spectrum that he frequently struggles with is change. Once he had a routine down, he did not take to new art methods easily. We had to patiently work step by step from crayons and copy paper toward art styles the market would search for. On top of that, each stage was full of change, trouble-shooting, and frustrations as they conflicted with his need for sameness. There were times we had to work at a snail's pace toward his big goals. There were even times we had to backtrack and rethink how to get there.
As he improved his coordination and art with practice, I steadily pushed him to try more and more advanced art projects. The past year was a second run at trying to get him into digital art for his goal to be a children's illustrator and artist. We went from simple apps to basic art programs, and this Easter I presented him a professional art tablet. He took to it right away and his art has literally skyrocketed!
Today we are both anxiously waiting for a true milestone for him to come in the mail. His art on a few merchandise pieces, including a tote bag! Then later today we'll also post updates on his new kid's webcomic, Gladiator Hitora.
I'm not sharing this just to gush over a family moment (though I am! I'm driving friends crazy with it as we speak). My brother's experience has a lesson for all of us: You don't have to be like everyone else to achieve your dreams and goals. And you do not have to succeed at their pace either!!
Don't focus on what you can't do, or let it hold you back. Don't dwell on your challenges and shortcomings. Don't compare your successes to others. Focus on your strengths. Improve them one step at a time. Find someone that can handle all the other stuff. Move forward!