“When we learn to shift our mindsets to accept, connect and engage in their world’s, it becomes refreshing and feels like a breath of fresh air.” Dr. Alisha Griffith
By Ron Sandison
I had the pleasure to meet and interview Dr. Alisha Griffith from New York in May at the Navigating Autism Today Conference in Frankenmuth, MI. I enjoyed hearing her presentation and how she was able to empower her son with autism to experience life and learn. Dr. Alisha is helping many parents who have children with autism through her motivational speaking events and her bestselling book Au-Mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance. She is a true inspiration.
Q. You have developed a great relationship with your son with autism; what advice do you give parents for connecting with their child also?
Three things I encourage parents who want to connect with their child are:
- Enter your child’s world. Find things or activities they enjoy and engage with them in it. Switch places and see the world from their perspectives.
- Use laughter and smiles in your relationship; making life joyful and fun. Don’t take much personally. Enjoy and embrace your child’s quirks.
- Be a great listener, listen with your eyes, ears and heart. Be patient, and try to understand what is not being said verbally, but with body language and gestures.
Q. What has been your greatest joy in raising your son?
My son has a huge heart and knows just the right thing to say to me to bring encouragement and supportive at the exact moment I need it most. He makes me smile on the inside and I love him.
Q. How has your strong educational background empowered you for helping your son and others?
As an Audiologist, Speech Language therapist and trained educator working with children and families on the autism spectrum, I have learned and used tools and techniques for the ten years before even having Zachary. I have found through experiences, what generally works and doesn’t work. I also learned that each individual is unique; it’s not a one size fits all area of expertise. I have more tools in my toolkit so I use them with him naturally.
Q. In your bestselling book Au-Mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance, what advice do you give parents whose child has been recently diagnosed with autism?
Understand that autism is not a death sentence and that you already have the tools to help to make your child to be the most productive person. For the tools that you don’t yet have—be open and take opportunities to learn and then implement your new knowledge. Consistency is the key—never give up.
Q. You also founded So SMArT Kids, Inc., how does your program help teach children with autism social skills?
So SMArT Kids, Inc, teaches children with autism, to improve focus, self-esteem and to engage with each other during fitness activities and martial arts. As the children learn in a fun, structured and safe environment we encourage turn taking, increase eye contact, positive reinforcement they give to each other and increased communication with their peers in a dojo setting.
Q. Why is fitness and nutrition so important for parents raising a child with autism?
Fitness and nutrition are two key elements for healthier, longer and stress free lives. It’s important for parents to lead through examples and to create a healthier lifestyle in the homes, so that it can carry over into their environment. A healthier family is a happier family. It’s also a perfect to use for bonding and strengthening relationships. Work out or do physical activities, make a meal as a family or go grocery shopping together to discuss healthier options.
Q. How do you promote fitness and nutrition to families who have a child on the spectrum?
I help families to know it can be fun to do things together, deepens connections and that it’s a perfect way to bond and laugh together with your child on the spectrum. The parent or child can be the leader and teach the other.
Q. You also have a Black Belt in Jujitsu. How can martial arts empower children with autism? What skills can they learn from it?
Martial Arts was where I personally learned discipline, focus and structure. Our motto at Vee Arnis Jitsu and now with So SMArT Kids, Inc., is “laziness will bring you pain.” In other words, get into action and be productive to have a happier life.
Q. You share at conferences “Becoming the Best You.” How can a parent accomplish this?
Yes, “Ignite Your AU-Mazing” you. Parents need to always focus on putting on their oxygen mask, self-care and self-love. As they begin to feel better being their best versions of themselves then they can teach their children the same through, words and actions.
Q. You speak around the country and at many conferences. What are some topics you teach?
Some topics I focus on include:
- Self-development- shifting mindset to positive and acceptance (Au- Mazing Gift),
- Igniting and deepen connections with self and child (Ignite Your AU-mazing),
- (Make Power moves) learn tools, tips and techniques to help to support your child to be the best version of themselves.
Q. Please share an inspiring story.
Never in a million years would I have predicted that Zachary and I would live like we are today. I asked Zachary what he wanted to do and he said “travel the world.” Today as an author of Au-mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance, autism transformational speaker and autism ignite coach we can travel together at times, and we both get to do what we love: help others with our “au-mazing gifts” and travel the world.
You can contact Dr. Alisha Griffith by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to her website: https://dralishagriffith.com/speaking