(I originally wrote this article for the Navigate Life Texas website in 2018. Sharing here because it’s still very important when making our friends and family aware of how HADDS affects our daily lives.)
Does your family have to utilize “The Filter”? I know mine does. My family uses The Filter multiple times every single day. I would not be exaggerating if I said that it is always in use at our house. Living with HADDS makes using the filter necessary.
Every decision we make must first go through The Filter.
We get an invitation to an event. We send it immediately through The Filter:
- How accessible is the location?
- Is there a place for a quick break or escape if my child gets overwhelmed?
- Is the event indoors or outdoors…if outdoors, will the weather be doable for my child?
- Who will be attending the event—those who understand my child and his/her responses, or those who might judge her/him?
- Is there a space for personal care/feeding of my child?
There are some errands I need to run, but my child will need to be in tow. Run it through The Filter:
- How are they feeling today? What is their mood?
- Is there something we need to save energy for, or can I drag them along on these errands?
- Can they do these errands and still have the energy to finish up the day?
- Do we have the supplies/equipment that we will need during the errands?
The Filter helps our family decide whether or not something is a possibility. Not every family needs The Filter. Many families can pick up and go anytime, but our family has some disabilities and needs to consider each and every time we leave the house. The Filter helps us weigh the pros and cons and recognize the risks—there are always risks.
The Filter becomes second nature to a family who uses it often. No decision is made without using it. No plans are secured, no restaurant is chosen without exploring it through The Filter.
The Filter may seem like it limits my family. The reality is, The Filter protects my family and my child. Using it helps us make wise choices. It protects my child’s dignity. It helps prioritize events and duties in such a way that my family can participate in the things that matter but say no to things that would prove to be too much for my child.
Friends of my family learn that we often need to be tentative for plans. True friends know that we will do what we can but that we will also say “no” when we need to. Good friends know that if I hesitate at the mention of an invitation, I’m just sending the information through The Filter, and we will participate if possible.
Lunch on Saturday, you ask? Wait just a minute while I send it through The Filter.