By Jackie Sue Griffin
As a journalist, I thought I’d mastered all forms of written and oral communication. Then my son, Devon Tyler Konyha, was born September 18, 1990.
My son has high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Raising Devon has provided me the opportunity to relearn everything I thought I knew about human connection and communication. We were in family therapy for seven years learning different communication styles and different methods of balancing individual needs with family needs.
Today, we laugh together over all the unintentional mistakes that I made as a mother. For example, I took him to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate his birthday three years in a row. It was in family therapy that I learned he was terrified of that “big rat.” He was also terrified of clowns. His nursery and toddler’s room was full of clowns. Yet, he forgives me and claims that I’m “the best mom ever.”
Without exaggeration, Devon has taught me how to be a better person, how to love unconditionally, how to pay attention and celebrate difference and how to keep hope alive while practicing discernment and self-care. Over the years, with his guidance and feedback, I learned how to use these skills as an empathic leader, business owner, consultant and teacher.
What is Devon’s wisdom regarding empathic leadership as a 29-year old advocate in the community?
- “Always listen to what people have to say, and be open-minded to hearing alternative suggestions.”
- “When people are talking to you, put down your phone and really pay attention. You don’t need to speak, just listen.”
- Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic…”There is a lot of ego in our world, which makes people think about their needs over the needs of others. We are all connected, so we should examine all of our needs together. The COVID-19 pandemic will bring out the best in us; yet, it will also bring out the worst in us. Pay attention to what you are paying attention to. Learn the lessons you need to bring out your best–and share them with others. We can change the world together if we stay connected with one another.”
- Devon has worked at AMC Veterans 24 as an usher for five years. Prior to his job being furloughed he was training in concessions and box office sales. One of his most difficult lessons learned was understanding that not all individuals or families wanted to follow AMC rules for the safest and healthiest entertainment experience. “I had to learn to expect the worst and hope for the best. This is completely opposite to the way I naturally think.”
Devon has an abundance of spiritual gifts–knowledge, healing, wisdom, discernment, faith and prophecy. He is classified by some fields of study as an Indigo Adult, with the ability to see the emotional aura of another. He indicates that my emotional aura is indigo and violet, representing compassion and love.
I’m certain that if I do radiate, it’s because of my ability to surround myself in his loving embrace and illumination.
Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS, BA, is the owner and Executive Director of Jackie Sue Griffin & Associates, a Certified Recovery Coach, trainer, former journalist and fundraiser. She is also your hostess here at HERStory.com.
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