When I heard of the Wolfpack analogy being used for corporate leadership, I was surprised to know the amount of positive that’s associated with this much feared animal. I started reading into it more, much much beyond the story of Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault. There are interesting facts about wolves that I uncovered and some that I already knew. Facts like they are apex predators, travel in packs, attack dogs and actually are quite scared of humans due to humans killing many baby wolves through time due to fear of rabies were already partially known to me. But the fact that I uncovered with respect to corporate leadership was about how the wolf is an animal that works within its family and community on the principles of protection of its weak and advocacy of its pack. That stood out.
But even though Wolfpacks are commonly referenced in corporate leadership models, it is something that may be hugely applicable to how we can make our own tribes for our special needs population.
For special needs is isolating. It’s mentally challenging in how creative you have to be in order to juggle time between work and kids, marriage and kids and yourself and kids. Your kids can easily become the focal point of your life. And out of all your kids, your child with SN has a higher chance to be your focal point for most of your life. There’s a chance that your typical kids get neglected in the process.
So we are always looking for our pack. We are always looking for how to do it better. And we are always exploring the unknown and always hoping for help to materialize.
But wait! Before you thought that a tribe just forms because you’re hoping to have one let me tell you this. Tribes form when people start living close. People need to be close in order for a tribe to form.
There’s a stigma with special needs even within the SN population. We see another parent struggling with their autistic and immediately become thankful that our type of autism is better. Don’t blame yourself for doing that. This is conditioning. Ableism is truly a curse on humans.
So what’s the best way to overcome ableism, form a tribe, have a squad and grow a Wolfpack? To make one.
Share with people. Empower people. When you see a parent struggling with their kid, autistic or typical, in the cereal aisle, be empathetic. Help them if you think they need help. Go out on a limb. Make your presence known. Make your presence safe. Now this grocery aisle tired momma is your tribe. You just became part of her village.
When we share we make a human connection. We also remove a dark cloud hanging over SN or any other societal stigmas like failed relationships, divorces, infertility, advanced age, sexual orientation and financial status. When we share with other humans about human things we are making a support system. It’s like money in the bank. This person will be your shoulder tomorrow. Don’t discount the human connection.
And it is totally possible that this person has been shunned by society because of any stigma that society might have against them. Don’t be afraid to walk the road with them. Don’t feel shortchanged if this person can’t give you back as much. Sometimes, the road to a robust support system starts very lonely.
And when you have the tribe that you had set out to make, continue expanding it. Don’t get cliquey. Invite others in. Let them see what a tribe, a pack, a village looks like. Continue to empower the newcomers and hold no favors for the old ones and no rites of passage for the new ones. Everyone gets support. There is no exclusion criteria.
Why is it important to be inclusive? Why is it important to make a tribe of different colors, different needs and different strengths? See below.