When Teaching the Basics Takes a Back Seat

An article pops up about kids and resiliency on my Facebook feed and I hesitate to open it. I just know it will be filled with things my child can’t do or be allowed to do right now because of her autism. I mean, isn’t part of autism having severe problems with resiliency?  What valuable insight can this article possibly have for me? My daughter has autism and we need to use special strategies to teach her, right?  So, I take a deep breath and click on “25 Ideas for Teaching Your Kids Resiliency” (http://creativewithkids.com/25-ideas-for-teaching-your-kids-resiliency/). I look through the list and try to apply them to my child. Here are a few examples of the advice from the article and my thoughts:

  • Give your child independence to try new things they initiate, such as climbing at the playground or opening a container, even if you think it is “too hard” for them. Um, yeah, totally guilty of not letting her do enough for herself. I try, I really do. Note to self: she is ready. Let her do more. Maybe this article isn’t so stupid after all.
  • Help your child learn self-control regarding electronic mediums and entertainment by demonstrating your own restraint. Well now, that’s a good one. Note to self: get off the damn computer today. I was really frustrated with kiddo because all she wanted to do is watch Charlie Brown Christmas over and over yesterday as her reward for school work. So I let her do it in small amounts and of course I jumped on the computer. I got frustrated for her wanting to use electronic medium so I consoled myself with… electronic medium?! Today, let’s try a shut down until evening and I will jump on the exercise bike or clean up this mess of a house instead during her reward time.  
  • Allow your child to experience the extremes of temperature by dressing accordingly, not hiding away from the weather. But my child doesn’t know when she is hot and then can’t ask or initiate to take clothing off…then a meltdown might happen. Are they nuts? Wait a minute. When is the last time I asked her if she was hot, if she wanted to take her jacket off, told her to feel the weather before she gets dressed, let her pick out her clothes, etc? In my race to get out the door in a reasonable amount of time and keep her comfortable to avoid problems, I have forgotten how to teach her these simple things. Note to self: slow down, help her get there even if it takes a long time.
  • Teach your child how to be responsible for their own clothes as early as possible: to sort and wash and put them away – including washing clothes by hand and hanging them out to dry. Yeah, um first I have to learn to sort and put laundry away myself (it usually stays in the laundry basket and I dig through the pile to find clothes). Wash clothes by hand? That’s funny. Stretch goal. Next.
  • Require that responsibilities be completed even when your child does not feel like it, such as making beds, taking a bath, feeding the pets, and brushing teeth. Make beds?  HA HA HA HA HA HA! That’s a good one! I haven’t made a bed in 5+ years. But, it is time to really work on those next steps in self-care. Point taken.

And while reading this article I realize, wow, I forgot some of the basics that other people do with their kids. Why? Because I am just trying to get through the day. And because my child has many delays, so I need to prioritize. This is going to be a short post, but I just want to say this. If you have kids with special needs, take a deep breath and open the “do these with your typical kids” links. Do it because you will forget some basic things that are valuable to do with your kids. Sure, you may be a little sad that you have to adjust the advice so much, but it is a valuable reality check. Remember to alter the advice just enough to fit your situation, but not enough to hold your kid back. Your kids deserve the to have as many of the “typical kid” experiences as they can have, they deserve to be challenged, and they need to be allowed to be as independent as they can be.

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4 thoughts on “When Teaching the Basics Takes a Back Seat

  1. I am both touched and humbled to read your post here. I will forward the link to Chelsea who wrote the list of ways to teach resilience. Thank you so much for your perspective, you’ve given me many things to think about today.

  2. Chelsea says:

    I am so moved by your article, thanks so much for linking to it and sharing your thoughts. I am working on these with my boys as well (I wrote the list for myself originally!)… I think in today’s society we often forget the “basics” because we are all in a rush and distracted. Best wishes to you and your daughter 🙂

    • grahamta says:

      Yep, so easy to forget. Yesterday I let kiddo get herself out of the tire swing at the park. It took 15+ min but she did it! I forgot that she was finally at the point to persist in problem solving for that long! We got new shoes that she could put on independently and started 30 min earlier before going out the door so she could dress herself more. It was a good day and thanks for the nudge to make me reevaluate.

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