There was something about this young man standing on the street that made me look back as my car sped by.
He had a striking resemblance to Mohit.
The question reared it’s head, yet again – What if Mohit was typically developing?
He would also travel independently, probably work or helping his dad with the family business. He even would have had a girl friend.
The thoughts shifted to myself. The Kamini then and the Kamini now.
What a transformation. The one person who is responsible for this transformation is Mohit!
You know something? I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because what Mohit has given me is beyond what a typical person living a mundane life could have given me. And it’s not a case of sour grapes!
Mohit has taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I’m sure all the mothers reading identify with this about their kids with Autism Spectrum and other special needs. Their love has no selfishness. It’s as pure as soft, white snow. Our kids exemplify ‘spiritual beings having a human experience.’
Recently, I attended a wonderful webinar by Amber Black. Amber herself is on the autism spectrum. She made some revealing, potent statements that shook me from inside.
“Just the fact that we’re here on earth raises the consciousness of the planet.”
“Anything that you do to create ease for us on this planet- you’re helping us tremendously.”
So my dear friend, how do we create ease for these beautiful souls.
Every person on the spectrum is unique.
Please don’t compare children/adults on the spectrum.
Cherish each one for who they are.
This is half the battle won. And it the most important aspect in parenting a child with autism spectrum disorder.
This one should be obvious. Unfortunately, it’s not.
I have seen many parents working on reading and writing, when the child is still not toilet trained.
Our lives go by in a flash. Before you know it, your little child will be a teenager.
Toileting, bathing, dressing and grooming – all these are essential.
If you’re worried about toilet training, check out Toilet Training in Less than a Day by Foxx and Azrin.
For self help skills, I resort to backing chaining techniques. Let’s take a look at a task analysis for brushing teeth.
The steps involved are:
a. Pick up the brush
b. Apply tooth paste
c. Brush your teeth
e. Turn the tap off
f. Put the tooth brush away
g. Wipe your mouth
These are the basic steps. They can be broken further.
The idea is that you can help with all the steps upto ‘f’. Let your child work on step ‘g’ independently. Once this is in place, work backwards. Help him get ‘f’ and ‘g’ independently and then ‘e’, ‘f’ and ‘g’ and so on. Eventually your child will be working on all the steps independently.
We must empower every child to communicate.
Even if your child is non vocal, it does not mean that they don’t think or have nothing to say.
There are several methods of communication. For instance, there is sign language, PECS, typing, RPM, Communication boards, other forms of augmentative communication.
Observe how your child learns.
Is he intrigued by letters and words?
Does he like to look at pictures?
How good are his fine motor skills?
Take your observations to your speech language pathologist or a communication specialist. She/he will help you enhance your child’s communication.
Autism is often accompanied by co occurring conditions like seizures, OCD, anxiety etc. These should be taken care of as well.
These are not ‘autism’ but they can ‘accompany autism’.
Be vigilant, work on these systematically. Remember, only you the parent can pin point these and work on them.
Of course, take guidance from specialists. Ease the life of your child by working on these, and witness his true potential make its way into your life.
What does your child do for leisure?
Physical activities top my list.
Cycling, playing cricket, squash, table tennis are some options to look at.
Take a cue from what your child likes to do.
What are your child’s hobbies?
Does he like to paint, engage in craft activities? Develop these and create a rich environment.
It’s important to teach all of the above when parenting a child with autism and other special needs. But one thing is even more important. This is the string that ties all the flowers together to make a beautiful garland.
It’s the ability to deal with dynamic situations, the ability to ‘problem solve’.
Consider these instances from the examples above:
1. You taught your child to brush his teeth independently. But what would he do if the toothbrush was not in place? What would he do the toothpaste ran out?
2. You taught your child to name things and ask for what he wants. But does he share emotionally with you? Does he tell you how his day at school was?
3. You taught your child to cook a vegetable dish. He follows all your instructions to the T. But what if you don’t instruct him? What if some ingredient is missing? Will he remember to add it himself?
These are components of dynamic intelligence.
Don’t you think these are the most important things that we should be teaching?
What will happen to my child when I’m no longer there – Does this question keep you awake at night?
We think we have time. But nobody knows how much. So, every day, ask yourself: Am I making it easier for my child to navigate this world?
Our children have come here to uplift us.
In return we need to nurture and foster them, so that they can navigate this world effortlessly.
Imagine experiencing a deep emotional connect, a balanced family life, and unconditional love every day in your life.
Yes, it’s possible. And you, the parent, can do this.
This one job cannot be outsourced.
My next post will focus more on problem solving.
I will be happy to answer your questions. Drop me an email at email@example.com