I was amazed to see the free flowing interaction between Priti and Tanay.
They were in the midst of creating beautiful paper flowers for a wall hanging.
Tanay was well engaged and Priti guided him beautifully. Their interaction was interspersed with comfortable pauses.
I watched them make a flower petal.
When Tanay had to position it, he became dysregulated and began stimming. He looked agitated. His body movements showed anxiety. Priti helped with placing the petal and they continued to work.
I wondered what set Tanay off. Priti was calm. There was no pressure for him to perform.
Suddenly it dawned on me. He didn’t want to be wrong. Making a mistake created pressure for him.
Where did this pressure come from?
I’ve known the family for several years. Both parents are calm and accepting.
However, our young adults hold on to past memories and unpleasant learning experiences. Our intentions may be good and our hearts in the right place.
But do we think about the message the vulnerable child gets?
He is bombarded with language drills, constantly asked to select the right picture, name an item correctly, or imitate an action. If he makes a mistake, he goes through a correction. He gets rewarded for not making a mistake.
Stop. Think about the effect on the child’s psyche in the long run.
I know this because I’ve experienced it with Mohit. I did the same thing for years on end. I still see remnants of stress and anxiety in him, long after the language drills have been abandoned.
One of my vocal students has tremendous social anxiety.
“If my child turns out to be like me, I’ll get a brain transplant done for him,” he said to me once.
Another student questioned his mother, “Why am I like this? Why don’t people want to talk to me?
Non vocal kids also feel the pressure of being different. They do not voice it but it shows in their body language and reactions, just as Tanay’s did.
Several things stress your child out. The most critical ones are:
a) being wrong or making mistakes
b) what the world thinks of him
c) being different
e) constant changes in his environment
f) not having friends
g) feeling overwhelmed
h) expectations from others
All these stresses weigh your child down. They (and more) are responsible for what we term ‘problem behavior.’
Not every child is ‘badly behaved‘ because he wants to seek attention or escape a demand. The above mentioned stresses could well be lurking beneath the surface.
Life is not easy for those on the spectrum. When the home environment is stable and accepting, your child will feel lighter and happier.
Stress manifests in the pre teenage / teenage years. By following these suggestions, you could reduce the heavy load that weighs your child down.
Follow these steps to make the world a better place for you and your child.
You’ve heard the term – presume intellect. It’s time to apply it.
Believe your child understands, even if he doesn’t talk, because he does. I know that in your gut, you feel that he understands what you say. That feeling, dear parent, is 100% true.
The parents of a 17-year-old discussed about visiting a residential facility for their youngster. Unfortunately, he overheard the discussion.
That week his behavior issues went up dramatically.
If you want to have a conversation about your child, make sure your child is in another room.
Keep in mind phone conversations can be overheard too. Step out if you want to talk on the phone.
Every parent has good intentions. But I’d like you to think about repeatedly doing the same activities and puzzles from your child’s view point.
‘Keep doing this, you haven’t got it right yet.’
‘It’s alright to do activities mindlessly, as long as you’re doing something.’
These are the messages that he gets.
That would make any person feel incompetent, besides being bored.
Some parents rotate toys very well. It would be a great idea to exchange toys with friends, so that all the children in the group enjoy the variety.
Joining a toy library is also a good idea.
Give your child an outlet for creativity. This will build a strong sense of self that will fortify him for the world.
Let him explore art, music, pottery, dance amongst others. Any activity which gives your child the freedom to be creative will enhance his sense of well being.
Do something just to be with each other and connect emotionally.
Go for a quiet walk and enjoy the nature around you. Be with each other and watch a comedy show or a musical on TV. Drop the agenda of getting tasks done or teaching language and skills for a while.
Every moment spent with your child need not be a teaching experience. It can be a relaxing, chilled out experience.
Let your child know that you understand what he’s trying to convey.
An amazing dad shared a beautiful story the other day.
He was working on a puzzle with his son. His son gestured to move the puzzle away. Dad understood that he didn’t want to do the puzzle. He put away the incomplete puzzle and they did something else together.
The child felt heard and respected. Later he was willing to complete the puzzle.
These are the foundations for building trust.
How many times do you actually sit down to talk to your child, to share something about your day with him?
Yes, you can do this even if your child is non vocal. Mohit has limited language, but I love to chat and hang out with him. Those are the best moments of my day.
Dear Parent, it’s a dynamic world out there. Our children are sensitive beings, as a result of which they take on stress and anxiety easily.
Home should be a safe haven. It should equip him for facing the world. Change starts with you, the parent. You can create the ripple effect of good fortune for your child. Your family, friends and neighbors will learn from your example.
Eventually people will understand and accept your children.
He will then be ready to take on the pressures of the world.
Lower stress levels will help your child understand and navigate his world effectively. He will be motivated to be as independent as possible.
Try these steps for a month and note the changes that you see in your child. I would love to hear your experiences.
And if you would like our assistance in treating your child with autism, you can connect with us here.