You’re Doing Fine
“Show me the autism parent who hasn’t at least once wondered uneasily where lies the boundary between encouraging a child and pushing too hard. There seems to be so much at stake (we dread even an inch of backsliding in our hard-won progress), and the line keeps moving! How do we know?
It’s a question that will never go away, as each new developmental milestone redraws the line. From watching Bryce jump into the deep end of the pool for the first time to dropping him off at his first school dance to watching him board a plane by himself to watching him drive off to school, I’ve churned out enough stomach acid to float a barge. I know that angst, but I also learned to say no to letting it rule me. Sometimes we already have the answer, obscured only by the veil of that uncertainty. That’s why I was delighted to read the following letter. I get to tell a mom, “You’ve got this one, and here’s why . . .”
Dear Mom Getting it Right,
My daughter is 6, and likes to be in groups with other kids. She likes to do fun things. I want her to do a variety of new things so that she’s able to have an easier time with transitions. I signed her up for a new after-school club, riding the bus with her brother, meeting a support person from her ABA agency after she gets there who will observe and help her and possibly pull her for 1:1 instruction if needed, or take her from the building to another place. It will be more stimulating and have more kids than she’s used to from other things, but this program is structured and has a level of noise and chaos that I have seen her do well with. The worst case is that she doesn't go back until he is older and we try something else instead. I want her to have opportunities for more independence. This is a strong area for her; she has a desire to do things on her own and she likes a lot of typical kid things.
Your thought process and actions are a lovely model for how to manage the inherent risks in any new situation and set your child up for the best possible shot at success.
You want to know if you’ve set up a good opportunity or a push too far. Most often we don’t get to know such things until they unfold; every minute of daily life brims with variables and even the most seemingly sure-fire things can go awry. But you can know that you’ve made a good decision based on the information and opportunities you have available at this point in your child’s life, and more importantly, that you can have confidence in your ability to make these decisions and do it well. The challenge you now face—perhaps a bigger one?—is not allowing your daughter to see your fretfulness. Whether your attitude is excitement or anxiety about her new experience, be assured she’ll pick up on it and likely adopt it. Reinforce your stance that the courage is in being open to trying new experiences, not dependent on the outcome. And be sure to let your child see you trying new experiences, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, seldom with dire or lasting consequences. It won’t be long before the thrill of exploration and discovery, hers and yours, lifts you above your anxiety, with the sparkling possibility that your child is already out in front of you.
© 2015 Ellen Notbohm www.ellennotbohm.com
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