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3 Big Fat Awful Lies That Parents of Special Needs Children Mistakenly Believe
I am the mother of a bright and funny, very distractible, often impulsive, sometimes socially awkward 7-year-old boy. I feel blessed (on most days) that God entrusted me to raise and nurture this little genius in creation. But lately I’ve been so inundated with work that I haven’t had much time to take a breather and enjoy my son. However, while on winter break I had the opportunity to slow down and be more present and engaged with him.
Watching my son fill his morning with self-directed learning activities, I am in total awe of his creativity, ingenuity, and brilliance. Here’s what I saw that might be helpful for you if you’re raising a very distractible child.
1) He built a Lego Temple of Fire and the Dragon consisting of over 500 pieces. He spent all day yesterday and didn’t take a break except to go to the bathroom and eat his meals. And I had to struggle to get him to take a break to eat. He worked from about 10am to 7pm (and this is a kid the school system says can’t focus).
2.) Today the plan was to go to the park so he could test his new scooter. Instead, he wanted to stay and create his own board game out of construction paper, crayons, masking tape, pipe cleaners and toothpicks. He also made dice for the game, movable pieces and wrote simple instructions. For now his game is called the King’s Castle. The goal of the game is to hit the dice and move your pieces until you reach the castle. His game involves: simple mathematical skills, basic literacy (reading and writing instructions), focus and concentration (and this from a child whose former teacher concluded that my child could not read or write at the level).
So parents of children with special needs I implore you to look beyond the label and understand that every child has the ability to learn. In no way am I saying that you should be in denial about your child’s special needs. What I’m saying is to put as much energy into nurturing their strengths as you do to face your child’s challenges. Because sometimes it’s just a matter of finding out how your child learns best to spread his academic pace.
So here are the 3 biggest lies that parents of special needs children mistakenly believe.
Lie #1.) Your son is not teachable
This is a lie from the pit of hell. I use such a graphic representation to show how emotionally, mentally and spiritually dangerous this lie can be to your child’s academic growth and social well-being. Of course, your child is teachable, but you have to unlock the key to how your child not only learns, but moves in the world. Is it mostly visual? Most auditory? Or mostly kinesthetic? Always remember that there was a time in our history when people believed that Helen Keller was not teachable or approachable…and she proved the world wrong. Make sure you take the time to unlock the key to how your child learns and moves in the world.
Lie #2) Your Child Doesn’t Have the Ability to Focus
This is another lie that parents of special needs children believe, especially parents of children with ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome. My son is always on the move and gets distracted very easily. It’s like having three children in one. In the past, I used to get so angry because I wanted him to sit still, stop driving, stop bouncing from side to side and sit on his bottom without interruption. In reality, my expectations for him were not in alignment with how he is naturally wired. And honestly speaking, my constant criticism about things he couldn’t control without tools and help did nothing to build his confidence and academic self-esteem. Watching my son spend all day putting together his Lego Fire Temple and Dragon, as well as creating his own board game, reminded me that he has the ability to focus when he is engaged in something that interests him. like and when it has tools in place to help. Your child has the ability to focus, discover what he really likes and help him perfect this skill so he can start transferring it to his academics.
Lie #3) You can’t take your child anywhere
One of the things I learned before my son is that sometimes large groups and a lot of noise have a frantic effect on him. He seemed to get more hyper when he was in crowds, so I mistakenly believed that I couldn’t take him anywhere for fear that he would misbehave, embarrass me, or get into trouble. In fact he was so hyper about class trips that his former teacher put a plan in place that stated he would not be allowed to go on class trips unless I chaperoned him or provided a chaperone to accompany him personally. So I spent a fair amount of time working with the school to prevent them from crossing the line and figuring out how to follow the instructions from start to finish. Sometimes things go well. Other times they don’t. This led to me accidentally running away from outings with my son. I have learned now to prepare him for excursions by reinforcing the rules, let him draw a picture or write a few sentences about why he thinks it is important to adhere to the rules associated with that outing, I let him bring something to do or play. with if it is appropriate and if necessary I tell the guest in advance so that if he wants to leave before he does not know how to take it personally. Don’t buy into the false belief that you can’t take your child with special needs anywhere. Instead prepare, prepare your child and, if appropriate, prepare the host.
Finally, when it comes to your child with special needs, look beyond the label and see the gifts in your child. Your child is teachable. Your child can focus… if only in small spurts. And you should proudly carry your child out into the world.
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