By Kodey Toney
I Won’t Give Up
Often times we look at parenthood as something we do to protect our children. I suppose that is what it’s about for the most part, but there is something about letting our children try something that helps them in the long run. We have to let them attempt things. If they don’t try we will never know if they can do it or not. Simple right?
There is a quote that says: “It is a mistake to suppose that people succeed through success; they often succeed through failures.” This makes so much sense to me. We’ve all failed at something and have learned more from that than from our successes.
In my last weekend of Partners in Policymaking (I graduated last weekend!) we had a panel of speakers talk about several things, but one that really hit me is a lady who spoke of getting too much help. She, an advocate with a disability, said that she served on a board and some of the people involved were trying to do most of the work for these individuals with disabilities. When it got to be too much she finally had to tell the advisors to stop. “You’re helping us too much,” she said. “Give us a chance to do it.” Her point was that the others were just there to advise and make sure that they didn’t fail. They weren’t there to do the work for them.
How many times have we looked at our children and thought, “We’re going to do it this way, because he can’t do it the way everyone else does.” We don’t even give them a chance to fail.
In that sense we just become enablers: “One thatenables another to achieve an end; especially: one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.” Do we really want our children to head down a self-destructive path? That’s never what we set out to do, but if we don’t allow them to figure things out for themselves we, and they, will never know their potential.
An example of this is a recent discussion my wife and I had about Konner going to the third grade next year. The problem is that the students have to change classes for the first time. Konner, like many, doesn’t do well with transition, and the concern is that if he has to change classrooms several times then he’s not going to do very well. We were discussing whether or not we should keep him in a single classroom, or only allow him to change once during the day, etc. My question was, “Why don’t we let him do what everyone else would do? What would he do if he didn’t have a diagnosis?”
I don’t know if he can do it or not. I honestly think it isprobably going to be an issue, but if we don’t allow him to try we’re doing a several things that could affect him further down the road. First, we’re singling him out and making him different from others anyway.This of course is never what we want to do as parents.The second is that we’re showing him that we can make things easier for him. The third is that we’re counting him out before he even gets a chance.
I think with children on the spectrum we need to do the “normal” thing until we see they can’t do it like everyone else. Then if we can modify it to help them we should. After all of the possibilities have been exhausted we can find an alternate to what they’re doing. Don’t just give up on them before they even get started. You will probably be surprised. Konner surprises me all the time.
We have to work with them. We have to be there to help them when they don’t succeed, and praise them when they do well.
Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column.