By Kodey Toney
I'm a Traveling Man
As I was reading through my Twitter feed today I came across a tweet by a self advocate that said, "I have a difficult time navigating this world, but if you shield me I won't have the coping skills to thrive." This reminds me of an important lesson that I think is worth revisiting. So many times I have parents say things to me like, "She needs to start school, but I'm so afraid to let her go. I know it's me and she'll be just fine, but I can't stand the thought of leaving her there."
There is nothing wrong with being a little over protective, especially with children on the spectrum. As I've said in the past, I will not apologize for doing my job as a parent. However, there does need to be a little space.
I like the wording that this woman uses. She doesn't say that this is to survive, she says to "thrive". You see, we have to let our children have those experiences, good and bad, and then nurture them throughout to make sure they know the right and wrong. This is true for all children. It's like the first time you took the car out on your own. I'm sure your parents were freaking out, but the more you did it, the better you got, and the more natural it felt for everyone. You may have run out of gas, or had a minor problem, but it made you smarter and better in the end.
If it's still a problem then ease into it. Take your child to school and sit in the room for the first time or two. Try not to interfere with the teachers and just watch. Gradually you can feel more comfortable with them being in the room alone.
You have to give them independence In order to make them better in the long run.
Jen had a professional tell her recently that we needed to make sure that we did things with Konner and go on trips, that we didn't need him to just stay home. She proudly said, "We do." We go on several trips each year and Konner has gotten so much better at traveling over the years. We go on some pretty long trips too, and it's almost second nature to him now. It hasn't always been that way, but because we continued to do things with him he learned how to cope and thrive.
I think this is good first-hand advice that I wanted to share. As always, I hope it helps.