Thursday, March 2, 2017

Slow Ride

Pervasive Parenting
By Kodey Toney
Slow Ride
Have you ever been driving on a freeway when suddenly, out of nowhere, traffic grinds to a halt right in front of you. You are in the middle lane of a three lane road, and your lane is stopped. You nearly slam on the break and then you have to make a decision. You have to decide whether to move into the lane to the right, the slow lane, where the traffic is moving, but very slowly, or whether to take the left lane where traffic seems to be moving extremely fast. Common sense tells you to take that left lane, so you signal, move left, and proceed for about a mile before you slam on the breaks again. This time you are at a complete stopping point and stuck just like you were in the middle lane. You look to the far right and notice that the lane you should have gotten into was the slow lane, because, although it is extremely slow, it is still moving.
I think about this often because this is the way it seems with raising a child on the autism spectrum. When I talk to parents with a new diagnosis they seem the way I did when we first started with Konner, and honestly the way I still feel sometimes. They want to help their child, and NOW. Nothing is moving fast enough for them. They want to get therapy every day for their child, because twice a week for 30 minutes or an hour is not going to “fix” their child fast enough. If that works then we need therapy every day.
They feel like they are stuck in that middle lane and nothing is happening. So, they jump into the left lane. They get their therapies through the school, work the insurance, SoonerCare, or take out a small loan to get their child into therapies each day. They take off from work, school, and other important time with family and friends in order to get into that fast lane.
This seems to work at first (at least for some parents and children). You are on a fast pace to helping your child. They are learning things quickly. They are moving along at that fast pace. Until they hit the traffic ahead and grind to a halt.
What has happened? Everything was going so well in that lane that looked so good, but then suddenly you are at a standstill. There are several things that can cause this. Burnout is the main thing though. The child knows nothing about life except therapies and doctor’s appointments. There is no time to put what you are learning in those treatments into action in real life situations. There is no down-time, no play-time. They don’t have time to be a real kid.
Sometimes the right lane is the best way to go. Even though things don’t seem to be going quite as fast as you would like they are still moving. They are still advancing in the right direction, and as the old adage says, slow and steady wins the race.
Look, as a parent I understand. I’ve been there. There were times when I thought Konner would never be able to talk, stay in a classroom, or do things that every day now we take for granted. With the work we, and many therapists, have done with him over the past five-plus years he has come a long way. However, we gave him space. We let him be a child. We worked with him on the things that he was learning in the therapies. We talked to the therapists before, during, and after sessions to find out what we could do at home to help him. You have to work at home with your child, and you have to apply it in everyday situations. However, you have to let them take breaks and be kids too.
Small steps are good. As long as those steps are moving forward it’s not important how fast they are being made.

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