Parenting a Special Child

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Don’t look around, or turn to the phone book! Look in the mirror! Yep, it is you. Mom and Dad, you are the best, the most passionate, and most trusted guide your child has. You can go to as many therapists, teachers, and other professionals to you are blue in the face, but the best learning comes from being by your side, doing with you, learning from you, and feeling competent through you! You don’t have to be educated, or know everything there is to know about autism. Just be you, and engage them! The world is your classroom, the lesson plans are nothing more than the normal daily activities that fill up your day. As often as possible do them together, giving him (or her) as big or small of a role as possible. Do them together, side by side, as you scaffold the guidance for success. Share the experience, “doing it together”, and with minimal focus on performance. Talk as you go, and “think out load.” Model how you “think”, as well as how you “do”. Pause at each step, and ponder what is next. Point out the options, and appraise which is best. Take a second to give your child a moment to “think”. Give clues, but allow him to think. Even if they are nonverbal, they are listening. Even if they are not looking, they are observing. They are learning, as you two are doing! Celebrate doing it together, rather than then how “good” he is doing. Help him feel safe and accepted and he will be attracted to you. Help him feel competent through doing with you, and he will follow your lead forever. You don’t need expensive therapists, extensive training, or hours and hours of private therapy. Just you and you child, doing together, and growing together. Teach by showing and “doing with”, rather than “telling”; instructing. Place no pressure to perform, and celebrate any and all engagement. Not praising him for what he is doing, “Good job Johnnie”, but celebrating doing it

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