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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 7 year old boy, very distracted, often impulsive, sometimes socially awkward. I feel blessed (most of the time) that God entrusted me to raise and nurture this budding little genius. But lately I’ve been so overwhelmed with work that I haven’t had much time to breathe and fully enjoy my son. However, during winter break, I had the opportunity to slow down and be more present and engaged with him.
Watching my son fill his mornings with independent learning activities, I am in total awe of his creativity, ingenuity and genius. Here’s what I witnessed that might come in handy if you’re raising a very distracted child.
1) He built a Lego fire temple and a dragon made of over 500 small parts. He spent all day yesterday and didn’t take any breaks except to go to the bathroom and eat his meals. And I had to fight for him to take a break to eat. He worked from about 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (and he’s a kid who, according to the school system, can’t concentrate).
2.) Today the plan was to go to the park so he could try out his new scooter. Instead, he wanted to stick around and make his own board game out of construction paper, crayons, tape, pipe cleaners, and toothpicks. He also made dice for the game, moving parts, and wrote simple instructions. For now, he has named his game The King’s Castle. The object of the game is to roll the dice and move your pieces until you get to the castle. His game involves: simple math skills, basic literacy (reading and writing instructions), focus and concentration (and this from a child whose former teacher concluded my son could neither read nor writing at school level).
So, parents of children with special needs, I implore you to look beyond the label and realize that every child has the ability to learn. I am in no way saying that you should deny your child’s special needs. What I’m saying is put as much energy into cultivating his strengths as you put into meeting your child’s challenges. Because sometimes it’s just about finding out how your child learns best to boost their academic pace.
So here are the top 3 lies that parents of children with special needs mistakenly believe.
Lie #1.) Your child is not teachable
It’s a lie from the pit of hell. I use such a graphic representation to make you see how dangerous this lie can be emotionally, mentally and spiritually for your child’s academic growth and social well-being. Sure, your child is teachable, but you must unlock the key to how your child not only learns but moves through the world. Is it mostly visual? Rather auditory? Or rather kinesthetic? Always remember there was a time in our history when people believed that Helen Keller was not teachable or accessible…and she proved the world wrong. Be sure to take the time to unlock the key to how your child learns and moves through the world.
Lie #2) Your child does not have the ability to concentrate
This is another lie believed by parents of children with special needs, especially parents of children with ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome. My son is always on the move and easily distracted. 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 squirming, stop rocking side to side, and sit on his butt without interruption. In reality, my expectations for him weren’t aligned with how he’s naturally wired. And truth be told, my constant criticism of things he couldn’t control without tools and help did nothing to boost his confidence and academic self-esteem. Watching my son spend all day assembling his Lego fire temple and dragon as well as creating his board game reminded me that he has the ability to focus when engaged in something he likes and when he has tools in place to help him. Your child has the ability to focus, find out what he really likes, and help him hone that 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 early on about my son is that sometimes large groups and lots of noise have a frenetic effect on him. He seemed to get more hyperactive when he was in the middle of the crowd, so I mistakenly thought I couldn’t take him anywhere lest he misbehave, embarrass me, or get offended troubles. In fact, on class trips, he was so hyperactive that his former teacher put a plan in place that he wouldn’t be allowed on class trips unless I supervised him or provided a chaperone for him. accompany personally. So I spent a lot of time working with the school to keep it from crossing the line and figuring out how to follow the instructions from start to finish. Sometimes things went well. Other times they didn’t. This led me to mistakenly avoid outings with my son. I have now learned to prepare him for outings by reinforcing the rules, having him draw a picture or writing a few sentences explaining why he thinks it is important to respect the rules associated with this outing, I let him bring something to do or to play with if any and if necessary I warn the host in advance so that if we have to leave early he knows not to take it personally. Don’t mistakenly assume that you can’t take your child with special needs anywhere. Instead, prepare yourself, prepare your child and, if necessary, prepare the host.
In conclusion, when it comes to your child with special needs, look beyond the label and see your child’s gifts. Your child is teachable. Your child can concentrate… if only in small bursts. And you should proudly bring your child into the world.
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