Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Can't I Teach My Child Self-Control?

the following is post from my personal blog, dated two years ago.

Trying to teach any child self-control is tough. When you are dealing with a child with autism, there are added challenges. It isn't that they can't learn, they do. It's just that with autism, often learning takes the form of rote scripts that are hard to apply to situations that deviate from the taught scenario. The ability to adapt just isn't there. I tell you this so that I can tell you this story.

Last night, J and I wanted to go out. We don't get a lot of opportunities to do that, because even though I have given birth to the World's Most Responsible 14 Yr Old, let's face it, leaving her in charge of two younger kids with autism is something to question. But last night, my littlest one said that J and I needed to go out. You need to understand that she was falling apart earlier, not so much in a catastrophic way but more in a "I am really whiny and complaining about everything" way. The Wii can do that to all of my children. Hell, it can do that to me!

JBean was trying to convince me that we needed to let them stay home. We were planning on a late movie, so there would only be an hour that the kids would be up. JBug puts them to bed for us. To assure me that I was making the right decision, JBean said:

"Momma, I can do what they taught us in Sunday School today... SPUD.
I can control my self!"

Most parents would be thrilled by this. Instead I took it to heart as my failure. When you homeschool, everything is your fault. I said to to J, "I have been trying to teach her this stuff for years, and she picks it up in five minutes in Sunday School? Maybe I need to send her to school to learn, because she isn't getting it from me. I'm failing." He looked at me and said, "She got it today because you have been going over controlling herself over and over again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It clicked because of you." My eyes filled with tears, and I spoke..

"That was the right answer."

T, who takes it all too personally

Tina Cruz is a writer, wife and mother of three children, two who have high-functioning autism, one who has Asperger's tendencies. She advocates for autism awareness and education, as well as acceptance. She views autism as a growth process and the opportunity to connect parents for support as a privilege. She is the Special Needs Editor at typeamom LA Special Needs Kids Examiner at Examiner.com and her own site, Send Chocolate reflects her passion for her children and autism. She is the founder and editor here at Autism Sucks.
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  1. Thanks for sharing this. I cannot count the number of times we struggle over a concept, another person breezes through their lives and POOF, the child understands and someone else gets the "Ah ha" moment.

  2. Rachel: no kidding! We get so little credit for what we work so hard to teach them, don't we?

  3. Roger: THANK YOU for your voice and for adding to the conversation. I would love to see you post here, if you would like. I hope you read this. Self-control is the ongoing work here, definitely. Would love to know how you manage it.


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