You may be used to having an aide for your child. They could be school aides, respite aides, one to one aides, and even therapists. It may seem like your child almost always has an aide around who knows how to deal with all the myriad of behaviors that happen with our kids.
What should you do when you have to act as your child’s one to one aide?
Well, first off, you are the parent or guardian, right? Whenever you’re with your special needs child, you should be assisting her in any way possible to help her learn how to behave in society.
Watching out for your child, making sure his behaviors are appropriate, should happen consistently. One example I have noted is when a parent is picking up their child. Let’s say you have to talk to the facilitator before you leave with your child. I have seen it time and time again; the parent is so focused on their discussion with the facilitator that they don’t even notice inappropriate behaviors from their children.
It’s a transition period where the facilitator’s time is up with your child and now it’s your time. Yet time and again, I have watched parents ignore their child’s behaviors.
In my last blog, I discussed my child’s after school activities and made the point that I have had to act as my child’s aide. Sometimes you’re the aide, sometimes you’re the parent, and sometimes you’re both.
Don’t I know my child better than any aide?
Of course you do. But, are you prepared to handle his behaviors? And, do you want to do it?
Parenting is parenting. You’re doing the best job you can. Sometimes it’s hard, though, right? You’re tired or frustrated or just having a bad day.
Imagine if you’re at the stage when you’re just learning how to deal with your child’s behaviors. Handling autistic behaviors is a learning process. It doesn’t happen overnight. And, you may go into the autism world dealing with things “your own way” and now you have to learn a whole new way. Some habits are hard to break.
Here’s my point, there are many situations where you’ll have to act more like your child’s aide and less like the parent.
We learned long ago that we had to practice what the therapists were teaching us. Much of what we learned was different from what we were doing, but we not only had to put faith into these professionals but we had to follow through after they left. We spend a lot more time with our kids than therapists or aides do.
How do we act as an aide for our child rather than a parent?
Hopefully you have received a reasonable amount of instruction on how to deal with autistic behaviors. Or, maybe you are in the middle of the autism learning curve which puts you in a tougher position when it comes to dealing with your child’s behaviors.
When behaviors occur, you need to get in there and work with your child no matter what.
As the aide, you can create a side persona where you say to yourself “I’m not the parent right now, I’m the facilitator. I must administer a strategy to help my child.”
Make it a point to train yourself when to be the parent and when you need to assist your child as their aide.
What do you do?
Try to do the things that a therapist has taught you. Follow through on their instructions. Don’t give up and yell or ignore the behaviors. Be strong and, at least, act like you can take over this situation and control it.
But, more than that. You want your child to learn from any situation, whether good or bad. More importantly, you want to set the tone with your child. “You have to behave with me just think you have to behave with your therapist.”
This approach may not work at first, but I’m advising you to keep at it. It’s about practice. Eventually, you may begin to notice when you’re assisting with autistic behaviors or when you’re just being a parent.
How important is it to act like a facilitator?
I’m repeating this part because it’s important. Imagine your child is making progress in therapy sessions and yet you’re not following through at home. You’re not acting like a facilitator or an aide when it’s appropriate. What a disservice you are doing for your child.
I’ll give you another example that just happened in our household. Our child is having trouble transitioning to fourth grade. He failed to earn his chart items on Thursday and Friday. On top of that, he had two other behaviors that led to him not earning his valued computer time on a weekend! This was extremely difficult for our child, and he let us know how hard it is for him.
My husband and I wanted to give in many times, but we didn’t. After from our child, we discussed how we had to stick with the no computer time. We had gone easy on him for the first two weeks of school and we had to stop it. He had left us with no choice.
My child negotiated, cried, and got angry, but to no avail.
Finally, he finished his consequence period and got his computer back. He got through it. He survived, just like we told him he would. We congratulated him and told him we only want him to concentrate better at school and come home with more positive reports.
You may think that we were just acting like parents, but the behaviors that had initiated this problem had to be dealt with as well as the ones that followed. We were also being facilitators.
Having a child with autism is a gargantuan undertaking. It changes your life. You have to learn a whole new approach to parenting, and then you have to implement what you’ve learned. You have to be there all the time, every day, either as a parent or an aide. And, when you’re acting like your child’s aide, you need to follow through and be consistent.
That’s your commitment to your child with autism.
To Find Kimberly Kaplan:
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”