Are You Standing In Their Way?
Sorry to my Autistic audience… this post is meant for the non-autistic parents in my audience.
This is a conglomeration of thought based on several things I have read and conversations I’ve had recently, and quite honestly, for the past few years. Kassiane‘s blog post was repeated on TPGA and speaks about self-advocacy and autonomy even at a young age.Laurent Mottron’s commentary in Nature has been widely circulated with a quote from Dr. Mottron stating
As a clinician, I also know all too well that autism is a disability that can make daily activities difficult. One out of ten autistics cannot speak, nine out of ten have no regular job and four out of five autistic adults are still dependent on their parents. Most face the harsh consequences of living in a world that has not been constructed around their priorities and interests.
**bold emphasis is my addition
A recent conversation with a person discussing ASANs Navigating College handbook lead to talking about how to get something similar going for parents to help their child be more independent in preparation for transition. Then there are my continual lingering thoughts about nonPariel, which in my opinion is nothing more than a day hab, sheltered workshop with plans to include an onsite group home/institution for those considered by those who created it to be “high functioning.” If you’re wondering what all of these have in common, prepare to be enlightened.
First I will start with the statistics that Dr. Mottron said. 80% of all Autistic people are still dependent on their parents. I’m sad to say, I’ve got anecdotal evidence of the same.
Then on to nonPareil which was created by parents who were worried about their children’s futures. They don’t expect them to have hopes for independence so started a program directed to where they will be at transition age.
Next is the discussion about a guide for parents to help create independence. So many parents realize their 17 yr old is about to be 18, and adult and they scamper to find what they can do to help their child. This is a discussion I’ve had with more than one person over several years.
Last is Kassiane’s blog post about showing autonomy to a young boy 9-10 yrs old. How he was never shown that, which is not that uncommon.
I worked for a company into this April where preteens and teens with “HFA and AS” got together for social activities twice a month. So many times, parents said their children couldn’t be trusted to help cook. One boy even hit himself in the face when he was upset with himself and people let him use that it was a part of his condition.
What is this all getting to? Are you a parent that is helping your child be independent or are you standing in their way? If your child is in middle or high school, are they allowed to make mistakes like their peers are? If your child is in elementary school, are your children allowed to make any of their own food?
Do your children have responsibilities that they must do? And how about entrusting them with money? If your child is young, does he have to put the dishes in the dishwasher? If your child is older, does he know how to do his own laundry?
These are all life skills that really build onto each other. So when I hear a parent has waited until their child is 15, 16, 17 to ask “What does my child need for transition?” I always think that the parent has already waited too long. When parents say their child can’t do something, I always ask why. If it’s maturity, then what are you doing to increase his/her maturity?
Like I’ve said before, we use ChorePad HD to help with all sorts of skills. But it doesn’t serve just as a reward system. There’s saving and practicing and growth to learn new things. Daniel, who most would think couldn’t grasp the delayed-reward system, does.
So why not try it with your child? Even if you don’t have an iPad, you can go pick up tickets at the dollar store (Dollar Tree has some). Like those older carnival style tickets. And you get to give tickets for things you want to praise, and remove (if your child is ready) for things that were harmful or disrespectful. It’s the same idea. They can save up to something large while still spending for small things, like 30 min on games/the computer. (A good way to recoup those tickets is adding a goal of “No protest getting off electronics which teaches another skill. And make sure you have a timer that they can read!)
If this sounds preachy, I apologize. But part of having a self-advocating, autonomous adult is allowing them to make their own mistakes, teaching them skills to increase their independence and allowing them to make their own decisions.