Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Simple Rules for Working with my Child

Dear Therapist, Teacher, Aid, etc,
You are starting treatment or teaching my child. There are just a few small things you need to know before you begin working together. 

1. My child has no limits. There is nothing he can't do or nothing we can't adapt for him to do. If he is not doing something, it is a result of your teaching methods, ability to motivate or lack of creativity. Teach to him, do not have him learn to you. If you take this approach, I guarantee you will be successful in some way. 
2. If I tell you he can do something, and even film it for you, but you say he can't or he cannot generalize to you- again- see #1. If I can get him to do it, then you either have a failure of motivation or he just doesn't like you. In the event of the latter, I wish you luck. 
3. Find what motivates my child. And listen to me if I tell you what he likes and what motivates him to do things at home. I am with my child 24/7, you are not. If what works for me doesn't work for you, then find something. Do this before you ever begin to work. It will go better for the both of you. 
4. Repeat after me: tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn. Pay attention to the last part. That is how my child will learn- involve him, show him why it matters. Otherwise, good luck to you.
5. My child will say no to you and that's okay. Then there is room to negotiate. And if you are negotiating that means he is using language! As his parent, the fact that he can argue with you is a wonderful thing. Keep working it. 
6. We believe on cooperation not compliance. If you decide to use compliance as your word choice- again, good luck to you and we won't miss you. My child knows how to cooperate with others and find common ground and learn from you. He is not taught to blindly do what you tell him without the ability to say no, or question why he has to learn it. 
7. My child has a voice and he uses it. Deal with it. We have worked our whole life for him to have a voice. You will not ever decide his opinion on something. Ask him. If you decide to talk for my child, I will invite (or force, whichever must be done) you to duct tape your mouth shut for an entire 24 hours and let other people speak for you and make all your decisions. Then let me know how that feels.
8. Do not talk about him in front of him. He may not always choose to speak, but he certainly has ears to hear and a brain to understand. If you decide to do this, I will have a conversation about you, in front of you and let you feel how it feels.
9. Respect my child and he will respect you. You do not need to talk to him like he is hard of hearing or far below his age. He's a human being and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. If I hear you talk down to him, again, good luck to you (and by now I hope you've figured out what that means). 
10. You are with my child for an hour, maybe a couple hours or half a day. I am with my child 24 hours, 7 days a week. Do not talk down to me either or good luck to you. I have to hold strong even at 3am and he decides it's time to get up after 3 hours of sleep for me- while you sleep comfortable in your bed at him for your 6-8 hours of sleep a night. When we discuss goals- make them functional for his life at home with me- not just your hour or two hour session. I need to know what works even when we are all bone dead tired or stressed to the max or when we have some down time to cuddle. Until you know what it like to be with my child 24/7, don't ever assume your way is best or think I "should" have done something. Cooperation is the key word here. Or good luck to you. 
This is just a note to let you know the rules for working with my child, but with us as a family. I will never tolerate anyone treating him like he is less than or that he can't do something. If you do not have the #nolimits philosophy, then we won't be able to work well together. Challenge yourself to find what works for him. Teach to him instead of learning to you. Learning never stops. 

In the end I think you will find he is smart, funny, kind and a riot to be with. It's not hard to teach my child if you hear his voice, treat him with respect and involve him in learning. There can be so much fun in therapy when the focus is on cooperation and learning for life. I hope you enjoy working with him as much as we enjoy raising him. If you have any questions- ask him or ask us- we've been doing this a long time with him and we will continue to be doing this for a long time with him.