Tag Archives: teaching

Things we need to quit saying as parents

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Since the title is pretty self-explanatory, I think we should just jump right into this list:

  • I don’t care – You do care. Yes, their timing is probably off (sorry kid, waking me out of a dead sleep at 3am to discuss the reasons why Pluto should be a planet again, isn’t exactly the ideal conditions for this discussion). So, I encourage you to strike the phrase entirely from your vocab. I try to use, “Now is not the time but I’d be glad to listen in a minute/ after breakfast/during lunch/etc.
  •  Can’t – Can’t is an unacceptable word in our house. Nothing gets me down more than hearing one of my kids say, “I can’t do this!” Or being teased by their sibling, “Haha, you can’t do it!” Ugh. I make them say, “I’ll try it!” Instead. And if they struggle, then we say, “This is really hard, but I’ll keep trying” or “This is really hard, could I have help please?” I don’t want my kids thinking they can’t do things, just because they have this negative language. And don’t think this means I don’t believe in the word “no,” because I absolutely do. No, I just want them to try things and learn from their mistakes rather than just saying, “I can’t do that” and never trying.
  • Stupid – We try to say “silly” instead. I have yet to find a situation in which it’s appropriate for anyone, at any age, to call someone else stupid or dumb. Or for them to be called stupid or dumb. They’re not going to always be the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, the bravest, etc etc. but when you are trying and learning, there is nothing stupid or dumb about that.
  • Perfect – No one is perfect. I don’t tell my kids they are perfect, and I certainly don’t tell them that I or their father are perfect. Everyone has flaws, everyone has strengths. Everyone has goals, everyone has fears. There is no perfect job, class, car, hobby, or pet. We need to encourage others in their flaws and fears and celebrate their goals and strengths. Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. “Practice like you’ve never won, and perform like you’ve never lost.”
  • Hate – There are only a few things in this world that should be hated. Cancer, crimes against the innocent, and the Yankees. Hating someone for having a different sexual orientation, their skin color/heritage, their religious preference (or lack thereof), and anything else like that? No. Never okay. You can disagree with them. You can not like their choices and not make those choices for yourself. But there is never a good reason to hate someone or something. You can not like it and move on. Don’t waste your time and energy on something or someone negative, all of that can be put into positive things. Except the Yankees, fuck them, there’s no positive spin to that one. đŸ˜‰
  • Be/Just like – “Why can’t you be quiet like your sister?” “Why don’t you just study like your friend?” Well, because they are not anyone else. Copying someone else is not what I want my kids to do, even if their friends are “more” at something than they are. Be the best version of yourself, because that’s better than a copy of someone else.

What are your thoughts? What words have you gotten rid of from your vocabulary?

Autism Testing is the bane of my exsistance

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So here we are on this windy, wintery afternoon, awaiting to go in for Avila’s annual testing.

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I always feel like a horrible parent at these things. That whenever she can’t do a skill or task, I instantly feel guilty because I feel like I should have been working harder, longer, with her on those things.

She has “high-functioning” autism, but really all that means is, she’s “different” and “quirky” enough to be on the Spectrum, to get the services, to make life that much more different and at times, difficult for us; but she’s not severe enough for people to think she’s autistic, or I have autism parents that get mad because “at least she talks,” “at least she can get dressed,” “at least…”

You know, I always knew she was “different.” I had to fight her doctor tooth and nail for a referral to our local mental health facility just for the preliminary screening, just shy of her 2nd birthday. Yet, she was unofficially diagnosed before we even left the mental health center! When the results did come back, she qualified for the most help we could get her from the State.

I researched, and researched, and researched what I could do to help her. I was never afraid of her diagnosis and in my heart of hearts, I always knew. So, instead of resisting and denying, I took action and put my insomnia to good use. I called friends that I had lived with previously, that have a son that is quite severe and what they were doing. I have a cousin who is autistic, and his grandpa and I worked tirelessly one summer to help him. He had changed his diet and so I started combing the internet. I started reading of parents whom had took artifical dyes and preservatives out of their kids’ diets and it was really helping.

By this time it was March of 2014 and I decided to give it a try. What’s the worse that’d happen? No change and I could go back to buying whatever I wanted?

Well, in two weeks I had a totally different kid on my hands. She had finally came out of her “fog” enough that I could start actually getting through to her. And I started working with her every day, all day.

I have never “babied” any of my children, and I feel we have done a good job of trying to be upfront, honest, and bringing everything down to an age appropriate level to include them too. So, we started watching Thomas The Tank Engine because she was getting really into trains. They talked about feelings and that was something Avila just didn’t “get.” So we started talking about the trains’ feelings and our own. And now she is one to tell us her feelings… very, very loudly but she’s at least trying to get her points across.

She started liking superheroes and so we started scripting and acting out The Avengers and the Ironman movies. We dressed up and started trying to slowly expand our pretending and imagination. I had always loved writing and making up stories so I just pushed her into that play. It wasn’t easy. I can script every single Marvel movie there is and some days (and some days still) there is not diverting from the screen play. But sometimes, and these times are my favorite, sometimes she makes up a new storyline for them. Once, after The Battle of New York (as found in the movie, The Avengers), instead of going to get shwarma together, Ironman and Thor went to Pizza Hut and ate pizza and cookies. Another time, Thor took Captain America back to Asgard and had him over for dinner, and Captain America was very kind and happy and thankful Thor invited him to his house.

We work very hard to expand her imagination, and we try very hard to give her nothing but facts because she really loves to learn new information. And she’s an elephant, she doesn’t ever forget. So we try to make sure everything we tell her is completely factual and correct. And if I don’t know, I make sure to tell her that I don’t know, but let’s find out together.

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Anyway, back to this wonderful annual testing. I know she needs it. I know it does nothing but help her. I know that it’s good to find out where she is, and what we need to do to help her. I know this. But I still can’t help but feel like I could be doing better for her.