Focus On The Family Gift Guide For 2 Year Olds 3 Big Fat Awful Lies That Parents of Special Needs Children Mistakenly Believe

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3 Big Fat Awful Lies That Parents of Special Needs Children Mistakenly Believe

I am the mother of a bright and funny very distractible, often impulsive, sometimes socially awkward 7-year-old boy. I feel blessed (on most days) that God entrusted me to raise and nurture this little genius. But lately I’ve been so inundated with work that I haven’t had much time to catch my breath and fully enjoy my son. However, over winter break I had the opportunity to slow down and be more present and engaged with him.

Watching my son fill his mornings with self-directed learning activities, I have complete respect for his creativity, ingenuity, and sheer brilliance. Here’s what I’ve witnessed that might be helpful for you if you’re raising a highly distractible child.

1) He built a Lego Fire Temple and Dragon consisting of over 500 small pieces. He spent all day yesterday and didn’t want to take a break except to go to the bathroom and eat his meals. And I had to fight for him to take a break to eat. He worked from about 10am to 7pm (and this is a kid the school system says he can’t concentrate).

2.) Today the plan was to go to the park so he could try out his new scooter. Instead he wanted to stay and create his own board game out of construction paper, crayons, masking tape, pipe cleaners and toothpicks. He also made dice for the game, movable pieces and wrote simple instructions. Nowadays he called his game The Castle of the King. The object of the game is to roll the dice and move your pieces until you reach the castle. His play involves: simple math skills, basic literacy (reading and writing instructions), focus and concentration (and this from a child who is a former teacher concluded that my son could not read or write by grade level).

So parents of special needs children I ask you to look beyond the label and realize that every child has the ability to learn. By no means am I saying that you should deny your child’s special needs. What I am saying is put as much energy into nurturing his strengths as you do into addressing your child’s challenges. Because sometimes it’s just a matter of discovering how your child learns best to kick-start their academic progress.

So here are the top 3 lies that parents of special needs children mistakenly believe.

Lie #1.) Your Child Is Not Teachable

This is a lie from the pit of hell. I use such a graphic depiction so you can see how emotionally, mentally and spiritually dangerous this lie can be to your child’s academic growth and social well-being. Of course your child is teachable, but you have to unlock the key to how your child not only learns but moves through the world. Is he mostly visual? Mostly auditory? Or mostly kinesthetic? Always remember that there was a time in our history when people believed that Helen Keller was not teachable or attainable…and she proved the world wrong. Make sure you take time to unlock the key to how your child learns and moves through the world.

Lie #2) Your Child Doesn’t Have The Ability To Focus

This is another lie that parents of special needs children believe, especially parents of children with ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome. My son is always on the move and very easily distracted. He is like having three children in one. I used to get so angry because I wanted him to sit still, stop rocking, stop rocking from side to side and sit on his bottom without interruption. In reality my expectations for him did not match how he is naturally wired. And frankly, my constant criticism of things he couldn’t control without tools and help did nothing to build his confidence and academic self-esteem. Watching my son spend all day putting together his Lego Fire Temple and Dragon and creating his board game reminded me that he does have the ability to focus when he’s engaged in something he likes and when he has tools to help him. Your child does have the ability to focus, find out what he really likes and help him improve that ability so he can begin to transfer it to his academics.

Lie #3) You Can’t Take Your Child Anywhere

One of the things I learned early on about my son is that sometimes large groups and lots of noise have a crazy effect on him. He seemed to become more hyper when he was in the middle of a crowd, so I mistakenly believed that I couldn’t take him anywhere for fear that he would misbehave, embarrass me, or get into himself. In fact on class trips he was so hyper that his former teacher put a plan in place stating that he would not be allowed to go on class trips unless I chaperoned him or provided a chaperone to personally accompany him. So I spent a lot of time working with the school to keep him from crossing the line and understanding how to follow instructions from start to finish. Sometimes things went well. Other times they didn’t. This led me to mistakenly avoid field trips with my son. I have now learned to prepare him for outings by reinforcing the rules, having him draw or write a few sentences about why he thinks it is important to adhere to the rules associated with that outing, I let him bring something to do or play with. with if appropriate and if necessary I tell the host in advance so that if we have to leave early he/she knows not to take it personally. Don’t buy into the false belief that you can’t take your special needs child anywhere. Instead prepare yourself, prepare your child and if appropriate prepare the host.

Finally, when it comes to your special needs child, look beyond the label and see the gifts in your child. Your child is teachable. Your child can focus…if only in small spurts. And you should proudly bring your child out into the world.

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