I’m sure that people often think that I am too firm or rigid with Evie. When I talk to her I keep my instructions short and clear.
She needs to not have overcomplicated instructions…
“Sit on the chair”
Rather than “Go and find a seat in the living room, sit down and wait.”
Evie is the queen of procrastination. She can divert your attention in umpteen different directions. It is so important to keep things direct and simple to help her.
If I give Evie an inch she quite literally takes a mile. She’s not unusual in that I know! What people do need to understand is that once Evie has learnt something it is much harder for her to unlearn it than others. This was one of the fundamental things that I was taught by Evie’s Speech and Language Therapist when she was tiny. When anyone has learning difficulties it’s important to understand this. For this reason, we have always treated Evie exactly the same as we would treat any of our children. She has to know when she is in the wrong. She needs to know what is socially acceptable and what’s not. It can be very tempting to make excuses for Evie and to allow her to get her own way. I’m not saying that she doesn’t ever get away with things as she does. But I treat her exactly as I was treated and as I would treat any other of my children.
I won’t deny that some aspects of her behaviour aren’t challenging as they are. Most things will pass in time. Her sensory issues often make things harder, she struggles to cope with many situations which causes stress for her and us too. She needs constant reinforcement about some things. I’ve often blogged before about how Evie is a free spirit, she does as she wishes or would do if she didn’t have guidance and correction.
You make think that this sounds harsh, that I’m too strict but I’m not. This is to help Evie for her later life, for her independence and yes it’s also to help us for the future too. I would love to be able to allow her to do what she wants without question, but life isn’t like that and I wouldn’t be being a good parent if I didn’t do otherwise.
Evie is a player, she loves to entertain and make people laugh. Her life’s aim is to make you giggle and laugh. No matter where we are, if she is in that mood you stand no chance. Now this is fine generally but sometimes, she needs to know that she isn’t the centre of the world. At school for example, she is fully included. This means that she has to do what the rest of her class do and rightly so. Her 1:1 often has to have a battle of wills to ensure that Evie complies. Each morning when I drop Evie off at school, I give her 1:1 a heads up about the type of mood that Evie is in. Some days Evie is unwilling to co-operate, she wants to do what she wants regardless of what she knows (and yes she does know) she should be doing.
Evie is so socially aware. She’s an astute little thing. She knows how to manipulate you and situations to her absolute advantage. Her 1:1 knows her so well. She employs the same tricks that we use in order that Evie can learn.
Today I’m aware that a friend was challenged in a local supermarket about her parenting style by another mother. This mother seems to have taken exception to my friend correcting her son’s behaviour and asking him to do as he was asked and to return something that he had removed from the store. My friend was so terribly upset by this incident. My friend was told by this other mother that she couldn’t speak to her own son like that, because he has Down’s Syndrome.
To my friend, I know that you are a good parent. I know that what you did, is what I would do and I’m sorry that this happened to you. I’m sorry that someone thought that they had a right to correct you when you were trying to teach your lovely son. From what I’ve seen he is a delightful young man and he has been taught well by you. No one has the right to tell you how to parent him, when they have no idea about him, you or quite frankly what has happened.
As we all know parenting is hard enough without being criticised by other people. I often feel other’s eyes on me in the shops or public places when I am talking to Evie, when I’m reinforcing my words with Makaton. We don’t need other people sticking their two penneth worth in and criticising us thanks very much. I’m certain that others think that they could manage aspects of Evie’s behaviour better than me. I may seem strict but I make no apologies for it. Evie is Evie and I know her better than anyone.
We each walk our own paths. We don’t know others’ stories and we ought to be kinder and less judgemental of others.