More and more Norrin is expressing his need for independence.
One guess who’s having a hard time with that…
When Norrin was diagnosed with autism and started Early Intervention, we had a team of therapists in and out of our apartment. We focused on teaching Norrin how to ask for help. “Help” was one of the first signs he learned and “I need help” was one of the first three word sentences he said.
The irony is that as soon as Norrin began saying “I need help” spontaneously and independently, I prompted him to do the thing that requested help with, himself. Even if he couldn’t do it, I wanted him to at least try before I stepped in to help.
Norrin is 10-years-old now (I am still trying to wrap my mind around that) and he still needs my help with many things.
RELATED: Life Skills and Kids with Autism
The challenge is figuring out when he needs help and knowing when to let him be.
Me: Do you need help?
Norrin: Nope…I got it.
He wants to brush his teeth and pour his juice and wash his hair all by himself, pushing my hand away when I try to help. Some days, we walk down the street and he doesn’t even want to hold my hand. I love these little signs of independence. It’s a good thing. We want Norrin to be as independent as possible.
But independence can be messy.
Norrin doesn’t do the best job at brushing his teeth. When he pours juice, he almost always pours so much, it spills over the top. When Norrin washes his own hair he doesn’t know to rinse all the soap out.
Norrin craves independence but he still needs my help and my hand. And instead of doing for him, I am learning to guide him. I let Norrin squeeze toothpaste on his brush and let him brush his teeth. When he says he’s all done, I tell him it’s my turn and I brush his teeth again. When he wants something to drink, I stand nearby and let Norrin pour his own juice but I tell him when to stop. And if he spills juice, I make him clean it up.
And sometimes independence can be dangerous.
The other day Norrin walked out of our apartment to throw something out in the incinerator. And when we’re walking, Norrin has difficulty navigating busy sidewalks. He doesn’t know to look both ways to cross the street. We are working on safety and what he can and can’t do alone.
I’m not going to lie. It’s easier, neater, faster and safer to do for Norrin rather than letting him do things on his own. But if isn’t taught to do these little things for himself, how can he do the bigger things? The little things are the baby steps to an independent life.
Is your child showing signs of independence? How are you letting them go?