Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Educating and Loving a Child with Extreme Challenges

The following thought is by Rachel Stafford, author of Handsfreemama:

Here in the U.S., many students are beginning a new school year. With that, social, academic, and emotional issues are bound to arise at any age. My hope is that we take some pressure off ourselves and realize we don’t always have to “fix it” or find a solution, but instead just be there for our children with love in our eyes.

My thoughts: I hope everyone who reads this post clicks on this link to read the story written by the author who penned the above thought. It is about a behavior specialist turned special education teacher (no longer teaching though) who reached a child no one else could reach. How? By simply loving and caring about a child who had many behavioral challenges.

What impressed me the most is that this teacher valued the lesson her student taught her. Her experience of helping a boy named "Kyle"sounded challenging. He was in full flight mode, running away because he didn't like/understand a situation in which he wasn't allowed to attend a field trip. But in doing so properly she showed the child she cared and in returned she earned his trust, respect, and willingness to comply.

This story resonated with me because I have a child who frequently responds to distress by going into flight or fight mode. Like the author, I've discovered that the best behavioral plans start with love (or at least fondness).  Any child, even one with autism, can sense if they are not loved or liked. Likewise, a child knows when someone sincerely likes and respects him.  

I tell my son I love him every day. At the moment we are directly discussing the concept of trust because I want him to know that everything I do in terms of homeschooling is with his best interest in mind. Any child, even one with autism, can sense if they are not loved or liked. Likewise, a child knows when someone sincerely likes and respects him. 

I'd like to encourage anyone who is either raising or teaching a child with behavioral challenges to first look past the behaviors and see the person behind them. It's not always easy, but it's necessary. Seeing the person beyond stress-inducing behaviors will inspire you to help them more than if you just see the behaviors and are overwhelmed by them.

That said, I believe that challenging behaviors need to be addressed without a doubt. Fortunately there are many effective techniques to address behavioral challenges (functional behavioral assessments, collaborative problem solving, teaching social and coping skills, cognitive behavioral therapy). However, always remember the techniques are most likely to be effective if administered while having a positive attitude about the person in need of behavioral supports.


peoghed said...

Very wise comment... When you look at your child in a bad situation you need to recognize your own feelings. If things aren't going well its likely your emotions are negative from the beginning. You must realize that your child has some limitations but that's just how it is.

Jon G said...

Hi Julie...long time no chat! What a great post. I've sadly run into more than anyone's share of negative parents. One dad I met (a medical professional, mind you) said, because of his son's autism, he considered him "dead". If you start with that, what hope is there. I know that's the extreme, and your post hits the nail on the head. It can't be argued that the therapies our two have engaged in have been a large part of their successes. But our positive attitudes and faith in their abilities are mostly responsible.

Daniel Gibbs said...

Being a parent of an autistic is child is never easy. I spent years reading on autism. I don’t like to offend, also some people have narrow mind towards this disorder in children which is totally wrong. Autism need love affection and extra care during early childhood days, you can also rely on methods like speech therapy and Dyspraxia care for curing autistic child.