Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giving or Taking Control?

I will let the article below speak for itself. It was written by a wonderful friend and son-rise program teacher, Julie Sando (

Sooo many times, our attempts to 'fix' those around us are really attempts to control them, and their interaction with us. Since I'm on this theme of loving acceptance, it has occurred to me, being controlled can feel very un-loving!!!

Many children on the autism spectrum have pretty big control issues. They like to be in control. They like to know what is happening and when. They like predictability. That is one reason they stim (or "ism"). They do things that create that predictability. They know when they line those characters up on the window sill, those characters will obey. They may ask the same questions over and over, looking for the same response. People on the other hand, are the most UNPREDICTABLE beings on this planet. If these kids are craving that predictability, it makes sense why they would relate more to an object than a person. What can we do about this?!The number one way to help our kids to become more flexible is to become the most predictable people we can be by giving them control!

What does that look like? -Become aware of how often you physically manipulate your child. Is it when you are getting him dressed in the mornings? Or when you are feeding him? Or possibly when you are giving him a piggy back you scoop him up without warning? Each of these times are times you can be more aware of giving you child control. First, EXPLAIN that you are going to help him put his shirt on. Then, slowly move about a foot away from your child and WAIT for them to come to you. Same with food...hold the spoon about six inches away form their mouth and WAIT...wait for them to come to you. Same with the piggy back ride...hold your arms out and encourage them to come for a ride. Then it is their choice...not ours. Not only are you becoming more attractive by being predictable, but you are helping your child build that pathway in their brain where they are making a connection with you because they decided to...not because we are forcing it on them. That's a huge difference!

Celebrate the NO's!!! How many times do you get disappointed or stuck when your child says "No"? This is something to be EXCITED about! They are communicating something they don't want...instead of sitting by themselves in a corner. They care enough to let you know! How exciting! And they are giving you a clear opportunity to give control, which in turn, turns you into a more attractive person to be with! The more you give control, the more your child will come to you because they want to. Try cheering them, sincerely, next time they say or indicate a no.

Exaggerate the control they do have. After celebrating them for saying no to that vegetable, take that carrot and fling it as far across the room as possible. Make an announcement to the pretend crowd in the room, saying "Ladies and gentleman, you heard it here first...there will be NO carrots, I repeat, NO CARROTS in this playroom! That's right, you heard Tommy, he said no! YAY Tommy!" Have fun with this one!

Be persistent. Once you hear that no, make a mental note that you've got your challenge! That's the thing to work on. No need to be stuck. Just celebrate, exaggerate control, follow your child's wants wholeheartedly, then try again a few minutes later. That's all there is to do!

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