So I’ve come to realize that Michael is a tad bit disorganized. He leaves his things all over the place, forgets stuff and is messy. Who’s to blame for this? Well, both of us really. Though he has autism, he’s like most eight year old kids who will try to get away with only doing fun things and not cleaning up. I’m like most Moms, and am tired of fighting and chasing him to pick up after himself, retrace his steps when he loses things, so end up organizing him myself. This helps no one long term. He does not learn how to be self-sufficient, and I get annoyed at myself that I am doing what he could be doing for himself. Sigh. With the rushed pace of our world, our life, and the daily little things autism brings for us to deal with, I am guilty of sometimes taking the path of least resistance. This year though, his teacher is working more on independence in daily tasks at school and at home, as she should be. He is growing up, and I am glad for the gently kick in the bum I needed to start doing this at home for Michael, myself and his father.
The other day was just another reminder of how all of us need to be organized for the house to run like a well oiled machine. Michael has a little cat collar he bought at the dollar store. Yes, we have a cat, and no it is not for her. He likes to shake this back and forth when he is excited or nervous. He always has felt secure with something in his hand, a toy and this is small enough that it fits in his pocket when he doesn’t need to shake it anymore. He does not call this shaking though, but rather clinking. Hence, the toy has been affectionately nicknamed his clinker. So when he misplaces this clinker on a regular basis, it causes quite a stir. He lost one at school so we went out and bought him another one. Now though, every time he misplaces it, he tells me he’d like to go buy another one. No, his father and I have to remind him, yours is lost in the house. Retrace your steps and find it. He agrees with this, but will always try and say I looked, I can’t find it, can we go to the store? Ah, there is that path of least resistance. The other day he had to substitute for another toy as he couldn’t find it. I promised one more time to look for him. After that it would be his responsibility. Lo and behold, as I did the weekly housecleaning, I located it under his bed. The one place he had not looked!
As with everything else, Michael has shown me with the lost clinker, and other items he has periodically misplaced, that I need to set a good example of how to be organized with things and start modeling that for him. When he catches on to a routine, he’s really good at following it. So it’s up to the adults around him to show him that everything has a place and that there is a place for everything.
In what ways are your organized or disorganized, Exceptional Moms? Are you holding back on letting your Exceptional Children take the reins of independence as it’s faster to do it yourself? If so, don’t despair. It’s never too late to start. And if they’re nervous, just do one small thing a day to let your children assume more control over their things. They can start by picking out their own clothes, packing snacks in lunches, and being responsible for where they put their toys. And even though it’s easy to do it yourself, remember that the long term results will be a child who thinks they are not capable and are more anxious than they need to be. As adults, we set the tone for a life where stress is minimal and families can enjoy each other more. Until next time.