Today I finally read the Occupational Therapist’s report on Michael’s progress in his last OT Workshop. He participates in many of these sessions that work on fine motor development with hand writing, manipulating objects, cutting and pasting in crafts as well as gross motor strength. I have learned over the years that all these skills the rest of us NT people take for granted learning, are hard for kids with developmental delays and autism. As tears threatened to fill my eyes, I read, as usual, how Michael mastered yet another skill like cutting a shape out of construction paper, or twirling a pencil, which is something he could not do in the fall when he started. There are always so many obstacles he overcomes and everywhere on the paper it is written how cheerfully he cooperated and how much fun he had. My heart both breaks for the difficulties he has to face in learning things the rest of us take for granted along with the pride in his victories and the gains he has made.
But then the hard part for me as an Exceptional Mom comes. The part where the therapist mentions “continuing his gains” by practicing the following exercises at home whenever we have a chance. And they are never difficult or expensive per se. But Michael would never do them with me. I always would feel like a failure as a parent that I could not continue the therapist’s work at home on weekends or holidays or summer vacation. Yesterday morning was no exception after I read the note. Except. Except something amazing happened. He was home on a “Snow Day” the whole day. The weather was terrible. I had to work. After playing the inevitable games by himself and watdching a movie he was getting antsy. I sucked in my breath and decided to dare it. I suggested going to Pinterest and finding a craft activity together that we could do. I almost fell off my chair when he agreed. He blew me away! He did most of it himself and when I praised him, I saw the look of pride, happiness and excitement that he had created something. He even complimented me on my craft abilities, which suck by the way. I told him that and you know what he said?
“Mommy, don’t say that. I think you’re good at crafts.”
The child raising the parent. The child trying something new when the parent had almost given up. I was shown an amazing lesson by Michael today. 1) I am not a failure as a Mom if I can’t get him to do crafts and 2) I should never give up trying new things, with him and alone.
Exceptional Parents, what kind of surprises are your Exceptional Children capable of if you throw them a curve ball or something different? Don’t give up on something because it has not worked in the past. Keep trying. Keep believing. And always know your child will surprise you for the better if you give them the chance. Remind them they can do anything as can you!
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