I am lucky that Michael is a talker and storyteller like his Mom. I know this. Some days, I wished he was more quiet, but then he has had that some experience with me, even once commenting to me, “Mommy, you talk a lot.” Humor aside, telling stories about our family and growing up is something I love to do and Michael loves to listen to. In our busy family life, when do we get a chance to do this? It is usually during meals. We will eat and talk. It is the way I grew up, and I wanted to keep this tradition going with Michael. I used to worry when he wasn’t talking that I would never be able to do this. Then he learned to talk and was anxious to communicate with me about his things. Very gradually he learned to start participating in conversations. And now he asks me questions about his relatives, my childhood, and tries to get an understanding of my world too. It is great. I am also talking to him more about how I am learning more about his world. Since he knows he has autism, I have been slowly telling him how I have talked to and read stories and blogs about other people who have autism like him. I am learning more how his brain works, and how he sees the world. One such story was when I told him about a blog by a man who has autism where he talked about having stimming parties. Michael was so excited. We also talked at length yesterday about Temple Grandin, and how her Mom pushed her to excel even when others said she may not be able to. I told Michael that is why when he is afraid, I tell him to try. His autism is both a gift and a challenge, but it is not an excuse to escape learning life skills.
Having these conversations are obviously not possible with a young child at the very beginning, especially if they have behavior and communication issues. But as parents have tools in place to communicate with their child, either through language, PECS or a computer, they can definitively start to build a bond through stories. Talking to your child regardless when they are calm and alert, whether they are looking at you or able to respond back, is definitively something to build in when you are eating together, relaxing in a room together or out somewhere, like a park or even in the car.
I used to be one of the parents at the very beginning of my parenting journey that thought nonverbal kids did not understand what was being said about them. I used to say things about Michael when therapists were in the room with Michael there, and not realize that Michael was picking it all up. Many of my friends made this made this same mistake. Some of us also thought that kids who were not speaking yet did not understand. This is far from the truth. I have witnessed it in countless kids who are nonverbal. They understand everything. Sometimes the frustration is even greater as they cannot articulate to the adults around them what is bothering them. That is why talking, telling stories, pausing to give kids a chance to absorb what you are saying and gesture, smile or make a noise is still having a conversation. Your child will sense when they are being respected by you and others. I still use Michael’s sense of people as my sense of people. If Michael really does not like someone (and it is rare), I stay away from that person too. I know there is something off about them. He and all children like him are intuitive about that.
Exceptional Parents, are you scared to have storytelling time with your kid? Are you too busy doing therapy with them? Consider storytelling like therapy with your child. It is like playing with them and following their cues. This is just as important for their overall development as the therapy you are doing. Better yet it is meeting them halfway, so they can meet you halfway and bond with you. Try it. It’s easy to fit into your day and your child will sense your love and excitement coming through you. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.
For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.