Teaching Life Skills To Your Exceptional Child


It has come to my attention since most of Michael’s aggression has gone down considerably, that we need to get back to working with him on life skills again, you know, things like tying his shoes, personal hygiene, preparing his school bag for the morning etc. Michael is in many ways ahead of peers. He started making his lunch independently last year, and is quite good at showering, that is , when he chooses to do it. We are going through a little rebellion on the “why do I have to shower every night” front. He wants more time to have fun or relax. Brushing teeth is also something that is too time consuming he says, so he does a rush job. The problem is the fine motor work required to manipulate the toothbrush to do a good enough job cleaning. It is the same thing with using utensils. He will do the bare minimum, as he is in a hurry to eat to get to more fun stuff, but as a result, does not perfect his technique in this area either. Michael has lots of patience to learn at school, but at home he fights us. He wants to do fun things with us and alone and not work. However, as he gets calmer, I want to squeeze in teaching these ADL skills. They will be instrumental to his full independence one day.

The other life skills I am working on with Michael now are social skills of how to have a conversation, how to wait for others to answer, and how to be friendly without being overbearing. We have been lucky that he has taken some Social Skills workshops through our community organizations, and I hope that he will do more next year. However, I also want to continue the work of encouraging him to carry these skills forward. Now that I feel I am comfortable carb counting for his diabetes without recording every little bite of food he eats every day, and not charting all his behaviors as I have a pretty good idea of what to send our educator, I feel like we can move forward and help Michael with this next leg. It is both exciting and challenging, but things at home are definitively turning a corner.

My challenges have always been remembering that no matter what, I am always Mom first then helping with therapeutic measures. Also, that though I am not a therapist, I am the primary one to advocate for Michael, and that my role is to teach him to do as much independently for himself as he can. This will be the ultimate tool to help him with his success in life one day. I also give myself permission to make mistakes, to not always know the right technique of how to teach things that came easily to me and are more challenging for Michael. That’s what our team is for, and it is ever expanding. It has to be for an Exceptional Family if they are ever to get anywhere. This does not mean that a child is always sent for therapy. But consulting therapists, educators, counsellors, and participating in various activities will give you and your child a glimpse into what they are capable of and where they can go. In the end, your child will gravitate to what interests them, and they will look to you for encouragement when trying new things. Be there to encourage them to try the new. Be there to encourage them to work on skills to help their independence. Be there to praise every initiative, whether it results in success or not. I have been blown away by Michael’s progress, and this is due to his amazing efforts and to me never losing sight of what he is capable of.

Exceptional Parents, how do you teach life skills to your Exceptional Child? Remember, always go with their flow first. They will be your best teacher. Secondly, always trust your own parenting instinct that they are ready or not for the next chapter of what to learn. You will usually be right on the mark. If there are oversights, you will still be able to surge forward and fill in the gaps that are missing. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

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