The Biggest Mistake I’ve Made (So Far) as the Parent of an Autistic Child – and How I’m Working to Correct It!

At 15 months of age we started floor-time/play therapy at home with Lila, under the tutelage of her SoonerStart therapist – Janet. We worked every day for years on joint attention, fine motor skills, speech, turn-taking, picture cards, anything that involved effective communication between each other.

Well – I in particular ended up painting myself into a corner. Bill had much more common sense with this than I did lol Communication – that was the key, right? SHOW me what you want, and I’ll do it! Anything – give me anything and I’ll do it. Desperation lent itself to shelving any reservations I had about performing any of these requests.

Long story short I ended up here:

Oh, you want Mommy to….:

  • Get out 5 foods for you mini-buffet style, then blow bubbles over you while you play on the iPad?
  • Jump on the trampoline with you for hours and hours?
  • Give you a piggy-back ride 100 times in a row?

And I did. At the time – she was communicating, and I was too scared to put limitations on it at that point. So I did whatever she asked whenever she asked for the most part – unless it put her in some sort of danger – that was my ONLY caveat.

Looking back I see how ridiculous this must all look now – but I know where we came from. From a place with zero communication – I thought we had lost her. Therefore, I was beyond desperate. I also worried that she had/has no siblings or friends, and I think I was at least in some part trying to fill that void for her as well (but that’s my issue, not hers).

NOW is the time to set those limits. If we don’t do it while she’s young – all of us will be in a world of trouble, and I know that. She’s extremely intelligent – and her self-soothing skills have improved dramatically. Therefore, I’ve had to start saying “no” more often. Sometimes with a visual of when it will be available again, but sometimes (like while I’m working from home) – the answer is just “no”. She’s learning to be OK with that. I get her what I know she needs to calm down. It may take a while, but she can do it. That’s an important life skill, folks.

Limit-setting – that’s what we’re working on right now, and just flat-out saying “no” for things that are just completely unacceptable (ie physically trying to hurt the cats/puppy). I’ve always been good at the sensitive side of parenting – and working on plenty of floor-time/play therapies with Lila, so now I’M working on setting more limits for her, saying no, and having her take more responsibility around the house for things I know she can do. She throws her chips on the floor – she can pick them up. She doesn’t like it – but she knows better, and she can do it.

She’s a brilliant little girl – and I talk all the time about no limits for her just because she’s autistic, etc. I wouldn’t let a neuro-typical kid get away with this stuff, so I can’t let her get away with it either. So that’s where we’re at on that – we’re working on it, and as always we’ll get through it together!

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