Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What a Mother and her Daughter Reminded Me

Today, as my husband and I pulled into our driveway, we saw a Girl Scout, who looked about 10 years old, and her mother on our front porch. The mother waved to us, her daughter looked at us, but then proceeded to ring the doorbell five times, causing our dog to start barking like crazy. 

As I got out of the car I thought, okay kind of unusual, she saw us but still rang the doorbell.  We walked up to them and said hi. The mother smiled wide and said hello. The Girl Scout didn’t respond. Instead she was trying to now knock loudly on the door, calling for our dog to come to the door and play. My SLP brain clicked, and I realized she was somewhere on the spectrum. 

The mom turned to her daughter and reminded her to say hi and to ask us if we would want cookies. Instead, the girl turned toward us and asked if she could come inside to meet our dog. We said yes, of course, as long as it was okay with her mom. Mom happily nodded and agreed. 

They were inside our house for about 15 minutes. The girl LOVED our dog. She talked to her a mile a minute, gave her treats, and tossed her treats. The mom chatted with us the whole time. Finally, we bought two boxes, and they were on their way. 

Why am I sharing this with you? This girl’s mother did not ONCE apologize for her daughter’s socially questionable behaviors of asking to enter our home or her multiple requests to borrow our dog, or to stay at our house longer. She was patient with her daughter. She praised her for being so gentle with our dog. She asked her a math question about how much money we owed if we wanted two boxes and they were each $5. She gently reminded her to say goodbye. This mom rocked. The word “Autism” was never mentioned, because it didn’t need to be.  

Dear parents and special educators of any kind, our students and these children are so much more than just a label. Instead of apologizing for any unexpected behaviors, let's do what this mother did and look for what these children are doing well, then praise it.  Let's thank any bystanders for their patience, rather than apologizing that our student is not listening, or sitting, or having quiet hands.  Dear parents, keep up the good work.  It is not easy, but it is worth it when your child feels your love and support rather than disapproval. Dear special educators, let's take notice of these parents actions, adopt them, and bring them into our classrooms and therapy rooms. Let's remember that these children are just that- children.  

*Credit: blog image from SpeechLanguagePirates

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