Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew; Part 3: Can’t or Won’t

16 01 2008

This is the third part of of my series from the book I just finished reading. It’s Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knewby  Ellen Notbohm. The following is from the article by the same name:

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Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).  

It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions.  It’s that I can’t understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: “*&^%$#@, Billy.  #$%^*&^%$&*………” Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words:  “Please put your book in your desk, Billy.  It’s time to go to lunch.”  This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next.  Now it is much easier for me to comply.

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How easy it is to forget that our children hear differently than we do! It’s work to communicate with them– but, it’s much more work for them to listen/communicate with us… And, the payoff is worth the walk across the room, the insistence on eye contact, the demand for a response.

Last night J was “off.” He wasn’t in tantrum mode but was extremely disconnected. He laid around, he didn’t want to eat, he didn’t connect with me when I spoke to him. His usual happy, singing, funny self was tired. But, when I tucked him in, took his face in my hands and told him that I love him– he told me that he loves me too.  That’s the pay off. That’s what makes all the work worth the hardship.

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My heart breaks for parents who’s children have never said those words. J was five before he said them… and I still remember like it was today. Don’t give up… Don’t ever give up! Remember– it isn’t that your child won’t– they can’t.

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