May 29, 2012

Keeping it simple! Feeling safe, accepted, and competent

Parents, schools, and professionals are often so wrapped up in "treating" the child's deficits that they often do not see the strengths and gifts that the child offers. The "profile" of strengths, interests and vulnerabilities helps people focus on developing the child's strengths and compensating for any vulnerabilities. People are mor...e focused on "curing" autism, rather then developing the gifts of autism. For some reason, many do not understand that autism, as a label, is nothing more then a diagnostic label for specialized services and research. Support people for the child need to simply support the child by recognizing any neurological vulnerabilities (sensory, digestive, social overload, etc.), patterning a daily routine that matches the child's profile, and to use the child's natural interests to develop their strengths. All children have natural gifts and strengths, that when supported and fostered, will grow into the person they naturally are meant to be. We spend so much time forcing them into a profile that doesn't match them, that we ignore and repress their "true essence."

For any child, regardless of profile or label, if you can identify their natural profile of strengths, interests, and vulnerabilities, and use this profile to help them feel "safe, accepted, and competent," all children grow and develop, with strong self esteems and gifts to offer the world. So, any parent/school/professional should be asking three primary questions:

1. What helps my child feel "safe and secure?" What are the major sensory/cognitive/social stressors that overwhelm my child and need to be supported.

2. What helps my child feel "accepted and valued." Are the people around my child engaging in ways that helps him/her feel accepted and valued. What interactive patterns promote the feeling of safe engagement in my child so he/she can feel secure with those around her.

3. What helps my child feel "competent?" What are my child's strengths, interests, and gifts and how can we build on those to strengthen his/her gifts. When utilizing the child's strengths and interests in learning activities, all children learn, grow, and feel confident and good about themselves.

These three principles are basic to all humans, regardless of labels and differences. If we hold true to these principles, we support and foster the development of the child's "true essence." So parents, make a list of ways to help support your child in all three of these areas. Summarize the list in a simple two page profile to give to everyone (teachers, professionals, caregivers, etc.) that support your child. Advocate that they adhere to that list, and watch your child grow and develop feeling safe, accepted, and competent!
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