October 28, 2012

Lost without boundaries!

In our discussions with the respecting the child's comfort zones, supporting their vulnerabilities, validating their safety and security needs, and giving them a voice, please don't take this as not setting boundaries, expectations, and consequences. In listening to, understanding, and respecting their vulnerabilities, we also need to provide clear expectations, strong gu
idance, and if need consequences for not respecting those around them. The first step is to make sure that we listen to and respect them, if we wish them to in turn respect us and follow our lead. We must first be a "working partner" with the child, before they will "trust following our lead."

All children, on the spectrum or not, need to learn how to balance their needs with those are them. They have to learn that they live in a social world, and have social expectations that people live by. In our discussions about self stimulatory behavior, we must allow them to regulate and protect themselves, but not withdraw into a world of isolation and sensory stimulation. The fact is, we live in a social world, one for which we have to regulate with others. We have to learn how behave around others, how to respect the needs of others, and the social rules needed to co-exist safely in our social world. Given that, it is important they we balance the needs for respecting the unique individual needs of the child, and also teach them social expectations and behavior regulation for successfully living in our social world.

This discussion page is about a set of tools for helping the child feel “safe, accepted, and competent.” We need to respect the child’s comfort zones and support their vulnerabilities but also guide them to feel competent in our social world. To do so, children on the spectrum need very strong boundaries, clear expectations, and consistent consequences just like all children. The primary difference is for children on the spectrum, since the world is often very chaotic for them, they need very clear, “black and white” expectations, with strong boundaries that are easy for them to see. They need to know what to expect in situations, but also what is clearly expected of them. They need to know “how to act”, and why they should act that way. Temple Grandin gave credit to her mother for having very strict rules, especially when it came to social expectations and manners. Her mother was very respectful of her unique qualities, but also very consistent with expecting her to be respectful of others, and to follow social rules. So, we need to build that “working partnership” role with the child by understanding and respecting their safety and security needs, but also become a trusted coach in providing very clear and consistent rules, regulations, and expectations.

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