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Life Lessons From Raising An Autistic Child (Part III) – Therapy


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And then there’s the all-important question: which approach is best for me? Which technique jives best with my household, my family dynamic, my personality? There’s something about the ABA approach that speaks more to me, and I’ve learned, through testing my limits, that I’m able to effectively carry it out, to see an incident through to the end, to refuse to negatively reinforce a tantrum though it is so very tempting when we are in the supermarket and one simple promise of a cookie has the potential to make him pop up and cut short my embarrassment. Still, I refuse, and wait until he has reached the calming down point, only then reinforcing that positive behavior with a treat. When I’m with Menachem, there’s no such thing as needing to get to another appointment in fifteen minutes. I am with him fully, and everything else in my life stops.

Yet my wife has a more natural affinity to DIR, to entering his world and making him understand how beautiful it is to connect to others. And this is good, because Menachem needs both approaches, and even if his schooling up ‘til now has not been a resounding success, we have learned the lesson that every parent, to be a good parent, must come to realize: that, at the end of the day, the responsibility for educating our child falls squarely on our own shoulders.

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Usually Menachem is very hungry when he gets home, and we have food prepared for him. Though logically, he should sit down happily and eat, when he is in such a hungry state logic flies out the window, and, out of frustration, Menachem will knock over and spill the food. So meal time with him involves a lot of cleaning and coaxing. And always, always, vigilance.

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Sibling relationships are a world of their own. By nature complex, the intricate dynamic is thrown for a giant loop when a special-needs sibling enters the picture.

The uncle’s story:

When Menachem was a baby, he seemed like any other normally developing kid. Videos from that time show him laughing and reacting to other people; you’d never guess how he would turn out. I don’t know, maybe a professional might have seen the signs, but I certainly didn’t.

The father’s story: What’s your parenting philosophy? How do you feel about discipline? What educational approach do you find most compatible with the sum of yours and your child’s personalities?

Being a preschool teacher is a big responsibility, and believe me, I don’t take it lightly. For these two to three year olds, I’m the first teacher they’ll ever have. My primary concern, of course, is to provide them a safe environment for playing, but I also try to get in some teaching, in a way that’s appropriate for their age.

And underneath there exists the same deep desire for connecting with others that all of us have. More desperate, perhaps, because the desire is trapped inside a mind that doesn’t know how to reach out.

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