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Home / Kristin's Corner / Self-Advocacy: Lets Listen to Our Kids

Self-Advocacy: Lets Listen to Our Kids

Self advocacy is something we try to teach our children with autism.
Stand up for yourself ,make your wants, thoughts and needs known.
Often times our children have problems with anxiety and are in fear of
speaking their minds or they can’t find the right words. School is a
place that should encourage this life skill that is so very important
for them to succeed. Lets face it, school is stressful for many of our
children. When a child is verbal enough to say this bothers me, or
that sound or smell is just too much for me, maybe people should
listen to them? I could be wrong here, it just might help prevent a
total meltdown. No, I’m not saying that *John* should get out of doing
his math homework because he does not feel like it.  John should not
be forced to sit next to another child that is eating *stinky food*

——- It’s story time boys and girls ——-

My daughter Lauren has stage fright REALLY bad, I did too as a child.
To put her on stage and ask her to sing ,dance or act is like pouring
hot oil on her.
The stress and anxiety that it causes her goes beyond words. In recent
memory her class was putting on a show, she would practice and
participate. Oh, yeah till it was time to put on the show for a large
audience. This was more than she could handle, she spoke up and told
me her reasons. I did my best to encourage her to just try, she was
not having any part of that.  I received  a message from her teacher
asking if she would be coming to the class show that day. My reply was
simple, yes she would be there, however she would NOT be participating
with the class. The day of the show came and we showed up. I could
tell Lauren was stressed out with fear and anxiety. Her teacher
approached us and said to her, okay, come with me! Lauren froze with
fear and you could see it in her eyes. I said, Lauren do you want to
be part of the show? No, mom I don’t. It’s too loud for me, I have
sensory issues and anxiety .

******SELF ADVOCACY ALERT******

She gave a VERY valid reason why she didn’t want to be part of this
show. Not because she didn’t feel like doing it, because of the stress
it was going to cause her. This was not good enough of a reason for
her teacher. Lauren, if you’re NOT going to be part of the show I want
you to at least sit with your class and here, put this shirt on to
match your class!  Mom, can you sit with me? I’m scared, I don’t want
to leave you, it’s too many people here. No, Lauren I can’t, I have to
sit with the other parents. A dirty look shot out of the teachers
eyes. FINE, but at least put your shirt on! She walked away in a huff!
I must admit by this time I was ready to put a WWE smack down on this
woman!  As we were ushered into the hallway before the show started
the teacher approached us again, Lauren are you SURE you don’t want to
be with your class and part of the show?  What part of NO does this
woman not get I thought to myself? NO, she does not want to be part of
the show! She has told you why, please respect her feelings! I could
feel my blood start to boil, it was all I could do to even stay there
and watch the show.

I’m not a pushover parent, if anything I’m pretty hard on my kids. I
make them do things they don’t want to do! I’ve learned with autism to
pick my battles! They often tell me I’m MEAN, good then I’m doing my
job as a parent!!

As always I welcome your feedback!

Kristin@autismcenterofpittsburgh.com

About Kristin Liberato

Hello! I'm Kristin and I'm the parent of 3 wonderful, amazing children with different forms of Autism. So if you are a parent that just had a child recently diagnosed please reach out to me, I've been in your shoes before I know the pain, shock and sadness. If you're a parent who just needs some support, please contact me. I will do my best to do whatever I can to help. No question is dumb or silly so feel free to ask!

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