One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give someone living or working with a person with special needs it to let them do as much for themselves as they can. I know sometimes it's easier and faster to do it for them, but we are not teaching them to be the independent young adults that we want them to be.
Last week I was standing in line with one of my students at Starbucks. In front of me was another of the students from our program with an aide waiting to order. I know this young man and was anxious to watch his exchange with the cashier. He is autistic and very quiet but I knew he could do it! What happened next caught me off guard. When the barista asked him what he wanted the aide turned to him and asked him. When the young man told her what he wanted she turned back to the barista and told her. When the barista asked what size the same exchange happened (from this point on the barista only exchanged conversation with the aide and not the student). When given the amount owed the aide removed it from his wallet and put the change back in. When the barista asked his NAME the aide told her! I was so sad to see such a perfect learning experience had just been wasted.
What is our long term goal? Do we want them to be able to do their own laundry? Make themselves a snack? Order their own food? OF COURSE! Just because someone has a disability it doesn't mean that they can not learn. It may take them longer. They may do it differently. But with time, love and patience these kids can do things that most people didn't believe they could. I couldn't even count how many "teaching moments" happen during my day. I too need to be reminded sometimes to slow down and take advantage of these times. What better way to teach a skill than to do it hands on while it's happening!
Hope everyone had a great 3 day weekend!
P.S. check out this guys clip art depicting kids with disabilities. I love them!