It’s that time of year again to set some goals! Not that I’m not always setting goals during other times of the year, but generally those tend to be small goals, hopefully gaining progress each step to an overall big task I want to accomplish. The resolutions I set are always pretty big; Generally containing some habits that need to be started and continued and with success not seen for at least a few months. Sure, I have plenty of goals for myself, but as you may remember from last year’s resolution article, I always set goals for my kids as well that I want to help them achieve.
So, today I want to talk about Damion’s goal that I have set for 2023, and that is for self-care independence. This item contains three main facets that I want him to master including wiping, washing, and dressing. These are generally things that kids his age have been doing for a few years on their own by now, and things that would seem on the easy end for most neurotypical kids. But for Damion, they are things that we have struggled with. We have attempted addressing them in the past but in full disclosure our methods have been fairly unfocused and inconsistent so far.
Would it have been nice if I could be focused enough to have just started good routines and established more consistent methods to address this earlier? Sure, but sometimes life gets in the way and for sanity purposes I tend to backtrack into helping him a lot more than I should be with these items. Addressing issues with self-care for your kiddo with special needs often means that you have to set aside more time, a lot more time in most cases, to get through all these tasks. Meaning that this is something you need to be prepared for ahead of time so that you can give them enough lead time to complete the task correctly without interfering with the rest of your day.
My plan of action I wish to use to accomplish this is a very standard method that we have implemented in the past known as backward chaining. For those who may be unfamiliar with this method, it is when you break down a task into individual steps and then you begin with having the child do the last step themselves. Once they have mastered the last step, then you have them do the last 2 steps and so on until they are independently completing the task. It is a method that works great but requires a lot of time to fully complete and a lot of consistency in making sure your steps are always the same.
Since everything will be broken down into steps, I also plan to have some photo learning tools ready to go and a reward chart to help incentivize him to participate. Established bad habits such as “mom just doing everything for him” tend to be some of our hardest routines to break. The good news is that other than wiping, most of these items will be able to be worked on at home so I shouldn’t have to include much notification or involvement from any other helpers. I just need to hold myself accountable and stick with it!
Maybe letting the whole world know (or at least anyone who reads my blogs), will help keep me on track to getting Damion to be independent with these tasks. There are so many times over the past few years that I wish I would have pushed harder to address these self-care items, but I just let the stresses of our busy everyday weigh me down too often into taking the easy way out. Damion will be turning double digits this year, which is reason enough for me that this has to be a priority. Seems like there is no better time to hold my feet to the fire than a big new year’s resolution to help teach my boy to complete his own self-care. An item that probably seems so small to a lot parents, but for many of our kids on the spectrum, can be a huge struggle and such a big piece of helping them get to live a happy, independent life. Happy new year everyone and may your resolutions go as smooth as a wish for mine to go!