Please Remove the Bubble Wrap: Building Success in Children with Autism
I have something I need to tell you. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, because I know that you do what you do, out of love for me. Your intentions are good. But, to be super honest – you are hurting me.
Remember when you asked me if I wanted to join the bowling club? I said NO. When you asked if I would just try yoga class for kids, I refused? You offered to have me try T golf, dance, T ball, soccer, art class, gymnastics – all of which I declined? Then there was the day you told me that if I wanted a treat from the store I would need to go in and purchase it myself. Remember I freaked out. I was so angry with you.
The truth is that when I say NO, it is my first reaction because your plan scares me. I automatically want to stay safe and do the things I know how to do. I am no fan of uncertainty! I don’t like change. I will do anything to keep things the same because it feels better at the moment.
While I am being honest, I should also tell you that I notice that you don’t expect me to do the things that my siblings do. Part of me likes feeling special – but, the other part of me wants you to believe that I am capable too.
I could make my bed. I should really sort my clean clothes and put them in the drawers you have labeled for me. Truthfully, I need to be expected to put my toys away when I am finished playing. I even know that if you showed me how a few times and you put a step by step list or pictures on the kitchen cupboard, I could put the clean dishes away or load the dishwasher. Heck, I could even bring the garbage out!
I know, I know, this might be shocking to you since I have autism. But, I see you expecting less of me and it stings. I know I take longer to do things. I know I need pictures, loads of practice and sometimes a checklist. But, I need you to know that I actually CAN do more than you ask of me. I need you to expect more of me (as long as you help me).
I think maybe you give in because I make a big scene. I cry, scream and get really stubborn. Or maybe you are just too tired to fight with me. But, you need to know that it is in doing the things that I don’t want to do, learning how to do new things that makes me stronger – more resilient. If you want me to survive as an adult, I have to start learning these things while I am still young. I need you to stop bubble wrapping me so the world can’t hurt me.
Being expected to contribute to our family, my classroom and even my community by cleaning up, helping others, and participating in activities is exactly how I will build my own self confidence. I know you tell me how wonderful I am, but, that only makes me feel good about myself for a few minutes. When I struggle, get frustrated but then persist in something, like clearing the table or making my own breakfast I feel so good inside for a long time! I feel capable – not weak and dependent.
If you allow me to hide away on my video games or play with my ipad when the rest of the family is doing chores or participating in sports and activities, then, I miss those chances to learn how to be with others, learn new skills and grow my brain. I may seem to be quite happy at the time, but, in the long run I won’t know how to engage with others or tear myself away from the online and digital world even for short periods. I won’t learn how to navigate my own self care and my way around town. I won’t build relationships with those in my community. Its those relationships that will protect me as I grow older and need people besides you to watch out for me.
Sometimes I think that my autism makes me not be able to do things that others do. But, I know that that is just not true. I DO need support and patience when I am learning something. I also need you to be calm but firm with me. Don’t get angry or even worse – don’t allow me to quit. If I learn to give up when things don’t go well then, I won’t survive in the real world. If you bubble wrap me now, then my hurt will be far worse when the bubble wrap comes off as an adult.
My autism doesn’t define me.
I am far more capable than you think I am. I have so much to learn. Plus, the world has a lot to learn from ME!
I hope you understand. Thank you for loving me.
Your child with autism
As always, please share this post with anyone you know who is struggling with a child with autism.
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