“I’m ready,” called Matthew from his room, just as our family was getting ready to leave for a “fancy” family celebration. He emerged proudly, wearing garden boots, a nice pair of pants, it’s top button strained by three plaid shirts (one thick flannel) layered and tucked in.
This look was not going to work, but Matthew didn’t back down without a fight.
“I like plaid, and I shined my garden boots.”
When you’re a parent, you become programmed to make the most of teachable moments from the very beginning. “Look! there is a red light! Read means stop.” “We don’t want to hit our friends, even if they take our toys. See how that makes our friends feel?”
But there are times when you have to let things slide, and when you have a child with autism, there are battles that just aren’t worth fighting. I asked parents on my facebook forum to share their battle tales; their stories a reminder of how broad and varied each individual on the autism spectrum is:
1) Food. Picky eating. Everyone has different taste buds so why struggle?
Note: Hands down the number ONE issue that parents of children with autism refuse to fight (but most tried).
2) Clothes. My boy can wear what he wants and what “feels” right for him.
3) It is not worth fighting your child when they don’t want to come in from the rain as long as the weather is warm. They will come in when they realize they are getting all wet and don’t like it.
4) Tying shoes. My aspie just can’t get it and I don’t worry about it. Not a battle I choose to fight.
5) Anything that isn’t life threatening.
6) Potty training.. My son is seven years old, nonverbal, and does not “get” potty training. We adopted him last year from foster care and no one had worked with him on much of anything throughout his tragic little life.
7) That he still watches Barney at 18. I wish he were interested in something more typical/appropriate, but typical and appropriate for an 18 year old boy might be something MUCH worse than Barney.
And my favorite:
8) I’m done telling him he can’t carry hinges and old door knobs around .
I know, it all sounds just a little discouraging, but I have good news. Sometimes when you back off, things work themselves out. When Matthew was a child, he refused to eat vegetables until he discovered ratatouille at age 11, and couldn’t get enough. He was obsessed with airports for years and visiting them wore me out, and then one day he told me he was “done” with airports.
I convinced Matthew wearing just one plaid shirt would be more comfortable. As for the shiny garden boots, they looked just fine.
Which battles do you think are not worth fighting?
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