“Our children on the Autism Spectrum can be masters of telling us and showing us ‘No’. This can show up in a variety of different ways. For instance, perhaps they have a favorite game they like to play and tend to say no to the new game ideas you suggest. Maybe they say no to eating a different type of food, or taking a bath when you ask them to…Perhaps they refuse to change their shirt when it is dirty, or they run in the opposite direction when you attempt to brush their hair each day. If your child is highly-verbal, maybe they only want to talk about their own interests and say no to a topic you introduce that is your interest. When our children are saying no, this is a flexibility challenge they are having. Helping our children become more flexible is actually one of the four fundamentals of socialization from The Son-Rise Program Developmental Model. Therefore, it is one of the key areas we help parents and caregivers focus on when they are running a Son-Rise Program with their wonderful children.
“One useful thing to consider when helping our children with this – is how many times we as parents and caregivers actually do the same thing, say ‘no’ to what our children want. We have goals and desires for our children (and ourselves) and we end up carrying our agendas with us when we are with our children. Therefore, when our children say no, it can often be met with another no from us, (when we push against their no’s). When we say no, and meet our children’s no with another, no, a control battle happens, they want to do something, we want them to do something else, and we end up in a battle of wills. Because our children experience their world as unpredictable and out of control, it makes sense that at times, they need extra control. One solution is…next time your child digs their heels in and is being controlling, try saying ‘yes’ and see what happens…when we say yes, we remove the battle inside of ourselves and our children have nothing to push against. Now I’m not saying you have to allow your child to do everything they want to, this would be within reason and where there are no safety issues to consider. The examples above are situations where no one is getting hurt and it’s actually safe and reasonable to say yes. So if your child doesn’t want to play the new game, say ‘yes’, by allowing them to play the game they love. If they don’t want to eat the broccoli, say ‘yes’, by dropping your request for them to eat the broccoli for now. If they don’t want to brush their hair or take a shower today, say yes and allow this, if they want to talk about only their favorite topic, say yes, by allowing this and even talking about it with ease and delight. When we remove the battle inside of ourselves and say yes, it is quite remarkable how our children respond, they actually open up, become more flexible, and we actually see more yes’s ultimately. When we say yes, we become ambassadors for human interaction and become easy, inviting, and predictable, therefore it becomes easier for our children to connect with us.”
Written by Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher