In college, I was given this book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. It was my first experience hearing the term “let it go.”
The term has become so popular in every group of people I meet, and has become wonderfully appropriate for the parents I work with who struggle with their child having a label/disability. While I don’t particularly love labels at all, if it’s whats required to get a child the services they need or the classroom that will serve them better, so be it. Since the child is not aware of the label, why make them aware? In considering the term “special” education, I think everyone deserves this special-ness. Don’t you?!
In order for us to understand how to let a child’s disability go, or what I actually mean is – go back to school when everyone was put in a category, pretty, popular, ugly, smart, lonely, athlete etc. When you are put into the “real world” no one tells us- “ok now you can be yourself, change groups if you want, be a part of many groups, hang out alone’ After finishing with organized education, many people follow the crowd. The lucky ones realize they can do what now pleases them! Then there are the people that get stuck in situations that don’t serve them best. Not having the place to be “popular and pretty” anymore makes them feel lost. On the flip side the ones that were “nerdy and unpopular” may begin to thrive, with finding like-minded people. To realize no one is judging , and no one cares… By letting these given titles go, the world and life is so much fun! It allows room to grow to change!
As a therapist working with parents of special needs children I see many parents depressed and anxious about their child. They can only focus on the future and of the negative. Will my child ever make friends? Will he be potty trained? Will he ever say “I love you” or give a hug? When I begin to work with a child, I come and play with a child, not an Autistic child, or a Down syndrome child, just a kid who intrinsically wants to be comfortable and learn.
Parents are surprised when I bring out regular toys and sensory items to use with their child. As a therapist they imagine their child’s session will be clinical and different than a “normal” child. This is the beginning of the impression they will feel, and they will begin to let the label given to their child go…
Who cares if a child has Autism? If a child can be happy and comfortable and express their needs, it is the first steps headed in direction of success. If a parent is doing all they can for their child, then it’s all good. When their child is not in school or having a therapy session, all a parent needs to do is play with their child. Join the child’s world, do exactly what the child is doing. Let go of what a child is supposed to be doing. By doing exactly what they are doing, it’s showing them you respect them. Do this every day for 20 minutes. Do not place expectations on the child, no goals. This is time for loving the child exactly where they are at.
This is the best therapy of all. No therapist or fancy physician can be with a child and get the same results as a parent can. Lets call it LOVE THERAPY. You don’t even need to use words, if a child is non-verbal, talking may be overstimulating which can cause repetitive behaviors. Keep it simple:
- Set aside 20 min(or less) with your child
- Approach your child
- Join and copy them
- Have no distractions, no phone, no computer etc.
- Let go of your expectations
I know it will help other parents if you have a story to share about “letting go.” Let this be a space of sharing…
Have a wonderful holiday. Practice LOVE THERAPY with your child every day during their break. Write down a short paragraph about the wonderful changes you witness.