When I first had Elizabeth, I was in awe of all that curly hair and those amazing blue eyes. (thank you for the genetic gift from my husband) She really was an absolutely gorgeous baby.

And then she would cry.

And cry.

But we always went places and did life with her, but we knew she would cry or have a meltdown when her sensory processing disorder (SPD) would show itself.

It was hard.

But something I did was to make sure that outwardly all was in great order for her before we left the house. We did her pretty curls, picked cute outfits and made sure her face was clean.

ALWAYS! even when we went to the park?

In fact, she used to smell so good going to first grade with her perfume that one of the teachers actually asked me what she was wearing.

We wanted the world to see the beautiful child that we knew she was. Inside and outside. And we didn’t want her disorders to be the thing that was noticed the most. And we also wanted any and all who worked with her to know that she was LOVED, alot!

It was always hard to see her cry or break down in public and look at the pitying faces of those in the store or line with us. But it was equally or even more hard for me/us to keep things in good order for her.

With her special needs of dyspraxia, she would spill, eat not so neatly and have smudges on her face. We would be quite hyper alert to all these things.

So as time passed, we have watched Elizabeth grow and mature and succeed in her life. We taught her so many life skills, but the one thing that was hard to do for me and it stems back to these previous things that I shared with you, is to let the natural consequences happen for her.

I still want to run interference, to save her from say, the looks if she is has a stain on her shirt or to make sure she is up and organized for the day, to make sure she eats breakfast. To make sure that her schedule is completed for her, so that she doesn’t miss something. To just help make life a bit easier and smoother for her because she has to work so hard at it everyday.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t DO all these things, I am the reminder to HER to do them, But it is like they are still in my mind.

Now flash to current day, she is 24 years old. She is capable beyond words but also needs supports to be this capable. And yet, the reminder girl ( me) has not be able to relinquish this job.

I want to.

I try to.

But somehow, I can’t and it probably has to do with the fact that Elizabeth is conditioned to know I will be there to remind, help or if we are PRESSED for time, do for her.

But I have learned this year to allow natural consequences to occur.

Yep, small natural consequences as this will, I was told, teach her better than any words I can say about the importance of any of the above things.

It happened with breakfast as she didn’t listen to her timer, I did not run interference, and she got up late. So she had a protein bar for breakfast. Not a big fan favorite of hers but it got the job done.

The next day, guess who was up and ready?

So, I am a work in progress to pull back and let these small natural consequences occur.

I have to say that as the weeks went on, it is NOT easy to allow these to occur. I mean do I want to see Elizabeth go out of the house with her hair not brushed or a stain she forgot to wipe off? No!

Not at all.

And also, there are times that doing it quickly and on my time is what has to happen because of other things going on in life. It is kind of a self preservation thing. Being “trained” to be so hyper aware of Elizabeth’s needs, makes it hard to deprogram this setting.

I am working on the above goal

Is it easy? For me? 100% NO IT IS NOT.

But is it important for her next level of growth? 100% YES IT IS.

I see that so clearly now.

I see so much growth, happiness and pride in her as she sees all she can do without THE REMINDER PERSON. She is capable, smart and strong.

So for those of you who run so much interference that you actually get a training heartrate going. ( Me, included) Just give it a think. Maybe it is time to see if this might be a fit for you and your special needs child/young adult.

I am with you if you are scared, but I see the results and they are so sweet to watch.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe In You

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