If you’ve read my previous postings, you know that my son Eddie is blind due to Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, autistic, and has mobility issues. (Just FYI: he’s also quite a character.) What that means for us in the scope of day-to-day living is that every task for him takes at least three times as long to complete. In reality, it can often take ten times as long. So, even though we talk about pushing him towards independence, it simply doesn’t happen all the time.
Throughout the day, the little things we take for granted have to be treated like a mini-lesson. When we ask Eddie to even wash his hands, we have to remind him what each step is in that task, and then supervise and prompt as needed. This process that takes a minute for most, takes us five. Take this one thing that happens multiple times throughout the day, and you can easily see the minutes in a day being used up very quickly.
On top of simply the time it takes, one must also consider the patience. Not just the patience it takes for the adults in his life, but also the patience required of Eddie. He’s thinking, “I want to listen to music. I want to dance. I want to go sit in my bean-bag chair…and you’re making me think about washing my hands!!!”
In the meantime, I’m thinking, “I need to pay that bill. I need to finish that report for work. I need to check on your sister’s homework…and instead we’re teaching the hand-washing lesson again!!!” You can see how two people completing a normally simple task can get easily frustrated.
Even though I would like to have the time and patience to help Eddie complete every task as independently as possible, I’m also realistic. I have limits, and so does Eddie. I know that perseverance and routine will help him learn faster. However, we both need breaks for our own sanity. In the spirit of sanity, it has come down to “One for You, One for Me.”
I may require Eddie to participate in a hand-washing “mini-lesson” one time…and the next time, I wash his hands for him. Sometimes, on the weekend when there is more time, I may push him to do it himself more than normal…and when days are crammed with one-hundred other things…I may wash his hands for him more than usual. It is basically a give and take relationship that keeps us both happy, but still promotes some learning.
As an educator, I want to teach him as much as possible. However, as a wise man recently told me, at home he is on a 24-hour I.E.P. There is no “magic bus” to take him home so I can get some rest. At home we both have to do some work…and we both have to get some rest. Therefore, I will continue to meet daily skills with the “One for You, One for Me” methodology. While I admit I am enabling him some, I’m also giving him a break, which we sometimes both need.