My son is now officially a teenager.
13 came so fast. I still feel a strange mix of disbelief mixed with awe when I write it.
My baby is 13.
And, because he is becoming a man before my very eyes, I am thinking so much more about the future.
How will he live alone? Will he be able to?
What does he need to be successful? College? A Trade?
How can I help him be prepared for whatever his life will bring?
As I have asked these questions, I find I am also questioning myself.
Am I pushing him too hard? Not hard enough?
What if I miss something important in his education?
What if I have spoiled him too much, and he is not capable of living well because of it?
The line between spoiling and accommodation is one that I struggle with every single day of my life. And I know, from your messages and comments, that many of you do too.
One of the most encouraging things I have ever read on this subject, was written by an adult woman with autism. She graciously shared her thoughts on spoiling children with autism, in a comment here on the blog.
I have seriously read it every day since.
And I want every single mom like me to read it. To be encouraged by it. To relax. To lean into this life we have been given, instead of fighting so hard against it.
If you are momma like me, worried about what happens if we spoil our children with autism, please read on.
Mary left this on the Not The Former Things blog post, ‘Am I Spoiling My Child or Accommodating His Needs?‘ this week.
“So to give you a perspective from the other end of your “spoiled” child’s life: I’m a high-functioning (most days) autistic adult woman. I’m almost 40. When I was a child, aspergers wasn’t even a thing yet. My mom just knew I was different than her other 3 children and she didn’t know what to do. (I was/am extremely stubborn about things …). She asked her mom. And Grandma, knowing nothing about autism, simply said “just love her.” So my mom let me run loose outside from dawn till dusk in the summer barefoot. She only made me wear shoes to school and church and stores. Despite our money problems, she helped me with my obsessions of books and My Little Ponies (the first time they existed!). And my parents let me stay with them until I was finally ready to move out at 31. I think a lot of people (I know my sisters) thought my parents were spoiling me. But I’m an independent adult now, able to live alone, cook my own food, keep a steady job, and take care of cats on top of that. I don’t think I’d be independent if my parents had been less “accommodating” of my behaviors as a child.
Yes, do accommodate those sensory issues and social communication needs. It helps us become able to take care of ourselves–most of us, I think, are so overwhelmed as children we don’t know what we need to handle the sensory and social issues. When you accommodate us as children, you teach us the ways we can use as adults to deal with all of it.”
My son is becoming a man.
My prayer is that with love and grace, he will grow up to be as capable and strong as Mary.
Capable and strong.
Accommodation is not spoiling.
It is teaching our children how to live, and live well.
Thank you so much for your example, Mary.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.