Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Setting the Bar

One thing I'm never quite sure of, still haven't figured out, is where to set the bar.  I can recognize when it's held too low.  I can even sometimes recognize when it is held too high, but I'm not always sure of when it is just right. This is part of having a child with a spectrum disorder, and invisible challenges. Their struggles may not be as obvious, so their needed supports and understanding can be just as elusive. 

One thing some of us moms complain about, is that once we share our child's diagnosis with others, due to lack of understanding (and awareness!) some people automatically drop the bar, lower it to ridiculously low standards.  This can be really frustrating when you are paying for your kid to be in lessons, and the instructors see them as a write-off the second you open your mouth.  Suddenly your intention that your child just be better understood is somehow translated into, "he doesn't really count so go on about your business with the others."  Or at least that's how it feels when they recieve zero attention.

The really tricky part may be that the bar constantly needs to be adjusted.  In some areas of their lives, they will, like other children, rise to the expectations.  High expectations, where appropriate translate to knowing that someone deems you capable.  Expecting good work, or good behaviour from someone can equate to believing in someone. 

Counter to that, recognizing that our children struggle in some areas requires us to set the bar at the right level in that area.  Where they can experience success, where they do not have to feel as though doing their best is not good enough.

I find this really, really hard.  I worry that if we are having a hard day, and I lower expectations for behaviour, or for school work, that somehow I am setting a new, lower standard for Aiden, and for myself.  I wory about not working hard enough, or not working him hard enough.  Or I can worry about pushing him too hard on days when he is already feeling overloaded.

In my heart, I feel that whenever someone is doing the best that they can with the tools and skills that they have, there lives integrity.  Whenever somebody is able to do as much for themselves as they can, there lives indepependence.  Integrity and independence are what I strive for....those are the 'roots and wings' for me.

So daily living becomes a series of decision making in terms of expectations.  Each day and each area can demand a different standard.  So, as parents we are the coach, standing on the sidelines, encouraging and sometimes downright coaxing. And somtimes, once in a while, just letting it go.

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