This is three-year-old Gavin. Superhero aficionado. All-boy. Asperkid. And he just polished Mommy’s silver. Why?
In “Asperkids: An Insider’s Guide to Loving, Understanding, and Teaching Children with Asperger Syndrome,” one of the most asked-about chapters is “Practical Life Skills,” which is also the foundation for a series of short videos I recorded to introduce the topic (Jessica Kingsley Publishers: Asperkids Resources).
Practical Life Skills
Here’s yet another minute – amidst what I promise is a typically-chaotic home – of the power of “practical life.” Polishing this old silver bud vase (an engagement gift from mumble-muble years ago) took maybe fifteen minutes altogether, but it was chock full of points of interest, language work, visual comparisons, fine motor work, hand strengthening, and sequencing work. Buff before the polish is on, and you’re wasting time. Put the tube of polish down without screwing the tiny lid back on, and it will ooze into a messy puddle you’ll need to clean.
Math, spelling, science, friendships — all of them have necessary sequences. Call someone your BFF before they’ve shown any reciprocal interest and you are the “weird” kid. Hand in your homework before checking it and you risk points lost over careless mistakes. But Asperkids are concrete learners. It will be in the many steps of small, observable successes (like watching tarnish disappear and shine emerge) that your Asperkid will come to appreciate patience, completion and control over their environments.
As his endurance, both physical and mental, waned, Mom took turns rubbing the last bits of darkness away. And there it was — a gleaming prize that his tiny cloths and controlled circles had won. Then, we went out to the garden where Gavin chose a flower, helped squeeze the clippers and carefully carry it inside. He poured some water into the vase from a small glass creamer (watch the videos about pouring — you’ll be amazed, I promise!), mopped up his spill, and inserted the apricot bloom.
“I did it myself!”
“Look, Mommy! I did it myself!” he squealed. “I’m so proud of myself!” And as he stuck his face into the scented petals, then carried it upstairs to display on his night stand, I thought, “I ‘m so proud of you, too, buddy.”
Because yes, he’s developed sequencing skills, and bilateral coordination. He’s seen cause and effect and explored with his senses. He’s begun an activity from which his 6-year-old Asperkid brother and 9-year-old Asperkid sister both continue to benefit. But more than any of these, he’s begun to see himself as empowered and worthy in this world…and on this day, in the tiny silver vase, this Asperkid saw his reflection — and smiled.
Learn more about the importance of teaching your Asperkid practical life skills in my first book, “Asperkids,” the online video clips, and in my upcoming book, “The Asperkid’s Launch Pad: Homes that Empower Everyday Superheroes” (coming April 2013).