To Push or Not to Push—Encouraging Our Kids with Disabilities to Reach New Goals

Psalm 37:5  Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

I went to a meeting yesterday at the University of Central Florida. It was a College and Career Planning meeting for my son. Yes, you heard me I was at a huge University checking it out and learning how my son can be included and go to college. Years ago, I wasn't hopeful that it would be a part of our journey. Colleges and Universities are really doing a better job at having different opportunities for our kids and it makes my heart smile so big.

I listened to a parent testimonial where she shared how her daughter with Down Syndrome was doing. She said that we are their biggest hurdles sometimes. I agree, we mean well but we have been working for years on different skills (many working on for years). We just can't help ourselves right?

I sat there and listened and realized I need to step it up with the life and social skills for my son. I need to push him more.  I need to push, then let him rest. Then, push again and rest once more.

I can look back on those times that we really pushed.

We pushed when he started saying one word. We pushed when he said two words. I remember a year or so we would count how many words he said on our hands and be so excited for that language.

We pushed when he was potty training for 4 years straight, but when it got to him being 5yo I really pushed!

We pushed when he went into a regular education classroom even if it was just for specials.

We push when we require him to talk to others while going to stores and doing errands.

We push him to get behind the wheel (in a really huge parking lot with no cars) to practice driving.

We push him to work through practicing his self-regulation skills.  

Be careful though, sometimes we can push because we didn't achieve a certain goal ourselves. Be careful it is a realistic goal at that moment. Sometimes we have to push enough that they are more irritated with us bothering them then doing the skill that is maybe scary or hard. The longer I am on this autism journey the better I get the pushing actually helps my son more than hurts him. If I didn't push him all these years I am not sure the outcome he would have had.

I have a team that pushes my son.

The youth group at church pushes him. They accept and include him for who he is and treats him like any other student, not a child with autism.

His teachers and paras push him. They keep helping him achieve academically, socially, and behaviorally.

My family pushes him. We make him do the same things we do, even when he doesn't want to do it.

Private therapists (ST, ABA) push Charlie. They are patient with him and keep pushing him to excel more and more.

So, to push or not to push? Always we should push but balance pushing with love and patience at the same time. You can still require something without being mean or harsh. I will keep pushing Charlie and remind him he can do anything (maybe with help, which is ok) that he wants to do. There are no limits when you give your best effort.


Patty Myers