When you have a special needs child, it can be easy to compare your child to other "typically developing" children the same age. When Dominic was first diagnosed with Autism and for a few years after that, I went down that comparison "road" a lot. I came to the conclusion that it was truly "unfair to compare" him to kids his own age. I decided that the better "path" to be on was to focus on his strengths, not his weaknesses. Those words from many years ago from Miss M. still ring in my head - "focus on what he can do, not on what he can't." Shortly before school got out for the summer, Dominic's teacher (Mr. P) told me about a puzzle "game" he had been doing with him at school. He would have Dominic put together puzzles and time how long it took him to do it. Mr. P told me that Dominic could put together a 63-piece puzzle in 5 minutes and 4 seconds. We didn't even know that Dominic could put together puzzles with more than about 10 pieces until one day a bunch of years back, he went into the basement and brought up a 500-piece puzzle and put it together! He has put together a handful of puzzles that have that many (or more) pieces since then. Mr. P also told me a few months ago that Dominic liked to do word search puzzles. I have bought him puzzle books, but with the power of the Internet, I can choose word search puzzles from different grade levels and difficulty and have them printed within moments. This past Friday, I decided to challenge Dominic by finding a word search puzzle for sixth-graders (he is entering fifth grade in the Fall of 2014).
Right next to his left elbow is a snow globe. When he would need a break, he would shake that and then go back to the word search. He finished it in 65 minutes. Yesterday, I found another word search for sixth-graders. I was curious if he could "break" his previous record. Well, he completed it in 58 minutes! Dominic was up early this morning and he wanted to do another word search puzzle. I told him that we were going to be making his grandmother's sour cream kuchen first, and while it was baking, he could work on the word search puzzle. Dominic seemed to be taking a little longer than normal this morning doing the word search puzzle. I think I discovered why when I went into the kitchen. The smell of the kuchen baking was very distracting, because it smelled so good! Dominic is good at multitasking, so he decided to eat his kuchen, WHILE he was working on the word search :)
There was a time in the not so distant past, when I didn't know if he would have the patience and self-control to be able to help me cook and bake. Dominic is a bit of a perfectionist (just like the rest of us in this house)! Much to my amazement, I have found that his patience and self-control have improved the MORE he helps me. I think when you have kids, it's easy to "compare" them to other kids their own age or even their siblings (whether they have special needs or not). I even find that sometimes I compare myself to other women and (moms)!!! I suggest this instead. We are all "unique" individuals and so are our children. Isn't it time to start embracing that?!?!?!?