Living in isolation isn't a new thing for my Jessica. You see...her communication isn't easily interpreted by outsiders and when "sheltered in place" WASN'T a thing, her sisters were always gone, her dad was busy with conference calls & putting out client fires. I was working to build a business/be mom/grow a nonprofit...and keep Jessica from watching Spongebob and her iPad all day. But that wasn't enough. Though we did have those three hours a week Jessica would be at school, it isn't the same as having friends over or going to hang out.
That all changed when Jessica finally qualified for an attendant. Takiyah came in and whipped the ENTIRE house into shape. We began to see how determined Jessica was to be independent. The truth was...Jessica didn't care about hanging out or having friends over. She liked doing things for herself, making decisions, and being a part of family activities. She wanted to contribute! We saw that determination grow and grow and grow…Takiyah got Jessica on a schedule to do chores, make meals, and exercise… it was phenomenal to watch.
You see… Jessica WASN'T really isolated because she didn't want what I wanted for her. She wanted to contribute, be independent, think for herself. Now that she is doing it she has become an inspiration to others who want the same.
Jessica is THE inspiration for The Unique Friends Foundation. She is so inspiring to not only those with disabilities, but to the siblings, parents, friends and teachers who support them. Jessica is a CHAMPION.
In light of this newfound knowledge we wanted to provide some tips that may help you bring out the determination in your own child. No matter how old, these tips can help you encourage and inspire!
Raise Your Expectations
Just because your child might have a supposed “limitation” does not mean you should put limits on the things you think they can achieve. Be their biggest supporter and cheerleader, and never forget the example you set when you encourage them to think big.
Put dreams into action by helping them create realistic yet challenging goals. Have milestones along the way to mark progress toward goal achievement. When you experience a roadblock, don’t give up--eliminate obstacles when possible and amend goals when necessary.
Be a Bridge--Not a Crutch
Instead of doing things for them, or coming up with reasons why they “can’t” or “shouldn’t”, try to find pathways to success. What parts can they do alone, and which parts can you reasonably assist with until they learn the ropes? Soon you will start to see progress towards independence.
You can’t always do it alone. If your child needs assistive technology, therapy, medical help or something else you can’t provide, don’t feel helpless or ashamed to seek outside resources. Everyone needs help sometimes! And don’t forget about self care and caregiver support for yourself--your own health and wellness is extremely important to you and your child.