Am I a cruel, oppressive mom because I am making my autistic child do chores?
I might be, I am making my little boy take out the garbage can to the curb the evening before the garbage collection. Although he has smiles on his face, ear-to-ear while he is rolling out the can, some still say it is oppressive, since he has a “condition“.
I just think to myself, what would they say if they see me asking him to put plates and silver ware on the table for the meals, or making him take his dirty clothes to the laundry room. Oh, even worse, I make him clean up after himself in the playroom, dining room or whenever he makes a mess.
I do not let my child’s diagnosis of Autism become an excuse for him for any reason. I am a firm believer that teaching my autistic child some life skills is a good idea for many reasons.
Firstly, it gives them a skill that they can use to take care of themselves now and when they are adults. Nothing is guaranteed, so he might not have someone to do things for him. Secondly, it helps me out at home.
Furthermore, it allows them to contribute to the family, allows them to feel useful, and to be proud that they have accomplished important tasks. Make them understand that they are an important part of the family and that they can make life easier for others doing their chores. Also, it serves to give them a sense of being valued, and they are not just in need of care.
Many parents, and I was one of them in the past, are afraid to let autistic children be children; meaning we are so involved with their special education, their therapy, their doctor’s appointments, etc; that we forget that these kids have other needs too.
A need to be a normal child, who plays, who rests, who gets into trouble, who has to fulfill their obligations in the family and greater society. Just because they are Autistic does not mean that they can not have a normal life.
Parents must teach the Autistic child that they can do anything they set their mind’s on. Do not teach your child to be dependent by putting limitations on them, and assuming that if you make them do chores it my reflect badly on you. Remember, it is about your child’s future.
Back to the introductory comment, is it oppressive to make your Autistic child do chores?
First, he enjoys it way to much, and it would be cruel not to allow him to roll that can out twice a week, and to to allow him to claim his rewards.
Secondly, this and so many other tasks are things he is capable of doing, and it would be complete ignorance to not use, nor refine, these skills.
The main issue in the beginning is to pick a chore for your child that they are able to learn or perform easily. Do not start out with something complicated, or something that you know would cause them discontent (in a sensory sense), like using the vacuum cleaner.
I personally think that the most important life skill that they should learn and adopt as a chore is cleaning. Learning basic cleaning techniques are easy and we can make them interesting as well. Like any other child, we will have to teach our autistic child how to safely complete their chores.
The first step to do is to make them tidy up their rooms and playrooms. In order to accomplish this task in a safe and acceptable way, we need to label places, location and items. This way, the child will know that his dirty laundry (item) will go to the laundry room (place), into the hamper (location).
The DVD (item) will go back to the DVD case (place). It might take a while to teach them all of that, but once they learn it, they will be able to follow instructions, and it will certainly make your life easier. Simply, you do not have to do all the work, now that you have created a willing and very motivated partner.
Some autistic children have poor or somewhat limited fine and gross motor skills. Therefore, while they are performing certain tasks, they could make a big mess instead of doing the whole task. In this case, you might want to break down those chores into smaller tasks, in order to allow these children to perform their chores in an acceptable way.
The parent should allow them to experiment with their skills, and gently, yet effectively guide them on how to perform these tasks. Repetition will allow the child to master these skills. Teaching autistic children household chores can be a precursor for future vocational training.
Teaching life skills can help the child develop inner pride, increase their sense of self-worth, as well as to refine their fine and gross motor skills. Also, they will gain a skill that will help them in the future to take care of their own household and themselves. IT MIGHT EVEN PREVENT THEM FROM BEING SENT TO AN INSTITUTION. Giving chores to autistic child in an early age can enable them to master it to the degree, that they can be completely self sufficient when they reach adulthood.
So , do you still think that I am an oppressor?