The Whole Child

For the past 6 weeks, I have been meeting with a social worker at the Children’s Hospital. This is a service they offer to their parents through the Pediatric Speciality Clinic. Initially, I was not enthused about adding another commitment to my schedule, but it has already been quite useful.

We have been discussing problematic behaviors and different coping techniques. Some of the issues we struggle with are: impulsivity during meal times, running off in stores, and having Noah initiate potty time consistently.

Angie’s theory is that “kids do well when they can”. Actually, this applies to people in general, but specifically children who are non-verbal or have what manifest as behavioral issues (even those typically developing).

It is easy to get caught up in my day and the rush of getting to appointments, school, rocking a baby to sleep, and getting my personal work done that I forget about “teaching moments”. I shush, push aside, and take the toy that is handed to me over and over (and over) and lay it down beside the chair instead of engaging in meaningful interactions. I pick up chunks of food from under the table, prepare lunch, and play dvd’s without taking time to have a little boy help me.

I enjoy efficiency, oops.

From my perspective, the bulk of the issues that we are working through with Noah are part of our struggle with communication. Noah gives us glimpses into his mind and level of intelligence every day. It is anything but lacking. The limitation though is that he only has so many words. He has needs and thoughts that extend beyond  “more banana” or “all done”.

The other day, we were having a picnic at the park. Noah was eating his lunch, and between bites he glanced at me, nodded his head up and down quickly and gave a small grin. Like… “ya, this is it mom”. No requests, no frustration, just content. He was not overly eager for his next bite, or shoveling food into his tiny mouth. He watched as the children played on the playground, looked back at me and nodded again.

Finding ways to help Noah feel understood will probably always be a challenge we face, but those moments when we catch them… those are moments I wish to capture and place in my back pocket.

As our lives get even busier in the upcoming months, my goal is to remember that even little interactions make a big difference in helping my little guy feel understood, centered, and a part of things.

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