The transferring of skills can be tricky and pop up when you least expect it! Gracie has become very independent in taking the public transit and walking around town, working, and attending school. However, there are still many things we worry about. How do we know when to let them fly?
I received a call from her the other day. She was on her break and wanted to walk to a restaurant across the street from her work. Knowing the majority of her experience with crossing the road at stop lights has been in our small town which is a little less busy, I hesitantly said that would be okay and went over all the safety rules again. Do NOT walk when the hand signal is up. ONLY walk when the sign shows the person walking and the light is green. Don’t hesitate and go back and forth on your feet because that confuses the drivers. Make sure to look all around you as you walk because drivers aren’t always paying attention. Walk, don’t run because the roads are a bit slippery.
Gracie got to the set of lights closest to her work. But what I hadn’t prepared her for was the cross walk painted on the road was no longer visible because of all the snow. Since she couldn’t see it anymore, she assumed she could not cross there. Gracie walked to the farther cross walk which is at a busier intersection. She didn’t follow one rule and that was wait for the walking signal. But what I had also failed to mention was do not walk when the hand is flashing. And that is when she decided to go. She thought she could make it before the cars got too close and she got stuck in the median. As she puts it, God saved her life and she prayed for the first time (Grace is not spiritual or religious in any way). She said she saw her life flash before her eyes hours later when she and her dad were driving through that same intersection. Basically, it really scared her!
The other thing I failed to consider was her anxiety about being late and her love for food. She had 30 minutes to get to the restaurant, order her food, eat her food, and be back to work ready to go. This is what made her rush. I should have known better. But instead of being hard on myself, I’m taking this as a lesson learned (thankfully fear is all that was experienced and not something worse). We will go back to those intersections, and others, and practice the skill of safely walking across the street in many different places.
So here is what I hope you take from this…we all are human and make mistakes. We can’t predict what is going to happen or what lessons really stick with our kids. We can’t anticipate they will always follow the rules. And we need to let them fly on their own. Mistakes are how we learn and we just hope not too dangerously. And lastly, we need to teach our kids skills in different areas, with different distractions, different times of the day, and so on. Sometimes they can master a skill but only in that one environment.
Forget the fact that Gracie can create an entire power point presentation with all the bells and whistles all on her own, this was a bigger challenge.
As I once heard at the Geneva Centre for Autism Conference by an adult with autism, “the things that are the most common sense to us, are the skills that need to be explicitly taught”.