Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chore Delight

Lately, Nicholas wants to be a big kid.

He asked me if he could have some household chores to do, just like Weston.

Say what?

When we were searching for a new school for Nicholas, our advocate was unwavering in her desire to place Nicholas in a classroom with appropriate peers. She explained to me that he needed to be surrounded by children with similar abilities who would motivate him to learn.

I wasn't convinced. I was more concerned with finding an appropriate school and teacher.

Well, I must admit, our advocate was right.

I never knew just how right she was until now.

At school, there are several older boys and girls in Nick's classroom. They are very accepting and patient with Nicholas and his loving energy. He adores these children. They are mainstreamed into other classes for much of the day. When they do attend Nick's classroom, they enjoy helping the teacher with various classroom chores. Nicholas has noticed. He has begun to emulate many of their deeds, expressions and mannerisms.

At home, big brother Weston takes out the trash, clears the table, makes his bed and brings down the laundry. Nicholas has noticed this too.

He decided that like these older role models in his life, he is also a big kid and needs to have some big kid chores.

Without a doubt our advocate was right.

Nicholas is motivated by the older children in his life.

He is ready to mature to this his next level of development. Importantly, however, these new skills are achievable for Nicholas. They help him to feel like he truly belongs within this community. For Nicholas, this belonging and "ability to achieve" has helped alleviate his anxiety and create a deep sense of fulfillment and enjoyment of his life.

He is a happy boy, once again.

So, in an effort to help Nicholas develop more of these big kid skills, we talked about what he might like to do to earn his keep around the Peters' household.

He decided he would like to feed the animals.

Who am I to argue?

He began his new responsibilities last night. He gathered the food dishes and pulled the cans and dry food out of the pantry. I helped him open the cans, but that was it. He put the food in the dishes and distributed the tasty treats to the appropriate furry friend, one to our dog, Muffy, the other to Bandit, the cat.

I have never seen a child so happy to be doing a chore in my entire life!

I am hoping Nick's desire to be responsible lasts a good long while and perhaps rubs off on his older brother who definitely does not share in the "doing chores" enthusiasm!

And me? I am thrilled to have such a motivated and enthusiastic helper and pretty darn glad to have one less thing to do around the house!