Thanks to Caleb’s mum Karen for sharing this piece about independence with us today. For more, check out Caleb’s Crew on Facebook, where you can also join in with ‘Cooking with Caleb’ every Friday to expand your culinary repertoire!
When most of us were younger, we dreamed of independence. Having a job, finding love, having our own homes. When we became parents, we realised that instilling the realities of independence in our own children meant not doing so much for them…letting them fly a bit. Giving them some chores, more and more responsibility, even letting them fail a few times to have them learn from their mistakes.
Having a child with differing abilities, my husband and I soon found that our dreams of independence for our son Caleb meant getting to work earlier with these tasks. Simply because he has Down syndrome does not mean that he won’t have the same aspirations as his typically developing sister. So, we got to it – teaching him skills like laundry, washing the dishes, helping with the pets – early on. Step-by-step, and sometimes with lots of visual supports, he caught on. Not only do these skills help make him more independent, they give him a lot of self-satisfaction. Who doesn’t feel good when you accomplish a task and check that off your list?
As Caleb has grown, we’ve tried to expand his responsibilities at home. The great thing, for us, is that he actually loves to help, especially in the kitchen with cooking. He’s become quite able in gathering ingredients, reviewing the recipe, and setting to work (with some help, if needed). He also loves to clean the house, help in the yard, and wash the car too. Young ladies– he’ll be ready for you! I learned early on in working at our Down Syndrome Association that helping to teach and develop these basic life skills is crucial in helping our young adults achieve the goals they want. Our young people are able to do so much. We need to prepare them to be ready for all that life has to offer them. More alike than different!