The other day I was reading a magazine article which highlighted the recent winners of the Innovator of the Year Awards. There were various categories recognized, but I found myself reading the article about winners Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. You will remember them as the cute little twins who both played the single role of Michelle Tanner on Full House. Today, the Olsen twins are 26 and quite successful in the high-end fashion industry. Who would have thought their talent was legit?
But it is. And as I read the article I discovered why they have been successful where so many other celebrities have tried and failed. For 18 years, Mary Kate and Ashley would have to change outfits up to 12 times a day. In the process, they learned about fabrics, tailoring and fit. Viola! – experts in fashion were created naturally over time. Sure, they started their first line for Tweeners at Walmart but today they have a high end line called The Row. A purse can set you back $35,000.
We are the Olsen Twins of disabilities
Parents of kids with disabilities are no different than Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Sure, our lives may be a little less glamorous, but we are foolish if we think all these therapies, doctors appointments and IEP’s we have sat through haven’t set us up to have the same kind of success the twins are experiencing.
We can do this. And we can do it The Row way and not the Walmart way. Not that there is anything wrong with Walmart mind you – I shop there too. It’s just if I have a choice between a faux leather purse and a $35,000 purse (which I don’t have to pay for) I am going to pick the nicer of the two.
Experiencing The Benefits
This year I decided to home school my daughter – no one’s fault – it just wasn’t working for her. So I pulled her out of Special Education and kept her in classes which promoted inclusion. In the process, my awareness of making every situation a learning experience has been heightened. So much so, I feel confident that my daughter is experiencing the benefits of the Olsen Twins’ Effect. I get it! All the therapy I sat through for years and years has come back to me and empowered me to teach my child well beyond the opportunities any outside source can provide.
Let me give you some examples.
I love to cook and for years have had my daughters help me. My daughter with Down syndrome really enjoys cooking with me. Enter the Mom Therapist. She learns sequencing when I ask her, ” what do we need to do first?’ She learns prepositions (something tough for kids with learning disabilities), when I ask her to “get the onion behind the carrots.” Better yet, add in an adjective. “Get the onion behind the carrots in the bottom drawer.” My daughter has struggled with all of these directions for years. Today, she is grasping more and more words and their real meanings.
Learning Crossover Skills
Stirring a pot “all the way around” versus in one little spot in the middle helps with cross over skills. This new skill set has parlayed into her buttering her entire piece of toast instead of leaving a big glob in the middle.
Today, my daughter can grab a can of her favorite food, Spaghettios, and manually open the can (great OT hand strengthening skills), get a pan from the cupboard (sequencing is kicking in) turn the stove on and cook her food. While it is cooking, she butters her bread (all around) and takes it to the table along with a drink. She then pours the hot Spaghettios into a bowl and puts the pan in the sink , shuts off the stove and enjoys a meal. I simply sit at the table and write a blog and watch her. Oh joy!
You Can Do This!
Did it happen over night? No. She has been cooking with me for years, but the point is, I now am very specific in my instructions when we do this together and her abilities and independence are growing by the day. And let me say up front – my daughter does not have a huge IQ. That is not the excuse so many of us want to use. It is because I believed in myself and my abilities and I would not quit when she didn’t get it the first ten times.
Trust me, I’m not super mom. I’m not trained in education or as a therapist. I just finally got my back pushed against the wall and decided I could do this. And you know what – I did. And yes, you can too.
Good luck and please share your ideas with us!