Friday, December 28, 2007

What Will The Future Hold for My Child?

"You have seen a lot of kids with autism...."

When I hear this, I know I am going to be asked to predict a child's future. As the parent actually knows, this is impossible. I try to be encouraging because I know I am being told that a parent is scared about the future--or at least wants to be better prepared. I sometimes can predict that, unless something unforeseen occurs, a particular child will learn to talk or that it is becoming less likely that the child will learn to talk. I can and do tell parents what I believe in these cases. But I realize that I am usually hiding behind my profession when I narrow the question to one about verbal communication. The parent asking will be distracted by the answer but will go away with the bigger question still burning.

I often say, when I know the question is larger, "There is every reason to believe that your child can enjoy life, contribute to humanity, and grow and develop a wonderful character through the joys and difficulties that will surely come."

Sometimes, because I believe this but don't want this answer to be understood as cynical, I gently say, " My advice is to just enjoy today if you can. All we really know for sure is that we have this moment with this precious child. Don't waste today trying to imagine the future because no matter what you imagine, the future will not be anything like what you think."

This second answer is one of the reasons that I believe in play. Play can prepare a child for a better future. But play is good right now, too. If you play today, this will be a good day.

Below is a You Tube clip of a count down game that you can show your child and then play together everyday until New Years. Or longer if your child likes the game. I think it is easier for children to engage in pretend play about a holiday after the holiday is past because, especially for a young child, the holiday does not make much sense until after it occurs. Start a simple calendar with your child if you don't already have one. Mark down the days until the New Year. More about making a calendar tomorrow...

No comments: