I came across an article by, "Love and Logic and Autism." Although Elise doesn't have autism, I think it applies to all special needs kids. It reads, "....kids are human beings, not diagnoses...each of them has the fundamental human need to feel noticed and valued."
Elise has taught me this on so many different occasions. Thankfully my older daughter Bryn reminded me of these fundamental human needs the other night which became a powerful teaching moment for me.
Ever since we moved Elise into a big girl bed, she cries for a little bit then settles and goes to sleep. Because it takes awhile tucking four children into bed, I usually rush Elise's bedtime routine, knowing she'll eventually settle.
One night as Bryn and I were walking upstairs to go to bed we could hear Elise crying in her room. Just then Bryn said, "Mom I think I know how to stop Elise from crying when she goes to bed."
I was taken aback and was all ears. She went on to say, "Maybe Elise wants talk time like Brock and me."
Talk time is when Ez and I take five minutes and lay with each child in bed and they talk to us about anything. Bryn and Brock love this and can talk my ear off during talk time. They say things or ask questions that normally during the day I wouldn't have been able to get out of them.
Bryn said how she has a difficult time falling asleep unless she has had her talk time with one of us. She said, "Maybe Elise can't fall asleep very good like me, if I don't have my talk time."
I was baffled at her mature insight and concern for her sister. Bryn understood that Elise has the same needs as her and anyone else: to "feel noticed and valued" even if, and especially if, they have special needs.
She still needs me to say, "Bye, I love you!" when she gets on the bus.
She still needs me to talk about her surroundings with her while we drive.
She still needs me to sing and read to her.
She still needs others to say hi to her and talk to her.
And she most certainly needs talk time with her mom.
I began talk time with Elise the next night. I kept thinking, "How am I going to do talk time with Elise since I mostly listen to my other kids talk?" I thought talk time required two individuals communicating back and forth to each other.
After pondering for awhile I realized talk time was actually just spending one on one time with each of my kids. Talk time didn't require verbal communication but only required my undivided attention to that child.
I decided I would spend that time with Elise by reading books to her. At one point she used to love books. All day each day she would turn pages in books until over time she lost the ability of her hands to do so.
The next night I read a Sandra Boyton book to her. She sat so still and calm. She smiled and I even heard her sweet giggles that I love. This was what Talk Time was about. Elise had been needing me. She needed my time to help her feel noticed and valued, just like I do with her siblings.
Thanks to my older daughter who was sensitive enough to the spirit to recognize the needs of her sister, Elise now goes to bed without crying. She is much more content and lays quietly in bed after we're done, all because I spent TIME with her.
I'm sure a lot of people who have recently seen Elise probably are wondering what she's wearing around her neck so hopefully this post will help answer those questions.
Something new we're trying with our new therapists is to redirect Elise's stimming of her hands to a more functional behavior.
At the end of her necklace is a chewy tube, which she loves to bite on to get oral input. When we notice her finger in her mouth or nose we're trying to redirect her to put the chewy in her mouth. Once in awhile she finds it herself and is able to do it independently.
It's something that is going to take a lot of time to see how beneficial it is but I'm excited about it and am hoping it's something that will help her.
I LOVE being a mom to my 5 kids; one with special needs. There is no greater joy than being a parent! I love each one individually but this blog will mostly focus on our daughter with special needs and our journey with her. Thanks for reading!