pants…and other Things I applaud to Encourage and Teach Independence

In my mind I had several things to get accomplished at the same time.  And I was holding my three year old son’s pants.  I handed his pants to him and said “Put your pants on”.  In his wisdom, he paused, moved his head to the side and repeated the direction.  As I then tended to other things, I could hear see him sit on the floor and hear him slowly saying “Right…Left”.  A few minutes later he walks up to me and I remember  thinking “PANTS. HE’S WEARING PANTS backwards.” I immediately screamed with glee, clapped, hugged, and we did a dance.  Why? All of this for something incorrect?

It was his effort.  

His generalizing something he hears as a slow down prompt…Right, Left.

He went for it.

He did his best work.  

In working with people with autism and other special needs.  I’ve always believed the importance of honoring the present level in such a way that gives that “I believe in you feeling”.  It is possible for the therapist to have human engagement beyond “he’s so cute”…and actually Collect Data, Teach and Expect more all at the same time.

Here is what happened that I did not expect.  Later as I was putting on my own pants (TMI), my son clapped for me, screamed in glee, and told me congratulations.  Social reciprocity, Experience Sharing, and other nonverbal social development skills is what we see on the playground and want for our clients and children.  Where does that social connection piece begin?  At the beginning of our interactions and we teach it.  We show it. We embody that which we want them to become…better versions of themselves not many therapy “me’s”.

A larger lesson is that I did not measure my three year old by my standards of putting on pants.  I measured him against himself.  Ha!  What a lesson for adults.  Less negative competition, topper comparison, and pointing out the wrong.  But the positive authentic acknowledgement of the person standing before us and celebrating how far they have come.

The celebration of HUMAN EFFORT in the YOU DID IT!  And then the I SEE YOU experience humans need and want.  Then the teaching of

  1. Putting on pants in the correct direction
  2. Placing silverware in the correct location
  3. Putting socks in the sock drawer.
  4. Putting shoes on the correct foot.
  5. Reading….And more!

Moving toward Generalized Independence is not just about data collection.  It is about seeing the individual as they are, celebrating them, collecting data, and giving the informational supports needed to exceed themselves!


~Landria Seals Green, SLP GURU



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