The parent-child relationship begins as a newborn enters the world. A special bond emerges between the parent or caregiver and baby, as they begin to learn that he/she is connected to another person and that through this connection basic needs are met.
As the baby grows and develops so does the parent-child relationship. A level of trust is established as the child looks to the parent for cues about interactions in their new world and environment. If you have ever observed a baby meeting a new adult for the first time, what you might see is the baby looking from the adult to the parent as it seeks information (referencing), signs of reassurance, which may be a smile and happy face from the parent.
As children continue to grow the interactions between parent and child become increasingly complex, the child takes on the role of ‘an apprentice’ or ‘a mini-learner’ intently watching the parent, mimicking their expressions and movements.
Whilst curiosity drives children to become independent beings, eager to explore their world on their own, they do this confidently as they have learned to check-in with their parent for support and guidance where needed. Many thousands of opportunities and milestones have occurred with the support and guidance of their parents’. Children begin to feel confident to attempt tasks on their own as they’ve developed a level of resilience and critical problem solving skills.
However, for many children with neurological challenges such as autism this typical developmental path does not occur.
These children miss out on some of the developmental milestones and have not been able to benefit from the many, hundreds of hours’ parents spend in the guiding relationship detailed previously. It is important to know it does not mean they have not learned anything or there is no special bond with their parents, but neurologically the brain is simply wired in a different way, which has impacted their ability to be guided and relating to others.
We learn all about ourselves, the world and the people around us through the relationships we have with the meaningful people in our lives. It’s not just about teaching rote social skills; you say hello when greeted by someone, but for this ever-changing dynamic world we live in, we need to help neuro-diverse children become independent, flexible thinkers, to have a strong sense of self and become happy contributing members of society.
How can we do this?
Stay tuned for my next blog post in the coming weeks.
In the meantime check out these websites for some more info: