Instant Packets of Independence for a Special Needs Child

Today I taught my nearly nine year-old daughter how to make herself some instant Cinnamon Swirl oatmeal. It’s a simple enough task, but for a special need child who was never supposed to walk or talk it is a big deal on many levels. Just think about the many skills involved with the preparation:

  • Beautiful child hugging a green bowl of millet cereal favoriteShaking the packet without dropping it
  • Tearing the paper and keeping everything inside
  • Pouring the contents into the bowl and avoiding getting any on the counter
  • Adding a measured amount of water to the bowl (and only the bowl)
  • Stirring the oatmeal and water together with a spoon
  • Carrying the breakable ceramic bowl to the microwave while keeping the bowl level
  • Opening the microwave door
  • Setting the bowl into the microwave
  • Shutting the microwave door
  • Pressing the “1” button
  • Opening the microwave door
  • Gingerly taking the hot bowl out of the microwave
  • Shutting the door

Sure, for most of us this entire sequence would take less than half the minute it takes for it to cook, but a year ago my daughter wouldn’t have been able to do this.

Most importantly, a year ago she wouldn’t have wanted to do any of this for herself. She was perfectly content to have me run back and forth in a callback to my former waitressing days. Doing this for herself signifies a step towards independence. To me, this means that maybe one day she will be able to live on her own without starving to death. So what if she can’t quite spell perfectly, she can now make instant oatmeal. It’s the small victories that remind me of her quiet, determined march forward – which is not always so quiet and is usually less marching and more kicking and screaming.

How do you celebrate the small steps in your child’s life?

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner. She can be reached at Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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