My name is Erika and I blog over at the other lion about my son who has fragile x syndrome. I also work as a ParaEducator for our local preschool program. I have been working with children who have special needs for eight years.
We spend a great deal of time teaching our children very important life skills -- washing hands, recognizing letters and numbers, counting to ten, waiting their turn, communicating their needs, and expressing themselves through creative works. Sometimes we have to let go and allow them teach us a thing or two through their eyes.
Let them make a mess. We have a saying in our room: If we didn't get messy, it wasn't a good day. We paint with our hands, we drive trucks through shaving cream, and we even let the kids shake their own glitter. We're out there -- and we have fun. Hey, it washes off!
Let them take a break, whatever that may look like. All of us need time outs during the day to recharge. Most of us do it right-side-up, but upside-down works too.
Let them dump water on your head. The memory of their laughter, and yours, will be worth it.
Let them wear whatever they want, at least one day a week. No one at the store cares, honest.
Let them choose their playmates.
Let them help you. Whether it's setting the table with five forks for three people or shielding you from impending rain, they will feel proud to be needed.
Let them play with the cardboard box (or string or paper) instead of the toy. Honor their interests and their imagination.
Let them imitate the love you demonstrate.
Let them have a Christmas tree in April, in a messy room. Don't worry, you can clean it tomorrow.
Let them make you look silly, and even take a picture.
Let them know you are proud of their work.