How do I discipline my son with special needs?
Over the years, disciplining or correcting Nate has been a difficult task for me. Deciding what was the proper method, left me frustrated. I simply didn’t know what to do since my son is intellectually disabled. I always believed that his level of understanding was limited, and disciplining him was not possible.
While raising Nate, we had an overwhelming time controlling his behavior. There were times he would lash out at me and anyone who encountered him. When he would hit, it was as if he knew he was causing someone pain. Then afterward, he would put his head on my lap as his way of saying that he was sorry. This would make me question if my son “knew better” and could determine that his actions were wrong.
I have often sat crying in frustration, wondering what to do. So, I went to counseling for help. I was given the bible verse, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” In this case, I didn’t agree that a “rod” was the correct form of discipline for a child that is intellectually disabled. Actually it is not!
So, I went on a mission to find help for my child. I wanted a plan for Nate that would address his individual needs. So my son was assessed and immediately following he was given a Behavior Specialist that developed a plan with strategies and a reward system. Nate also had a Therapeutic Support Staff (TSS worker) at home and at school to aid with eliminating the unwanted behaviors.
Through the years there was some success with these programs. However, it did not completely end Nate’s problems. It continues to be a work in progress.
As Nate has grown older, I realized that disciplining or correcting a child with special needs is not easy. It requires a lot of patience. Sometimes I had to show Nate a millions times (exaggerated) that his behaviors were wrong, which can be frustrating. At other times, it felt as if this was all in vain and it was not working.
Then there were the times that I noticed a difference. Nate was correcting himself. He was calmer and not lashing out as often. These moments made my heart smile. And I began to understand that no matter how frustrating it was or how many times I had to redirect him….helping my son was well worth it.