Letting go and fostering independence
In my six years working with families who have children with Autism and learning differences, I have seen how difficult it is for parents to allow their young adults to do things on their own for the first time. I have also seen this in my own life as a daughter with a learning difference. It has been a scary process for my mom because of her desire to protect me and keep me safe. Giving your young adult independence will give you peace of mind knowing that they are able to do things on their own, in preparation for the day that you will not be there to take care of them. This will also prepare them to be safe for the time when you are not around. I believe this can start from the time someone is a child. The earlier children can start doing simple things on their own, like tying their shoes or picking out their clothes, the more independent they can be as an adult.
Here are some simple ways to let go of control and give your young adults freedom today:
Empower them with knowledge
Instead of doing things for them, point them to resources where they can find the information they need. This allows them to be empowered with knowledge. For instance, instead of calling and making a doctor’s appointment for them, try giving them the phone number and review the information that they need to know before they make the call themselves.
Be an observer
As your young adult learns to do things on their own, give them a chance to use those skills independently while you watch and observe. This gives them an opportunity to practice and you can intervene if something goes wrong. For example, allow your child to cook or prepare a meal for your family while you simply observe. You can intervene if something goes wrong.
Give your young adult opportunities to stay away from home
If it is possible for you, allow your young adult to stay somewhere away from home without you for at least one night. This could even be with a relative who is not extremely close to them or involved with taking care of them. This could also be at the home of a friend. This will give them an opportunity to practice being away from your home.
Encourage them to utilize technology
The youngest generation today has access to significantly more information at their fingertips than their parents or grandparents could access in an entire library. When your young adult asks you to do something for them, encourage them to do some research to figure it out.
As my mom began to let go in my own personal life as an individual with a learning difference, I became more confident and hopeful about my goals for the future. I have seen this in the students that I have worked with. I hope that this will happen for all young adults with learning differences as well. As parents, please know that there are resources out there for you to help you help your young adult navigate their world more independently. I hope these quick tips will set you on your way to fostering independence in your young adult!