Today is Monday, January 25, 2016.
As all of you know, since we are all still here, we survived the Blizzard of 2016 that began on Friday, January 22nd. My son, Parker is 14 years old and he is on the autism spectrum. My neurotypical son went to a friend’s house last Friday and he fortunately got snowed in there until…. (he’s not home yet). Anyway, we have been stuck inside since this all began. My husband is a big (6’4”) strong guys but this snow was even difficult for him to shovel. Most people would love having an energetic, 14 year old boy, around to help shovel the snow. Most 13-17 year old boys in the neighborhood are out in the snow trying to make extra money. Not my son. He’s content staying in the warm house, up in his room, playing on his I-pad, or Wii. However, on Sunday we started running out of his favorite drinks and snacks since we hadn’t been to the grocery store since Thursday.
My first approach to try to get Parker to shovel was to bribe him by telling him that I couldn’t go to the grocery store until my car was dug out of the snow. I got him all bundled up in snow pants, sweatshirt, coat, hat gloves, socks, and boots and sent him out into the frozen tundra. He went outside for about 5 minutes to try to help shovel but came back in complaining how cold he was. I immediately sent him back out and said you need to keep working and you will get warmer. My husband became very impatient with Parker and kept telling him he wasn’t doing it right. Parker came back in and said “Daddy’s being mean and telling me I’m doing it all wrong.”
Then I had to have a conversation with my husband that Parker may need to be TAUGHT to shovel. He’s never had to shovel snow like this. I told my husband “physically show him how you want him to do it so he’s not dropping snow on areas you’ve already cleared. Show him how to get the snow on the shovel. And then show him how to carry the shovel so the snow doesn’t fall all over the place. Explain to him that there are certain areas where you dump snow and then show him how to do that.” I always tell Ron to speak simply and to the point; to make sure Parker understands what Ron is trying to say. With a little patience, and dad not yelling at him, Parker felt more confident, and he lasted a little longer outside.
Today is a new day. We sent Parker out to shovel again. I also told him I would pay him for shoveling out my car just like the other kids in the neighborhood. And you know what; he’s still out there making a dent in all this snow. I’m so proud of him.
It’s funny because we think everyone knows how to shovel, but our kiddos need extra time, patience and extra explanations on how to do even simple things, especially if we want them done a special way.
Thanks for letting me share my story.

By Wendy Klausner, ABA Therapist & Parent

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