Snipping the apron strings…bit by bit
….it’s got to be done so my advice would be to start early. When Heidi was very young we taught her how to queue (and discouraged kind people letting her jump the queue as that’s not going to happen as she gets older), how to find the toilets, how to ask for things from shop workers. We would allow her to try these things accompanied at first but we gradually stood back and let her do things.
If people asked
one of us what she wanted, we just told Heidi to answer and stood further
back. This is an ongoing problem but
more and more people are realizing that she can speak for herself (even though
she is the size of a 10 year old!)
This might be hard
at first but remember the long game – independence. This will look different for all our children
but gentle snipping of the strings will help them feel more independent and
prepared to take on the world!
encouraged age-appropriate behaviour, clothes, bags and lunch boxes. If we want her to be treated “normally” then
we don’t want her sticking out. I admit
this is not easy when she wants trendy clothes and high heels – still hard when
she is 26 and a size 3 shoe! (Especially
when my sewing skills stretch to sewing on a button – thankfully Suzie’s are a
I was totally fed up of
watching Disney films and was delighted to gradually allow Heidi to go to the
cinema with Suzie, who still enjoyed them.
The first time I watched another film at the same time, so they knew
they could find me easily. The next time
I sat in a nearby coffee shop and then eventually I let them go on the bus
together to town. (I was very adept at
hiding in bushes watching them cross the road and get on the bus). Suzie was paid for her kindness. Win all round!
I know that it’s hard
to allow our youngsters their freedom and for lots it’s much harder than it was
for me and Heidi, but there are solutions.
You could use your young person’s DLA or PIP money to pay a friend to
take them. Yes, it’s not independence
but it’s preparing them for the days when you aren’t able to do it. The sibling or friend can teach correct
behaviour on the bus and how to look out for shops or pubs that show you are
nearly at the destination. Buying the
tickets at the cinema might not be something your child could do (Heidi
certainly couldn’t at first) but having watched Suzie she learnt what to do.
(And if you think you
can’t afford it buy a CEA card and the carer gets in free!)
Before the first trip
Heidi and I went to a few of her favourite shops and cafes. I explained that she would soon be going
shopping without an adult and if she had any problems could she come to them. Each one was delighted to help. She never used their services but remains
good friends with those shopkeepers (with most of the shopkeepers and café
owners in town actually.)
After a few times of following them around at a distance, I then said I would be in a particular café and they could find me if they needed me.
They never did, and
things that I had worried about were sorted out by themselves or occasionally
asking people for help.
Give it a try, you
won’t know how well they can manage unless you give them the opportunity. Use friends/family to help so that they are
not completely dependent on you; this will help them in the long run. I have heard lots of times “I never thought
they could do it” or “they do so much more with other people than with me”.
All of these small but
important steps prepare everyone for the day when we are no longer around.