Someone just said “hold my earrings!” didn’t they? I’m not looking for a fight! I’m not putting down people who use them and I’m not saying that every child should be made to wear one.
As you can see, we used one that looked like a Monkey with a tail on Tyler when he was younger. We didn’t really have to use one on Justin. He didn’t run as fast or as far as Tyler did. lol He still ran! It was just “easier” keeping him close. Wasn’t easy… just easiER. lol
I know a lot of people think they’re bad. That NO kid should be made to wear a leash. Then there are some people who rudely tell parents “Why don’t you put a leash on that kid!”.
I’m not one to judge or tell you how to raise your kid, but I will tell you what we did and if it helps you… awesome!
Before I had kids, I’ll admit, I turned my nose up at the idea. “Just teach your kid not to run away from you”. At 19 I don’t recall hearing about Autism… or that there were special needs kids “eloping”… that they didn’t understand what danger was. Which is why, when I can, I try to take the time to explain myself to others…. you never know, that one person you don’t just growl at might have MANY other people they can influence with their new knowledge (even when they’re the one growling first).
It wasn’t until Tyler was about a year-ish (not quite sure when he regressed – he was diagnosed at 2) that I realized we had a problem with him taking off. We lived in the middle of no where and would take walks on the road. He would get SO excited, he would just take off. Running full speed away from me, towards a bend in the road that I couldn’t see around for cars.
It didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, he wasn’t stopping for anything. Which meant I had to leave Justin behind to chase after Tyler and pray that a car wouldn’t come in either direction before I could get them both. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t have a lot of traffic where we lived, but because we lived out in the middle of no where, on back roads, people FLEW through there. Doing 50-60 MPH in a 20 MPH area because everyone knew the roads and usually there was no one on them… So, although 7-8 times out of 10 I didn’t have to worry about the boys… those 2-3 times…. all it would take was that one second… To be too far away from one of them and a driver not paying attention.
After MONTHS of trying to teach him to stay with me, to answer to the word stop, to hold my hand… we decided on a leash. (Before we even knew he was Autistic) I didn’t treat him like a dog though – letting him run and pulling back on him when he reached the end of it or walking him like that without holding his hand. It was PURELY backup. So if he got away from me and took off, he couldn’t get too far. I still put in the hard work… I was still teaching him to stay with me, to answer to no… to move off the side of the road when I yelled “car!”.
Eventually, all of that did work. Now when we’re walking in town or in the store, for the most part, he stays with me. If I say stop or come here… he listens. If I say “hands” he comes over and takes my hand. “Car!” He moves farther over. Which, it’s funny… you can tell he doesn’t get away with not listening to me AT ALL when we’re outside because he listens immediately, but at home he knows sometimes I’m too tired to put up the fight and I don’t always follow through with my instructions. So, he knows he can get away with more at home. (Goes to show not letting them get away with not listening to you works lol)
I don’t think leashes/harnesses are bad…. but I DO think you can misuse them. They shouldn’t be a replacement for the hard work you need to do with your child to get them to understand what they’re expected of. I know it can take a LONG time for them to understand, but it’s worth it. Don’t ever give up on your kid and think they just can’t learn. With positive reinforcement, repetitio, being consistent and not allowing them to not listen to you…. kids on the spectrum CAN learn!
I think people look at our kids and think “they don’t have it that bad… at least THEY listen to her”. Yea! lol About half to two thirds of the time, they listen (most of that is when we’re outside of the house lol)… but they listen to the words and phrases they understand and that I use EVERY SINGLE time I want them to do something. If I want them to “come here”… I don’t say, “Why did you run away, get over here, I’m not going to tell you one more time, I’m going to count to 3!” Nope… I say “come here”. If they don’t listen, I go get them, say “come here”, bring them back to the cart, then say thank you.
I’ve read somewhere (and this is paraphrasing because I read it like 3 years ago) that it takes an average kid to learn something about 3-10 times of being told and taught to do it… and it takes a kid on the spectrum about 30-40 times to learn the same thing. So, don’t give up…. Yes, you may have told them to stay with you SO many times you’re pulling your hair out… but eventually… they WILL get it! And that goes for everything, including foods… so keep trying those too!
Please don’t think I’m telling you how to raise your child or that I know all the answers. I’m still learning!! This is purely my opinions and what I’ve learned in the last 6 years of raising my boys. (I won’t be the one giving you advice about raising teens… I haven’t made it that far yet! lol)
Moral of the story? Do what works best for you and your family and what you need to do to keep your kids safe!