According to a study from 2012, children with Asperger’s syndrome tend to obsess in a single area of study and they have potential to become experts in that field. For some, it’s math. For others, it’s music or art. I’ve read many stories about children with autism who had incredible skills for something, but I also experienced their brilliance in person. I had a chance to work with three autistic children while I worked in childcare, and all of them had above-average talent for art. Believe it or not, all three of them are accomplished local artists today, just because their parents were able to recognize the talent and encourage them to work on it.
Children with special needs are special in many things. We just need to help them discover that one area they are really special at. That’s what this article is all about.
Have you heard of ikigai? It’s the Japanese concept of having a reason to jump out of bed every single morning. Some would call it “the purpose of life.” Our life has many purposes, and we usually see the profession as something superficial; something that’s just supposed to make us enough money so we can enjoy the “real” things in life, such as family, relationships, and friendships.
The vocation, however, is a foundation to a person’s success in all other areas of life. People should find their vocation as early as possible. Their passions throughout childhood could determine the direction of a fulfilled life.
As a parent or teacher of a child with special needs, you have a responsibility to recognize and nourish their interests. They will show you hints of their ikigai. You should encourage such interests towards improvement.
Make a List of Interests Together
Every single person on this planet has special gifts and talents. It’s a shame to see so many people growing up thinking they are average. They are not average; that just means they failed to nourish their unique interests.
You can help your child recognize their passions if you simply ask them to make a list. It will be fun! You can make the list together. Just ask: what do you like the most? You’ll get some weird answers, such as hobbits, for example. Don’t worry; just keep making the list. You’ll definitely see logical answers, too. Music, nature, plants, wind, water, and even cleaning or cooking… just write down your child’s favorite interests and activities.
Then, help the kid nourish those interests. If they are interested in the sea, for example, help them learn as much as possible. Don’t force them to learn. Just give them a fun piece of information every single day. Organize activities around their interests. Remind them how much they love these activities!
Get to Know Your Kid
Many parents make this serious mistake: they compare their kid to others. They focus on other kids’ achievements instead of looking at the interests and skills of their own child. That approach does not work.
Stop comparing your kid’s grades, achievements, and interests. Do not try to match the activities with what other parents and kids are doing. Of course you want your kid to be popular among others, so you can clearly encourage them to spend time with other kids. However, you should also focus on their personal interests and let them spend time doing what they love doing the most.
Passion and talent don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Your kid may be very talented in painting, for example, but they won’t be able to focus for long enough to produce a complete piece of art. So you have to focus on discovering your kid’s specific talent and helping them develop the passion for it.
Just seek to find what your kid is good at. They might be good at socializing with other kids. Maybe they are good at running and that’s their unique talent. Support them on the journey of self-discovery and don’t let them believe they are mediocre.
Once you realize your kid has talent for something, you can introduce different activities that will make them passionate about that talent. Don’t ever force the kid to work too hard. Do not impose your expectations. Although this is your child, we’re still talking about unique person who has authority over the choice of vacation. Let kids be who they want to be. You may provide encouragement and support, but you must not change their direction.
The best part about helping your kid discover their vocation is that it’s a fun journey. You may allow experimenting with different talents and hobbies. You may join your kid in various activities and discover things together. It’s a great way to show your love and support for them!
Audrey is a writer who is interested in helping people to become the best version of themselves writing articles on edugeeksclub.com and other websites. While she doesn’t have own kids, she likes to spend time with children of her friends and get valuable parenting experience. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.