A few days ago, when I told Janey to wait a minute when she wanted me to change the show she was watching on Netflix instant clue, I saw something surprising. She grabbed the Wii remote and changed the show herself, with ease. She knew exactly what buttons to push, how to switch shows, how to pause, how to restart a show, even fancy stuff I don't know how to do, like how to fast forward. I watched her in amazement. She didn't know I was watching. I stepped away and she watched her desired show.
So---the next time she asked me to switch shows, I handed her the remote and said "You know how to do it. You do it yourself." She looked surprised, but did do it. Then a few minutes later, she asked again, and I again said "Do it yourself." She started screaming. She ran at me as if to hit me, was warned off that, and then got on the couch and cried hysterically for quite a while. I held out. I said "I know you know how to work the remote yourself. If you want a different show, you do it" She just didn't watch anything more that morning.
Today, again, she asked me to put on a show, and again I said she could do it herself. She got extremely upset, and wound up in time out for hitting at me. And it started me thinking. How important is it that she do it herself? I know now she knows how to. Once she learns a skill, she doesn't forget it, although she often won't repeat what she learns for love or money. So why is it important to me that she do it herself? What is the lesson I'm trying to teach? Am I trying to teach her how to use technology, or I am trying to teach her to communicate? When I put on the show for her, we interact a lot. I ask her which show she wants, I ask her if I'm picking the right show, she sometimes describes the show a little to help me get the right now (the famous "head in a box" picture of the Kipper she wanted comes to mind)---we talk.
I automatically went for trying to have her do things herself, even though in a lot of ways, that reduced the time we would spend working on the skill I most want for her, communication. Sure, it's very good she can do it herself. But she's shown she can. I don't need her to do that over and over to prove it to me. Sure, it saves me time and frustration and boredom, and I am sure if I just put her off for a few minutes sometimes, she's do it herself again, just to get the show she wants. But I need to think twice before I insist on her doing something without my interaction. It's the interaction that is the skill I most want to teach her. More than self-reliance.
This autism parenting stuff is complicated.