Having High Expectations for your Special Needs Child

high expectations

Over the last few weeks, our family has continued to try the “reality check” for our growth and our child’s growth.  Personally, over the spring break week, I put in some time with my husband making plans, create ideas and making a list of goals to accomplish by September. Our family is making a commitment to support our community through event photography and this blog for families.  Finding focus and making growth had some noticeable changes in our home.  Even though we did not involve our children in our work and conversations throughout the day, and most days our children were at school while we planned and worked, we saw growth in our children.  Having high expectations of ourselves first changed our mindset and the environment at home.

We saw changes in our daughter over the week.  We had been struggling with the last steps of potty training…realizing she needed to go number two and getting to the potty.  Over the break, she had a major growth moment and started telling us she needed to go potty.  Sure enough she did it and hasn’t stopped or had an accident since.  Then she stopped riding her tricycle and started riding the big girl bike with training wheels.  She learned how to do it in one evening.  I was so proud to see her get up after falling and keep trying to get the bike started without a push.

We also started to see our son with autism settle down with some behaviors, he was calmer and trying to use more words.  He has also developed a big interest in the squirrels.  We spent some time outside together and would watch the squirrels.  Now, he tells you to come see them, shh..squirrel, then explains the actions of the squirrel and identifies when he sees more. Developing his language and interaction with others to communicate is a deficit that we continue to work on.

We as a family are also developing plans for our son for next year and into his adult life.  Our “reality check” is that he will need us in his future.  Using the photography business that my husband created as a vehicle to teach our son communication is high on our expectations.  Recently, he was able to go to work with his dad before school.  He had to deliver materials to clients and interact with people in the office.  He was so big and worked hard to help out.  He was so excited to get to school because he had fun working.  Our positive optimism is that he will find his thing that he loves and have a means to develop that within our family.

Our “reality check” also includes examining and accepting our child’s strengths and his autism. We as a family are not trying to cure our sons autism, we are managing our child’s diagnosis. We know what his weaknesses are and we know what types of therapy will help him learn and address those deficits.  In our plans, it may be the best option to “home school” for a year to develop his skills or strengthen his deficits so that he can manage within a group of typical peers.  We have come to an understanding that our son will never be “normal” and that in fact that is better.  Why would we want to lower our expectations of our child so that he can just be normal?  We expect our exceptional child to be great and we expect our typical child without autism to be great.  We as a family are going to work to protect, guide and push our children to reach their highest potential and live a happy life.

My tips for creating high expectations for your child:

  • develop family and personal expectations first
  • ask yourself what is your family vision
  • identify your child’s weaknesses

-create a plan that will address those weaknesses and include your expectations of yourself, other family members and professionals to meet those needs

  • identify your child’s strengths, autism included

-if you haven’t identified major items yet, ask teachers, friends and other family members; watch other typical children for a few hours to see what they can or cannot do for a reference; take some time to try new things or visit different places

  • you have to show your child a growth mindset, be an example of what you expect

-do as I say, not as I do?  change this to… do as I do.


I am committing to making Ruthfulness a blog that supports families through early intervention by sharing my journey through the process and dealing with autism.  The focus is on education, advocacy and access.  Our family wants to share our story to help others.  Check out Modern Photography Group and the event photography services provided for schools, corporations and the community.  Supporting our photography business will continue to help us keep our family vision growing.

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