My son has an IEP at school. Basically, it gives him an option to ask for flexibility in the classroom, specific to a certain skill area that he’s atypical at. He’s had this IDP for 6 years because of some private testing done to figure things out, when he was in early elementary. To date, not once has this flexibility been asked for, considered or utilized.
This past Tuesday evening he was studying for a test in a subject that he has terrific grades in and is comfortable in. The test he was preparing for was going to be administered in a way that was going to directly hit his kryptonite. As a Momma Bear, it was tough to watch the impact this was having on him which led to a shared conversation that went kind of like this:
If my leg was hurt, would you pass me my crutches so I could get around?
Would you take away my glasses when you knew that I couldn’t see properly without them?
He answered, as you reading blog this would have.
Of course, get the help you need to do what you need to do.
What makes this different to do for yourself? I asked him.
I witnessed his emotion slowly roll out of him.
The not wanting to need help.
The embarrassment of being different
The heavy feeling of inferior and inadequate.
Crummy for anyone to feel. Really crummy to see your own kid feeling this way.
He came up with a plan on how to deal with the situation “if necessary” and would decide it he would implement it, when he woke in the morning. The morning decision – after what clearly looked like a tough night’s sleep – implement the plan.
I thought about my son several times Wednesday. Afterschool we connected and I asked four questions:
-How were things handled today with the test?
-Share what it felt like for you?
-Detail the difference this made for you?
-What made this useful for you?
The reason I am sharing this story with you is that with when I asked my son each of the four questions, I saw the depth of the learned experience shift his mindset.
The kid put himself out there, made himself vulnerable and got what he needed to be successful. A skill many of us would like to be better at. So here are some tips from both of us from this experience.
Tips for asking for help at any age:
-Be aware of what emotions you are feeling (and might be getting in the way) of you asking for what you need.
-Feel the emotions fully, so you can then focus on what you can objectively and succinctly ask for, to get what you need.
-Consider how to ask for it, and even say it out loud a couple times so you are prepared for what it will feel like in the moment.
-Reflect on who you care about in your life. If any of them needed your help, would you want them to ask? YES. Many of us want to be helpful and supportive – being asked and knowing how to help (versus guessing at it and feeling useless) is a good feeling. Give others a chance.
And what do you do if you’re in environment that you don’t believe will be open to you asking for help:
-Access situation: is this my assumption that this environment is not open to helping/adapting for others or is this real?
-If the environment is open, then apply the tips above.
-If the environment is not open to helping then consider “What does helping & taking care of myself right now, look and feel like?”.
Remember – the number one person who is going to take care of you, is you. Step in for yourself.
As always, thanks for reading and here’s to your day ahead