Yes, my child with special needs does chores

Anchel Krishna explains how her family adapts chores so Syona can help.

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Syona helps with the laundry. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

When you have a child with special needs you start to realize just how much they are on the receiving end of help.

With Syona, her cerebral palsy means we often help her dress, eat, play, sit, stand, walk, move and communicate. We are almost constantly involved in every facet of her life. Yes, she is only three, but it is likely that a “typically developing” three-year-old has much more independence than Syona and other kids with special needs. We work on building her independence and finding ways for her to do things by herself, but that’s a whole other post.

Syona also gets help from others — our extended family, her peers and sometimes even strangers. She’ll need some extra help throughout her life, and that’s OK in my eyes. But I think it’s equally important to teach Syona how she can help out others. She’s got a number of abilities and we need to ensure we foster her sense of purpose so she’s as comfortable giving help as she is receiving it.

One of the simple ways we’ve started to do this is getting Syona to “help” fold our laundry. I adapt the chore in a pretty easy way. We sit on the floor of our family room and place Syona in a supported seat or with her back against the couch. I put the laundry basket beside her and tilt it on its side, that way Syona can reach in and pass me clothes that need to be folded. I do the folding and sorting. We also work on her speech therapy goals by talking as we’re folding, her cognitive goals by working on colours and sorting objects and her fine motor skills by encouraging her to pass us the clothes in a specific way that helps her hand and wrist control develop. It’s an easy way to build therapy into our everyday activities.

Folding clothes is now one of Syona’s favourite things to do. When she sees a basket she will relentlessly say “fold clothes” over and over and over (even if the laundry is already folded and just needs to be put away). I think we all do better when we have a sense of purpose — a greater good — and sometimes this sense of purpose can be as simple as folding a basket of laundry. As she gets older I hope her sense of greater responsibility continues to develop — from giving back to the community to helping those who are in more challenging circumstances.

We don’t see ourselves as a victim of circumstance and we don’t want Syona to see herself that way either. We might have to adapt a lot of everyday activities, but being flexible and figuring out how to do things in a way that works for you is a great skill for anyone to have. As for now, doing chores with a preschooler isn’t always quicker or more efficient. But it is a whole lot more fun.

Do your kids do chores? How do you adapt chores for a child with special needs?

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