Set the Bar High for all Children

Ryan on his first day of kindergarten

I had the privilege of attending PNC Day at Chautauqua this week.  Our two speakers were Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, and Mike Slive, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, with Luke Russert, NBC News correspondent as moderator.  There were many good points discussed; however, my takeaway was the importance of setting the bar high and maintaining your focus on exceptional standards.  If you lower the bar, that will become the acceptable goal, and your desire for the very best results will be compromised.  An outstanding leader sets goals and challenges others to meet them.

This is especially relevant in considering goals for our children.  If we set the bar too low, the children will likely reach that goal, but who knows what they will accomplish if we set the bar high!  For example, when Ryan was transitioning from preschool to kindergarten, I took some work samples to our initial meeting.  Keep in mind this was 14 years ago, so very few children with ASD had entered the public school system.  I showed the team two pictures he had colored.  The first was unrecognizable, just a mass of color.  When prompted to color neatly, he had produced the second picture in which he colored within the lines.  My point was that if you set the bar high, he will work to that level.  If not…

Unfortunately, there are still too many people who have low expectations for children on the autism spectrum.  These numbers are decreasing, but we still have a lot to accomplish.  As we say in our Barber Philosophy, “all children should be given every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.”

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2 Responses to Set the Bar High for all Children

  1. Cyn says:

    Thank you for sharing this because this is what we strive for as well. We challenge our son with “attainable” goals that push him forward but don’t frustrate him but give him confidence. I like your example re: Ryan and colouring. My son likes to really play with colour visually and sensory wise and do some pretty abstract stuff but if directed specifically on what else he can do he will colour with in the lines or try to draw flowers or trees. I am always worried that at school people who work with him “feel sorry for him” and do too much “hand over hand” instead of modelling and let him try and then go back and model again. I notice that a lot of his glue projects from school come back looking perfect and cookie cutter like the other children’s work but when he was at summer camp it was not perfect but you could see his effort and it was “him.” He had fun but he’s getting better with placement etc all the time. I think with your post it has given me more ideas of what to ask for in his IEP meeting in September. Thanks:)

  2. I think you are exactly right! Many times a teacher wants an art project “picture perfect” and ends up doing the work for the child. I really took as my mantra throughout Ryan’s school career “establish high expectations and he will live up to them.” I think school personnel often thought I was not realistic, but if we as parents don’t set the bar, no one will. Let me know how your IEP meeting goes!

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