Critical thinking is the ability to collect information, ask thoughtful questions and explore possible solutions. Problem-solving skills often require someone to do the following:
For someone with a cognitive disability, this process can seem nearly impossible. Perhaps my son struggles academically with these skills, but in everyday life, he knows how to problem-solve.
My son often goes out to dinner with friends. This can have its challenges, especially if he has never been to the restaurant before. Both reading and math are not his strengths. It’s important that my son experiences autonomy and the independence of spending quality time with his friends.
As his mom, I help him prior to when he leaves the house. We go over the online menu, determine his meal choice, the cost of his meal and the amount of the tip. During a recently planned night out on the town, when going through our routine he asked me to write down his choice on a piece of paper. This was new.
I inquired about this new request and he told me he was tired of getting the wrong meal. After some questioning, he told me that the people taking his order don’t always understand him. He has language barriers. He got me a piece of paper and a pen, and I wrote down his meal choice. Then off he went. When he got home, he couldn’t wait to tell me that his plan worked. He got the meal that he wanted! Success!!
Recently, my son asked me to help him find the show Survivor on TV. I was busy and said that I would be there shortly. Taking longer than I had planned, he took things into his own hands. He picked up his phone, asked Google to spell “survivor” and then typed the word in on his TV. When I was finally able to help him, he let me know I wasn’t needed. He already handled it!
The problem-solving skills that my son displays in everyday life taught me an important lesson that critical thinking and problem-solving skills go beyond academics! Today I no longer say he doesn’t have these skills. Instead, I look at all the ways he is showing me he does.
Helping your child be autonomous not only helps with their self-confidence but also strengthens their ability to problem solve.
Here are some ideas for supporting your child’s decision-making as they become more independent.
The A Look Ahead (ALA) Conference Series is a collaboration between four non-profit organizations - The Arc of DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) Area, The Self-Determination Group, First United Methodist Church of Arlington, and Families for Effective Autism Treatment North Texas. It was established in 2015 and is held four times per year.
Categories: Transition to Adulthood