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Reflections From an NACD Mom & Coach

by Melody DeLuca

Quite a few of you know my story and journey with NACD, but for those of you who do not here it is in brief: We started our journey with NACD in December 2008. At the time my son Grant, who was five years old, was completely non-verbal, developmentally delayed, a flight risk, very stimmy, and had behaviors out of control. My husband and I were desperate for change and NACD gave us hope that one day our son might be able to first and foremost communicate with us and secondly live a happy and fulfilling life. I am very pleased to say that through our journey with NACD these hopes have become reality. He is fully conversational, a delightful young man, and living his best life. We continue to push forward and raise the bar on the expectations of him reaching his full potential.

In December of 2021 my dream job came to fruition, working for NACD as a coach, supporting families just like mine. As coach and now well into evaluator training, I have gained a different perspective through working with both evaluators and families. This has caused me to reflect on my personal journey with NACD and through reflection there are some things I wish I had understood more fully earlier on.

I wish I understood then just how important processing activities are as the critical foundation to global development. The background information I brought with me had me convinced I needed to prioritize other activities I felt were more important, like reading and math. These things are of absolute great value and importance, but the reality is the higher the processing is in a child, the easier these subjects will be to learn, and not only to learn, but to retain. Push to build the processing and the academics will fall into place much more easily.

I wish I realized that each activity on my child’s program is put on program with a specific intent and purpose. There are no “fluff” activities on program. Each activity is an important piece in building your child’s brain. Your evaluator has reason and intent behind each activity as to why it plays an important role. If you are unsure what an activity is accomplishing or why it is on your child’s program, ask us! The more you understand your program, the more successful you will be at implementation.

I wish I embraced the concept of pushing chores, responsibility, and self-help skills earlier on. I had my children learn chores, but I did not quite fully understand the bigger picture of what is accomplished through having a mindset of increasing the list of things my children can do. When it comes to chores it isn’t so much about what kids can do but more about what is happening through the act of doing chores. Chores build confidence and independence in kids. The more confident and independent kids are, the more intrinsic motivation they have to not only take on learning new things but are not intimidated doing hard things. Confident children have a “can do” mindset and this mindset overflows into academics as well. When this happens, they aren’t intimidated by working a tough math problem or learning something new, but instead they readily take on the challenge and with joy! There is another big piece of development that occurs through building the list of things a child can do, and this is maturity. Maturity comes with doing things for oneself and through doing things for others. We are raising highly capable adults. Highly capable adults are confident, independent, and mature. Keep raising the bar on the things your child can do!

Lastly, what I would tell my younger self when first starting our journey with NACD: Know your child’s program thoroughly. Watch the video tutorials and read the handouts from time to time, not just when you get a new program. You will learn something new every time you do. Ask questions if you are unsure about any activities or if something just doesn’t make sense to you. Take time to educate yourself by reading Bob’s articles in the newsletters and watching his YouTube videos. There is so much to be learned and the more you know, the better you will be at implementing program. Your time and efforts working with your child will be more efficient and your greatest work will be right before you, your amazing and unique child well on his way to reaching his full potential!

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