When an autistic child tells me "no" he doesn't want to do something...well, I do a little internal jig. I feel the same way when he asks me to drop everything and draw him a picture schedule or give him a bear hug, or refuses to wear those 3D glasses in the movie theater*.
Why am I so happy over small events that others might brush off or think of as moments of frustration, not joy? Because these are all examples of self-advocacy. And when a child advocates for themselves, they're taking control and shaping their environment to best fit their needs. And that is not only awesome, that is to be encouraged.
Now, that's not to say I will give the child what they want every time. But when those long-fought-for words come out in a show of self-advocacy like this, I do my darndest to acknowledge them and praise the effort. And, yes, if it's a reasonable request, even if it's a pain for me to go through with, I do comply. Because learning that words matter and that self-advocacy is beneficial? That's a goal I'm willing to do a lot to achieve.
Blind obedience fosters dependence. Self-advocacy prepares a child for the world.
*I don't know what I was thinking taking him to a 3D movie!
This post was inspired by this post by Diary of a Mom. If you haven't liked her page on Facebook already, I highly recommend that you do so.