If you are reader of the “Being Bettina’s Mum” posts on my blog site, and/or a regular visitor to “Being Bettina’s Dad” on Steve’s site www.leadershipintheraw.org you will be aware that our series on being Bettina’s parents is steadily growing, to the extent that Bettina is becoming the star of her own hashtag!
It is no secret that Steve and I are always amazed by our youngest daughter’s ability to adapt ways of coping with living in a world she struggles to navigate and when chatting about, and admiring, her latest achievement we coined the phrase “Bettina-ready” which we both agreed should be her own personal hashtag.
There is much to gain from being #BettinaReady. It is a state of awareness that most of us lose as we learn to communicate verbally as a child. We can easily ask “have you seen….do you know….can you tell me….where do I…? However, this is not always an option for someone who struggles to communicate and it becomes necessary to find ways around this and become extremely self-sufficient. Therefore, being #BettinaReady means taking ownership of being prepared without making it someone else’s priority/task. It is also quite reassuring to be ready on time and equipped and ready to roll. Everyone is always so busy trying to cope with the pressures of everyday life, so finding a system or practice of being ahead of the game is a must.
Bettina has a two-pronged approach to her method. Observation and Preparation.
Observation: Many people make the assumption that if someone is not giving eye contact, they are not observing or participating. This is most certainly not the case for Bettina. Bettina would have made a good spy! When I am discussing Bettina’s day with her carer/P.A. it may seem to the untrained eye that Bettina is not interested, nor listening to what is being said but it is quite the reverse.
During our conversation, Bettina will have listened intently for key words to react to, an example of this would be the carer (Donna) advising me that Bettina has some receipts in her bag which may need to be retained for her records/accounts and Bettina will automatically fish these out of her bag and put them on the sideboard without being asked, giving eye contact, or signalling that she knows what we are discussing. Bettina also uses this method to make people think that she is more mainstream and to blend into her surroundings.
Examples of this include: mimicking her older sister’s behaviour and mannerisms, such as the way she sits, uses cutlery, etc. On car journeys, if her sister is listening to her own music, Bettina will do the same. If we are getting ready to go out as a family, Bettina will look for clues as to when we are leaving the house so that she is ready on time. When I issue a “five minutes” alert that it is nearly time to go, Bettina will get her things together ready to go so that we are never left waiting for Bettina to be ready!
Bettina also uses her powers of observation to help others to be #BettinaReady. If Steve is taking Bettina to the beach on a Saturday, Bettina will have prepared a lunchbox the night before with enough food and drink for them both and will not leave it to chance that Steve or I will have remembered what is needed for the day. The same applies to the money she needs for her day. If her purse is empty, she will leave it next to my things on the kitchen counter, left open, so that I can see it is in need of a refill! Bettina is also a dab hand at replenishing other items. If the juice is running low, she will make sure the new bottle is ready to be used next to the nearly-empty one; toilet rolls are in the bathroom and ready to use. All of this simply by using her own powers of observation and being #BettinaReady.
Planning: Bettina is great at planning! On her bedroom wall Bettina has a small pretty weekly planner (as well as two full calendars) so she is able to see at a glance what the week/month/year has in store. Bettina also has different bags for different activities which she will change over on a daily basis; one bag for her life-skills days, one for her supported employment/gardening day, one for tai chi, one for her library/shopping day, and one for the weekend. Bettina makes sure that each bag contains everything she needs for each day. When we are getting near our holidays, Bettina will start gathering smaller items she feels will be needed such as hairbands, cds, dvds, her spare spectacles, spare suncream, sun hat and a pencil case full of felt tips! On any given day you can ask Bettina what the date is and she will give you the correct answer. Bettina also likes to plan other members of her family! Bettina very kindly writes down on slips of paper the things I may need to purchase during the weekly shop (mostly her own favourite things!) and she will also make sure that when she goes out she has a fold-up shopping bag of her own so that her Dad is not left holding loose items! This is being #BettinaReady and we all benefit from it.
So, what are Bettina’s top tips for being #BettinaReady?
- Train yourself to be observant in all areas of your life. Most people make “to do” lists but being #BettinaReady means observing your physical surroundings and making predictions of need before they need to go on a list.
- Take into account what you may need from others to achieve your targets and dont leave it until the last minute to ask for their assistance or expect them to read your mind.
- Take responsibility for your own belongings, priorities, and take pride in being known for being so organised and empathetic.
- Encourage others to be #BettinaReady and do not de-skill them with your newly-found uber organised persona.
- Getting things ready also means being responsible for putting things away. Bettina never leaves a mess for someone else (me!) to clean up if she can help it and she takes pride in being helpful in this way. If you put your things away then you will know where they are the next time you need them.
Now, I am sure that most of you will be thinking that you already knew this and that it’s just common sense but be honest – do you rely on others or are you truly #BettinaReady?
As always, please feel free to contact me with your comments either through my blog site www.livelikearaw.wordpress.com or through my twitter feeds @livelikearaw or @JoyceRaw1