Neurodiversity is nothing new, referring to a school of thought stipulating that brain differences should not be thought of as good or bad, merely different. Therefore, having ADHD or autism should not be treated as being ‘abnormal’. Instead, it is a variation in how the brain functions.
If your child does not conform to learning norms, they may receive a learning difference diagnosis. No one should ever use it to label a child as it only means that their brain is wired differently. Here is what parents of neurodiverse children should know:
A learning difference is not the end of the world
Upon receiving a learning difference diagnosis, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ADD (attention deficit disorder), or ASD (autism spectrum disorder), many parents go into a panic.
Throughcounselling, therapist appointments, and family sessions at Interactive Counselling, these parents discover that they are not alone. The diagnosis can be isolating, as parents feel that others do not understand what they are going through. Many parents blame themselves, thinking that they did something wrong to have their child receive such a diagnosis.
While neurodiverse conditions all feature the word ‘disorder’, they should not be regarded as illnesses. Instead, viewing such learning differences as precisely that: differences, helps parents put them into perspective. A diagnosis like this does not mean the child cannot learn, only that they learn differently.
Take tangible action
Finding out your child does not learn like most other children is a blow, but it does not mean there is nothing you can do. Parents who do research, speak to experts and other parents in the same situation and participate in their child’s differentiated learning process feel more empowered. Additionally, getting the child into therapy as soon as possible is also a helpful avenue.
Therapists can help your child cope with theirlearning difference. Many children feel frustrated and angry when they are singled out as being different from their peers. They might feel labeled as ‘stupid’ and demotivated about school. Additionally, therapists give families advice and coping mechanisms, allowing them to embrace their child’s neurodiverse diagnosis.
Patience is a priority
Giving yourself time to adjust to and understand a learning difference diagnosis is vital. It can be a lot to process and understand. Be patient with yourself as you learn new skills to adapt to how your child learns. Take professional advice and implement the techniques you learn, understanding that everything will not magically come right overnight.
As mentioned before, many children feel frustrated because they cannot learn conventionally. This leads to angry outbursts, acting out, and other negative behaviors. A lack of patience with themselves will only make it worse.
Good days and bad days
Despite the best resources, research, and skills, there will be bad days when your child has a learning difference. However, there will be just as many, if not more, good days where parents see their children overcoming obstacles and showing remarkable resilience.
Remind your child thateveryone has bad days but that this should not define them. Instead, focus on the positives as a family and encourage each other to keep working together.
Do not buy into toxic sources
As a parent, you will get pitying looks from others whose kids are ‘normal’. Alternatively, people will offer you ridiculous advice, despite their best intentions. Get used to it. Turn the other cheek and maintain your focus on helping the child achieve their full potential.
Limit your friends and family circle to those who encourage you, provide positive reassurance and practical help. Allow them to diversify your child’s outlook on life by adding to their experience.