"My child is misbehaving, causing problems"- should I immediately inform those around me that he/she is having difficulties, or should I not explain myself to anyone? This question often arises in conversations with parents when their child is perceived by those around them as difficult, naughty, "untidy" or strange. Parents are confronted with social judgement, accusations of inadequate parenting, laxity, subservience or dissolution of the child. In an ideal world, talking about children's developmental difficulties would be natural and free. Unfortunately, parents often hide their child's diagnosis from family and friends. They do not talk about spectrum disorders, hyperactivity, developmental delay or sensory integration disorders. They also often hide them from their child.
The first and most important person to talk to is your child. This conversation will be different with a 3-4 year old and with a more aware school child. As the child grows, with developmental challenges, the conversations will come back and the content will change. It is important to discuss with your child who, when and how they will be informed about their needs, difficulties and non-neurotypical development. It is useful to talk with the child about his/her needs and the needs of others, about the differences in perception and perception of the world.
A child who is aware of his/her needs and of the fact that his/her needs may be completely different from those of his/her peers and relatives will be able to communicate them to the world in an acceptable way. Acceptance and self-acceptance of this difference gives the child the tools to deal with religious situations without avoiding them or incurring huge emotional costs.
We also do not need to inform those around us about the "diagnosis". Often the terms Autism, ADHD are seen stereotypically or without enough knowledge. Family and loved ones may question the diagnosis based on their own experiences and opinions because "autism doesn't look like that", "your dad was the same" and he "just needs to run around".
In these situations, simply saying:
- 'my child has his own specific food needs,
- my child may react violently to noise and loud noises,
- my child needs a longer time before saying hello, my child needs to have more exercise than his peers.
By talking about your child's needs and not his/her difficulties, you give him/her acceptance and support instead of criticism and a sense of "weirdness". Moreover, with time, the child takes over our narration and can surprise us by telling us his or her needs, for example: "Auntie, thank you, but I don't like to try new things to eat, and in February I already started eating two new dishes and that's enough for now".
psychologist and special educator