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The diagnosis of a child makes the parents' world turn on its head. Very often the parent receives information that there is 'something wrong' with their child, that it needs to be fixed, improved in some way. Facing such a "calibre" of information often causes an avalanche of feelings, fears and anxieties about the child, about its future. The role of professionals involved in the diagnosis, in addition to providing information to parents, should also be to take care of the emotions of the parent. Each of us has a number of resources, strategies or support from loved ones that help us to sort out the new, diagnosed reality. Sometimes, however, this support is not enough and the parent needs a stronger arm to regain balance. What then? How can we support parents who feel lost in a maze of often conflicting information, a variety of therapies, and opinions about those therapies?


What parents hear from us, as professionals, will help them to choose a course of action, but also to adopt a certain attitude towards their child's developmental difficulties.

In my opinion, the basis of support for the parent is to provide them with reliable information on what Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Aphasia or Mutism are. The parent needs support in understanding the child's different developmental path, different needs and the fact that not every clinic, not every method, will give the child the support that both the child and the family need.


When seeking therapeutic support for a child it is worth considering what our needs and expectations are as a family, as parents. What do we want for our child and what skills will be crucial for them. Will the therapy we have chosen try at all costs to change our child, to shape him anew, or will it accept the child, building on his strengths, while at the same time giving him the tools to participate fully in social life.


Remember that the diagnosis is a signpost, not a manual. It shows us what to expect, what we can deal with over the years, what to pay attention to, but it does not give us a ready-made solution for the child. Our child, as he or she matures, will have changing needs and will need different support. Sometimes it may be social skills training, in other cases, at a different stage of life, individual psychotherapy. The one thing that will remain constant in supporting the child is our acceptance, a sense of security from us and our responsiveness to their specific needs.


Ania Chojnowska 

psychologist and special educator