When your kid is extraordinary it’s often not something you can see, it’s more of an invisible difference. If a child has a disability like being deaf or blind, the difference can be seen in the way he or she moves, talks, or interacts. However, if your child has been diagnosed Neurodiverse; ADHD, HFA (high functioning autism/Asperger’s), Gifted or with Learning Disabilities like Dyslexia or Dysgraphia, then it’s most likely something you cannot see.
I want to present a different and possibly controversial point of view on suicide, but before I do, I want to explain why I feel like I may have some honest justification for my feelings of frustration on the topic.
Like too many others, I was a neglected and abused kid who had some “undiagnosed differences”. I struggled to connect and relate to other kids, I missed a lot of social cues, which left me with few friends, and in spite of being “gifted,” I got completely lost in school and didn’t do well. As a result, I was isolated, misunderstood, and depressed.
The answer is not clear to most people, including professionals.
According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition), Asperger’s was considered related to, but distinct from Autism, and therefore not HFA specifically, but considered different parts of the same diagnosis.
Well, that’s part of the problem.
Even more confusing…
Since you’re the sibling of a child with different needs, I wanted to write you a letter explaining why you are not just amazing, but you have a one-up on life. I know your life with a special needs sibling is hard and definitely different than the relationship that your friends have with their siblings, but trust me, you most definitely will be more prepared for this life than anyone else.
Let me explain…
Have you seen the old commercial with the tattoo artist eating a candy bar while working on a big guy who looks down at his brand new tattoo with shock says, “NO REGERTS?”.
The tattoo artist, looks at the guy a bit puzzled, then casually apologizes for being in a daze whilst eating her delicious snack, like she was oblivious to the whole thing. I’m sure what happens next is pretty interesting.
Parenting the Extraordinary is kinda the same experience.
We have a baby and begin parenting under the daze of the shiny new experience. Sure we may bring along some unhelpful parenting techniques that were used on us, but our intentions are good, So, with glazed eyes we run to buy the baby rearing books, go to the classes, call the moms and friends for advice and everything is just wonderful… until it isn’t.
Does this sound familiar?
“I don’t care if he has Asperger’s/HFA, he needs to learn he can’t just say what he’s thinking!”
“ADHD is no excuse, she needs to pay attention.”
“You need to be more consistent. You should make a chart with rewards and punishments.”
“My kids ate what I put in front of them or they didn’t eat at all.”
“You shouldn’t let her do anything until all of her home work is done. If she complains or has a fit, then take away devices until it’s done.”
“He needs to do as he’s told, you just don’t command enough respect.”
“Reward the good behavior, punish the bad.”
It would be surprising if you’d never heard these things because they are very typical of parenting advice given by both other parents and by professionals.
To some extent, they are correct… IF you have a child/teen who is completely Neuro Typical (NT), meaning a kid with no developmental delays at all.
Fools do rush in, but will it get you what you want?
Will it create effective understanding and change?
There is a grey area. You know, that place where we are strong, assertive advocates for our kids, not aggressive, angry and threatening.
The quote “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” is a great idiom, which means that the foolish or angry tend to do things that more sensible people stay away from because the angry do not usually understand how the bigger picture will be affected.
As a Mama Bear myself I am cautioning you about rushing in when you are angry, not because I think Mama Bears are foolish, but because we are game changers.
Hey, I get it.
Your kid is struggling.
Maybe it’s behavior, maybe it’s anxiety… maybe it’s a really bad attitude.
For those of us who have kids who are neurologically outside the box (extraordinary), be it anxiety, ADHD, OCD’s, or autism, we know it can be incredibly stressful to live with a child who may express everything from defiance to severe behavior, or even extreme isolation or self-harm.
Does your daughter have tantrums? Do those tantrums seem to be more than a tantrum? We call that a meltdown.
How about friends? Does she seem to struggle with friendships? Maybe she claims she would rather be alone?
If your child cannot pull herself together, or is maddeningly defiant, or can’t move on to the next thing (get ready for school, do homework, put down the tablet), or she chronically struggles with her relationships with others, then maybe there is more to the story.
There’s a hole in your bucket!
Water is pouring out and your newly finished floor is flooding!
You anxiously try to plug the hole in the bucket to save your beautiful new hardwood floor, but in your panic to save your floor and stop the flow of water, you don’t notice that there is even more water pouring into the bucket from the top and spilling over the edge.
But it’s no wonder you are focused on the hole in the bucket, everyone is telling you that the hole is the problem. It’s clear, isn’t it? It needs to be plugged, and now!
If you don’t fix the hole, and fast, you will never stop the water from flooding your floor. Right?
It is plain to see the flooding, and you are freaking out because you can’t get that darn hole plugged, There’s just too much pressure coming from the top. So, you try harder, maybe you even call a friend to help.
You don’t understand WHY it’s getting worse.
You are now desperate and exhausted.
The water has filled the room and is out of control. You are ready to throw the bucket out, because obviously it’s broken and the hole is unfixable and there is no way to stop this flooding.
And that is exactly what happens when parents, caregivers, therapist and doctors focus on the behavior instead of what lies beneath… the overwhelm coming in from the top.
Hi! I’m Yvette Marie a Thought Wrangler (an intellectual nomad looking for understanding and hope in all things). I created this blog space because I believe Flexibility and Flow in Neurodiversity is not only possible, but necessary for living a full life of health and wellness.