Any parent who has a child with disabilities understands that having a conversation with your son or daughter is not a “one and done” situation. Starting a conversation with your child about their disabilities is just the beginning of a long process that will continue as they grow and mature. With that in mind, here are some guidelines that will make the road a bit smoother for both you and your child.
Seek Support From Professionals
As soon as you learn your child has a disability, talk with TLC Pediatric Therapies. They can provide multiple resources for you and your family to rely on, like specialists, speech therapists, physical therapists, and support groups to help you communicate with your child and guide you.
There are other parents who have gone through this and can counsel you on the best approaches. Remember, you are not alone!
Be Informative, Not Emotional
Always give your child facts about their disability based on their age and understanding. Remain unemotional or they may think their particular disability is something to be sad about and begin to feel ashamed or guilty about it.
Listen Carefully to Their Feelings
Listen to your child whenever they begin a conversation. Never pass up an opportunity to discuss their disability and how it affects their life, acknowledging that there are challenges they will face. Share with them the good news that they can still achieve, learn, and be successful at many things.
Avoid Lectures and Long Speeches
Kids will always know when you are sugar coating something or trying to convince them of something that is not really true. They will tune out and not trust you to be straight with them.
Give Encouragement, Not Pipe Dreams
Be sure your child understands that they may learn things differently or at a different pace, but they are not stupid nor incapable of success. Look for and talk about their strengths. It could be music, art, their ability to be empathetic or be a great friend. Point out all the positive traits they have that many others do not possess.
False expectations will not serve them well, so keep it realistic and honest.
Help Them Express Their Disability to Others
At some point your child will need to speak up for himself or herself. Peers may remark or even make fun of their specific issue. Give them some clear and concise talking points to explain to others why they learn differently or act a certain way. Tourette syndrome is a prime example of behavior that others will wonder about.
As time passes, children will need to advocate for themselves. For example, if they know they learn and understand better if they sit in the front of the classroom, they should be able to verbalize that to their teacher or other school officials. You won’t always be there to help them navigate through every little thing as they grow, so give them the tools to advocate for themselves.
TLC Pediatric Therapies is always there to provide guidance and resources. If you have any further questions and concerns, please call (407) 905-9300 today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists!