Do you dread going to family gatherings with your child? I used to. I particularly worried about a family gathering that was at someone else’s home because our daughter would get overstimulated by the sights, the sounds, and the people. Then, in an effort to cope with the over-stimulation, she would run laps around the place. Sometimes she would end up bumping into people or furniture; I would be embarrassed by her behavior and worried about her safety. I learned through working with an occupational therapist (OT) that my daughter’s hyperactivity was partially due to having a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
As a parent of a child with special needs, I can’t tell you how many times someone has innocently said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” Meant to be an empathetic comment, it often left me wanting to respond, “I don’t know either” or, “It’s not like I have a choice...” Being a special-needs parent is not something I wished for, but is part of who I am. Usually I was the person who helped - now I am often the one who needs help. I am more comfortable giving than receiving. It hurts to feel vulnerable. It’s difficult to acknowledge that I can’t do it all on my own, that I need ‘the village.’
When a child receives as psychoeducational diagnosis following an assessment process, many parents are faced with the same key question: ‘When and how should I talk to my child and other children about the assessment results?’ While each child is unique and individualized guidance can be key in navigating the best approach for your family, the following are some guidelines for you to consider.
I distinctly remember the day my son was diagnosed. Parents don’t forget receiving that type of news. Somehow, after listening to the cluster of labels applied to my child, I ended up at the grocery store. The clerk asked calmly, as if my world hadn’t just been crushed, “How are you today?” I shoved down my emotions and provided the expected response, “I’m fine.” I wanted to say the opposite. That day, I did not think anything would ever be ‘fine’ again. After receiving a diagnosis for your child, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and to experience a mixture of many emotions: shock, confusion, denial, sadness, guilt, anger - even relief. It may anchor you to remember that, despite the diagnosis, your child is still your child.
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