How to help others acknowledge your child's diagnosis
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It becomes a vicious loop: Parents with children with psychological disabilities do not know what to say to family, friends and acquaintances, so they say nothing. As a result, according to Clinical Psychologist Sheeba Daniel-Crotty, they miss hearing people's empathy.
Daniel-Crotty, a member of the Chicago Special Parent Advisory Board, offers these tips for helping others accept the diagnosis:
- Try to get the family member's perspective on how they view your child and try to think about the situation through their eyes so you can better explain the diagnosis.
- Gather as much information as possible about children who struggle with similar issues and share the information.
- Try not to be defensive.
- Encourage family members to observe your child in settings, besides where they are most comfortable, to see for themselves how your child fits in with peers.
With neighbors and associates
- Treat your child consistently with the parenting practices and approaches you know are effective for your child's needs.
- Explain the special needs at any opportunity you can. "I think sometimes others' reactions are because they don't want the parent with a child with special needs to feel different. It's sort of like the elephant in the room; they don't want to acknowledge that there's this problem." If a parent opens the discussion, it allows for others' real reaction and even empathy. Be open and informative; talk realistically.
- "If you bring the conversation to the table, I think that will erode away at people's myths and maybe the avoidance and the negative feelings around it."