How to help others acknowledge your child’s diagnosis

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:

With family

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.”

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