To Those Who May Not Understand:
My child is a gift. My child is precious and a treasure. But understanding my child can be tricky.
Please try to see past behaviors that you think you understand. Don’t assume she is behaving badly, and please don’t picture my child as cruel or even unruly.
My child does not hit or kick out of anger or spite. Her body stiffens in a way that she can’t control. Sometimes a “kick” is simply a muscle behaving on its own accord.
Sometimes her body moves in an unexpected way and maybe her arm hits you. But be assured, she did not “hit” you. This child involuntarily jerks her feet or jumps when she’s frustrated or excited. If you are in front of her feet when she kicks, then you may get kicked. But know, it wasn’t intentional.
My child doesn’t hit out of anger. Please try to remember that all behavior is just her way of trying to tell you something that she can’t tell you in words.
If you have my child’s trust, she will do what you ask. If she isn’t doing what you ask, then first work on connecting with her. It is easy to find a connection with her and then learn what things are important to her. Most things you ask of her have no intrinsic motivation or meaning to her. She does them to please. So be a little creative with what you request.
The calmer you are, the more she will strive to please you. If you remain matter-of-fact, she will respond.
My child doesn’t understand emotion like you do. If you get frustrated or raise your voice, she will nearly always shut down. She may even giggle as you express your anger. Please don’t misinterpret her laughter as disrespect. She is simply responding to your raised emotion in the only way she knows how.
Don’t let yourself get frustrated. Usually, frustration and anger backfire with her. If you can’t maintain a calm, unruffled authority, then you may as well just step away.
My child is speaking to you. She may not be using words, but she is speaking to you. It takes time to learn her “language.” But if you take the time to connect with her, you will not be sorry you did. Sharing thoughts and moments with this child is a very special thing.
Also know that she will pretty quickly stop speaking to you if you aren’t listening. She doesn’t have any desire to speak if she isn’t listened to.
My child is worth getting to know. But it will take time and you’ll need to slow down. But you’ll be so glad you did.
For more thoughts, take a look at this blog from David Pitonyak, 10 Things You Can Do to Support a Person with Difficult Behaviors.
For more information, visit Navigating Daily Life in the Parent Support section of this website.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.