When someone is neurodivergent, it doesn’t mean something negative. Rather, the term applies to how they behave, learn, process, and think. To some degree, we are all different within those realms but there are neurodiverse conditions. These include but are not limited to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, and even anxiety disorders.
About 20 percent of children qualify as neurodivergent. They have brain development adaptations and thus, adjustments must be made. In particular, this pertains to communication. Learning to best communicate with your neurodivergent child will enable you to support them and enrich both of your lives.
Some of the Many Challenges When Parenting a Neurodivergent Child
- The child is often guided by emotions
- They are very difficult to calm down
- You must adjust your expectations
- It’s important to practice self-care, self-compassion, and self-control
That last item covers a lot of ground. You may feel as if you are speaking different languages at times. But common ground can be found. It’ll be an evolving process but is very much worth the effort.
How to Improve Communication With Your Neurodivergent Child
Of course, the following suggestions are eternal in nature. Each neurodivergent child is as unique as each neurotypical child. Make adjustments where necessary and be sure to ask for professional help when it is needed.
This is an ongoing process. There is no one “right way” to communicate with your child. Not to mention, it automatically evolves as your child ages. Commit to understanding what you need to understand in order to make your interactions happen more smoothly.
2. Talk to Your Child About Their Condition
Be sure to help them grasp their differences. Explain that some people are more accepting than others and support them as they navigate a sometimes cruel world.
3. Include Them in Conversations
Never assume they are not interested or curious. For example, if your neurodivergent child is present during a family discussion, ask them if they’d like to participate. Let them know that they are neither excluded from the conversation nor required to chime in.
4. Create Signals For Difficult Situations
Neurodivergent children may be more affected by outside stimuli than others. It could be noise, lights, textures, or more. Work in advance with your child to come up with escape plans should they become overstimulated. To avoid embarrassment or having to explain too much, these plans could involve your own personal language, e.g. signals or facial expressions.
5. Don’t Force Them to Communicate “Normally”
Just because most people communicate a certain doesn’t make other ways abnormal. A neurodivergent child’s method of communication may be uncommon. But let your child know that “uncommon” isn’t weird or wrong. If your child has a preferred method of interacting, the onus is on you to meet them where they’re at. Create a safe space in which they do not feel judged or pressured.
6. Involve Other Families Members (and Teachers, Too)
Obviously, you are not the only person your child interacts with. Do your part to build a bridge between your neurodivergent child and their siblings, extended families, teachers, neighbors, therapists, and so on. Not everyone will be as dedicated and patient as you but every little bit helps.
Parenting a Neurodivergent Child is Not a Solo Act
You will need guidance from skilled practitioners. Your child will almost certainly have a therapist. But what about you? When you’re running on empty, who do you turn to? Your weekly therapy sessions can be a sanctuary for addressing your fears, doubts, resentments, dreams, and more. we’d love to connect with you for a free and confidential consultation soon for child therapy.