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Tips for Communicating With Your Neurodivergent Child

Each of us learns, thinks, and processes differently. As a result, we all display different kinds of behavior. If your child is neurodivergent, it’s not a pejorative or a negative label. Rather, it’s a term that encompasses a wide range of neurodiverse conditions. About one in five children are neurodivergent which means they’ve been diagnosed with a condition like an anxiety disorder, dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette’s syndrome, and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

Such disorders impact brain development and, for example, can affect how they communicate. This can present a challenge for parents of a neurodivergent child. But it’s also an opportunity to find new ways to connect!

Situations Parents of Neurodivergent Children Regularly Face

Your child will likely behave in a way that is heavily guided by their emotions. Quite often, this manifests in them reacting to a situation and then having a difficult time calming down. Parents quickly learn the importance of:

  • Practicing daily self-care — and self-control
  • Adjusting their expectations
  • Adjusting their communication style

At times, you and your child will be operating on different wavelengths but will compassion and self-compassion, you both can make the adaptations necessary to truly connect.

5 Tips for Communicating With Your Neurodivergent Child

The list below contains suggestions and blueprints. Only you understand the exact dynamic in your situation so, of course, take what is useful and adjust it to your needs.

1. Become an Expert For Your Child

Self-education can bring you to a place of knowledge about your child’s disorder. Experience will guide you to apply that knowledge in a specific way. No website or textbook can address your child in particular but the information you gather can support you as you seek out the best approaches.

child's hand resting in parents hand2. Include Your Child As Much As Possible

This plays out in a few ways. Firstly, your child will rely on you to explain their differences to them. They need guidance as to why they feel as they do. In addition, you can be an important voice when it comes to your child dealing with a world that can be cruel at times.

Also, include your kid in your conversations. Even if they are rarely communicative, a neurodivergent child can still be interested in what’s being discussed. Invite them to participate and make it clear that they are welcome.

3. Include Others, Too

Encourage the people in your child’s life to be present with them. From family members to teachers to neighbors and beyond — all of them can play a role in your child’s communication style.

4. Give Them Room to Be Who They Are

It’s tempting to force a neurodivergent to conform to communication norms. On the surface, it can enable them to connect with their peers. But you also don’t want them to feel weird or abnormal if they prefer a different way.

5. Be Their Safe Space in Challenging Situations

It is far more likely for a neurodivergent child to be strongly impacted by external stimuli, e.g. textures, sounds, lights, etc. When you know you’ll be with your child in a challenging environment, plan in advance to make it simple for them to find relief. Even if it means leaving, come up with signals so you can communicate amidst the crisis.

Take Care of Yourself

To be the best possible parent for a neurodivergent child, you’ll need to safeguard your own well-being. Your child will certainly have their own therapist but that option is also available for you. If you need a space to talk about your challenges, frustration, concerns, and more, we urge you to reach out o learn more about autism or child or teen counseling.

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