Did you know that 1 in 6 children between the ages of 3 and 17 are considered neurodiverse? That equals about 17% of children in that age group.
Over the past several years, doctors have been diagnosing more and more children as neurodiverse.
If you have wondered if your child is neurodivergent or if your kid has recently received a diagnosis, you may feel overwhelmed or scared of what lays ahead, but don’t worry. You are not alone in this.
If you have a neurodiverse child, you understand the gifts and struggles that come with the job of parenting. Here are some ways you can support your kid.
What It Means to Have a Neurodiverse Child
Having a neurodiverse child is not as scary as it sounds. All it means is your child’s brain is wired differently than others. Being neurodivergent does not have to and shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing.
In fact, there are many strengths that are often associated with being neurodivergent. Some of those strengths include
- Providing a different perspective to situations and thinking differently than a neurotypical person.
- Having a strong creative sense and ability.
- Having a strong eye for detail.
- Less social pressure and a more free outlook towards life.
- Skills revolving around logic or systems.
- Above-average musical abilities.
However, because neurodivergent brains function a little differently, they need to be supported in a different way. Adhering to neurotypical norms while neurodivergent can create a lot of anxiety or behavioral issues in a child
If you have been wondering if your child fits into the neurodivergent category, it may be time to get your child a psychological assessment.
Support Your Neurodiverse Child at Home
The first place to start to support your child is in your home. Many neurodiverse children don’t get the foundation of support they need in their homes and they don’t get the resources they need to thrive.
If you have a neurodivergent kid, here are some ways that you can help them succeed starting at home:
If they are struggling, remember to validate their problems and emotions. What they are feeling is very real to them and acknowledging their feelings will make them feel some relief.
Listen to what they have to say and try to not give your opinion. Giving too much advice can overstimulate your neurodiverse child, so try just empathizing with them at first.
Give them outlets for any sensory sensitivities they have. There are lots of useful sensory items you can get for your child to use to help them with triggers or reduce stress.
Have a routine set. Having structure can help your neurodivergent child not experience as much stress in their day-to-day lives.
Encourage your child in their strengths. Give them recognition where it is due in their strong points and make them feel good about areas where they may feel different from others.
Break down tasks into smaller tasks. This will help them focus on what they have to do better and make it seem less overwhelming.
Encourage them in self-regulating activities, such as exercise, and enforce positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement can be extremely discouraging and anxiety-inducing so try to refrain from doing that.
Remember to be patient with your child. It may take them some time to get used to a new idea or routine.
These tips can help your neurodivergent child to be set up for a successful day and limit their anxiety and triggers.
Support During Social Situations
Neurodivergent kids can often struggle in certain social settings. This means it is important to give them resources they can use in order to comfortably and happily integrate themselves into society.
Social interaction is an important and necessary part of development for kids. It is also often unavoidable. Neurodivergent children may even get triggered by just going to school.
When your neurodivergent child gets put in a social situation, they may experience anxiety or get overstimulated. To help them do well, find ways you can minimize these things.
Here are some ideas to help your child be more comfortable in social situations:
If your child suffers from anxiety in social situations, consider helping them make script cards to help them when they need to speak to other people.
Give them sensory items they can bring with them, such as fidget spinners, to reduce anxiety or increase concentration.
Use rewards and lots of positive reinforcement. Going out of their comfort zone may be hard for them and they will need encouragement to do so.
You can also utilize many of the things you do at home to support your neurodiverse child in social settings.
Things like enforcing a structure and routine to their social outings can help reduce their everyday anxiety. Also, be available to listen and empathize with them if they are struggling, and encourage them where they succeed.
Supporting Your Child Will Make Their Life Easier
Having a neurodiverse child isn’t always easy. It can be frustrating to deal with triggers and anxieties, especially if it is new to you. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Supporting your neurodiverse child and giving them the resources they need to succeed will not only help them live a happier and more comfortable life, but it will make your life easier as well.
Make sure you do your research on the best ways you can help your child, and talk to your child’s doctor about the best options for you.
If you want to learn more about neurodivergent children, want to get your child a psychological assessment, or are interested in learning more ways to support your child, you can contact us today!