I was going to take this blog in a new direction today. But I got a comment on last night’s post that got me thinking about another topic that could be helpful for parents. Why did I choose to have my child labeled and how did I tell him?
As you know, the decision to label my kid was a difficult one for me. It took me a long time to get to this point. Here’s why I finally did it, aside from the fact that he would receive extra services in school:
- Other kids know he’s different. He knows he’s different. They might not know what it is, or what it’s called, but they know he’s different. And in a society that does not always embrace diversity, that’s a tough pill to swallow. So why not call it what it is? I’m not a fan of brushing things under the carpet. If there’s something that’s not working, let’s fix it.
- If I didn’t get him a label, he might have gotten one anyway: troublemaker, lazy, disruptive, etc.
- The real breaking point for me was when my kid came home from school and started calling himself “weird” and “stupid.” Now anyone who’s spent any time with Logan knows that those things aren’t true. But he was starting to internalize the fact that he was different. Things that came easily to other children were a struggle for him. And he knew it.
So I decided it was time to talk with him, in plain old 6-year old language (minus the poopy diaper talk). In case anyone else is looking for some words to explain this to their kids, here are some phrases that we use, based on OT recommendations and things I’ve read:
“Your brain is the computer for your body. It tells your body what to do.”
“Sometimes your brain is not with your body.” (impulsivity)
“Sometimes your brain leaves the group.” (distractedness)
“Sometimes your body leaves the group.” (moving too fast)
“Sometimes, your brain and your body leave the group.”
“Some things might be more difficult for you, but it is no excuse for bad behavior.” (setting the expectations)
“You don’t have to worry, because there are many other kids like you and we are here to help you.” (love)
“We all have something we’re working on.” (reality)
I know I struggled a lot with how to tell my son what’s going on. Once I found the language, he seemed to understand. The fact of the matter is, we are all works in progress. Every single one of us. We all have something we’re working on (or at least we should be). When I truly embraced that concept, my fear of labeling him ceased. I stopped caring about whether or not people would judge him. And I got my nose pierced. I started having more compassion for other people, knowing full well that I didn’t know their whole story. We put our trust in God and found our worth in Him. And it was very freeing.