When a child receives a diagnosis of ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, Asperger’s, anxiety or anger, it can be a lot to take in – both for you and your child.
It can take time to adjust to the diagnosis and it may feel like a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, especially to begin with.
Whether the diagnosis was unexpected or something you suspected was on the cards, the news can be distressing and challenging to deal with.
However, the good news is that a diagnosis can offer relief (because you understand the cause of their differences) and it also provides a road map for helping your child moving forward.
Here are some top tips to help you deal with a diagnosis:
1. You’re not alone
Remember you’re not alone and countless others have received a similar diagnosis for their child. There is support out there and it can be helpful to connect with other people going through a similar situation. Search online or ask your specialist or healthcare provider for information about support groups.
2. Find reliable information
While the internet can be a good source of reliable, fact-based information, it can also be a source of a lot of misinformation. Make sure the information you’re gathering in relation to your child’s diagnosis is reliable. Check out the Mental Health Foundation's information on conditions for fact-based information.
3. Focus on your child’s strengths
Sometimes it can be hard to see past the way in which your child is different. Remember to focus on their strengths and celebrate their individuality. Often kids with ADHD, autism and other diagnoses have more energy, knowledge and curiosity, so try to see these differences in a positive, joyful way.
4. Be interested
Show genuine interest in the things your child likes and is into. A lack of interest can be misinterpreted by kids as parents or caregivers not liking them. Showing interest may open them up to other things as well.
5. Name those emotions
Children with differences can have ‘super big’ emotions, and being able to name their emotions can help them understand how they’re feeling. The Plutchik wheel of emotion can help identify feelings. Emojis are a fun and relatable way to talk to kids about emotions. There are lots of great books to help kids manage their emotions, too.
6. Look after you
Remember to look after your own wellbeing and make sure you’re getting the support you need as dealing with a diagnosis can be very challenging. Have someone you can talk openly to and who can support you. Check out The Mums series from Attitude TV.
Talk to your GP or healthcare provider if you need support dealing with a diagnosis.
- How to help kids with differences and diagnoses Sparklers, NZ