I was asked, “My son with Asperger’s has an extremely hard time staying on task. To the point where he thinks we are trying to be mean to him by telling him to do the same thing over and over again. When really we just want his help around the house and to teach him responsibility. So when it comes to cleaning up his own messes, his toys all over the house, what is a tool I could implement to help bring his attention back?”
Below is my response to help point things in a better direction.
The problem isn’t poor attention or too much attention on the wrong things. The problem is a misunderstanding of how to respond to your mind when it chases a squirrel and how to compassionately and strategically bring it back to where you left off. Watch as I explain a way to do it.
To truly champion the strengths that will allow you to succeed while living with an LD diagnosis, you must first free yourself of all resistance to the diagnosis.
Facing the diagnosis of a learning disability such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and many other conditions, can be one of the most harrowing events of parenthood. Parents who must endure this difficult revelation must, therefore, be treated with the utmost compassion and patience as they process the information and begin to plan for the lifelong ramifications of their child’s condition. However, even parents who have the full support and empathy of their immediate families, as well as the guidance of the social and educational communities, sometimes struggle to cope effectively with their child’s reality and engage in recalcitrant behavior with respect to the diagnosis.
This parental resistance can emanate from multiple sources, but the principal influences causing parents’ discomfort with active management and intervention are:
1) fear of social isolation of both the LD individual,
2) fear of stigmatization of the LD individual’s family in their social and professional communities,
3) pride in the parents’ own academic achievements and abilities and resulting disbelief in the birth of a child unlikely to replicate those feats,
4) financial implications of addressing a learning disability, and
5) unwillingness to devote the additional time required to cooperate with the external sources of support. In these unfortunate scenarios, the learning disabled child or young adult is greatly imperiled as he or she is endangered of progressing through education and life without the single most crucial support structure necessary to develop into a functional adult.
Learning disabled individuals who do not have the backing of their own homes are very unlikely to compensate even with expert support from his or her social and school environments, rendering these other secondary support structures largely ineffectual.
It is therefore of great importance that learning disabled individuals and the community of stakeholders around them develop methods and protocols to engage recalcitrant parents in addressing special educational needs in non-stigmatizing ways that reassure the parents that LD management techniques are trustworthy and beneficial to the child or young adult’s long-term prosperity.
Topics we cover in this episode include:
1) How LD individuals, especially those of adult or near adult age, can be effective self-advocates in the face of denial, gaslighting, and invalidation relating to the diagnosis and its implications, and how we can instill a sense of pride in these individuals,
2) How recalcitrant parents can be taught the numerous upsides not only of effective intervention but of the disability itself, namely, that attending their child’s learning differences are highly useful attributes in school and business (which are also highly regarded in the social circles that may be the chief factor fueling their resistance to acknowledgement) and that the differences are things of which the parents themselves can be proud,
3) How we can impress upon parents the benefits of proper management, up to and including financial and social benefits resulting from greater prospects for the child with intervention as proactive as possible, and
4) How we need a compassionate but firm approach that teaches parents and other caregivers that being true to oneself and to their loved one with an LD is a path to prosperity while playing a contrived role is one destined for frustration for both them and the LD individual.
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