When Kids Are Exceptional, But Adults Can't Tell | Giftie Etcetera: When Kids Are Exceptional, But Adults Can't Tell

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

When Kids Are Exceptional, But Adults Can't Tell

I studied child development as an undergrad. I've been a preschool teacher, high school teacher, and middle school teacher. In addition, I spent most of my legal practice as an attorney focusing on juveniles, most of whom had special challenges of one sort or another.

So when I say that I have failed children over and over, it is quite a confession.

But I have failed children - and their parents - by often not recognizing special needs when they were not visually obvious.

off topic, special needs, exceptional kids, 504, parenting

As the mother of a kid with some exceptional needs, I figured I'd come clean and help the rest of you avoid making judgmental, self-centered idiots of yourself.

Learn from my mistakes!

Don't assume that a kid is "okay" based on appearances.

When The Loki is tired after a night of seizures, outgrowing his epilepsy meds, or trying a new attention medicine, he can appear to be a seven year old of normal intelligence and physical ability. And, in fact, he is. He doesn't need a wheelchair or a sign language translator.

Except, and this is the tricky part, he might get lost. Or he might have trouble remembering or following simple instructions.

He isn't okay without some extra help. He isn't safe or able to perform to full ability without some adjustments.

So, side eye to the lady who was glaring at me when I made my seven year old hold hands on our walk across campus. Yes, he knows not to cross streets without looking. But without a buddy, he'll sometimes wander across the street anyway.

Do assume parents are the EXPERTS on their kids.

I know a lot about child development in general. But there are only two kids that I can tell you everything about - their medical and educational histories, their motivations, their emotions. My kids. That's it.

So, if I am put in charge of your kid or I am bringing him somewhere, I no longer hesitate to ask, "is there anything I should know?"

Tell me that he gets scared in the dark, won't go to the bathroom without a crack in the doorway, or is allergic to sesame seeds. Let me know that she needs structure or more time or someone to hold her hand.

Parents, don't be scared to share those things with others. If they don't know, they can't help.

Adults, don't be afraid to ask. If you truly mean well, you might just make someone's day!

Remember that we ALL have strengths and weaknesses.

Grace means that we accept that about others and ourselves.

I am great in social situations. So I look around, find others who struggle, and give them a way "in" to the group. But I am aware that they might not want that, so I leave the decision up to them.

On the other hand, I cannot navigate or drive well. I let others drive whenever possible. So if I bum a ride, be kind! I'll cook you dinner or watch your kids.

Kids are the same way. Some are so sweet. Others are funny. Each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, regardless of disabilities and abilities.

Sometimes, challenging kids make it hard to remember that. Sometimes, we don't see the exceptionalities.

We are too busy not looking or judging.

It's time to change that and start making the world a better, more accepting place, especially for children facing special struggles.


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Tracy said...

Thank you for writing this! My oldest daughter has dealt with clinical depression (which led into a two year struggle with an eating disorder) since seventh grade. Too many people in my town judge others and, because my oldest doesn't play the game by trying to be cookie cutter, she is often on the receiving end of nasty comments (from both peers AND adults)!
I guess the "silver lining" for her and our whole family is that we do try to accept others (especially kids) for who they are with whatever special challenges they may have.
People are always posting on social media about the "silent" diseases (Lupus, MS - which I have, CFS, etc) and how looks can be deceiving so don't judge. Isn't even more important to carry this concept over to children?
Again, thank you for this post! It seriously made my morning....

Giftie Etcetera said...

TrayceeBee - I'm so glad. It's been nagging me a long time, but I wanted to say it the right way, so people could hear the message.

It's so important to carry this message over to children.

Unknown said...

This is nicely written. Yes, we need to have each other's backs for often and give people the benefit of the doubt - especially children. Thanks for writing this! Stopping by from Crafty Allie.

Lisa Diane Tummers said...

This is heartfelt and excellently written. It's so important to be aware that we can never know the struggles of others outside of our own families and possibly our closest friends. There is always something we can do to ease someone's burdens and bless them and, above all, avoid judging. Thank you for sharing your insight.

Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond said...

Thank you for sharing your personal story and the ups and downs of parenting. Glad you could link up with us at #WednesdaysWisdom.

This Woman Writes -- Carolyn Henderson said...

I especially like your point that parents are the experts regarding their kids.

The world of experts -- in education, medicine, and social services -- presumes that letters after the name and a job title are all that is needed to pronounce judgment upon another human being, but you are so right -- the parent who lives with the child, who LOVES the child (this one is crucial -- not matter how smart an expert, he or she can't possibly have the commitment that love brings), who knows the child's daily life, is the very best expert. And yet this expert is generally delegated to the back room, and told to just write out the check.

Good article, with good commonsense.

Jennifer@MyFlagstaffHome said...

Thanks so much for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!


Wendy said...

Thank you so much for linking up with us on the Hip Homeschool Hop! I have a severely autistic child, and it's easy to tell that she has some differences. I also have a son, however, who does not appear to have any challenges, yet he has Asperger's. Sometimes he says things that aren't socially appropriate, and people often think he's being rude on purpose when he actually has no idea that what he said might be offensive. Thank you for this post and for the reminder that a child can look perfectly fine yet still have challenges. It's something we all need to remember. :)

Brandyn Blaze said...

I love this. People are so quick to make assumptions and it rarely helps anybody! If we all keep it in mind that every one of us is unique, life would go so much more smoothly!

Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays

Laurie - Country Link said...

Thank you for sharing over a the Country Fair Blog Party. Very well stated and something we all need to think about and remember.
Laurie - Co-Host

Echo aka The Mad Mommy said...

YES! Thank you for sharing this with the #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup! As a mom to a very exceptional boy, I have struggled with a lot this.

Sandy Sandmeyer said...

I so appreciate you sharing your post at the #AnythingGoes Link Party. I'm looking forward to what you'll share with us next week.

Unknown said...

I love the idea of acknowledging needs instead of dismissing these traits as unnecessary quirks. I have a lot of "quirks" and so do my kids and I'm sensitive to theirs because I know what it feels like when they're set aside. Thank you so much for sharing this at #mommymeetupmondays.

Unknown said...

Beautifully written. And needed!

I'm your neighbor at Pat and Candy's this morning. May I invite joy to share our words each Friday in the DanceWithJesus linkup at SusanBMead.com/blog? Your words would bless someone else there!

Unknown said...

Wonderful post!

Unknown said...

Great message that needs to be shared. So I will. :)