How I Know That Sensory Processing Disorder Is Real | Stephanie Giese. Please – take the time to read Stephanie’s post.
For all the well meaning (and not-so-well-meaning and the downright critical and malicious) peeps out there; just because a child’s behaviour looks like your Internet idea of autism doesn’t mean s/he actually falls on the autism spectrum.
The observable behaviours which lead to a diagnosis of any type of childhood disorder often overlap tremendously, which is the reason why experts do the diagnosing. Sometimes, the diagnosis needs to be deferred because the child in question has been so abused through neglect and/or violence that these issues have to be addressed first because doing anything else would be grossly unfair to an already disadvantaged little person.
In the interests of full disclosure, before I was a psychologist, I, along with my husband, was a foster parent. Additionally, we’ve raised three girls to adulthood, including one we adopted. They’ve now produced five glorious grandsons which we consider ample reward for any of the behaviours (discussed below) which may have happened.
I’ve had more than one episode in the local mall with a rather large child doing a great imitation of a spoiled toddler. I can count on one hand the number of times that ANY onlooker offered any form of constructive help. Mostly, I could count on people vocally criticising, rolling their eyes, or talking loudly to each other about how badly the child in question was behaving, or even in one case, someone offered in a totally patronising tone to “…tan that child’s hide so you know what to do next time this happens.” (Truth!)
I don’t have the time or the patience in the moment to tell all those rubbernecking perfect parents that this child has been badly abused enough already thank you very much, has great difficulty managing himself in open spaces because of chronic sensory overload (that abuse thing again), and has just been told he may not have McDonalds for lunch; the only kind of food he’d ever eaten before he came to my house. (We’d just learned his cholesterol level -at nine years old- is through the roof and Child Welfare has also tasked us with getting him healthy again.)
Instead of adding to a stressed, embarrassed, or overwhelmed parent or caregiver’s crisis of the moment, why not choose from a list of more helpful options?
1. Smile and ask if there’s anything you can do that would be helpful. If the answer is ‘yes’ – just do exactly that thing.
2. Smile kindly and say, “Been there, done that. It’s okay,” and keep walking.
3. Compose your face to look pleasant and keep walking – don’t add to the spectacle by being part of the crowd that gathers.
Even if the child’s behaviour IS the result of poor parenting skills it’s none of your business. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re adding to the problem.
If this sounds like a rant, it is. I’ve had some of the most awful, cruel things said to me, and to an already suffering child by critical, viciously judgmental people who know nothing of the situation except what they see at this moment …and they can only interpret that moment within the framework of their own perspective. How sad that the reflection of their internal life is almost always hurtfully negative.
Says a lot about the individual. A whole lot more than they would probably want me to know.
If nothing else, remember that what you see in the moment is never the whole picture and one never decides about a painting without seeing all of it. Too bad we can’t remember this when judging a parent by a brief example of “bad” behaviour.