By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Do you have a child (of any age) who is not like you?
I have worked with a number of families. Sometimes the client is the parent while other times the client is the child, or an adult child. Regardless, our conversations are often about scenarios that show how the child is wired differently from the parent; yet frequently neither really understands this. Here are the main topics that come up.
I see a number of individuals who avoid social scenarios. They may only have a few friends, and may even avoid time with their family. This can be very disconcerting for a parent, and this is what I often hear:
“My child seems lonely, and I don’t want him/her to grow up alone.”
“Why is his/her school/college experience so drab? Why can’t s/he enjoy it? Why doesn’t my child go to school games and parties? College, tailgating, and parties were an amazing experience for me, and s/he is not participating!”
“Friends are important, and my child is missing out on social opportunities and experiences!”
If your child is a Sensitive (neuro-diverse) and experiences sensory overload, s/he will want more alone time and may seem more anxious, moody, or intolerant of others and their environment. It’s also possible that s/he misunderstands social scenarios and communication.
This child is not wired like you and does not receive the same pleasures in social company as you. As a matter of fact, I hear these individuals describe social activities as anything but fun. Let’s remember that they are very sensitive to the energies, the sounds, and the people in their environments. In addition to the sensory challenges they usually don’t have the social skill set that you (a neuro-typical) do, and they find every social or communication encounter as a potential landmine: “What do I say/do in this situation? Will it be right? Will they approve? Will they make fun of me (again)?”
Teaching these individuals the nuances of conversation, and developing their confidence and self-worth will significantly help, but they are still not wired like you. As a result, they will likely prefer more isolated experiences than you do. This does not mean it’s bad. They’re just different.
Parents hope and expect that their children will grow up to have amazing and prominent careers. Many families expect their children to go to college and study finance, business, law, medicine, etc. Graduate school is often an expectation. Yet, the academic experience of these different kids may not provide them successful college (or K-12) experiences.
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