Embracing Neurodiversity In A Differently-Wired World | Debbie Reber | Episode 82
Kids are all different; some teens are constantly moving, some have difficulty with loud noises, some see letters or numbers jumbled on the page, some are gifted, some struggle with slow processing and others have their own challenges. These kids are neurodiverse—their brains are differently wired and it impacts them, their families, friends, classmates and community. Neurodiversity encompasses ADHD, dyslexia, the Autism spectrum, giftedness, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, slow processing, dysgraphia, and more. Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler has a candid discussion with parenting activist Debbie Reber about what is normal and how parents can help kids succeed.
Parents are often driven by fear. We limit what’s possible for our child when we make a decision from a place of fear. This impacts their ability to thrive.
High Points of Embracing Neurodiversity in a Differently-Wired World:
The neurodiversity movement shares the message that people aren’t really different, rather there are normal variations in the way the brain is wired.
“Normal” is an outdated construct but our kids spend most of their time in an environment where there is something that is considered normal. It’s mostly about compliance and behaving in a way the adults find acceptable and easy to manage.
When our neurodiverse children spend so much time being corrected by teachers and looked at unfavorably by their peers it harms them. They can start identifying as a “bad kid” or lose their love of learning.
We need neurodiverse people, those who don’t conform and think differently, to solve society’s big problems.
Every behavior a child exhibits has a reason.
Any time our child isn’t thriving there is a reason. If you see your teen diving into video games, not meeting developmental milestones, being inconsistent, struggling with organization, or acting out, it’s time to get curious and see if they are wired to approach the world differently.
A child does not choose to get in trouble if they can find another way. Humans want to succeed and generally fit in.
Parents do many things that contribute to the problem. A great number of these stem from our expectations about ourselves as parents or about who our kids will be.
We need to examine our expectations and find a parenting style that fits our child. The best overall approach is to be curious about our child, how they function, what they need to take good care of themselves, and to respect all of that even when it’s not what we expected it to be.
It’s healthy to hand the reins of our children’s lives over to them, to let them be self-directed as much as possible unless it’s a safety issue.
Parents are often driven by fear. When we make decisions from that place, we limit what’s possible for our child, limiting their ability to thrive.
Allowing our children to struggle a bit and to experience discomfort allows them to have the transformation that leads them to their best self.
Parents aren’t always open with their child about their diagnosis, nor do they discuss it with other adults. We may be afraid we’ll be judged as parents or that our child will be labeled and have to deal with stigma. When we sink into secrecy though, we perpetuate the stigma.
We need to talk about who our kids are without shame and without fear.
It is important to talk to our children who are not neurodiverse. We can have conversations discussing neurodiversity and framing behaviors of friends and classmates in light of their diversity.
It’s important to push for inclusion in school groups and other group activities.
We all need to check our judgement.
There is a bright beacon of hope for our children’s future. Companies are seeing the value in diversity, including the gifts that our neurodiverse children have.
Resources Mentioned in Show:
Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World
The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives
Deborah Reber, MA, is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a website, weekly podcast, and social media community for parents like her who are raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in iTunes’ Kids and Family category, with more than 1 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World (Workman Publishing, 2018). In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired.
Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler are entrepreneurs who help people live better lives. After creating DASIUM they realized they could help parents avoid the challenges and pain they experienced. Mighty Parenting is what families need to get real, relevant information about raising teens and parenting young adults in today's world.
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