10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAISING A DIFFERENTLY WIRED CHILD
5: DIFFERENTLY WIRED CHILDREN AREN’T BROKEN Transcript
So in today’s video, I want to talk about the idea that our children are not broken. You might be thinking, Yes, I know my kid’s not broken. But you also may feel that there are things about your child that you want to “fix.” And I’m using air quotes when I say fix. First of all, if this is you, I’m going to say right upfront: No judgment from me. We live in a culture and a society where anyone who deviates from the “norm” is perceived as broken. We live in a culture where fitting in and conforming, being unique but still “typical enough,” is more valued, and more accepted.
When people have neurodifferences or disabilities that don’t easily allow them to navigate society or that require extra supports in order to do so, we may see those neurodifferences as problems in need of fixing. We might look at our kids and think that they are in need of fixing, too.
I wanted to talk about this because along the path of raising a differently wired child, there are going to be plenty of books, articles, and experts who adopt this “fix-it” mentality. They will be talking about cures. They will be talking about eliminating behaviors that could stand out so that a child can better blend into or fit into neurotypical society. You might read and hear that pathologizes neurodiversity. For instance, talking about an “epidemic” of autism or the “risks” of having ADHD. Even the word disorder is pathologizing with negative connotations. It sends the message that this is a problem in need of fixing.
But neurodivergence, being differently wired, means that a person’s brain is wired in a unique way that deviates from what is considered to be “typical.” And I have to just say that there are lots of people these days pushing back on the idea that normal even exists. In fact, one of my favorite book titles in recent years is Jonathan Mooney‘s book Normal Sucks. Side note: I highly recommend checking that book out.
But what we want to do is shift our perspective from this idea that there’s something wrong with our child, or something that we need to cure or fix, and instead respect that our child has a unique neurobiology, and that the way they experience and interact with the world is a direct reflection of that wiring. When we do that, we can think about best supporting this unique human so they can navigate the world in a way that allows them to be the best version of themselves, rather than trying to change who they are so that they can better fit into society or appear to be more “normal.” And this is also critical to do because we don’t want our children to grow up believing that there is something wrong with who they inherently are.
So this is an important reframe. And I understand that there are likely aspects of who your child is and the way that they’re wired that makes certain things challenging, whether that be school, or sports, or friendships, or just navigating family and siblings and the busy lives we all have. But even if there are skills we’ll want to help our child develop and areas of growth, we want to be sure that our intention isn’t to try to “cure” or “fix” their neurodivergence.
You can find lots of resources on Tilt Parenting that lean more deeply into this idea of parenting with a strengths-based lens and in a way that respects and embraces who our child is. But the bottom line is that our kids are not broken.
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Tilt Parenting, LLC is an educational resource, podcast, consultancy, and community with a focus on positively shifting the way neurodifferences in children are perceived, experienced, and supported, and supporting parents raising differently wired™ kids so these exceptional kids can thrive in their schools, in their families, and in their lives. It was founded by Debbie Reber in 2016.
© 2016 Deborah Reber