With conditions like Autism and SPD very much in the news these days, being the parent of a young child who does anything quirky can be frightening and overwhelming. Parents are not sure where to look for the signs that point to Autism or would place their child on the spectrum.
I believe there’s a deeper question here as well. When parents have these types of questions, what they really want to know is: who has definitive answers?
There are many people and professionals who say they have the answers to what’s going on with your child, and how you should parent him or her. Some even suggest that the technical and theoretical knowledge they have is more important than your intuition. I disagree! I believe that professionals and parental intuition have to work hand in hand.
Knowledgeable professionals, developmental psychologists, educators, and coaches are all perfect people to turn to when looking for answers — as long as you never, ever, forget the most important piece of the parenting puzzle: you!
What is Parental Intuition?
It doesn’t matter if you gave birth, adopted or inherited your child; you, the parent, are the only one who has access to the unbreakable bond that carries information back and forth between parent and child. Parents are the key that unlocks what is going on with a child. Parents know what every little look or sound means. No one else can do that, no one. Trust that!
When unfamiliar terms and definitions for a child’s behavior (like Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder) make you feel overwhelmed or doubt what to do, believe in yourself and trust yourself as a parent.
Believing in you means letting go of lack of self worth and doubt. It means trusting that the unbreakable bond you have with your child has, and will always be, a source of information pointing you in the direction of what’s right for you, your child and for your family.
Also, it’s really okay not to make immediate decisions. Few things in life demand a decision right this minute! Let all the information you’ve been given, or found, digest for a while as you wait for your intuition to speak to you and let you know if it’s a perfect fit and what to do next.
Don’t negate the valuable things professionals have to say. Just make sure to balance their information with your own intuitive feelings. You always have the option to decide that what they say doesn’t ring true for you and you’d like to trust your guts and look elsewhere.
A New Way to Understand Your Child’s Behavior
Children want connection, no matter what’s going on with them. They may not seem like they want connection, but they do. They can feel your heart reaching out to them. They hear you and feel wonderful inside when they’re acknowledged or when you help them navigate the difficult things and the world around them.
Children don’t know how to ask for help or how to describe what they’re feeling, so they call attention to themselves in anyway they can. Under it all, whether it’s anger, a tantrum, defiant or oppositional behavior or a diagnosis of Autism, children are still vulnerable and tender. Speak to that tenderness as you deal with them or correct behavior so you can keep the “I’m not listening” barrier at bay.
Let your heart tell you what to do before you begin thinking about what you should do. Addressing anything with love establishes a connection you can rely on, no matter what comes next.
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and The Authentic Parent Series. Go to proactiveparenting.net to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.