As parents/teachers/therapists, we all know how to love children. We know children should be hugged, praised, and rewarded. We also know that discipline also shows them love as we are providing boundaries for our children. However, when you have a child who has APD (and I’ll go ahead and add ADD, ADHD, Sensory disorders, pretty much any kind of disorder) then you will have an adult who is bound to be frustrated with these children fairly easily. It takes patience on both parts in order for success to happen. Today, let’s look at how adults can best love the child.
- Praise the child. I get that some will read this and say “well, yeah, that’s common sense.” The truth of the matter, though, is if anyone is like me and is plain worn out some days, then you’re going to lose your patience. Your child already struggles to do so many things right and when it’s one of those days, I’m afraid we can add to their low self-esteem by continually reinforcing the fact that they can do nothing right. I never intend to crush my child’s spirit, but I know there are some days that I do and then I have to go back and ask for forgiveness. I read somewhere that the suicide rate is high when it comes to kids with APD. They already feel like they are failing so much of the time, so let’s not add to that feeling. Let’s graciously lift them up with our words instead of tearing down. Let’s remind them constantly of why we love them. When it’s one of those hard days, just stop and stare at that sweet little face and say “I love you because…”
- Adapt. Children with APD (Auditory Processing Disorder) need to have some things adapted. This alone can lead to frustration. In a classroom setting, children with APD tend to grow quite frustrated because it’s impossible for them to concentrate with all of the noise and distractions. At home, it’s hard for them to listen when there’s 5 other voices speaking all at once. In fact, he/she may not even register that you are speaking to them at all. When you’re in public, it’s likely they won’t have a clue you’ve been hollering their name for the past 2 minutes as you try to catch up to them on the sidewalk. Everyday life has to have adaptations. The child has to learn to adapt, but if you want your child to succeed, then you have to learn to adapt, as well. I would never say lower your expectations because I definitely have not lowered mine. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that with the right adaptations, my child will succeed at whatever it is God has called him to do. I know that because I’m partially deaf myself and am a music therapist. Adaptations aren’t saying “you’ll never accomplish this so let’s make it easier.” Adaptations are saying “I love you so much that I’m willing to come alongside of you and help you figure out the best way to get to your goal. I believe in you and support you.”
- Notes of encouragement. Remember back in the day when we actually picked up a pen and a card and wrote notes to people? Well this is a great time to practice that old skill set you’ve probably set aside. Children with APD struggle with oral language. They have a hard time understanding what you’ve said and they struggle with the tone of your voice. I think this is why the written language means so much more to kids with APD, provided they can read. My son will carry cards around and write cards for me constantly. He doesn’t have to guess at what someone is trying to say when it’s written down. He gets it. When I leave little notes on my son’s schoolwork or on his bed, his little face lights up. Not only does he like the surprise, but he doesn’t have to guess at what I’m telling him. This is why we’ve learned to write a lot of things down now.
These 3 simple, yet so incredibly important, things will make your child with APD or any other disorder feel like they are loved and valued for who they are. They get enough bullying and people thinking they are the “problem kids.” Let’s build these kids ups and come alongside them and say “I love you and I’m not leaving. You’re worth my time.”