As a mother, there is nothing more heartbreaking that realizing your child is different from the other children and then watching him get pushed aside because of his differences.
“If only people could see his heart” or “If they’d just listen to him or knew his struggle” are phrases that I have said to my husband in tears many times.
How I want people to value my child as much as I do. I want them to see that he struggles, but he also overcomes. I want them to value a friendship with him.
With that said, our family doesn’t hide things from our kids. If they ask us a question, they will get an age-appropriate answer. I began to notice that my son was becoming aware that he struggled with some things that his other friends didn’t. He would ask me why he was strange or he would witness people laughing at him (stay tuned to another post on that). I saw him slowly crawl into his shell. My sweet, loveable boy wasn’t himself anymore. At that time, I knew I had to step in. I couldn’t let him not love who he was created by God to be.
I remember taking him to our room (which is our special place for all conversations…more on that later, too) and asking him if he thought something was wrong with himself. He poured his heart out to me and I had tears on my face. I told him that part of the reason he struggled following directions or lying (you can see that post here) was because he had this thing called Auditory Processing Disorder. I have it, too, but never knew it growing up. I just thought everyone had to work super hard to pay attention and understand everything. It helped that I knew the struggle he was experiencing and the overwhelming desire to be good. I told him, though, it wasn’t something that would hinder him. He may have to work harder, but we’re going to be there behind him, cheering him on every step of the way.
Of course, we had lots more conversation. That particular conversation is forever etched into my memory. We’ve taught him how he can do his part, such as looking at coaches or sitting beside the teacher.
Sadly, not many people know about Auditory Processing Disorder. In our experience, too, not a lot of people are interested in learning what it is or how to help the child succeed with it. That has been frustrating as parents.
We didn’t want our son to feel any more “different” as a typical person does when they’re going through life.
We all have our quirks, our struggles, our fears, our differences. That’s what make us beautiful. It’s what makes us us. In order for my son to be able to move past the hurt and fear and to not be ashamed of who he as, we needed to talk about it.
We needed to address what was happening and why and he needed to know we were on his side. He needed to know he was worthy of friends and love and he needed to know he was valued and treasured by people.
He does have a few close friends, and I am so thankful for those friends who have learned how to help him be a better friend. They have listened, researched, and stood up for him when he has been picked on.
So if you’re wondering if you should talk to your child about APD, only you as a parent can decide that. I can speak from my experience, though. I’ll forever be grateful that we had that conversation and we are able to talk about anything and everything.