How to Explain the Behavior of a Child with Autism / ADHD to Extended Family

Extended Family Understanding Autism / ADHD

Sometimes extended family can be unknowingly hurtful when they offer advice or criticism to you about your special needs child. Family misunderstanding of autism, ADHD and associated neuro-behavioral disorders can add unnecessary stress to life, and you may wish you could explain exactly why your child sometimes has meltdowns or is socially inept in certain circumstances.

Use Concrete Examples of Possible Behavior

A good way to introduce the subject is to give some concrete examples of behaviors that seem to cause controversy within your family. If your child won’t make eye contact or return verbal greetings or hugs, explain that it’s not because of shyness or rudeness, but because autism means that the brain is wired differently and the lack of responsiveness is an indication of this.

ADHD children or youngsters with other sensory processing disorders may find family get-togethers difficult to handle because they get overwhelmed by the noise and distractions. Tears or tantrums may be the result, but if you’ve told your family beforehand that this may happen, why it may occur, and that it’s not naughtiness, they’ll defuse the situation when it transpires. Give them some tips on how to handle the meltdown, and they’ll be your allies.

Educate Your Family

A common reaction of family when your child is diagnosed on the spectrum or with processing disorders is denial. Share your research to better educate your parents and loved ones about the issues at hand or provide them with a copy of Disconnected Kids so they can better understand that the problem is neurological not behavioral. They’re sure to have questions or comments, so it’s a good starting point for discussion about understanding autism and processing disorders.

Enlist Autism / ADHD Professionals

If your family doesn’t seem to believe you when you tell them your little one is autistic or ADHD, it may be time to bring in the professionals. Medical doctors, therapists and other experts are used to explaining the whys and wherefores of diagnoses to lay people, and are usually happy to meet with immediate and extended family to discuss about autism, ADHD and the like.

Talk to Your Parent Network

Find out from other parents of children with similar conditions how they told their families about their children. Someone who has gone through the same situation as you’re doing can often offer invaluable advice.

Take the time to explain to family about your child’s condition. If you do, you’ll likely end up with understanding allies rather than critical opponents. You’ll benefit and, most importantly, so will your child. Your family will be a supportive, accepting group of people, something your youngster needs in a world that seems to be always in opposition.

Free Developmental Assessment for Your Child

If your child is exhibiting signs of autism or ADHD and you have exhausted traditional treatments and therapies with little result, our free assessment can get you and your child headed in the right direction. Using your mobile phone, the assessment will help you determine the appropriate next steps in a care plan for your child. You’ll also receive proven exercises to help your child overcome developmental delays.

Free Assessment from Dr. Robert Melillo


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