There are many parenting struggles. But not many compare to communicating with your child, especially when they’re young. Their ability to convey what’s happening with them is in its infancy. And so are their socialization skills. If your child is living with a unique condition, like one under the neurodivergent umbrella, communicating with them may be even more challenging. However, it’s a challenge you can win with a bit of patience and intention.
Here’s some simple advice for connecting and communicating better with your child who is neurodivergent:
Understand What Neurodivergent Means
To approach neurodivergent communication appropriately, you must first understand what your child’s neurodivergent diagnosis is. Individuals who are neurodivergent have a range of neurological differences that fall under various diagnoses. These diagnoses include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Developmental Coordination Disorder
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
The neurological differences present in these and other conditions can impact how your child talks, sounds, thinks, and behaves. As a result, how you interact and communicate with them is influenced too. For example, certain children with autism don’t like to be touched. If your child with autism is this way, using physical touch and affection to connect is off the table. Instead, you must find other ways to connect, such as through speech.
There’s no one way for a brain to be. So, being neurodivergent is neither positive nor negative. It just means your child has neurological differences that must be understood to best communicate with and raise them.
Observe and Learn From Your Child
One of the best ways to fast-track better communication with your child who is neurodivergent is to observe and learn from them. The more you know about who they are, how they think, and how they make decisions, speak, and behave, the easier it’ll be to connect with them. Take some time each day to observe your child. Make notes about what they do and keep adding to them every observation session.
Bond Over Their Hobbies and Interests
Children who are neurodivergent have just as many hobbies and interests as children who are neurotypical. Find out which hobbies your child has and bond over them. Really take an interest in what they’re passionate about and help them continue to pursue it. Make sure you aren’t pushy with it. Instead, go with the flow. For example, if your child loves building blocks, you could buy them a new set that makes sense for their collection. Or, if your child likes to go on walks, make them a part of your daily routine. Also, see if you can start a shared hobby. Finding something you’re both interested in and growing that hobby together can bring you closer.
Keep Track of Communication and Connection Methods That Work
As you work with your child more often, you’ll find that specific communication methods work well. You’ll also find that you connect easier through particular activities. Be sure to write down the communication and connection methods that work. That way, you’ll have something to guide you and others in their efforts to communicate and connect with your child.
Be Patient and Compassionate
Supporting a child who is neurodivergent isn’t easy. But then again, supporting any child is challenging. Patience and compassion can make the journey easier for both you and your child. Commit to being patient and compassionate in every interaction and conversation with your child.
The following tips can help both become a habit:
- Actively listen
- Validate your child
- Take a moment before you respond
- Always show empathy for your child
- Allow space when things get frustrating
- Understand your triggers and don’t react negatively to them
- Read books about how to be more patient and compassionate with children who are neurodivergent
- Don’t scold your kids. Acknowledge how they feel in the moment and problem-solve together.
Patience and compassion can be especially powerful in bridging the communication gaps with
Understanding and relating to a child with neurodivergence may require more effort and intention. However, it’s worth it for the strong relationships you’ll develop with them. The tips above will get you started on a path to better communication.