How do you explain a disability to a child? How do you reassure them that they are the same as their peers? After all, as parents it’s important to us that Cameron values himself with a good self-image. This has not come easy as Cameron is growing and learning that having a shunt will forever be a normal part of his life. Cameron has always been able to participate in most activities, with the exception of rough contact sports, such as football and even basketball. When Cameron first asked me, “mommy why do I have to be different” I froze. I told him he wasn’t different, that we just have to be a little more careful than kids without a shunt. He then asked, “Why don’t I know anyone with a shunt?” As you can see, the questions for a mom only get harder.
Cameron was a strong little dude from the time he was in the NICU. In his baby, stages from 0-12 months we always noticed Cameron would get overly excited with sounds and baby talking to him. My “over-protection” insists would come to the conclusion of Autism or something far fetch to the extreme. Therefore, in time I would just learn to keep my mouth shut and go on about our days. Throughout his toddler years and into the age he is now (10) Cameron has carried an ongoing tic of flappy his hands and jumping as a way he release energy. Could this link to Autism? Yes. However, I have read that this is something children grow out of, as they get older.
Over the past year, we have taken Cameron to a child therapist. Cameron is just the opposite with behavioral problems, he is sweet, straight A’s, loves church, caring and an all-around great child. The only problem is Cameron is a WORRIER. He gets it honest. As in, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Cameron worries about everything, must in particularly with the time. Bedtime. What time we would get home. Etc.
I can remember walking into the living room and Cameron sitting on the couch with my cell phone, just watching and waiting for the clock to turn exactly 9:00pm. In that moment, I knew I needed to seek a professional.
With these challenges, I’m super proud of the person Cameron is becoming. In school, his friends are starting to notice his “tic” and when questioned about his “flapping” or “jumping”, he simply says, “That’s just what I do!” So to answer my question on, how do you explain a disability to a child? I believed he answered that for you!
- Never say “because something is wrong with you”
- Explain the human body and how things work
- Show them pictures of past charts, exams, xrays. This is something I wish I would have done way back when before blogging was “popular”. I wish I would have started a journey through Camerons doctor visits and hospital stays.
- Tell them their story
- Revisit or tour a hospital or keep in contact with the nurses and doctors that took care of you.
- Reassure them but be honest
- Explain side effects and alert them of signs to look for but don’t scare them.
- Let them know it’s ok to tell their friends
- BE PATIENT with them!
- Be aware of behavior problems (good/bad) and social interactions
Thanks for reading,