Does your child have a hidden disability?
Where a person does not look disabled, and outwardly appears to be perfectly okay
The birth of a baby is usually a time of celebration for all the family, and once a clean bill of health is given, the new parent can get on with the monumental and joyous task of bringing up their baby
But what if the time comes when the thought creeps in that there may be something which is not quite right with their child?
One mother told me that within days of her baby being born she sensed that there was something seriously wrong when her nursing infant did not search her face and try to make eye contact, as her other children had done.
Yet other parents have told me that they only became concerned about their child when there were behavioural signs they did not understand, or their child did not reach expected developmental milestones.
Mothers have told me of their unease when it seemed that they were the only ones to be concerned about a particular aspect of their children's development or behaviour. For the hard-to-pacify baby, or the very unruly toddler, the finger of blame often points towards the mother, and for inexperienced parents it is all too easy to fall into the into the trap of thinking that it is their fault that their baby won't settle, or their child will not sit still or concentrate.
One startling fact is that whereas everyone shows sympathy for a child who has an obvious physical disability, compassion does not always come top of the list when a child has an invisible disability, since a hidden disability is one where a person does not look disabled, and outwardly appears to be perfectly okay.
You may have found that ‘everyone' has become an expert on your child, and even perfect strangers will give ‘advice' with ‘be tougher' ‘be softer' or ‘you are an overanxious mother.' Thus adding to a parents burden by making them feel it must be their parenting which is in question, and something they are doing, or not doing, which is responsible for the signs which are causing concern.
So what are the most common ‘invisible' disabilities? Although the disorders themselves are not apparent, the symptoms which result from them are often highly visible, and because they are not always understood, they produce anxiety which gnaws away at a parent. So here is the list of the most common disorders, but keep in mind that each disability can range across a wide scale of intensity from mild to very severe and that to add to the confusion the symptoms of many of the disorders overlap with those of others
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Auditory Attention Problem
Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA)
Dyslexia (Specific Learning Difficulties)
SEN (Special Educational Needs) or LD (Learning Difficulties)
Depression, ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
All these names can be very confusing, - it is very important to keep in mind that all children are unique, and babies and young children develop at very different rates.
Remember, too, that children can change very dramatically during those early years. It is often more difficult to understand what is happening when a child shows only some of the signs in a mild form, and the question arises again and again: is this a disability or not, and does my child need help? But remember, the range of disabilities is wide, and even though your child may show some signs of difficulty and struggle in one or more areas, this may well not point to a full-blown disability.
The key to understanding is to know when to look for help. There is only one guideline: it is when a parent thinks it is necessary, and if at your first port of call you are told you are ‘making a fuss' or that ‘boys will be boys' don't take ‘NO' for an answer, and go on asking questions until you are satisfied.
You will find that if you have a child with special needs you are likely to have a fight on your hands to get the help and support you, and your child, need.
Good luck and try to find someone who can support you