When your child is “different”

Posted: February 7, 2011

Parenting a normal child has not been easy but it somehow seems to be manageable but parenting a child who is different is a challenge. One would not know before hand whether a child is normal or differently able. When one does understand that his/her child is autistic or dyslexic or has an attention deficiency, they find it difficult to accept it as a medical condition. The first reaction is that since everyone else in the family was normal there was no reason why their child had to be different.

He/she is plain lazy they often say. He does not want to make an effort.

I know of a boy S who was not able to read or write since he was dyslexic. His mother who was working in a bank failed to identify the problem and sent him for tuitions saying that he would be forced to follow a routine if an outsider coached him. The tuition master was not a trained teacher but a retired bank employee who took up tuitions to keep himself engaged. Since the mother had asked him to be strict with the boy, he had no hesitation in hitting him hard or throwing bound books and note books on his face. It took them a while to understand the problem and they finally got special permission for him to be assessed on oral tests and to their surprise he showed a good understanding of the subjects including Science but he simply could not read or write.

For his 10th boards he got someone to write for him and he passed with a high second division. The boy is now married and runs a nursery for plants and is called by builders to beautify the apartment complexes built by them. He maintains the gardens of at least six schools in town and has 12 to 15 employees working for him. He has a sound knowledge of plants, their flowering and fruiting seasons and the quality/ intensity of light required for each plant in the nursery. I wouldn t know if he remembers the thrashings he received as a child or the humiliation he was subjected to. To me he comes across as a cheerful young man who knows his business. Yes, try getting a sapling from him for free and the businessman in him is on high alert!

Another boy K known to me is not dyslexic but is just not interested in regular studies. His dad is an administrative officer and would pluck out stars from the sky if he could to see his son do well in studies. The boy is everything that his father would not want him to be. He would like to learn to play the guitar or train in fusion music. He is generous hearted and thinks nothing of giving away costly branded sweatshirts and jackets to needy children saying that he has more shirts than he could ever wear and he simply could not see children of his age shivering in the cold. Both parents despair that their only child would never take up a career worth the name and may squander their hard earned money on worthless causes.

They simply do not know how to make him understand that his generosity may be misplaced and people may befriend him just to fleece him. Their anxiety is not misplaced considering the times we live in. What then is the solution? Suranga has written a beautiful post on how times have changed and it has set me thinking.  Affordability has increased and children get what they want. But is it making them laid back and easy going? Will it make them less appreciative of the facilities they get so easily? But then K s case confuses me. He is different to the normal upper class children who would not spare a thought or cast a second look at their needy counterparts. I for one feel that his parents should encourage him to be kind hearted but should also tell him that working on building a future for himself would help him to work on philanthropic causes in a better way and he could always take up fusion music as a hobby. Unfortunately, parents, in their anxiety, yell at him and he is unable to openly communicate with them. The distance between them keeps growing. I can only hope that with time a middle path may be found and all will end well as in the case of S.

I wonder what makes a child react the way K does. Does it have something to do with lack of communication? Or is it misplaced ambition on the part of parents? I think I am on the verge of learning a new lesson. The rich like the poor also face problems but they are worse off because they have an image to protect and cannot openly discuss the sore points in their lives.

The Hip Grandma lives in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur and despite all its

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Comments

4 Comments


  1. The challenge is that most parents do not know about the existence of such problems and simply think the child is “lazy” or “stupid”. Ideally, schools should also help parents in identifying the cause, but given the large size of classes and the poor quality of teachers these days, that is too much to expect. It is only a few lucky children whose problem gets identified at an early stage and appropriate help given. We still have a very long way to go in this area.

  2. ritika:Parents find it difficult to accept that their child is different and the problem starts right there. A child may like to play cricket or football and lag in academics. I agree that all those interested in sports cannot become Tendulkars but instead of finding a middle path parents would like to put a ban on all sporting activities and making him/her sit with books all day long. The child rebels and his class performance slips.

  3. Each Child is unique in their own way. Many are considered normal according to the standards set by society and few are not so normal.
    It can happen to any child and parents need to understand and accept it. Few may be good in some and few in other. Understanding your child and then helping him/her grow in their area of strength will be more beneficial rather forcing parents’ unfulfilled dreams on their child.

  4. Pingback: Careers in Special Needs Education - Fleximoms Talk Shop

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