When something is wrong with your child, your whole world can come to a screeching halt. Going through the assessment process is grueling for everyone in your family, especially the child in question. During this difficult time, it's important to keep yourself and your family together, so you can move forward to a diagnosis, whatever that may bring.
1. Gather Your Own Strength First
If your child needs behavioral-related testing, such as for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), you're probably exhausted. Beyond keeping up with the boundless and sometimes negative energy your child has, you're worried that something is wrong. Make sure you're eating and sleeping well, along with having the support you need from other adults in your life. Join a parent's group so you have people to relate to, complain to, and get helpful information from.
2. Work With A Child Counselor
Whatever is going on with your child, they're likely worried about it, too. Younger children, especially, who have active and vivid imaginations, may think there's something terribly wrong with them or that they're going to be separated from you for one reason or another. A counselor can put everything in perspective for you and your child in addition to helping redirect the negative energy and other consequential behavior.
If your child is a teenager and undergoing developmental, cognitive or other testing, they, too, need support and a clear understanding of the process they're going through. Counselors are knowledgeable about the different challenges faced by children and their families; no matter what the ultimate diagnosis, that professional guidance is invaluable.
3. Explain Things In Your Child's Own Terms
A younger child will need help understanding words like "Autism Spectrum" and "developmental delay," and they'll need to hear an explanation in words they can relate to rather than fear. Play up their strengths, too, so they have positive encouragement and increased self-esteem going into testing.
An adolescent may need help understanding that they're not alone in having any cognitive, developmental, or behavioral condition. Quote statistics, such as the number of people suffering from anxiety (estimated to be 6.8 million in the United States alone) or statistics relative to whatever your teen is experiencing. Tell them they're nowhere near alone with their affliction and that even people like Kanye West deal with mental health challenges. While a teenager wants to be unique and even rebellious on one hand, they want to relate and feel a belonging on the other.
4. Encourage Support For Your Child From The Whole Family
Both you and your child need unconditional love and support from the rest of the family, especially as you go through the testing and assessment process. It's nerve-racking for you and overwhelming for your child, so ask everyone in your immediate family to be kind, patient and understanding. Let no one tease or otherwise make fun of the child being assessed, as that can leave lasting damage, particularly during this sensitive evaluation process.
5. Continue With Counseling After Diagnosis
No matter what, continuing with counseling is essential to your child's functioning and the family's well-being. While it may look like kids have it made since they don't have to work a stressful job and deal with adult issues, growing up can be extremely hard and even more so for a child with any kind of behavioral, physical, or psychological impairment. A good counselor is like a best friend you can tell anything to, someone who understands and accepts you for who you are and one who helps you through what nobody else seems to even understand. For a child of any age having difficulty, counseling can mean the difference between succeeding in life or not.
Being a parent may be one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it's also the most rewarding and the most important. As you all go through the assessment process, focus on the positive, stay strong, and lean on the skill and talent of a child counselor to see you through. For more information, visit a website like http://livinghopeclinic.org.