All in the family

Sometimes after a child gets a diagnosis (or diagnoses) the parents begin to realise many of the same issues from their own childhoods, and on through adulthood. In our family it took the opposite route. It took years to really see the aspie qualities of my kid, partly from unfamiliarity, and partly because in a geeky family like ours … most of those qualities are “normal”. Not until the teen years did the social issues, the APD issues, and ADHD-related educational issues really become unavoidable. The tics went away after several years, as happens sometimes. But I think there was less “denial” as there was unawareness and a sense of internal normalcy: “this is just the way we are”.

A very nice article by Benedict Carey illustrates this: Your Child’s Disorder May Be Yours, Too

Mr. Schwarz, a software developer in Framingham, Mass., found in his son’s diagnosis a new language to understand his own life. His sensitivities when growing up to loud noises and bright light, his own diffidence through school, his parents’ and grandparents’ special intellectual skills — all echoed through his and Jeremy’s behavior, like some ancient rhythm.

His son’s diagnosis, Mr. Schwarz said, “provided a frame in which a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated aspects of my own life growing up fit together for the first time.”

It can alter the present, too, if parent and child have enough common ground. Mr. Schwarz, the software developer in Framingham, said he became in some ways like a translator for his son, who’s now 16.

“I think there are a lot of parents of kids with these diagnoses who have at least a little bit of the traits their kids have,” Mr. Schwarz said. “But because of the stigma this society places on anything associated with disability, they’re inhibited from embracing that part of themselves and fully leveraging it to help their kids.”

Our understanding of diagnoses mean changes over time, and we leave or entirely skip that stage of grieving over not having a promised “normal” child, or possibly even viewing the issues as horrible things that must be cured at all costs. Instead, we find that our children are different rather than damaged, and that we ourselves are oft times different as well. We move from grief to acceptance, and realise that acceptance is not the same thing as resignation.

In fact, we do not have children with broken wings, but we are in many ways flocks of different kinds of birds, not unlike the diversity of finches that Darwin found in the Galápagos, all adapted for slightly different niches. After all, we don’t all need to be penguins attired in identical tuxedos.

5 Comments

  1. 12 December 2007 at 9:32

    Fabulous stuff :)

    It happened in my family – my father realised he was bipolar when he saw my weirder traits in himself. I also have to do it myself when family won’t – I’m looking for the family pieces in the ‘genetic disorder’ puzzle through talking to my mother, even though she’s keen on reassuring me that she’s “just fine”. It’s fun, and makes me realise how exciting diversity can be.

    Your family sounds really cool.

  2. qw88nb88 said,

    12 December 2007 at 5:24

    Thank you very much, folks!

  3. 11 December 2007 at 14:57

    A very well expressed post.

  4. shiva said,

    10 December 2007 at 15:41

    “In fact, we do not have children with broken wings, but we are in many ways flocks of different kinds of birds, not unlike the diversity of finches that Darwin found in the Galápagos, all adapted for slightly different niches. After all, we don’t all need to be penguins attired in identical tuxedos.”

    Truly awesome quote. Sometimes i come across little snippets of stuff written by other people that are just perfect summations of how i think, and make me grin massively despite all the other shit that i’m dealing with. This was one of them.

    :) :)

  5. Marla said,

    10 December 2007 at 13:59

    I really like your last paragraph here. Good post.


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