Raising children with special needs is truly a calling that can change the way any run-of-the-mill parent views rearing kids. Our concerns and fears move quickly from Will they be picked last in gym class? to Will they make it through school? or Will anyone show up to their birthday party? or Will they end up another statistic like an addict or fall victim to suicide?
Every parent worries, but when you are raising what I call an ‘extreme child’, it can feel like walking on egg shells in your own home. Every emotion can be explosive and most are unpredictable. Feelings cause frustration and most extreme children struggle with articulation and expression. These difficulties can cause major riffs when children are young and trying to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of friendship.
Here are five reasons why extreme children sometimes walk the fine line between loner and lonely.
They Are Very Literal
When your child is on the Autism Spectrum, diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or a myriad of other diagnosis, they tend to live in a very black and white world. Their diagnosis do not affect their ability to see in color, but they do weigh heavily on their success in grasping basic social constructs such as sarcasm or joking.
You cannot ask my son, nor most who share his diagnosis why some commonly shared hysteria are funny or you might get a very serious response like my VA and friend received from her son who is on the spectrum, “Mom, I do not know why people keep telling Uranus jokes.”
This isn’t because he is too young to understand. In fact, many of our kiddos are academically advanced beyond their years. However, when their emotional age growth is stunted in some way, this can create a chasm where is comes to relating to others their age.
They Require A Sense of Fairness
Because of their very black and white world, our kiddos require a sense of fairness when playing games, playing dress up, or playing house. It doesn’t matter what the rules are or who made them, it is incredibly important that everyone follow the rules and that each player/participant are treated equally and fairly.
These students can be sent into complete meltdown mode if one person receives more of an advantage than another, if they do not feel they were treated fairly, or if they notice someone cheating. This causes other kids to respond with a sense of annoyance or frustration to our kids when they insist everything be equal or “fair”.
They Can Be Bossy/Controlling
Many of our kids enjoy being organized and having things together before starting to play a game or role play activity like playing cops and robbers or teacher. They want to know that their pretend desk is set up just right and all of the items on it are color-coded and in order. So, when another child comes in eager to play and messes something up, it can cause our little ones to turn into dominating CEOs of the playground.
No child looks for that in a friendship so our kids can sometimes be ostracized by the majority of the class.
They Have Trouble Problem Solving
Even though students and children with mental health concerns or behavioral diagnosis can many times be academically advanced, because of their struggles to socially relate to their peers, they generally falter when attempting to problem solve. They can sweep through advanced mathematics without hesitation but that is no match for building rapport with classmates and walking themselves through trouble on the playground.
Because our children struggle to identify emotions and articulate feelings of frustration, this can become a recipe for an explosion in times of trouble. Other kids have trouble understanding why ours may have ‘outbursts’ of anger instead of talking through things like they have been taught. This makes our kids have a tendency to be outcast or made fun of by what their classmates struggle to understand.
They Struggle Following Directions/Rules With Multiple Steps
Daydreaming, inattentiveness, or a tendency to lack impulse control can all have our children struggling to keep up. This leaves our children in a constant battle to maintain pace and it can make them feel like they are “less than”, “bad”, or “not enough”.
When you add to this their trouble with articulating feelings or identifying emotions, a close game on the playground could result in a meltdown or explosion of behavior for an extreme child. As parents, we cannot always protect our children from this, but we can help them to debrief the situation and focus on how they could respond more appropriately the next time once they’ve calmed down .
If you are raising or teaching an extreme child, check out our eCourse with six practical, easy to follow steps to structuring things in your home or classroom to set these kids up for success. Click HERE to download yours and get started now!