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Burn Your Parenting Books If You Parent Kids With Developmental Delays

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Have I gotten your attention? I don’t really mean burn them, but what I do mean is stop reading them and here’s why. Children with developmental disabilities like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not going to be successful using the same parenting strategies used on typically developing children. It will not work.

My youngest son was my fourth child. When his older siblings were growing up, I spent a ton of time educating myself on how to be an effective parent. I took parenting classes, read parenting books and my mailbox was stuffed with parenting magazines. For the most part, what I learned helped.

When the little guy came along, I started down the same path. For a while that worked. That is until we found out he had a trio of developmental disabilities: childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), ADHD and autism. I had no idea what to do in this new-to-me parenting role.

I remember this “aha moment” I had about a year ago. I was reading a parenting book. It was the chapter for his chronological age. I realized it was absolutely useless to me. Children with developmental disabilities are on average around 20-30 percent delayed behind their same age peers. But that doesn’t mean I can just expect out of my 3-year-old what would be normal for a typically developing 2-year-old. It’s not that simple.

Because of his multiple diagnoses he has a plethora of symptoms besides developmental delays. He has a severe communication disorder. He is impulsive. He is fearless to the point of it being a safety concern. He has sensory seeking and sensory avoiding issues, and that’s just a few of the daily struggles he faces.

That being said, when I decided to stop reading parenting books and started looking for resources that specifically fit what worked for my son, it was so liberating! It made our family so much happier!

ADHD/ASD parenting expert, Penny Williams calls this “throwing out the parenting rule book.” She says parents need to realize the traditional methods of parenting aren’t going to help their child be successful, but rather will set them up for failure and frustration.

For our family, this shift in viewpoint has been life changing.  We approach each issue with our son as, what does success look like for him in this situation, at this time, given these circumstances.

Are you currently following a “traditional” parenting approach in raising your child? Is it working? Is it time to burn your traditional parenting books and start fresh? If you do, I promise your home will be so much happier!

“Once you recognize and accept that your child doesn’t fit that ‘typical’ mold, you automatically look for what is specifically true for your child. You automatically start setting expectations based on that information, instead of the more traditional parenting ideas. Something beautiful happens when you set expectations for your child based on who they are and where they are today, in this moment: success, achievement, and happiness come flooding in.” — Penny Williams

Getty image by ognennaja

Originally published: June 5, 2019
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