First, parents need to take care of themselves before they can take care of their children. Those with children who are non-neurotypical, sometimes feel disconnected, alienated, blamed, and shamed because of social stigma. Therefore, parenting needs to infuse lots of courage in children to make them feel emotionally safe. According to World Health Organization reports, “One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill health and disability, worldwide.”
Each child has a unique neurological development, which may be accelerated in some areas and delayed in others, causing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD.
Keeping this in mind, a forum, ‘Imagine,’ was hosted recently in the Capital by Children First and Teamwork Arts, aiming to bring together parents, teachers, psychologists, therapists and mental health experts, especially for parents, on the theme ‘Parenting With Courage’. “Parenting is not confined to our homes but with a ‘call to action’ for our society to see all children as needing our collective responsibility, especially children with special needs”, says Shelja Sen, co-founder of Children First.
A child with ADHD or ASD can be hyperactive and impulsive sometimes. But we need to create a positive atmosphere. Amit Sen, director and co-founder of Children First, India, also struggled with ADHD. He still frequently forgets about his meetings, appointments, misreads flight timings, and often loses his phone.
During childhood, he could not meet the expectations of his family and school; therefore, he became a quiet child and started stammering due to fear. He was good in all other activities – music, sports, food, travel and art – all except studies. Back in school, he was habitually unable to understand class work and complete it. “I suffered a lot emotionally as I was a young boy with a lot of self-doubt and guilt. There were few people who believed in me, like my father, friends and my wife Shelja. Their views were very non-judgemental with a broader perspective, which had a healing effect on me. If you know a child with ADHD, then you need to understand that beyond the shallow water, there is a lot of depth, adventure and possibilities”, he says.
Sometimes, the life of a child with ADHD can be frustrating, but you can help your child overcome daily challenges with a positive approach. Archana Nayar is a clinical nutritionist and founder director of ACE and the Special Child Trust. Her personal journey as a parent of an 18-year-old child with autism, initially started with the thought to improve her son’s life but then she realised that he is all right – that, in his case, there was no need to get better, he just needed to improve.
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