How to Raise a Child with Different Neurological Wiring

Encouragement for parents of children who are differently wired, challenges and solutions.

An interview with Deborah Reber, author of Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World.

How is it difficult to raise a child with 'different wiring' such as ADHD, autism, sensory disorder, and learning disabilities?

The biggest challenge for parents raising differently wired children is that the journey is so unexpected. So many of the resources and options surrounding schooling, activities, and even parenting philosophies that most families tap into are not an option for us. In addition, there is also often stigma associated with neurological differences like ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, sensory integration disorder, and more which can add to the challenges.

The result is that many parents of children with special needs feel overwhelmed, isolated, and stuck.

How can parents of children who are differently wired change their outlook?

It’s important that parents work on seeing their child through a strengths-based lens rather than focus on their deficits or challenges. The key to doing this is letting go of our vision of what we thought our parenting journey would look like. We need to accept and embrace who our child inherently is.

Getting to a place of acceptance does not happen overnight. But when we commit to embracing our child’s uniqueness and becoming "fluent" in who they are, everything starts to shift in a powerful, positive way.

What can parents do to make this journey with their special needs child better and easier?

Community is critical. Connecting with other parents raising atypical or special needs kids is important in order to get out of isolation. We can recognize that as parents of special needs children, we are not alone in what we are experiencing.

Developing a robust self-care practice is also not an optional activity for parents of children who have differently neurological wiring — we have to take care of ourselves in order to show up as our best selves for our kids.

Lastly, trust that our 'differently wired'child is not broken and in need in fixing. Rather they are a unique human with incredible potential. Our job is to support our children in developing into the best version of themselves they can be.

What wisdom and encouragement do you have to offer parents of children who 'differently wired'?

This may sound cliché, but raising a differently wired child comes with incredible gifts. Our kids demand that we turn off the autopilot and get curious and engaged in who they are at every step along the way. As a result, we as parents open ourselves up to powerful personal growth. We also create the potential for deeper, more meaningful relationships with our children and our partners.

Deborah Reber is the author of the encouraging book for parents of children with neurological differences, Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World.