Discovering your child has a learning or attention issue can set off a wave of emotion. The same is true for family members when they find out. Read what happened when these parents shared the news.
“I knew my son would have support.”
When Jennifer F.’s 7-year-old son Aidan was diagnosed with dyslexia, the Pittsburgh mom faced a difficult moment telling her parents. Both are writers and avid readers, and she’d always supposed they’d want to share their passion with their grandson. But given all the hurdles he faced, Aidan might never develop a love of reading.
Jennifer worried that deep inside her parents would feel a sense of disappointment. Instead, they revealed some surprising news—her father also had dyslexia. That changed everything. “I knew my Aidan would have support and be just fine,” she says. He has a grandpa he can read with who truly understands his challenges.
“I wish my sister would learn more about ADHD.”
Dan and Susan G. of State College, Pennsylvania, knew their son Brent, now 10, had attention issues. He was overly active and had a hard time focusing in class. He often got in trouble and did poorly on tests. Susan could have used her sister’s support. But her sister was always critical.
Even when they told Susan’s sister that Brent had ADHD, her sister said she thought he was acting out for attention. Treatment and medications have helped Brent both in and out of school. But Susan’s sister said that medication sedated him, and that his behavior was just a phase.
The conflict has strained their relationship. “I wish my sister would learn more about ADHD,” says Susan. “But for now I need to focus on my son.”
“His patience is beautiful to watch.”
Sensory processing issues. Randy and Ronnie W. of Massapequa, New York actually felt relief when they found out there was a name for what was causing their 6-year-old daughter Sari to have extreme reactions to everyday things. Nevertheless, they hesitated to tell Randy’s brother.
Playdates between Sari and her cousins were always tricky. Sari preferred to play alone. She didn’t want to go to the playground or to loud, noisy places. Randy’s brother always wished she’d become more sociable like his daughters.
So Randy and Ronnie were surprised by how positive Randy’s brother’s response has been. He organizes playdates according to Sari’s comfort level so she’s never left out. And his daughters also have fun. “Randy’s brother has been amazing with Sari,” says Ronnie. “His patience and what he’s teaching his own kids about acceptance is beautiful to watch.”
“My mother wanted me to have an easier time as a single mom.”
Jane G. of Cleveland is a single mom. Her mother always worried about her ability to raise a child alone. So when Jane found out 10-year-old Marc had ADD and learning issues, she knew her mother would be concerned—about her. She was right.
When Jane broke the news, her mother started weeping. But then Jane joined a parent-child group for support. She got accommodations for Marc at school. And her mother realized the two of them would manage just fine.
Now, Jane’s mother is part of a program at her community center that tutors children with learning issues. “I understood that she wanted me to have an easier time as a single mom,” says Jane. “Thankfully she turned her fears into something positive.”
“I knew my brother would be my crutch.”
When Susan T. of Atlanta found out what she knew all along—that her son Miles, 11, had dyspraxia—she thought her family might be upset. She also knew they’d understand. Susan’s brother’s daughter has the disorder, along with other learning issues.
The family more than understood; they’ve been supportive from the start. Susan relies most on her brother for advice and a shoulder to lean on. Miles feels okay about his diagnosis because he looks up to his cousin. “I knew my brother would be my crutch and the family would be prepared. I feel lucky in that sense,” says Susan.
You can’t control how family members will respond when you share that your child has a learning or attention issue. But the more they understand, the more support they may be able to offer both you and your child.
Learn about some positive ways to discuss learning and attention issues with family. And go to Parents Like Me to connect with other parents who understand what you might be going through.