Required reading: Newsweek article on "quirky kids"

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

My son has been wearing a polo shirt to school this year (it's part of his uniform) and every morning he carefully buttons the VERY TOP button. When I gently suggest that he leave that last button open because that's how most people wear a polo shirt, he sighs and says, "Mom, I'm not MOST PEOPLE."

Oh. Right.

So you can see why I was so intrigued by Lorraine Ali's article, "You and Your Quirky Kid." Ali, who has quirky kid herself, looks at the rise in diagnosis for kids like my son, who just aren't really marching to the conventional drummer. Once upon a time, not so long ago (dare I say, when we were kids) children like Ali's and mine would have been different, but not necessarily diagnosable. Who doesn't remember that weird girl who loved spiders, or the boy who just could NOT sit still in class? Their odd behavior was probably attributed to bad parenting -- that hyper could would sit down if his mother would stop feeding him donuts for breakfast. And while I'm not a fan of blaming the parents (you never know what's going on in someone else's family, after all) maybe that was better than labeling the kid.

Ali's article is a welcome reminder that if anything has changed, it is not necessarily the neurological makeup of our children; instead, it may simply be that the culture of parenting has shifted dramatically. In a day when helicopter parents are calling their children's college professors and potential employers, it's not surprising that more parents are pursuing labels for what is most likely just normal behavior. Of course, there are kids who are genuinely different, and Ali asks what I think is the $64,000 question: "Can we make the world they're going to grow up in sufficiently kind and welcoming to them and their quirks, and can we provide them with the basic skills they need to navigate in that world?" I hope so, really I do. But we also have to distinguish the kids who really need help from the kids who are just a little different.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.