Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Power of Denial

I had a friend who also had a child with special needs. He has mental retardation and I also think autism, but that would be my interpretation. This friend did have her son evaluated by a neurological psychologist but she never shared the outcome.

Instead, she chose to “defend” her son by stating that the doctors were wrong and that there was nothing wrong with him; essentially, choosing the path of denial.

The problem was that she was wasting valuable time by not helping her son with therapies that could effectively work toward helping him actually overcome his disorder, or the mere presence of it.

I found this issue very hard to be her friend: She was always looking at my kids as if they were the ones with the problems and that her son was coming along (more than mine were, which was not true) and that her son would be fine. She would also be very hard on any friend that mentioned that something might be wrong with her son—which was evident; to the point that she would even end that friendship.

She was lying, denying, and putting her friendships at great risk. Her husband, on the other hand, was the levelheaded one and who not only believed that he and his wife needed to be proactive and help their son with necessary therapies and the like…but also wanted to be open with his friends about the truth--which is so important and a healthy thing to do. I felt sorry for him but at the same time I respected him for acknowledging his son’s issues and also wanting to help his wife deal with her suffering. Boy, did he have a full plate!

One of the saddest problems with her denying the truth about her son was that when we were all together, usually at her house, she would be very hard on her son—as if to say, you have to be more than you are…you’re not good enough; and all for appearances.

This is not putting your child’s best interest at work; it’s ruining his chances of a happier life, for him and for the entire family.

As a matter of fact, she was working against the one thing that she wanted most: a recovered child.

Can anyone relate to this common issue of denial, and want to share their thoughts?

More on Denial Here.


Dawn said...

Unfortunately I can relate. I've recently realized that when my son (who has learning disabilities)and I are around "normal" children, I too become very hard on him. I'm constantly correcting him and stopping him from acting and reacting how he normally would. Behaviors that I accept and understand when we're alone.

I know this is wrong and very confusing (not to mention unfair) to him. I know I do it because I feel bad that he isn't like other kids. I don't want the other kids to react the way I know they will...teasing him and excluding him. I also don't want to see the way their parents react...rolling their eyes and staring at him like he's from another planet.

Unlike your former friend, I'm doing everything I can to get my son the help he needs. He's in special education and receiving services to help him progress. I do discuss his situation with pretty much anyone who will listen, especially the parents who make all the faces.

But sometimes I find myself unable to resist the urge to try and make him "normal."

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Hi Dawn,

I completely understand how it is for our kids to be with other typical kids and feel as though they’re not fitting in, and it is hard to watch because we want them to do well in social settings and be liked. But I have also learned that kids are usually more accepting and receptive to our kids even though their parents may not be as gracious. I think some parents could learn a thing or two from their kids, actually.

I feel that all we can do is teach our kids what to do and help them with questions and answers, and be there for them. Someone once told me that we can’t isolate our kids but we can insulate them and give them support—-so true, and she has typical kids, too.

My son loves track and a friend of mine who also has a son with special needs loves band, and they participate in these activities with their typical peers and so far so good. So as long as they're happy—-and they’re doing what they love.

And I wouldn’t hesitate to tell the other moms how you feel!