Will The World Ever Understand My Child’s Disorder?

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From frustrating IEP meetings, to disagreeable doctors, inappropriate church goers, and nosey neighbors. The world is full of people who think we're making our child's disorder up, or just misunderstand our reality altogether. The question is, will they ever understand?

This post was written by Mike, an adoptive dad who is familiar with the ins and outs of special needs parenting, to encourage caregivers to support our children well.

No. They won’t. Actually, let me change that…probably…most likely not. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, I know. It is good to begin with an attitude of hopefulness but at the end of the day, many people will not understand your child’s struggles. Disorders like FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) oppositional defiance disorder, attachment disorder, or separation anxieties (to name a few) are misunderstood, if not ignored completely.

And it leaves us parents….who are hands on ’round the clock…. at a loss. In our 17-year journey, we’ve been told by doctors there’s really nothing wrong, we’ve been glared at by school administrators when we try to secure accommodations, gossiped about by neighbors, or just simply dismissed altogether. It can leave us feeling hopeless.

So, what can caregivers do? Here are a few strategies we’ve learned over the years…

  1. Advocate. We know our children the best. Caregivers have to understand a child’s diagnosis as well as strategies to support them well.  We can take the knowledge we have gained and began to use it to support our children in IEP meetings, pediatrician appointments, and in our community.
  2. Educate. Education has two facets to it. First, there’s self-education. To the best of your ability you must become the expert on your child’s disorder. You need to be able to recognize every characteristic, trigger, symptom, and side-effect. Everything! The second part of education has to do with helping other’s understand. We just can’t throw our hands up and conclude that the world doesn’t get it and call it a day. Education and advocacy hold hands with one another. Show up to meetings with literature- blog posts, case studies, current research. You are the connector between your child and everyone your child works with. Do not assume that each person your child comes in contact with has the same education. Keep learning and keep passing on all that you learn.
  3. Equip. True, the whole world may not understand, but there are many people in your small private world who will try to understand. How are you equipping those people to succeed with your child?  Do they have the tools to better respond to your child’s meltdowns, symptoms, accommodations? A few months ago, my wife and our son walked into his school and helped equip his teacher and principal to help him succeed during the school day.
  4. Focus. You may not ever get everyone on the same page. In that case, focus on those who are trying, and support them as they support your child.

    Your responsibility as a parent comes before your obligation to help a misunderstanding world understand.

Dear parent, don’t lose hope. When one person in your child’s world understands, the result is gold. The circle widens and our child’s support system grows.

Have you felt the weight of a misunderstanding world? Share your story with us in the comment section below.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.