Don’t Fear the Diagnosis

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Elizabeth Newcamp: Welcome to Mom and Dad are Fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, September 22nd. The Don’t Fear the Diagnosis Edition. I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. I write the homeschool and family travel blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to three little Henry who’s ten, Oliver who’s eight, and Teddy who’s five. We live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jamilah Lemieux: I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer, contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding Parenting column, and mom to Naima, who is nine. And we live in Los Angeles, California.

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KC Davis: And I am KC Davis, author of How to Keep House While Drowning. I run the Tik-tok Channel Domestic Blisters, and I have two little kiddos, two and four. And I’m in Houston, Texas.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Casey, we are so excited to have you on the show. A few weeks ago, I recommended your book and like instantly Jamilah and our other co-hosts were like, We have to get her on the show. So it is always so nice when this works and we get to visit with you.

KC Davis: Yes, I’m happy to be here.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Well, today on the show, we have a question from a letter writer who thinks her three year old niece may be neurodivergent and wants to inform the parents to make sure her niece is properly supported. We’ll discuss if there’s an appropriate way to check in with her brother and sister in law. Then on Slate. Plus, inspired by a prompt on the Slate parenting Facebook group, we’ll be chatting about our favorite ways to promote agency and autonomy in our children. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll hear if you have Slate Plus.

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KC Davis: My who I don’t know what it’s going to be. What it’s going to be is going to be something I want to do. And then we do just like 100% engagement, no phones, no nothing for that activity. And then once I get bored of that, I should be like, what’s the next card? So I let her pick like four cards.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Not only do you get a bonus segment from us every week, but you get to listen ad free when you have Slate Plus. And it’s not just us, you get to listen to all of Slate’s content ad free and you won’t hit a paywall on our site. This show wouldn’t be possible without Slate Plus memberships. Please consider joining if you can. You can sign up by going to Slate.com slash mom and dad. Plus again that Slate.com slash mom and dad plus.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: Okay. We’re going to catch up on our week in parenting, but not before a quick break. See you back here in a second. All right. We’re back. Casey, would you like to go first telling us about either a triumph or fail of your week?

KC Davis: I would. Okay. So, I mean, I feel like every week I both triumph and fail. But I had a cool experience with my daughter at the doctor’s office, was with my four year old and she was playing with my purse and she pulled my pepper spray out of my purse.

Jamilah Lemieux: I don’t know.

KC Davis: Which it was. I get it right. Like it was bright pink. It was one of those, like, self-defense, but for the ladies. And so they made it unnecessary. But it was. But so to her, it looked like a toy. And of course, like as soon as she pulled it out of the purse, I took it from her. I said, oh, gosh, that’s actually not a toy by the doctor that we were with. Who I actually really, really like, laughed. And I mean, like a big laugh, like, oh, that’s so funny. Oh, my God, that’s not a toilet. And my daughter, I could tell she immediately got really embarrassed that, like, she experienced that moment as like, they’re laughing at me.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah.

KC Davis: And I was, like, rocketed back to my childhood, first of all, because I remember adults laughing at me. And it was such a weird experience because, like, you’re not laughing with me. You’re like, you’re laughing at me. Like something about me not knowing what you know is, like, funny to you. And I can see her little eyes go downcast, and I checked in with her, and I was like, Hey, you look sad. What’s wrong? And she didn’t really want to say anything. And I put it up on my lap. And because I know her, I said, you know, Are you feeling embarrassed? And she’s just kind of like barely nodded with her little tears in her eyes. And I said. It’s because we laughed at you, isn’t it? And she said, Yeah. And I said, I’m so sorry. We shouldn’t have laughed at you. That wasn’t nice. And.

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KC Davis: One of the hardest things in parenting for me is, is my commitment. And I’m not always perfect at it, but I don’t ever want to. I never want to put the comfort of an adult above like the dignity, autonomy and respect of my child. And it’s hard because, like, it makes people uncomfortable for you to, like, say, out loud in front of your child, like, oh, yeah, no, that person shouldn’t have done that. Like, I’ve had a couple of instances with that where like someone’s trying to hug my child and she’s saying no, and they do it anyways. And she’s like, What just happened? And I will say in front of them like, Oh yeah, he should not have done that. That was not appropriate.

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KC Davis: And then of course, like the adults are embarrassed and it’s hard in those moments to like choose your child over an adult’s comfort. But I really want her to have that skill so that she doesn’t grow up to be an adult that feels like, you know, she has to manage the embarrassment of other people over like her own dignity and autonomy. So but I just felt really good about it. And of course, like, you know, the doctor was immediately apologized and said, I’m sorry, I totally wouldn’t like that either. And everything was fine. But it still took a bit of bravery to do. And I’m really proud of myself about it.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: No, that’s all that is so awesome. I with the laughing, I’ve noticed that too. Like I homeschooled this other family and so there’s a lot of things that happen and the other mom and I try to check in with each other. And, and one of the things we’ve noticed a lot is that we’re saying like, Oh, we’re not laughing at you, or this is why it struck us as funny. And we were sort of having this discussion about exactly that, like, how do we convey that? Sometimes things tickle us, but it is not. We don’t want it to be at your expense and we want to make sure that we let you know that and that if you don’t think it’s funny, it’s really not appropriate for us, you know, to be laughing. Um, but I also find in some of those situations, like, I also want to boost the, the kid though to understand that like sometimes we do things and they are embarrassing, but if we can see kind of the funniness in it, that that is a way for us to recover.

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Jamilah Lemieux: To me, too, and I’ve had to explain it to Naima. You know, she’s very sensitive, you know, just in general. And at times, you know, she has experienced I express very clearly her discomfort of being laughed at, you know. And I just remember the first time I tried to say, Well, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing with you. And she says, But I’m not laughing, you know, and I realize like, yeah, I guess without context, this is not funny at all to you, you know, like, why would this be funny to you? But I have let her know that, like, I laugh constantly, you know, I laugh when I’m surprised, right? Which is.

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Jamilah Lemieux: Yeah. And so I, you know, like, I laugh if something bad happens or, you know, like, just I laugh when I’m uncomfortable. And, you know, oftentimes the things that you say may be surprising, you know? And so it’s not, you know, something that was intended to be hurtful, but it’s understanding that it is hurtful. And so I have to be sensitive to that. But also like it is challenging.

Jamilah Lemieux: But I found like overwhelmingly with few exceptions, like when I do say like I’m going to prioritize my child over this adult’s comfort and like the kind of maturity of adulthood, like, oh, we are laughing at this together. That is what adults do. Sorry, child. You know, like since say, like, hey, I’m centering your feelings here and I’m sorry, you know, like, which means I’m condemning what this other adult has done to by, like, taking responsibility for my own actions. And that can be uncomfortable that generally people get with it. And every once in a while someone is kind of like, Oh, what? You know? But I think people tend to be more just deferential to how you want to engage your own child. You know? And I found for my friends who don’t have children in particular, they seem to really, like get it and kind of take it as like a cue, like, okay, like we’re going to talk to children differently in this generation of parents than previous generations have spoken to their children. There’s a lot of apologizing and millennial parenting, a lot of apologizing.

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KC Davis: And I try to just ask myself, like, where am I? Where am I like doing something with my daughter that, like, I would never do to my spouse or my friend? And I don’t mean in every instance, like, obviously it’s different. But like if my if my husband didn’t know how to put a new shirt on and he came out with it backwards, like I might laugh at that. Right. And that’s okay. But like, if my husband just, like, made a mistake, right? Or, like, didn’t know something and there was nothing really, like, humorous about the actual result. And I just started laughing at him because he didn’t know it. Like, I would never do that to him. Yeah. And that’s the part of sort of like the humanity with my kid where it’s like, yeah, I mean, there’s lots of laughter and sometimes she makes a mistake and like, the mistake is genuinely funny, but she tends to like, understand the difference between like, Oh, I did something that was funny versus like, no, like the butt of the joke is that I didn’t know what this thing was. Right, right.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Well, that was lovely. Okay. Jamilah triumph for fail.

Jamilah Lemieux: I have a fail. So, you know, sometimes, like, you pick your kids up after school and, like, you know, you had a long day of being, like. Alone. So you haven’t had a ton of human interaction. So it’s not like I’ve got like stories on stories of things that have happened to me during my day that I can, like, recount. You know, and so we’re in the car, got, you know, about a 30 minute drive home. I trying to make conversation. And so, you know, I missed this person and I haven’t seen her all day. She’s been in school. She’s been in after school. You know, of course, she has no anecdotes, no notes, nothing to tell me. Nothing happened, learned nothing. No one said anything. You know, like of course, no, nothing to share. And so I didn’t have a ton to share either.

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Jamilah Lemieux: And so I decided to tell her about the other night that I’d had dinner at Del Taco, and I was just telling her about my meal and I was like, you know, it’s not great. A taco truck would be better. Like, but if you’re hungry and you know, you’re in the mood for a taco and you can’t get to something authentic, you know, it’s late, it’ll do. And she says, So what exactly am I supposed to do with this information? I knew. I knew she was not going to be thrilled.

KC Davis: By your del taco sale is.

Jamilah Lemieux: Like, I’m nine years old. I can’t drive. I’m not going to be craving Mexican and can’t get that. What do you what do these words even mean? Like she went in on me so bad, like, for, like, 2 minutes. I’m just like, what am I? Why?

KC Davis: Please tell me. You were like, just tuck it away for later. You’re going to need that right now.

Jamilah Lemieux: You know about it? I was just letting you know about Delta. Gosh, I want to do I didn’t know I was going to get berated, like, sorry, you’re right. You can’t. Right.

Elizabeth Newcamp: For not offering a better, better conversation.

Jamilah Lemieux: I mean, if she had told me anything that happened during the day, anything at all, that would have probably started us to talking. And I wouldn’t have had to reach into my bag and pull out the Del Taco reviews.

Jamilah Lemieux: What about you, Elizabeth? Have you triumphed or failed? Okay.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I am claiming a triumph. So as long time listeners know, blood draws here with Henry, who has pandas are a nightmare. I think I’ve told stories about him hiding under chairs and screaming and more tears than I should shed at a blood draw. That is not for me being sad. We have a very good friend here who is also Neurodivergent. His mom happened to mention to me, Hey, we need to get a blood draw. We don’t get them very often. We both go get them at children’s like we always get them done at Children’s. They’re amazing here, she says. Is there any chance that you guys have a blood draw coming out? Because maybe we could go together? And I was like, okay, this could either be the best decision we ever made or the worst decision, because now we’re going to have like two kids losing their ever loving minds.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: So I kind of pitched it to Henry. He was like, I would love to go like, This is a great idea. We get there, we pull our car next to their car. This other little boy is like, will not get out of the car. And I don’t know what flipped in Henry’s mind, but all of a sudden he is this incredibly empathetic child. He walks up to the other car. Hey, buddy, I know. I feel this way, too. Can we just walk to the elevator? If we can just make it to the elevator? Sometimes going in the door is the worst part. It took a little bit more as Mama to go inside and get the man gets into the door. Hey, we just have to get in the elevator. I’ll let you push the button. All of these things that I have been telling him are now coming out of his mouth. He we get up to the floor.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Normally, the big fight for him now is putting the bracelet on. There’s something about putting this medical bracelet on that makes it like this is happening. And he will still, like, cry, scream, whatever. Once the bracelet is on and we go back, he now has been sitting in just getting it done, puts the bracelet on, tells his friend, like, oh, they can put it on your ankle or your mom can hold it like just, just offering all these suggestions. Childrens Hospital Amazing. And was like, do we want to put the boys in the same room, you know? And his friend is like, Yeah, Henry goes first, gets his blood drawn.

Elizabeth Newcamp: There was a moment right after that where I thought, Well, this is going to go south because now his friend needs to get his blood drawn. And it’s sort of like now the attention needs to come off of Henry being this really good example and to our other friend. And I looked at him and I said, You did such a great job. You were such a good example. We really need to focus on our friend. And I was worried because sometimes that kind of prompting triggers that like, well, now I’m in trouble. And he was just like, thanks for the reminder. And from that moment on was like, How can I help? He asked the family life specialist, like, Can I hold his hand? Can I give him this? Can I do this? What would be helpful?

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Elizabeth Newcamp: We got through the other blood draw, and then while there’s some, like, paperwork to be done, Henry says, I really like to just leave the room right now. Do you want to leave the room with me and go get our go get our juice? Because there’s, like, a little place where you go get the juice. Took the other kid juice. Met me by the elevator. Just all these things. And I just thought, we’re going to be okay. Like, sometimes I have these moments where I just think they’re like, tears of, we’re going to get through this. And all of these things that I do are going into his head now, are able to come out of his mouth and he’s able to be a good person.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Listen, we got into the car and we had used every ounce of good energy. The minute we got into the car, he was mad about goodness knows what his seatbelt or which seat was in or whatever. And he screamed at me, but I just thought, that’s okay. Like this is an expected response. He had all of this built up that normally comes out in a hospital. And instead of that, we were able to do it here in the car. That’s like a huge step. So I just I always want to share these to say, like, if you are going through this, it is it. It sucks. And it is so hard. But to really grasp on to these these moments.

Jamilah Lemieux: That is so awesome. Go, Henry Ford.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Slow and steady.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Well, on that happy note, we are going to take another quick break and we will see you back here for our listener question. All right, let’s dive into our listener question. It’s being read, as always, by the amazing Sasha Leonhard.

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Speaker 4: Dear mom and dad, I’d like your opinion on if I should raise the possibility of a child being neurodivergent with their parents. My brother has a very smart, sweet three year old who I don’t see often in person, but we face time frequently. I just saw them for the first time in 18 months, and the child clearly displays a number of common spectrum disorder signs, including gross motor skill deficiencies, communication quirks, sleep troubles and behavioral challenges. I’ve noticed these things in the past, but they stood out much more on this visit. I’m not sure if my brother and sister in law don’t notice these signs since they are with their child every day and aren’t aware that they could indicate ASD or there is some level of denial. Is there a kind of way to raise the question that these signs may all be linked to an ASD diagnosis? I assume this will be picked up on by a teacher when she enters school, but that’s years away and I’d hate her to miss out early on.

Speaker 4: Interventions that could help now. To complicate matters, my own child is around the same age and I don’t want this to come off as a comparison or criticism of their child or their parenting. Is this something that can be raised with family, or am I best to keep quiet and just leave them to figure it out? Thanks.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Casey, as our guest, will you will you take a first crack at the question?

KC Davis: I would love to do so. But in this position twice actually of talking to or pointing out to a parent and one one time I did it in a way that was probably not the best. And the other time I think it went well. So I will say, you know, I’ll just share my experience with it, which is going to be a little different because I actually have an autistic kid. And so what I am sharing with someone that’s kind of my fallback is like talking about my own kid.

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KC Davis: And here’s what I’ve been learning about her and here are the things that we saw. So I at one time was at one of my kids extracurricular activities, and my older daughter was doing that and she was making a new friend. And from the moment I walked in, like, I clocked this girl, like, I don’t know, I think just the journey with my own daughter. Like, I have this, like, weird radar now. It to me was very obvious. And I had my child was newly diagnosed and I actually happened to be sitting next to the dad. And I really wanted to I was like really craving to connect with another parent that had an autistic kid. And but I remember thinking like, how do you bring that up? But at no point did I think that I was incorrect. And at no point did it occur to me that this was not obvious to her parents.

KC Davis: We had been kind of talking small talk and I said to him, Hey, this might sound like an odd question, but is is by any chance, is your daughter on the spectrum? And to my horror, he looked at me and went. Not that I know of. And I said, Oh, I’m so sorry. I the reason I asked is because one of my daughters is on the spectrum and they seem to have some similar characteristics. Then he kind of like said an interesting sort of like, no, we’re, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re trying to figure some things out. My husband wanted to kill me when I told him that story. He was like, You don’t just say that to people. I was like, Yeah, maybe not.

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KC Davis: But the second experience that I had with this was actually with a friend, and I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years. And I was I met up with her and her child was there. And it happened again where I was like, Oh, I see it. And what I typically lead with is just my own kid. You know, how things turn out good. And and my daughter got a diagnosis. And it was interesting because I thought I knew what autism looked like. And it turns out I really didn’t. Like all of those kind of stereotypical things that you see. Like, they really don’t have to have any of those things for that, you know, neurodivergent to be present. And so sharing about my daughter and then she actually was able to connect the dots and go, gosh, you know, my, my son does that. And I’ve kind of wondered, there’s some so obviously this person can’t lead with their own kid.

KC Davis: However, the aspect of that that I think is transferable is that if you start really with anything like this, starting from this place of, hey, I’ve been learning about X. And I just wanted to share with you some things that I was learning. Because the more I learned about it, the more I was sort of reminded of, you know, Jesus name. That is probably the way that I would go about it with a family member. And I would point to something specific. You know, I would have and I you know, I’ve been on TikTok so much lately, and I somehow ended up on the side of TikTok where they’re talking about autism and things like that. Or I happened upon across this podcast. I would sort of point to some place organic in my life where I had learned that information and then bring it up in that way.

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KC Davis: As to whether or not you should do that, maybe people will disagree with me, but I think yes, I think yes, 100% of the time, because you might think, oh, I’ll just wait til she gets into school and the teachers will notice it. And I’m here to tell you, I know so many adults that were diagnosed late in life because it wasn’t seen early. And so I think my own experience has me on the side of like feelings be damned. Like someone’s got to advocate for this kid and obviously you don’t want to do it in a way that shuts people down and turns people off.

KC Davis: But the other aspect of that that I think is important is that there are parents out there that will feel as though what you’re saying, is there something wrong with your kid? Like like this person mentioned. And so I think being prepared for that feeling and being very delicate there, but also like making that a part of the conversation. Why would you say that and say like, listen, it’s I’ve also been learning that it’s just it’s a normal part of humanity that some people are sort of they divert from what is typical.

KC Davis: And you’d be surprised like I’ve been and I would maybe even before he talks, find some adult autistic people so that he can talk about. It’s interesting, right? Because I, I only had this one picture of autism, but I’ve been listening to so-and-so and, you know, she, like, lives this wonderful life. And so, I don’t know. That’s kind of my initial impression on it. I’m curious what you all think.

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Jamilah Lemieux: I’m inclined, of course, to defer to your experiences. And, you know, I largely agree with what you had to say in terms of, you know, the urgency of approaching this as opposed to just hoping that later in life, someone else, you know, maybe better qualified, quote unquote, will point it out to them.

Jamilah Lemieux: I think it’s worth acknowledging where you insert this conversation like, why are you equipped to identify these things? I’d be curious to know. You know, I was wondering if you were an educator or if you’ve known other children that are on the spectrum, but kind of like you as an observer are clear on what you’re saying, because what reason? And I think they’re going to want to hear that. And I think being prepared for them to be offended is important.

Jamilah Lemieux: You know, and it’s unfortunate because that’s not the right answer, you know what I mean? Like, there’s nothing to be offended by, but. Because there is a lot of stigma and just a lot of ignorance about what autism is and looks like and what it means for the life of someone who has it or is on the spectrum that they may be somewhat has since received. But you have to say, I think your approach just has to be just as careful as possible. Right, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s great advice to be prepared for it to go horribly wrong and be okay with that before you start. Yeah. I also agree, though, that you have to say something, because for me, if I did not have particularly other mothers around me kind of saying, I do not think it is your parenting, I think something else is going on with your child. I am not sure that I would have looked further for an answer for Henry when I encounter this in Casey.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: I’m like you in that I have been through so much to get the diagnosis and then I have my middle child is ADHD and has this graph. So I am in O.T., I am in all of these places with all these doctors, with all these specialists that when I see things, it is like, Oh gosh, that for me was this. This is beyond. And when I say, you know, normal behavior, what I’m saying is like something that would be fixed without some kind of other intervention, because knowing what is going on, knowing that your child is neurodivergent gives you this opportunity to see them in a totally different light.

Elizabeth Newcamp: And for me eliminated this thing that was between Henry and I, that I have a child that doesn’t want to behave or doesn’t want to listen to me and shifted that to, oh, my gosh, this child is in crisis and and he’s in crisis because we are trying to provide these boundaries that do not work for him. And he needs different kinds of boundaries and different kinds of support. And once we put that in place, we get to see him in in this way where he has himself. And so I think if you are coming from that place and both of you gave this advice basically from this honest place of I want to help you, help your child, not I think something is wrong with your kid and everyone who approached me.

Elizabeth Newcamp: It was from this thing of, I hear you saying that you’re frustrated with how X is going. And I think the solution to that may be talking to a doctor, getting an evaluation, getting a starting to just open these doors and see, hey, is there something is there something sensory going on here? Is there something with the way they’re processing the learning? You know, you can’t teach your dis graphic and dyslexic child to read the way you taught your other two to read because it’s just not going to work. It doesn’t matter. And it is not that they are not sitting down and doing it with them. Their brain doesn’t work like that.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: That kind of information I have suggested to people sort of like, Hey, have you I hear that you’re frustrated with this. Like you’re telling me this behavior is really frustrating and it seems to be going on and it seems like you’re doing all the right things. Have you considered an O.T. eval or talking to your pediatrician and them echoing back basically like, well, that’s not like so defensive. And I think that if that is the approach, it is kind of not your job to go any further, that it is sort of like I have placed the thought and it is, it is I can’t do anything that is not going to cause more damage. So just to say, okay, I just wanted to mention it and we’re good, you know.

KC Davis: I also think that if like this person obviously knows enough about autism, that they’re recognizing some signs and so they learn that from somewhere. And and to me, when you approach it from let me talk about these traits in comparison to a typical child that seems to make the conversation more about how your kid is wrong or different.

Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s such.

KC Davis: Whereas if you instead so instead of Hey, I noticed that like when your child gets excited, like, you know, most children that age can like sit down and your child like really can’t start moving until right like comparison to which they’re worried about. I’m not trying to compare to my kid. Instead, compare that to someone that, you know that is autistic. You know, I just I have this friend and her daughter is on the spectrum. And I just I notice the way that, you know, she does that little hand flap when she gets really excited. And it just really reminds me of the way that when my friend’s daughter gets excited, she does this thing called stimming. And so comparing, like, to, like instead of like to I’m like I think can go a long way and not coming across like you’re saying something is wrong.

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KC Davis: The biggest sort of pushback that I get from parents when they don’t want to pursue a diagnosis is number one, they don’t want their kid to be treated differently. Right. And so this happens a lot for kids whose particular spot on the spectrum is they’re thinking, okay, I see that some things might be. But I’m holding out hope that they can pass if they can pass as neurotypical. Maybe we should just let them continue on. You know, we don’t want to slap that diagnosis, and then they have a stigma and the people treat them differently. That’s really common as a fear. And so if they are opening up and talking about that type of the conversation, I think it’s helpful to remember two things about that idea.

KC Davis: Number one, when kids are really little, there’s this really prime developmental time where interventions make a much bigger impact. Right. There’s a little developmental window. And so even if there’s not really big behavior problems or difficulties right now, we could be building in some skills at this like tender, spongy age that will prevent difficulties later. And and so that’s a helpful way of talking about, well, why would I get intervention if nothing’s really wrong?

KC Davis: And then the second part is, you know, there’s this fear of what if my kid gets treated differently? But my fear was always, I don’t want my kid to have a difference. And in the absence of a diagnosis, that difference will immediately be put in the bucket of a behavioral problem. And the teachers and the coaches and the authority members in their life will try to address it as if it is a behavior problem and a character problem, and that they just need more discipline and they are going to try and act neurotypical discipline on to a neurodivergent trait and that is going to cause trauma for that child. That’s right. That we’ve seen that over and over and over.

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KC Davis: And so, number one, it’s good to know that you are not obligated to disclose your child’s diagnosis to anyone that school included. Yeah, right. That’s on your own time and your child’s time. If they want to disclose that diagnosis, you wait until they do maybe need accommodations. Then you can just like this is not something you have to start handing out cards to everyone. So that sometimes alleviates that fear.

KC Davis: But also I think pointing out that if the difficulties are there or if they ever arise, the world should not be this way. But it is. People sometimes have to be told a diagnosis in order to feel as though this is an issue that deserves compassion and accommodation rather than just drop the hammer harder. This kid needs to learn some lessons and that’s screwed up. I mean, every child, even with behavior problems, should be getting compassion and accommodation because there are no bad kids. But, you know, in the system that we have, it’s actually more to their benefit to have a diagnosis.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I think that’s such a good point. I know I heard a lot about getting Henry’s 504 when we entered public school last year on here, and that was such a huge fight that turned out with such great returns for us eventually to just have everything in place for those moments when we needed it. And Casey, I don’t know about you, but I tend to now, having gone through this, be like an overshare, like I am less worry.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I encourage Henry to tell his friends about his diagnosis. I encourage him to share what he’s comfortable sharing it. And in fact, he just shared with his little homeschool group about it for that exact reason, because when he does have his brain swelling, which causes him all kinds of difficulty processing things and leading to this fight or flight response, I want them to know that it is not a behavior show issue and this is not gosh, that kid is weird or mean, right? That this is this is how he was built and just how he is. And and those are things that he takes steps for, but also instilling that compassion.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: And you’re right, it would be nice if everyone could just be compassionate, but for us, it has become such a freeing thing to be able to tell tell people this and you will need that. I mean, you’re absolutely right that fundamentally you need the paperwork to start getting the five offers. The IEP is the like they need to see documentation and that can be as broad or as specific as you and your doctor want it to be. But you still have to have the diagnosis to go there. And it is so much easier to get that when they are younger then as they get older.

KC Davis: I have now made friends, adult friends that are autistic and when they talk about getting their diagnosis late in life, they talk about this experience of grief that they spent so many years thinking that they were just broken. Even when there weren’t these external difficulties, even when there weren’t, you know, behavior issues or or any of that, they just always they could tell they were different. They felt that they weren’t connecting in the same ways other people were connecting. And in the absence of any other information, they all just concluded that maybe they were just weird and broken.

KC Davis: And I want my daughter. To have access to information about her identity. And I think nowadays, especially in growing the autistic community is becoming a lot more like the deaf community in that it is an identity and there is a community out there. And I if and when my daughter ever does, you know, say something is amiss, I want her to have the information about what that is, what she is experiencing, that it’s not because she’s weird.

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KC Davis: It’s not because she’s broken. It’s because her brain is different than some of her friends. And in some very cool ways, in some ways that are amazing. But I don’t ever want her. Cut off from any information about who she is. And and the community that is available to her.

Elizabeth Newcamp: So I’m going to pull myself together.

KC Davis: Yeah, let me know.

Elizabeth Newcamp: It’s the same reason why people don’t want to take the advice. Yeah. Is the same reason why I think you should. Why you have to say something and the path is is full of lots of tears and lots of, you know. But I as a result of the pandas and where Henry has his the brain swelling happens with this fight or flight he has it is almost like I joke that it’s sort of a superpower because he has some things that he noticed. He can notice so much faster than us because his brain is always on alert for kind of the dangers he has these kind of superpowers for for knowing when things are going wrong or seeing things. And granted, some of our coaching is is bringing that down. You know, like not everything is a three alarm fire, but it is also great that he he sees things moving like his all those senses move faster for him. And so he can see animals really quickly. When we’re spotting things, he notices little bugs, little things moving. That’s like an amazing skill that he can put to use for things that he loves.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Right. But it comes with these these other things just like all of our stuff does. And I think trying to find that for each child is so important. But letter writer, we really, really hope that this helped. If you’re willing to share with us your next step, we would love to hear it. We love to have updates. Everyone else. If you have some advice to offer, you can send us a voicemail or email us at Mom and Dad at Slate.com. That’s also, of course, where you can send us any questions of your own. That’s it for our show will be back in your feeds bright and early on Monday. So be sure to tune in. And while you’re at it, please subscribe to the show and give us a rating or review on Apple or Spotify. This episode of Mother and Daughter Fighting is produced by Kristie, Taiwo, Mac and Tula and Rosemary Belson for Jamilah Lemieux and KC Davis. I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. Thanks for listening.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: All right, Slate Plus listeners, let’s keep going. Inspired by The New Yorker article on Choose Your Own Adventure books, which were inspired by the author’s bedtime stories to his children, where he would let them choose what happened next. One of our Facebook group members asked other parents to share activities that they loved doing with their kids, or an activity where they find that they are the most present. She talked about finding activities that promoted the kids own kind of agency and autonomy and encouraging that through through this wonderful parental kid interaction. So we were thinking of other activities that are kind of like that.

KC Davis: My kids and I have been doing a little routine recently called Special Time. One of the things that, as I talked about famously on my channel is like, I’m not very good at pretend. I really I really feel like I’m walking on glass when I’m asked to play pretend. And I think in general, like, you know, kids games are boring and but like, my children aren’t boring. I love to interact with my children, but I really struggle with feeling like my brain is like powering down when we tea party.

KC Davis: So I actually had this really cool couple of women who had started a small business, send me these special time cards, and on each card was written like a very simple activity, like hide and seek. Make paper airplanes go on a walk. I started telling my kids, like, you know, I get done working at five their bedtimes at like 730. So we have like, you know, not very long time to put in like a whole evening’s worth of things, right? So it’s okay. Let’s see, mom, spend time, let’s cook dinner, let’s take baths, let’s all that kind of stuff. And winding that down for a two and four year old takes some time. And I started telling them that, you know, we were going to do like 15 to 30 minutes of special time each night. What I do is I go into the cards first and I weed out anything I’m not willing to do that day. And so then when she has picked, I’m able to say, like enthusiastically.

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KC Davis: Yes. Whereas before she’s coming up to making the Jack. I love it. And I’m like, who? I don’t know what it’s going to be, what it’s going to be. It’s going to be something I want to do. And then we do just like 100% engagement, no phones, no nothing for that activity. And then once I get bored of that, I should be like, what’s the next card? So I let her pick like four cards and we roll through those activities and, and we do this 100% engagement. And I found that, like, once I do that, then I can be like, okay, you know, special time is over.

KC Davis: Let’s move on to the next thing. We have our little visual schedule, but our our evenings are running so much smoother because they’re getting that like dose of intense engagement and connection.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I love that because you filled their bucket like you have just filled it and now you can take from it. Yeah, like. All right. Well, yeah, like, all right, I’m going to fill you up with this attention and these things. But the stacking the deck thing is genius. That is good. I love that. Then it’s just a yes. Like, no matter what comes out of there, you’re like, Okay, I know. I’m going to say yes, that’s awesome. Jamilah How about you taking her to Del Taco?

Jamilah Lemieux: Well, it won’t be taking her to Del Taco, even though I have I will say in the past I used like going out to eat. It was definitely like a Hail Mary of sorts. Like, okay, I got to do something. We need activity and we have to eat. So but I don’t say, like, I think our, like our best activity where I’m present, she’s present time is still used. Well is Barbie’s like it is our love language. We are both overactive imagination. We like to play and lets us both get into some storytelling, which is fun. Naima likes to direct, so oftentimes I have to just kind of step back and allow her to decide with what my characters are going to say or do or where. I just think it’s one of our top tier quality activities together.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s awesome. I think mine kind of all occur outside. When I was thinking about this, it’s like, Oh, they all occur with us not being in the house. And I think that is because I have. I like the house to be a certain way. And so it is hard for me to agree to whatever they want to do when we are here in the house or but when we are outside and we are hiking and they want to split, it’s like I do not care if their clothes are dirty. And none of that bothers me. The idea of having to clean something up before I go to bed, which I know we are going to get into on Monday’s episode. But that idea to me is very difficult. If we are doing some kind of messy art or science experiment, if I take it outside, we are golden and the kids can do whatever. I just notice when we’re at the kitchen table, I’m like, We have to follow these instructions.

Elizabeth Newcamp: So knowing that about myself, I feel like when we are hiking and they want to go play in the water, it’s so much easier for me to say yes when they want to look up this thing or take home these rocks or, you know, whatever is kind of allowed. It is much easier for me to just say like, Yeah, so what else should we do with this? Or should we build this? Or Yes, we can stay longer when we are out of the house, which means that when I’m building our schedule, particularly because I’m homeschooling, I have to make sure that we are out of the house as much as we are in the house. Because I know that I cannot say yes here it is, just not even if I say yes, I then spend the whole time as the like Mom, you do not want and I don’t like that either.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: And it has been such a nice bonding thing because it also pushes me to do things that I wouldn’t like. I don’t think I’m naturally inclined to, like, climb into a stream and see if we can divert the water. But once the kids get really into it, I can easily get into a project like that. Like, okay, we have a goal. We have. Yeah, I’ll help stick my hands in mud and move the rocks. You know, like, I’m kind of interested in what will happen to you. So. So looking for those moments and finding those triggers for yourself and saying, like, where can I. Where can I say, yes.

KC Davis: I’m such a project, mom. Like, I will divert a stream, I will build a fort, I will do intricate world building. And then I want to be like, cool. Can’t wait to see what you do. I’ll see you later.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I’ll meet you once I’ve lost a purpose. I also am.

KC Davis: I know.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I do not now want to be the pirate, but I’m happy to help you divert the stream. Or, like you said, I’m all about dragging the logs over to build the house. But once the house is big, I’m out.

KC Davis: It’s funny you say that because I have a friend who is similar about like the things in the house that stress her out and she literally her and her husband decided she’s like, I am the outside parent and he’s the inside parent. No joke. She’s like, when we’re out and about, like, I am the primary parent. Like, I take the lead on connection, affection, discipline, ideas, play like all these things. And then inside the house, she’s like, I’m kind of off the clock. Like, he’s the one that, you know, sets up the sensory bed in the living room. He’s the one that cleans up after the pain. He’s the one that says what and when they can do and how they can do it. And I was like, I don’t that is genius. I’ll go enough. I don’t go outside enough for that to be like equitable in my house. But that is genius.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Or maybe that’s a reason to make yourself the answer.

KC Davis: I know, right? Well.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Well, listeners, we would love for you to keep sharing your activities and what you’re doing with your kids on Facebook. Or, of course, send them to the show at mom and dad at Slate.com Slate. Plus, thanks as always for joining us. Be sure to join us on Monday for a regular show and we’ll be back on Thursday with another bonus segment. I.