Soon to be parents, Kofi and Savannah were often asked: “Do you want a girl or boy”? They always answer, “We just want him or her to be healthy”. They heard painful stories of parents with children who are born with cerebral palsy, low functioning autism, deaf-blindness, etc. When you combine the stigmatism behind these ailments with the piling hospital bills one could only imagine the stress it puts on a family unit.

After nine months of hoping and praying, the doctor reported that all vital signs were normal and the baby was healthy. Mom and Dad were relieved as they took their newborn home. The years go on and things begin to get increasingly difficult for baby Jack. Jack has a hard time sitting still, he cannot remember information for longer than 30 seconds and his mind is constantly racing. Kofi and Savannah begin to argue every night. Kofi thinks Savannah is too soft on Jack and insists that she be stern when giving Jack directives. Savannah tries to reason with Kofi and hints that he may have a disability. Kofi gets immediately angry and insists that no son of his has a disability. Kofi projects that a belt will straighten him up. Savannah convinces Kofi to at least take Jack to the pediatrician, to rule out all possible classifications. As they get to the hospital the pediatrician asked them a series of questions, in addition to filling out a survey. The pediatrician comes back and states that Jack has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Now what?

This scenario is all too common for parents with children who have covert disabilities. A “covert” disability is an ailment that may not be apparent to family, teachers, and doctors at first observation. Most learning disabilities would fall under this category.  When we examine disabilities like ADHD, Dyslexia and High Functioning Autism we must understand some disorders reside well below the surface. There are several fallacies about disabilities, below list three common misjudgments about the matter.  

Myth: Your child just needs a beating / Just take them to church.  

Once a child is diagnosed with a learning disability it is very much a part of them like poor eyesight and wearing glasses. No amount of yelling and spanking will actually cure any disorder, especially covert disabilities. Screaming may, in fact, make your child even more confused and frustrated. Children with learning disabilities need patience and support from their loved ones. Church and the black family feed into each other like freedom and civil rights. If you are a person of faith, using religion as a modality of support for your child may be imperative. However, only praying or having your child meet with the pastor may not be the best method. In terms of Christianity, one has to believe that God placed educators and mental health clinicians on this earth to help others. You have to trust in their expertise and pray for understanding and favor. 

Myth: We all have a “little ADHD”

Though ADHD can go undiagnosed for years, this statement is highly offensive to people who are actually being treated for said disorder. When talking to a cancer patient, would it be appropriate to say “I feel like I have a little cancer today too”? In the same sentiment, if you stumble over a few words, it does not mean you have dyslexia.  At times, neuro-typical people have a difficult time being sensitive to people who have disabilities. This is amplified for well-known ailments like ADHD, Bipolar, and Depression. If you believe that you are expressing systems of a disorder, seek a trusted mental health provider. 

Myth: Having a disability means you are "retarded".

Before we unbox this fallacy remove retarded out of your vocabulary. Clinicians stopped referring to significant intellectual disabilities as retarded several years ago. Most children with learning disabilities have average IQ with simply one skill deficit. There are disabilities, such as Autism, where a child can have an extremely high IQ however, their deficit lies in social skills or functional communication. For children who do have an intellectual disability do not, under any circumstances, call them anything less than their name.

We currently live a world where mental health sensitivity is nonexistent. If you know someone with a disability be kind, be informed, and be there.

This article was written by someone with Dyslexia.