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  • Julie Jenner

How many ways are quirky kids “wrong”?

Being neurodivergent brings so many difficulties daily, especially if diagnosed late. Add to the trauma of not being believed, having your difficulties invalidated and basically being told over and over that you are wrong, and you have another complete set of traumas to overcome.

Being a child can be difficult, due to the nature of growing, learning, not having any control, trying to work out right from wrong, learning to be who you are, and all the other stuff that developing into an adult entails. This can be even more difficult when there are issues you don’t have the language for yet, or when you are repeatedly told that what you are thinking and feeling is wrong. This can become a very traumatic experience when others misunderstand what you are trying to explain, and the wrong meaning is attached to it. For example, when you explain that you can’t eat your dinner because the foods are all touching, and you are told to stop being fussy and to eat it or go without. Or you descend into a meltdown because you have the wrong socks on, and you are told over and over to stop making a fuss and to just get over it.

I could go on and countless examples of how undiagnosed, neurodivergent children

are given so many negative labels, such as lazy, fussy, difficult, disrespectful, unmanageable – and the list goes on and on… I think you get the picture though.

When a child is constantly told the many ways they are wrong and told to correct their behaviours, usually to appease others, they learn that is it not safe to be themselves, or to show how they feel. They start to retreat into themselves, don’t ask for help when they need it, and this marks the beginning of many years of emotional and psychological damage, often leading to physical damage, which often stretches into adulthood.

They often grow up believing that all the ways that life seems to be harder than it should be is how everyone experiences it. They believe they are failing at life because other people seem to find so many things easy that they find near impossible. They doubt their abilities, self-worth, value as a human, ability to love and be loved, and so much more. They are unable to believe they have a positive impact and therefore often don’t reach their potential due to the many negative self-beliefs life has inflicted on them.

Self-neglect, bullying, tolerating toxic environments, physical pain or illness, unhealthy coping strategies, damaging relationships, inability to get needs met… These are just some of the difficulties that a person suffers when their childhood is full of being told how wrong they are.

I have heard many parents of undiagnosed, neurodivergent children state they don’t want their child to be labelled, or seen as the weird kid, or to think they are different. The truth is, they are different, but not less. They often are a little weird, often in very cool ways when they are allowed to express themselves. The label is not what will cause them the damage, the lack of understanding and acceptance will.

If a child is refusing to eat, be curious and ask what they don’t like about it. Help them discover food they do enjoy. Please don’t put them through the trauma of being forced to eat something that will cause them distress and lead to disordered eating. If a child is telling you their socks (or any other item of clothing) feels wrong, please help them find something that feels right. Wrong clothes will add unnecessary levels of distress for the entire time they are worn, and for quite a while afterwards.

If your child is describing situations or experiences that sound scary, help them find the right language to explain what is wrong.

Please do not see neurodivergency as being something to fear. Do some research, ask for help and understanding, learn to listen to what your child is telling you. My life could have been so much easier, and far less damaging, if I had known about my spicy brain earlier in life. The label is nothing to be ashamed of, it is merely the beginning of understanding.


Hello there! My name is Julie and I'm a counsellor. I provide a non-judgemental safe space for you. I offer accessible and flexible online therapy sessions so you have the freedom to be in a place that is more comfortable for you.

Please get in touch if you'd like to learn more or arrange an initial consultation. As always, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.

Remember... It's good to talk. Talk helps.


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