I travel around the country speaking about the developmental and behavioral challenges of children and teens. My purpose is to be their voice in order to help others understand and approach them with more compassion, empathy, and a willingness to work and think outside the box.
Now I find it funny that I do this because I was shy and reserved as a child and teen. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was mortified if a teacher or peer found fault with me in some way. I even backed out of a school talent show with three friends, 2 days before the show, fearing that people would laugh at me or boo me off the stage for not being able to sing well enough. My parents never had to give me a curfew because they KNEW I would be home on time and would make sure everyone else would be home too.
What changed? I became so frustrated at how misunderstood children and teens with neurodevelopmental disorders were ( these are intellectual disorders, communication disorders, learning disorders, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and motor disorders). My strong belief in right and wrong pushed me past my own social anxiousness into the classrooms, auditoriums, and conference rooms of the professionals who work with these youth to help them understand what science has been uncovering as to the “whys” of their behaviors.
I had to learn on my own by observation and analysis of good speakers (and now through the awesome mentorship of members of the National Speakers Association – NSA) how to present myself as an expert. I watched and learned about nonverbal language to convey confidence, even while the butterflies were banging in my stomach.
Now there is research to show how learning these nonverbal behaviors can indeed change how you view yourself. Check out this TED talk about the research. When you are done, I would like you to think about how to bring this knowledge to the classrooms of children with developmental and behavioral challenges. How can you help a child learn to see themselves in a more positive light? Provide them with opportunities to take chances since even failures are learning experiences, as long as we debrief afterwards in order to come away with more knowledge.
Want a copy of my free report on oppositional children? Click here.