Virtually every parent responds to the childs diagnosis of disability with denial: "This cant be happening to me." Remember Renees protest about Cassies alertness and Neds abrupt dismissal? This protective reaction provides a buffer zone that gives parents time to learn to deal with the new reality. Some parents resist recommendations from nurses and other professionals during this time, refusing to enroll the baby in appropriate early intervention programs.
Others may do everything
they can to prove that their child is "normal." Naseef reminds us
that most parents eventually move toward the acceptance of the reality that
the child will never be normal, but is nevertheless lovable and loving. He points
out, however, that the "invisible disabilities" such as autism, learning
disabilities, and ADHD that are diagnosed years later are often harder for a
parent to accept. Its very, very hard to accept the idea of disability
when the child looks normal in so many ways, and the parent has known and loved
the child for many years.
On the other hand, denial is unhealthy if the mother of a child with severe congenital heart disease secondary to Down syndrome decides not to administer life-sustaining medications such as digitalis and diuretics. The nurse working with the child with ADHD can provide continuing support and information to the parents while gently guiding their decisions. The nurse who is providing case management for the infant with the heart condition, on the other hand, must take more immediate action to ensure the babys well-being.