Why telling kids “Don’t make a fuss” is problematic…

by Adina Levy

Here’s why telling kids “Don’t make a fuss” is problematic…

Picture this:

A neurodivergent child is trying to get dressed. Their socks feel wrong (maybe they’re wrinkly, crooked, and a bit wet… nightmare). Their parent is frustrated and wants to just get out the door.

They say “Don’t make a fuss”

And over time, they may ignore their own needs more and more, and live in greater and greater discomfort.

When somebody’s needs are dismissed along the lines of “don’t make a fuss”, which kids hear way too often, what we’re teaching them is:

  • that they can’t address their sensory needs in the future
  • that they’re not deserving of having their sensory needs met

And over time, they may ignore their own needs more and more, and live in greater and greater discomfort.

What to do instead

  • Believe children – if something feels off, it’s their valid experience
  • Take time to set up safe sensory experiences, it’s always worthwhile
  • Model listening to your own body’s needs and honouring your own preferences

Learn more about the experiences of high-masking autistic people – mine and other people’s – in my recent podcast episode – “But you seem so sociable” – Experiences of High-Masking Autistic Folks


If you’re an Allied Health Professional and you’re keen to learn more with me, I hope you’ll join me for a free webinar – Neurodiversity Affirming Practice Kickstart: 3 Actionable Tips to do Today.

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