Support For Parents With Neurodiverse Kids
The challenges and demands of parents raising Neurodiverse children are huge. It is estimated that about 25% of the entire population are considered Neurodiverse or “differently wired”. This includes diagnosed and self-identified people with Autism, Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and the broader umbrella of physical, learning and mental health diagnosis. Our children face many challenges. And for the families who love them- as in my own family - our challenges are just as numerous. We struggle to find the right school, the right support, kindness and compassion, friendships and the right resources so our children’s potential can be fulfilled and live happy lives. There are many kinds of ND people, but one thing is universal - children and their families need support and community. The task of raising and educating ND children is often exhausting, overwhelming, frustrating and isolating – and fulfilling, exhilarating and profoundly life-changing.
Families of ND children don’t get to enjoy the many of the ‘rites of passage’ that typical children and their parents have. There may be few and frustrating playdates, birthday party invitations, sleepovers, few friendships for our children and with other parents for us, challenges with team sports and limited involvement at school or community events because of sensory, physical and behavioral issues. Our days are consumed with the many commitments to our children’s needs - buying food and cooking can feel like Olympic events; we are the tireless drivers to our kids many medical and therapeutic appointments; we are their fiercest advocate to navigate the educational system and the big shoulders, always there to cry on with all the emotional challenges and disappointments our sweet babies (they’ll always be our babies!) endure from feeling excluded, ignored, made fun of or bullied.
I am a mother of two neurodiverse children and have been navigating this journey for about 18 years. My son was diagnosed on the spectrum at 2 and a half years old, ADHD in third grade and then a 504. He is now 19 and in his freshman year of college at UMass Amherst – we could not be prouder of him! My daughter, 12 is in 7th grade with a full IEP. The gifts of being their mom are many. They are - as for most parents - my #1 priority. Along the way, I realized I had to do the same for myself. I spent the last ten years transforming my life, education and career to align with my heart’s longings, purpose and my children’s needs. I went from a 20 + year career in corporate consulting to becoming an Integrative Therapeutic Practitioner and Counselor in the Healing Arts.
As part of my evolution, I have created individual and group programs designed to support parents with neurodiverse children to connect in a confidential and safe space. Here we share stories and struggles, family dynamics, love empathy and compassion for them and how to develop more for ourselves. In groups, I hold space for parents to receive what they need. That includes ways to manage your ND child’s behavior and integrating new parenting tools such as filling your bucket first. There are a plethora of professional and therapeutic resources at the local, county, state and global level that offer expertise which are included in these support circles to enhance the wealth of information that resourceful parents have attained.
You are a Supermom/Dad!
Becoming a Supermom or Dad comes at a price. For me, it’s been the most important and meaningful thing I’ve ever done and an honor to guide, support and see my kids thrive. But it can’t be sustained without stopping to refuel and take pauses for our needs to rest, practice self-care, receive and connect in community to restore us day-in and day-out to a sense of well-being. It’s been a bumpy, messy journey of trial, error, collapse, isolation, crying jags, overwhelm, asking for help, surrendering and finally finding ways to return to sanity, a sense of peace in loving relationships with my partner, kids, friends and family. Supermoms and Dads can’t do it all themselves – and it’s no fun trying. We deserve to have fun and remember that our needs matter!
Parent your neurodiverse children without losing yourself!
What I noticed absent from my own experiences was a safe place for me to belong and receive the nourishment of connection in a group of my peers who understand what I go through. I will state the obvious – it is absolutely necessary, not selfish or self-centered - to fill your bucket and to do this in your powerful, aligned intention! You are the one who holds down the fort, who holds the foundation and flow going for your family. By holding the conscious intention to maintain your own harmony and balance, it will extend out automatically (in energy-speak, this is harmonic induction) into the field of your family relationships and home environment.
One of the biggest gifts you can give your sensitive child is YOU – holding strong grounding, boundaries, clarity and love in a calm, balanced environment. This singularly fosters an ideal living and healing cocoon for your brilliant, differently wired child to thrive and become their authentic selves!
Reconnect to the person perhaps you’ve forgotten about before marriage and kids. We’ll touch into the tender parts of your needs - known and unknown. It is the inner self that always needs our care and attention. The benefits will be remembering what we’ve forgotten, a chance to be vulnerable, known, heard and seen, learn from others, gain new insights, receive support and compassion. The most powerful benefit is a restored sense of deep grounding – what I call em-body-ment – and connection to yourself with more love, ease and en-joy-ment. You’ll get an upgrade in conscious communications to better connect with your partner and in the communities that support your ND children.
When you change, your life and people in your life change. You may notice miracles happening and that life just gets easier with less of the heavy lifting that we as parents and caregivers have believed we needed to carry.
This is your invitation to live from your Core Qualities and Highest Self to create a welcoming, safe world for your children in a more joyful, balanced way for yourself. You will be introduced to concrete tools to center yourself, bring more prana and life force into your body, calm your nervous system, grounded with a sense of peace and equilibrium within your body for well-being and vitality so you can hold that for your unique, special children.
Uncover and own your legitimate needs – just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t have your needs met!
Find ways to ask for help and diplomatically delegate (harder than we imagine!),
Recognize when to hit the reset button on what I call the ‘Autopilot Multitasking Parental Setting’,
Attune to your body- do you recognize when your anxiety is activated & tools to come back to presence,
Manage your reactions to your children and hold their needs & emotions from our higher adult self,
Lessen the frequency and intensity of overwhelm,
Restore your energy resources & keeping them replenished,
Ultimately hold peace, balance and new personal boundaries to be in relationships with those you love, work with and provide services - with newfound grace!