As the mother of children on the spectrum, it might not surprise you to learn I am also the daughter of a woman on the spectrum and a father with ‘Just Right OCD’, although it took me a long time to work that out.

Reorganising how I understood my parents’ anxiety, compulsions, unpredictable volatility and how those personality traits impacted their parenting has been a kind of awakening. It can’t be denied my parents were highly intelligent, provided for us and gave us access to great opportunities. However, if you are a ‘neurotypical’ person raised by or in relationship with people on the spectrum or with mental illness, there is a strong chance you might have developed habits to soothe, compensate for or just adapt to prioritising their needs. As you take on the marathon ahead, the way you problem-solve can be informed by old patterns learned in childhood of putting others first, taking more responsibility than you should and being easily taken advantage of.

I’d highly recommend reading the following books:

  • “Reinventing your life,” by Jeffery E. Young and Janet S. Klosko
  • “Healing Trauma,” Peter A. Levine
  • “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Rising Strong”, Brene Brown
  • “The Way of Integrity”, Martha Beck
  • “Atomic Habits”, James Clear

I’d also highly recommend starting a yoga practice, learning mindfulness and meditation, writing a journal, taking on a creative hobby and seeking psychological support for yourself, not just your child. Parenting children with additional needs is a big adjustment, which we take on when we’re already sleep deprived and over-stretched. Remembering to care for yourself can seem unimportant, but it’s essential you make time for eating well, exercise and activities that uplift you.

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