As a 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. When I try to imagine what it must have been like for neurodiverse children seventy years ago, I feel enormous compassion for the difficulties they faced. I know they were bullied and sometimes isolated. I know they experienced violent discipline and like all abused kids, their bodies carry the residue of those experiences.

My mother studied psychology and I can see how she tried to apply what she learned, but it was an emerging field and she was also a highly traumatised woman, who didn’t realise she was autistic in a neurotypical world. As I’ve studied how to parent my own kids, it’s 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, as I’ve learned how to parent my own children, I’ve had to reorganise how I understood my parents’ anxiety, compulsions and unpredictable volatility impacted their parenting. Finding ways to hold myself accountable to managing a sustainable workload, and realistic expectations of myself and others has been really important.

I’d highly recommend reading the following books: Steiner man on a book shelf.

  • “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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