The parent community
One thing that strikes me as a parent of a neurodivergent child is how much of a brave face we put on. I see it in others too.
The challenges we face as parents can often be things that we don’t talk to others about. There are many reasons for this but the one I hear the most is that other people just don’t ’get it’. Some just listen, others are brave enough to say "sorry I have no advice to give".
Meeting other parents who are in the same situation as you, navigating life as a parent to a autistic child or young person, can feel like finally you’ve met someone who gets it. All of a sudden you’re comparing notes, swapping stories and sometimes advice too. This can be great in some ways and not so great in others.
Not everyone’s story is the same and while we share a common ground, our families, our children and their needs can be very different from one household to another. I have witnessed occasions where it was almost a competition between whose problems are worse than others where in reality there were probably the same levels of stress, it was just that the things that caused the stress were different, not greater or less.
Thankfully, for the main part, I have seen parents supporting other parents, the common ground creating a community (or an army given the battles we fight for our loved ones) and it's something I love to see. The ability to support one another and to feel heard.
That support network can last for the length of time our children are in a school or club together or it can be for one occasion only. It can happen in person or online, in groups where everyone knows everyone or this person is a name you recognise on the screen and who has shared something that you can connect with because you have experienced it yourself. You may comment or give advice or you may just listen or read, knowing that you aren’t alone.
There are times when you give it a wide berth, be it because you’ve enough going on in your own life without hearing about others or your child has transitioned in one way or another.
As parents and caregivers we worry about our children. What will life be like for them as they grow up? Will they be able to do all the things we hope for them? Will they get the help they need? Are we getting it right? Could we do more? Are we doing too much?
The questions and the things we worry about may change as our children get older, but like all parents we want the best for them.
Please remember you are only human, you can get it right, you can get it wrong and you can get it somewhere in between. All of this is known as parenting. My hope is that you show yourself some compassion when things don't go as you had hoped.
If you are struggling, reach out. Maybe talking to a friend or other parent can help.
What would you think if I suggested that you could do something else? If you could talk to someone who could potentially help you find solutions to some of struggles?
All it costs is a phone call. I can promise you I will listen. If it's something I feel we can work on I will tell you. If it's something that I don't think I can do I will be up front and say so (I am autistic, honest and a times a little blunt although not intentionally).
It is then up to you to decide if you want to take things further and begin coaching. You may decide there and then or you may want to think about it. The ball is in your court.
It costs nothing to get in touch.