love in a mist - parenting an autistic child

These beautiful love-in-a-mist flowers (or snog-in-the-fog depending on where you’re from!) reminded me that I wanted to write about parenting neurodivergent children. Because sometimes it can feel quite foggy and misty, when there is a lot of uncertainty about how your child might interact with the world from one minute to the next.

Living with uncertainty takes huge parental resources. That’s why many of my clients come for counselling – it might be that they have lost themselves in the fog, or might be juggling so much that their sense of perspective is misty, or simply that they need to offload and process the impacts on their life.

Having a child who is neurodivergent, such as if they are autistic, are diagnosed with PDA, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia or a mental health condition, presents parents with day to day challenges to help their child navigate the world.

Will they be able to attend the party? Will they get invited in the first place? The meal that was their favourite yesterday is now rejected (forever). The school uniform is too itchy, too loose, too tight, too soft, too stiff. The school curriculum doesn’t take account of your child’s dyslexia, so is there any point in them being at school? But also feeling that they still need to be at school. There is a 3-year wait to be assessed for a diagnosis of ASD. Fluctuating between ‘my child needs extra help’ and ‘is this a normal developmental stage’?

Finally arranging to meet with friends and having to cancel at the last minute as it’s too much for your child to handle. Feeling like you can’t rearrange or cancel again. Choosing to just stay in, and resenting not being able to go out. Not knowing if your child will actually sleep tonight. Not knowing much at all about what your child is feeling as they are non-verbal. Having to speak up for your child in meetings even though it terrifies you, and you don’t even know if what you are asking for will work anyway. The list goes on and on.

Living with uncertainty

Everyone’s experiences and circumstances are different, but a common element that I see when I speak with parents who have SEN children is living with uncertainty. Our human brains are wired to like certainty. When we are in an ongoing ‘Limboland’ situation, where there is a lack of certainty it is common for parents to have many conflicting thoughts and emotions.

Loving fiercely. Mama Bear. But also frustration, resentment, anger. Why is it so hard to get help for my child? Is parenting meant to feel this way? How is everyone else managing it without even breaking into a sweat. Despair.

If any of this resonates with you, I’d love to help you work through your feelings and be alongside you as you find ways to emerge from your love-in-a-mist.

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