Let’s Stop Trying to Cram Square Pegs into Round Holes…Shall We?!

At ABC Behavioral Services, I am passionate about supporting neurodivergent individuals, parents and families. While I support individuals of all ages across the lifespan, this post will focus on parenting. You may be wondering what does it mean to be neurodivergent?  Some common diagnoses that fall into the neurodiversity realm that I specialize in are: autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Aspergers, and ADHD. I also see a lot of overlap in my private practice with neurodiverse individuals who also have anxiety and/or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  

When parenting neurodiverse individuals, we have to team up together and throw out any preconceived notions of how you thought parenting was going to be!

You may have thought going into parenting that:

*Your child would be able to follow simple directions and routines.

*Your child would learn to manage their daily routines without a lot of fuss. They would get their homework done and on time!

*You didn’t anticipate the daily meltdowns and power struggles.

*You didn’t realize it would be so hard for your child to make friends and that they would be excluded from birthday parties. (This one always, always breaks my heart!)

*You didn’t realize how much time and energy it would take to advocate for the schools and teachers to just “get” your kid and support them in their learning.

*You didn’t think this parenting gig would be so hard and exhausting!

I love supporting families and parents through their neurodivergent journey. There is a famous saying, “once you have seen a child with ASD, you have seen ONE child with ASD”. There is absolutely no cookie-cutter approach to supporting our neurodivergent children. We have to dig deep, individualize and show up, but trust me when I say this (because I speak from personal experience as an ASD mom), it is SO worth it!

We need to shift our focus and perspectives for parenting our kids with ASD, ADHD, Anxiety and /or OCD. We also need to model some flexibility.

Some helpful neurodivergent parenting reflection questions may be:

*How am I showing up as a parent with my neurodivergent child? How am I showing up for my child with ASD, ADHD, OCD and/or anxiety?

*What are my own beliefs and expectations related to parenting my neurodiverse child? Is my perspective possibly keeping us stuck in unhealthy patterns? How can my parenting actions align more closely to my families values?

*Are you “shoulding” yourself? Well, please stop that immediately! Please eliminate the word “should” from your parenting vocabulary.

*How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? Parenting our children with ASD, ADHD, anxiety and/or OCD can be hard but it is so worth it! Try to lean into the uncertainty and trust the process. I’ll gently say this again to ensure that you hear this, I know this part (the leaning into uncertainty part) is SO HARD. When we do this, our neurodivergent kids can show us what is possible is always greater than what we thought was impossible.

Finally…

*Raising neurodivergent kids requires BRAVERY. On a daily basis, I am sure you can feel uncertain how the day is going to look. You may wake up each day wondering: will my kid have a meltdown over what I am serving at breakfast? Will we be able to get out of the door to school on time without me having to carry my 8-year-old to the car kicking and screaming? Will I get a call from the school to report my child threw chairs in the classroom during math class and ran out of the building  into the street? To show up authentically for your child, you have to be able to admit when something isn’t working. Often what is the right course of action can feel so counterintuitive at times. Accepting the idea that you need to make some changes requires bravery, intention, and authenticity. I am passionate about supporting parents through this part of the neurodivergent journey.

*Fill your bucket daily. This means do something just for YOU every day that helps you feed your soul and spirit! You absolutely cannot serve from an empty cup. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

*I am passionate about NOT cramming square pegs into round holes. Seriously, let’s not put ourselves or our kids through that impossible struggle.  Instead, let’s embrace our children’s unique and awesome capabilities. I love helping those I work with move forward authentically towards living a life they love.

Please reach out for a FREE 30-minute phone consultation if you would like to discuss how I can be of support in parenting your child with ASD, ADHD, OCD. As always, if you made it this far, thank you for spending your valuable time reading this post!

I look forward to connecting with you soon!

Be well,

Dr. G

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