The Neurodiverse Mother

Before I even start this post, it’s very easy to either get stuck into or get hung up on ‘labels’. Actually online, it’s a minefield, because whatever you say, you’re going to piss a mother off at some point.

So here, I write from my own perspective. And from that of a mother whose child is (albeit slowly) plodding through the NHS system of exploring whether an Autism diagnosis is appropriate, or needed. Personally, I think it is neither.

I don’t label myself as Autistic, but I would say I am neurodiverse. Has it always been this way? I can’t say for sure. More people are discussing this in recent years, and particularly in women. You begin to unpick all the knots out of the tapestry of your life with a new lens…and hey, some things suddenly make a lot more sense. Choices you made, ways your coped (or didn’t). People you gravitated towards.

The realisation for me came after a) getting sober and b) the experience with my daughter’s emotional coping behaviour and frequent meltdowns.

It’s a bit like becoming a detective in your own life. I found that during the pre-mentrual phase of my cycle, my desicion-making skills are poor, and I’m much more prone to getting overwhelmed with day-to-day situations, which can sometimes result in a more inwardly-focussed meltdown.

I interpret neurodiversity as not a ‘you have it or you don’t’ kinda thing, but something that has no inherent ‘badness’ or ‘goodness’ to it… just simply a different way of working. For any other neurodiverse mothers, I encourage you to throw society’s rulebook of parenting out of the window. Society often portrays us as putting ourselves, our lives on hold and squashing our own identity whilst we cater to our children’s every whim. Take them to all the classes. Fill up their time off with days out. Do all this whilst working a job and keeping the house straight.

Sometimes you need time to recover. Everyone’s going out in the evenings for drinks and catchups, but you’d rather sit in the dark and quiet with a book after a day of sensory overload with screaming and boisterous children…that’s OK!!!

Some days are easier than other to ‘parent’. Some days the triggers can be the same as another day’s, but for whatever reason our reserves might be running lower, plans have changed which throws us off… it can then become very easy for our inner dialogue to become ‘I should be coping with this better’.

Don’t choose a day in your life to be the benchmark, to be the one that when you have a day you’re struggling, you hold it up against.

If you can tune in to your own coping levels, then you can acknowledge when you are struggling and alter your expectations to suit. In real life, that might look like just having a goal for the day of getting the kids fed.

Finally, we can often become over-focussed on the negative side of neurodiverse parenting. But there are also many positives, and if we look to those, we learn to accept ourselves (and our kids) for who they are. If we accept ourselves for who we are, then we teach our children to do the same…and this can give them greater self-esteem and sense of self as they get older and encounter those parts of life where people aren’t as accepting.