Yes, I know – it’s been a long time. Too LONG. But life gets in the way sometimes. And blogging about neurodivergent/autistic/PDA and self-directed learning isn’t a top priority when things runs so smoothly that none of it is an issue. When things that you once thought were impossible are only mildly challenging. That has become our privilege. Unfortunately, as with most privileges in this world, when wou get to that point, you forget your obligation to use your privilege for those without it.
I have been reminded of this quite a bit recently. One of the advantages of @PanKwake’s new semi-autonomy is that I have been able to return to an old calling – doula. Though not quite in the standard/normal format (but ya’ll know I believe ‘normal’ is highly over-rated). But I have been helping a young mother who just had her 3rd child. She reminds me in so many ways of myself at that age. And her oldest is @PanKwake-like, too. Add to that my new involvement with Facebook groups centered around pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I see so many posts that read like ‘parenting an autistic little human help!’
I guess it’s the goddess telling me to pull my head out my a$$ and do the work she intended with this new privilege. So I’m going to be writing a new series on here for those parent-mentors struggling to cope with babies and toddlers who are ‘challenging.’ Because I believe/know in my gut that while autism and other neurodivergences cannot be diagnosed in babies and toddlers, the signs of their sensory and communication challenges begin early.
I also believe that while @PanKwake has become a compassionate, intelligent, articulate person and advocate for herself and others, it was inspite of me, not because of me. At least in those early years. They say ‘hindsight is 20/20,’ well, who better to learn from than the mistakes of others. This series will be me sharing all the things I wish I had known or done back then.
Let’s begin with our story….
@PanKwake is the youngest of my six offspring and my second ‘special needs’ one. She is significantly younger than my oldest (almost 20 years). My oldest daughter says they were my ‘practice’ children. And there is more than a grain of truth to that. I would not be the mother that I am to @PanKwake without all those other experiences. Even then, there are so many things I failed to get right. That I wish I could go back and do differently this time around.
@PanKwake was born when I was forty. She came early, at 35 weeks. And was born via cesarean section. She was (at least when she was little) fully vaccinated, though I insisted on a different and more protracted schedule of immunizations. But I don’t bother wondering if any of those things ’caused’ her autism.
Autism is genetic.
Yes, there is some evidence that it may be what is called ‘epigenetic’ meaning a gene that is triggered by some environmental factor. But I don’t give any of that a second thought because I believe being neurodivergent is a blessing and greatest hope for this world at this time.
If neurodivergent little humans are given the support and guidance they need to develop their gifts to the fullest potential.
Unfortunately, this is a HUGE, colossal, gigantic challenge in the society/world in which we live. It has been my experience that the ‘experts’ you turn to for ‘help’ are more of a hindrance. And that not only family and friends, but strangers on the street think it is their right to tell you everything you are doing wrong. That your neurodivergent little human is a ‘naughty child’ and you are a ‘bad’ parent.
Even the organizations that carry the name ‘autistic’ are about ‘curing’ (i.e. eliminating) neurodivergence or at least forcing them by any means necessary to act normal. As a result, there is a lot of angry (and rightfully so) autistic adults who are speaking out. I encourage you to research #ActuallyAutistic.
But it does NOT have to be that way.
Your little human can become so amazing that you stand in awe of their strength, intelligence, and empathy, too. But parenting/mentoring such an individual is NOT an easy for you. There are going to be times you screw up no matter how hard you try. You are going to be sleep deprived for years, then once they become more autonomous you discover your body doesn’t know how to sleep properly anymore. You may be intimidated and bullied by those ‘experts.’ You are probably going to be verbally attacked by others.
But if you open yourself to the lessons that your little human and the universe are trying to teach you then you will become a happier, more confident, and compassionate person yourself. You will be forced to look deep into your soul and examine carefully everything you have ever been taught about the world in which we live. You may even discover, as I did, that you share this neurodivergence with your little human.
The bottom line is you don’t really have many choices.
- You can become like a tree. ABle to blow and bend in the wind. Yet deeply rooted – hopefully in a community of like-minded individuals.
- Or you can butt your head against the wall and perhaps ‘break’ your little human in the process. If that sounds harsh, then definitely check out #ActuallyAutistic.
@PanKwake, though she is not quite 16, is living proof that it can be done. And I’m hoping this series will help some of you along that path.