Embracing Neurodiversity: A Call to Action for Compassionate Parenting

Spread Awareness: Advocate for neurodivergent children and their families

Dear Moms,

Today, as someone who just became a co-parent last year, I want to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you. As mothers, we share the incredible joys and profound challenges that come with raising children. But what if I told you that some mothers face an additional layer of complexity—a journey that often goes unseen and unrecognized?

What if I also mention that some of us are doing this without the aid of alcohol at the end of a long hard day? I’m talking about raising neurodivergent children while striving to maintain sobriety.

True Story: A recent outing with my partner’s parents and our children took an unexpected turn. Our 7-year-old daughter, who faces mental health challenges, began acting out. In front of others, she hit her sister and caused a scene (which included kicking over a very large garbage can full of garbage), while my partner, visibly limping from a previous injury, struggled to intervene. Rather than offering help, we faced judgment. My heart broke! I had never experienced anything like this because I’m new at this co-parenting thing.

Have you ever wondered if a child’s behavior stemmed from being neurodivergent? Can you imagine the immense stress a parent endures in such situations?

My partner adopted all three girls, knowing they had various mental health issues, including FAS, ADHD, ODD, and more. She adopted the twins after they experienced 15 foster homes before they had reached the age of 4. No one could handle them due to their challenging behaviors. She adopted her youngest when she was just over two years old. The incredible part, and why I call her a superhero, is that she has raised them alone for the past 14 years.

Knowing these details, would you show more compassion had you witnessed this? Here is the thing; there is always a back story that we need to be aware of.

Even though I would love to tell you that the rest of that Sunday ended okay, it only worsened after that. Her behaviour became even more violent after we got home, which continued throughout her school day. We had to take her to children’s hospital that evening because she couldn’t regulate her emotions. My partner felt like she was losing her child, and I felt a pain I had never felt before because she was my soul child. She remained in the hospital for two more weeks, and unfortunately, our medical system felt that giving her more medication was the answer. We were told the next steps were to get her help outside the hospital, putting her back on the waiting list.

I’ve been sober for over 11 years, so drinking isn’t an option for me anymore, but I can imagine many women turn to alcohol to cope with this type of scenario. I wouldn’t blame them either because it’s tough! It’s Like pulling your hair out and screaming. I am grateful my partner doesn’t use alcohol to cope because, as an alcoholic in recovery, that would be tough for me to watch.

Let’s remember that unseen battles often accompany raising neurodivergent children. Instead of judgment, let’s extend empathy and support. Together, we can create a world where every parent and their neurodivergent child feel understood and accepted.

This blog post aims to speak directly to your hearts, evoking emotions of sadness, compassion, and urgency. It’s a plea for understanding, acceptance, and support from those who may unknowingly judge others without understanding their struggles. Together, let’s explore a list of actionable steps we can take to foster empathy and help those who may be struggling with a neurodivergent child.

Suspend Judgment: In a world that tends to value conformity, it’s easy to pass judgment when we witness a child behaving differently. However, before jumping to conclusions, let’s remember that every child is unique, and their struggles may not always be visible to the naked eye. Instead of judging, let’s offer a compassionate and open-minded response.

Educate Yourself: Knowledge is a powerful tool for change. Take the initiative to learn about neurodiversity, including conditions such as autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, and more. Understanding the challenges faced by neurodivergent children can help us break down barriers and approach these situations with empathy.

Be an Ally: Imagine the relief and comfort a parent feels when they encounter an empathetic and understanding ally. Act as that ally. Offer a helping hand, a friendly smile, or a kind word to parents who may be struggling with their neurodivergent child. Simple gestures can make a significant impact on their emotional well-being.

Practice Active Listening: When you encounter a parent who seems overwhelmed or frustrated, be present and truly listen. Create a space for them to share their thoughts, fears, and experiences without judgment. Sometimes, all someone needs is a compassionate ear to unload their burdens.

Offer Assistance: If you see a parent juggling multiple responsibilities while caring for a neurodivergent child, lend a helping hand. Whether it’s carrying groceries, offering to babysit, or running a small errand, these acts of kindness can alleviate some of their stress and show them they’re not alone. To an outsider, it may seem as though there should be many resources at our fingertips, but it’s not as easy as you may think. We have to fight to receive that support, and it often comes with a very long wait list.

Promote Inclusion: As mothers, we have the power to shape our communities. Encourage inclusive practices in schools, clubs, and other social settings. Urge educators and administrators to embrace neurodiversity by implementing inclusive policies and fostering a sense of belonging for all children.

Spread Awareness: Advocate for neurodivergent children and their families by raising awareness within your social circles and wider community. Share informative articles, documentaries, or personal stories on social media to foster understanding and compassion. By amplifying their voices, we can create a more inclusive society.

The journey of raising a neurodivergent child while maintaining sobriety is challenging. It’s a journey often laden with judgments, misunderstandings, and feelings of isolation. But by taking action and embracing empathy, we can be catalysts for change.

Let’s strive to suspend judgment, educate ourselves, practice active listening, offer assistance, promote inclusion, and spread awareness. By doing so, we can create a world where every neurodivergent child and their family is embraced with open arms, support, and understanding.

Together, let’s make a difference—one compassionate action at a time. The time for change is now, and our commitment to empathy can transform lives.

Will you join me on this journey?