I saw a post today by a parent of an autistic child. It was reaching out. Reaching out for people. It spoke about the loneliness of being a neurotypical parent who wanted to connect with the people around her, but who put her autistic child’s needs first, because they couldn’t cope with the interactions.
I felt for her. I felt her loneliness. Her pain. It’s an echo of mine. A negative image of my issues.
Because I have to do the opposite. There are times when my neurotypical child needs me to socialise. They need me to reach out and interact. They need me to support their friendships and interact, despite my exhaustion. Despite my sensory overload. Despite my confusion.
Parenting a different processing-type has its difficulties. Understanding has to be learned. Assumptions have to be challenged. Personal experience has to be questioned.
I felt a strange bond with that stranger online. I felt like we had something in common, albeit from polar-opposite positions.
Just as I need to make sure that I get down time to be alone, she needs to make sure that she gets social time in company. It’s vital self-care. People can only go on so long before the cracks start to show.
Stranger on the Internet, I hope you find your balance. I hope you don’t feel bad that your needs and your child’s aren’t compatible. It’s ok. Really. You parent the child in front of you, you respect their differences, and you see to your needs when you can.
Maybe there need to be coping strategies for people in support roles who cannot make the connections they need to when the opportunity arises. Pre-printed cards with “Hello, I can’t talk now, because my child’s sensory needs come first, but I’m trying to make new connections. Here is my number and email. If you would be interested in talking to me, I’d love to hear from you”.
Coping mechanisms aren’t just for us autistics. After all, the more energy you have to care for that brilliant child of yours, the happier everyone will be.