It’s two years since I first discovered there were other families who questioned the value of pushing neurodivergent children in to boxes they could never fit. It’s been 22 months since we withdrew my eldest child from kindergarten, and a year since we decided therapists could support us on an as-needs basis only. Somewhere in there we started to practice gentle parenting too. We’ve made a lot of changes since the first person in our family was identified as autistic.
I thought it might be helpful to share what has filled the space of all that we have walked away from. A list like this couldn’t possibly capture the difficult decisions, mistakes, worries or complexity of parenting. I’ve written in detail about some of that in other posts. Nor is this intended to shame parents who have made different decisions. It’s simply a snapshot of life in our family right now…
#HowWeDo respectful parenting and support
- Instead of social skills groups – we have playdates with accepting children of all ages, in places that are comfortable and safe for us, and with enough 1:1 support to scaffold developing skills.
- Instead of intensive speech therapy – we use a wonderful mash-up of communication including AAC, pictures scribbled on notepads, songs, scripts, and lots of patience and time.
- Instead of sticker charts and time outs, or behavior therapy – we give hugs, we listen, solve problems together, and understand and respect that neurodivergent children need time to develop some skills
- Instead of physical therapy – we climb rocks and trees, take risks with our bodies, are carried all day if we are tired, don’t wear shoes, paint and draw, play with lego and stickers, and eat with our fingers.
- Instead of sleep battles – we co-sleep with our mummies when we want to, and bring all of our favourite toys. We go to bed when we are ready, and take medication when we need.
- Instead of food worries – we choose our own food and eat when we want. We are learning to cook together. We go shopping together. We’re learning about healthy food choices as well as our sensory needs around food. We don’t have to sit at a table to eat, or eat at ‘dinner time’, but sometimes we like to.
- Instead of being told to shush, or be still – we stim, and mummies are joyful when they watch us move in beautiful ways.
- Instead of a ‘sensory diet’ of prescribed toys, and OT sessions – we have trees and mud and paint and toilet paper to unravel and siblings to wrestle and lights to switch on and off
- Instead of early intervention programs – we have a support person three mornings a week so that we have enough adults around to go to playdates, playgrounds, swimming, the museum, or participate in activities that we need extra help to navigate.
- Instead of school – we unschool and can follow our interests, dive deep in to passions, move our bodies, and control our environment
I’m so grateful to other families around the world who have shared their #howwedo with me, so that I could figure out #howwedo respectful parenting and support in our neurodiverse family <3
These are our choices. Everybody’s family is different. I’d love to hear about yours.