For many families in lockdown, it’s feeling like Groundhog Day again. Family life is a challenge and especially so if your family is neurodiverse. As parents of autistic children, we know that when we had the same battles day in day out it could feel Groundhog Day without the challenges of lockdown! As professional coaches, we started to apply our coaching to our parenting and now we want to share this with you.
We have created Gold Mind to bring the magic of coaching to families who want to experience more of the unique joys of neurodiverse parenting and find a way of being different on purpose.
A little bit of Katie
When Boris spoke last Monday, I was consuming copious amounts of Toblerone and searching fantasy Spanish villas online to avoid contemplating another round of home school. However, it feels better this time around with a year 6, year 4 and a Reception-aged child. At first, I thought it was because they are older and ‘better students’ but when I think back to how much has changed since the last lock down, I realise that the transformation has been deeper than just aging (although I personally have aged a decade this last year and this photo is somewhat inaccurate!).
Since last lock down, I have begun to understand and accept with far greater compassion the neurodiversity of my family and the gifts and challenges this brings. This is partly from learning about mental fitness, a unique way of understanding how to listen to your inner wisdom and quieten your fear. It is partly the150 hours more coaching under my belt where I have had the privilege to work with parents and leaders as they navigate home and work life in this pandemic. One very special parent I was gifted the opportunity to meet and work with was Lynne who has definitely helped me to deepen my understanding of my family’s neurodiversity. We have joined forces to create a golden nugget of a coaching program for parents of autistic children.
As well as deepening my knowledge of autism, running this program has normalised my parenting experience and I really feel like I am now parenting ‘on purpose’ (as opposed to ‘winging it’, reacting and getting frustrated). My relationship with my autistic middle son is strengthening as I appreciate him for his unique self and help him with what he struggles with. Last lockdown, anything literacy-related was a daily battle. This time he is quietly getting on and when we meet an impasse, I am approaching the situation with flexibility and calm I did not think was possible. It’s not always plain sailing, but I now have the resilience to lead this neurodiverse home school, and this time, I am determined to lead it wholeheartedly rather than with begrudging, wilful force!
A little bit of Lynne
I’m hugely proud of my autistic son (who is the second of my four children). He was identified as being autistic in 2009. When he was little, I really didn’t know if he’d ever manage to make friends of his own let alone find his place in the world. His level of pedantry was truly exceptional and his allegiance to the truth often meant he was misunderstood as being insensitive and rude. My recurring concern was around whether other people, particularly his peers, would accept him. I’ve never thought of him as being disordered, just different. After all, if he and I were judged purely on logical reasoning, mathematical ability, pattern detection, memory skills, and thirst for knowledge would I be pathologised for my lack, in comparison to his ability in these areas?
Last September he left home and started a maths degree. I found it difficult to tell via zoom if he was having a terrible time or doing ok – he’s very deadpan and getting info on how things were going was a bit like getting water from stone.
His disappointment at Boris’s announcement, the bitter realisation that he couldn’t return to uni and the flurry of pings on his phone from his new friends (who he hadn’t told me much about – still hasn’t!) actually gave me the reassurance I hadn’t been able to get from him. He has friends and he likes being at uni. He is ok. Phew.
I have been using coaching skills for many years and have seen first-hand how beneficial having coaching skills is for family life, especially when your children reach school age. I now work with autistic young adults and parents of autistic children as I believe that coaching enables people to thrive.
A little nugget from Gold Mind
We know how important it is to find the gifts and the hope in ourselves and our kids. We have teamed together to combine our considerable experience and coaching skills to develop a 6-week group coaching program for parents of autistic children. If you are a parent of an autistic school-aged child or teen and want to think about being different on purpose then we are here for you.
Our next Group Coaching course starts after February half term. See our flyer for more information and get in touch to secure a place.