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Parenting Your Neurodivergent Child

Written by: Alexis Lynch, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Alexis Lynch

Many questions can be left unanswered after your child’s diagnosis. In this article, we will build upon the knowledge you may already have and gain more insight into how to help have a better relationship and understanding of your child. You may have family members or friends trying to help you by giving advice, but without knowing what you are experiencing, this can be frustrating as you work through the trial-and-error process. Working with professionals, advocates, and other parents who have been through similar experiences can be helpful in not feeling alone in the process of trying to understand your child and how to support them best.

Man in white shirt carrying his baby boy

One human error we continuously make is comparing ourselves and others to each other. Something that works for one individual may not work for another. This can lead us down a rabbit hole of negative feelings because it may feel like “nothing will ever work” or that your child is “just different than everyone else.” At the same time, your child may feel this very same way or even feel like they are not good enough, different to the point that no one likes them, and this leads us to wonder, “Why me?”

Being an emotionally sensitive human can leave a person with big feelings, and as a young person, it can leave them feeling confused about the emotions they are experiencing. It is vital that the neurodivergent child have support and validation to recognize their own feelings to understand how they are absorbing the world around them. Imagine being an emotional sponge; you soak up other’s emotions whenever you speak to someone or are around them in a crowd. After talking to more than one person, this can lead to an intense mixture of emotions internally, anxiety, and may even feel emotionally draining due to feeling overwhelmed or sensory overload. It is crucial for their parent to be able to support them as they collectively work to understand and work to regulate their own emotions.

Many factors come into play when existing as a neurodivergent person. Not only are you living with your own big feelings but the feelings of others you try to understand. This can be especially difficult for those who lack social skills, have difficulty reading emotions, or have issues understanding their own emotional needs. Sensory issues and processing disorders are also amongst other needs that should be assessed with neurodivergent children as this potentially can lead to anxiety and depression disorders due to social impacts.

Prevention is the key to a successful life for neurodivergent children. However, don’t feel like you have failed if you are starting late in getting your child the support they need. It is never too late to help your child increase their life satisfaction. Support can look like seeking various therapies, such as mental health counseling, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is something that has been recommended for years for autistic children, however, there are many ABA treatment centers that are not neurodivergent friendly and will work to have the child conform to neurotypical standards. This can lead to masking, exacerbating anxiety, depression, and identity issues.

Understanding your child and their specific needs starts with communication. Ask them what they need. If they cannot communicate, work with them to see what communication style works for them. For some, this may look like using pictures, using colors, or for some who think in pictures, it may help them describe what they see to help them identify their needs and feelings. There is information to help your child but remember to think of them as their own unique self and not compare them to how you “think” they “should” be.

For information on support for your child or parent support look in your area for individual therapy or group therapies from neurodivergent affirming therapists. This will ensure you and your child get the proper treatment and feel validated in the unique needs. At Float On Counseling, I provide two groups – a Neurodivergent Friendly Group for young adults and a Psychoeducational Group for Parents with Neurodivergent Children. This takes place in Tampa, FL. Please get in touch with Alexis or call (813) 515-9602 for more information. Check out Psychology Today, Good Therapy, or the Neurodivergent Therapist Directory for support in your area.

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Alexis Lynch Brainz Magazine

Alexis Lynch, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Alexis Lynch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida. She specializes in neurodiversity and encourages the community to incorporate a "difference, not a deficit" mindset. Lynch is neurodivergent herself and feels this assists in the therapeutic process and client relationship. Lynch empowers her clients to utilize their strengths to work toward self-discovery and find comfort in feeling uncomfortable to gain confidence when met with challenges. The client can feel more present in their lives and reduce their anxiety by gaining this confidence and a newfound sense of self.


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