Autism awareness- Resilience in parenting

Today is Autism awareness day. Every year I feel compelled to write or share something on this day. Luckily for me I am now in employment where I can do my part to raise awareness and acceptance daily.

I will spend most of my day finishing the first draft of my dissertation which investigates resilience in parents of children with autism. The difficulties in raising a child with autism can affect parental functioning, yet resilience can positively influence outcomes for the child.

As a mother of a daughter with autism, it is so important to me to understand how she feels and to help her with coping mechanisms to navigate her way through this odd world. I want her to be herself and be happy and comfortable. If I cannot balance the difficulties with my own methods of coping, it will be hard for me to help her. Therefore resilience is key.

Only at this stage, 5 years after diagnosis, can I say I am confident in my resilience, but this resilience has been partly developed through support. You do not have to understand what a parent of a child with autism is going through or be one yourself to offer support. Just listening without judgement, empathising, being inclusive and positive and even offering a bit of respite if you can, goes a long way.

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Mummy’s little helpers

I’ve really struggled with getting my children to tidy up and help with little things around the house. I’ve tried to think of ‘out of the box’ ways to motivate them.

I explained to them that their toys need to go back to their ‘houses’ and that if they don’t then they’ll feel like they don’t belong anywhere and no one wants to feel like that. That worked for about a week.

I had them label all of their toy boxes to help them with organisation. Again, worked for about a week.

I modelled and they just watched 😒

I showed the youngest a video of a monkey cleaning on You Tube. She now regularly cleans the kitchen table – I always knew she was a monkey 🐒

My husband, fed up of my moans and groans, bought them super girl costumes today. He told me to get them to wear them whenever I need them to help so they will feel good about what they are doing. I love love love this idea! I haven’t implemented it yet but I’m sure it will be a success!

What ‘out of the box’ ideas work for you?

Back to Uni….well I never went in the first place :/

One reason I have not blogged for so long is that I started a psychology degree in 2014. I have always been interested in psychology but never really considered it as a career. A lot of friends and family think that my interest comes from my experience of autism with my daughter but that is only part of it.

I have always been interested in why people do the things that they do and also mental disorders. How does the brain work, what happens when things go wrong? I have a broad interest and found myself reading books and googling psychological topics so I thought I might as well do a degree, right?

I did not go to university after college. It was not the right thing for me at the time and I do not regret that decision. I had a successful career in the travel industry and did not need a degree (and student debt) to achieve it. Now is the perfect time for me to continue education and I am loving it. I can apply life experience to my studies and I am working towards a clear(ish) goal.

I am now half way through my degree, literally wishing summer was over so I can start studying again. I have already chosen the PhD and university that I want to move onto afterwards and I am so excited! However the graduation gown is not very pretty 😦 lol

Managing my new texture/s

I decided to try to manage the two textures of my hair as it grew. I knew it would be difficult but damn! I found it really hard. I already did braid outs etc. with one texture but with two, I just felt like it didn’t work. I lasted about 10 months and then I cut off the relaxed ends. That was September 2015.

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I really liked my hair but I am so used to pulling my hair into a ponytail or bun, that the maintenance was too much. I was lazy and put it into plaits for a while.

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I then played around with crotchet braids. It took too many days out of my life – I am soooo impatient. My hair was so big, I spent days looking for Harry Potter and dabbling in wizardry – yes it took days for me to realise that I am but a mere muggle

After a couple of months of braids I played around with twist outs. There were a few times they looked good but other times…. My “go to” tends to be two canerows.

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I am still working out the best hair regime and products. At the moment I use a dark and lovely kids moisturiser and olive oil rich moisturiser. I use castor and coconut oil on occasion and recently bought shea butter. I generally do not stick to any one product as it just depends on how I am styling my hair.

My hair has grown a lot in the 18 months since I last relaxed, but my hair has always grown quickly as long as it is moisturised and regularly trimmed. I cannot wait for it to reach the length that I am used to. I really like my new texture, although I still like straight hair. I have pressed my hair a couple of times but it is too much work – cannot be bothered (as revealed in one of those facial expressions above)!!