For this week’s blog I have a guest contributor, Emily Jolliffe of Get Clarity: Let Go, who is focusing on maintaining our mental health as parents.
Emily support parents of autistic children who feel like they’ve tried everything to help their child go with the flow, manage outings and make friends. Emily has an impressive list of qualifications:
Certified Option Process ® 1-1 Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach (www.option.org)
Qualified Spanish teacher, PGCE, trained in group facilitation and workshop delivery.
Autism mum with 14 years of experience and expertise of what works in the specific field of autism!
Trained in the Son Rise ® Programme 1-1 play therapy. Ran a home Son Rise ® Programme with her own son son, who is now a teenager attending mainstream school.
This is the sixth of my monthly guest contributor blogs focusing on different aspects of maintaining our mental health. You can read the previous posts here:
Amanda Manson – Clearing away the distractions
Kimmy Drain – 5 Self Care Rituals in 5 Minutes
Sarah Steinhofel – Your Mental Health – Enjoy the Ride!
Kate Brown – How is Massage Beneficial to Mental Health?
Sara Kay – Laughter for Mental Health
How would it be to boost your energy this new term AND feel more on top of things with your child so you can be patient even when it’s tough?
Our son was diagnosed autistic at the age of 7. He is highly articulate which masked his immense social challenges. He struggled in most social situations. He lashed out at people. He couldn’t manage or comply in school. We ran a Son Rise ® (play therapy) programme for 5 years. We started small and worked up to full time with a team of volunteers. Now our lad is a teenager thriving in a supportive mainstream school. He seeks out social interaction, talks about his friend group, hangs out and games with his friends and can connect with acquaintances and new people. He’s affectionate and has a cracking sense of humour. He’s proud to be autistic. And we’re so deeply proud of him.
You can read more of that here https://www.getclarity-letgo.co.uk/my-story
I run a seriously useful group full of training on practical techniques and mind-set shifts, as well as providing solidarity & support. I help parents feel more confident, clear and calmer through 1-1 & couples counselling, self-care and autism coaching.
Here are my 7 ways to connect with your autistic child even when they have a meltdown:
Connect with Yourself: Breathe. You’ve got this. You CAN do this.
Connect with Yourself: Decide who you want to be in this moment. You are the model, the adult, and you get to set the tone.
Connect with Yourself: Know it doesn’t mean anything about you. Your child is expressing their own challenges in that moment. They are choosing how to act for them: you choose how to act for you.
Connect with Your Child: Be there for your child, right now. That might not mean giving them attention when they whine or hurt others. But it can mean quietly wanting the best for them, while waiting for the most useful moment to interact. So they see how to get your attention.
Connect with Your Child: Join! Join! Join! Do what they love doing with them in the moment. [This might be outside of the meltdown, but supports you when they do meltdown]. As much as you can, when your child does a repetitive exclusive behaviour (‘ism’/‘stim’), join them. When you can, join what they’re doing, with fascination, curiosity and love.
Connect with Your Child: Celebrate the behaviour you want. Every time your child is kind, gentle, shows eye contact, shares, takes turns, uses a word, says NO instead of hitting: make a HUGE deal of it!
Connect with Your Child: Give low energy to the behaviour you don’t want. Carry on your day as if it didn’t happen. I used to think I’d be judged for ‘turning a blind eye’, I probably am! However, I’m the parent and I have the best measure of what works with our son. I don’t want him to hurt others, swear at them, threaten them. He knows this. I don’t need to remind him, cajole him, tell him every single time. If a sibling’s hurt, I’ll go to them first.
I’m only writing this because I’ve experienced plenty of meltdowns (and still do sometimes). You’ll adapt this for your child, and situation. You’ll have more time one day than the next. Sometimes it’s in the supermarket where it can feel more pressurised than at home. For our children and for us.
It’s OK and a HUGE part of learning when it doesn’t go to plan! Those are the precise moments when we can learn the most. Let me know how you get on and what changes you see. In yourself. And in your child.
Time for Me, Time for My Child is a group programme online. We’ll be learning autism connection techniques AND planning how you nurture yourself, so you have energy to put them into practice and help family life to become easier. We’ll also be diving into how to manage the trickier moments of parenting an autistic child with confidence, and topping up your cup and rebooting your energy. The two things go together as we can’t be the parent we want when we’re on our knees depleted. It starts on Monday 13th September, so get in touch with me today if you’re thinking about it, or fill in the interest form on my website if you’re ready to start making changes.