Q: Where are the resources for parenting special needs teens? Especially those who were diagnosed late? It seems like all the information I can find relates to diagnoses at 3 or 5 or 6 years old, and there’s nothing for those of us who have struggled for years with our kids because of “bad parenting” (providers’ words) and then found out later that there’s an actual reason. Strategies for parenting neurotypical kids don’t always work for neurodivergent kids, but all we were given were neurotypical parenting strategies and then blamed when they didn’t work. We’re putting a team together, but it’s so hard, tiring and frustrating, and we missed out on years of intervention. Where are the support groups, the articles, the books on where to go from here?
A: Sigh. I’m so sorry you’ve been through this ordeal. Your primary question is, “Where are the resources for parenting special needs teens?” but I’m going to address what I think is a larger need here: your mental health.
The word “trauma” has been so bandied about in our culture that the meaning can become a bit amorphous, but trauma can both be an acute experience (a physical attack or an environmental disaster, for example), and it can be a long series of less acute but long-standing issues that threaten a person’s well-being, safety or sense of reality. (An example of this kind of trauma can be found in people who experience systemic racism. Their daily lives have inherent dangers, threats and insults that are often invisible to everyone else, leading to more trauma and upset.) From your letter, I believe you have experienced this kind of trauma.
Watching your child struggle and the heartache associated with that, trying to get support and help, and being told that not only is your child “typical,” but it’s your fault they are struggling? Well that is pretty awful as just one incident, but repeat that over years and you are going to have some serious emotional repercussions. You have the right to be angry, sad and frustrated at the time you’ve lost, the unnecessary guilt and shame you incurred, and the failures of “experts” who were meant to help you, but only added more pain. You can define this as trauma, deep wounds or just pain; no matter the language, it deserves its own time to heal.
Yes, you can find some amazing groups of parents (Facebook and Instagram are great resources, just use the right search words and hashtags), but be aware that your pain may need something more specific (therapy or therapeutic movement, for example). When you find these parent groups of neurodivergent children, you will see swirls of anger, rage, pain and grief, and all those feelings are appropriate. But what you also may see is that some parents are stuck in their emotional loops, and these are not the parents that you want to turn to for support, […]
Looking for more parenting support? Click Here.
Sign up for my Newsletter here to get this in your inbox every week!