A Journey with my Daughter: A Parent’s Tale of Nurturing a Neurodiverse Child

As an undiagnosed neurodiverse adult, I often find myself reflecting on the journey my mother undertook while raising me. Recently, I sat down with my mum to delve into her experiences navigating the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurodiverse child during a time when understanding and support were scarce.

My earliest days were marked by bouts of colic, and my mum discovered that the only thing that seemed to soothe me was drinking warm water. It was a small discovery but one that speaks volumes about a mother’s intuition and determination to comfort her child.  When she was particularly tired one day, as a young child I offered her a glass of warm water to soothe her.

From the outset, my mum vowed to be patient with me, a promise that was tested time and time again. Despite her best efforts, she faced an uphill battle, juggling my unique needs with the demands of everyday family life.

One vivid memory she shared, was our move to a new house when I was around two years old. Our neighbour’s son wanted to play with me, but his behaviour was erratic, to say the least—he kept trying to bite me. My mum, ever resilient, stood guard during our playtime, recognising the importance of fostering friendships despite the challenges.

As I grew older, my excess energy levels and hyperactive behaviour became more pronounced, prompting my mum to enroll me in various activities like Dance, Sunday School, and Nursery, in a bid to channel my energy constructively. Yet, even with this proactive approach, the road was far from smooth.

Tantrums became a regular occurrence, leaving my mum feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of where to turn for support. Despite reaching out to healthcare professionals, including our health visitor, solutions remained elusive. My mum soldiered on, offering me the consistency and comfort I needed to navigate each day.

School brought its own set of challenges. I struggled with reading and writing, refusing to engage with these activities at home, as “That is what I go to school for”. I also was reluctant to wear the uniform, preferring not to conform.  It wasn’t until later that my mum began to suspect that there might be more to my difficulties, especially after reading about dyslexia in Susan Hampshire’s autobiography

Social situations were often fraught. One Sunday my energetic behaviour at Sunday School prompted my mum to intervene, leaving her feeling judged by other parents. Moments like these were a stark reminder of the societal stigma attached to neurodiversity, which little was known about at that time—a burden my mum carried with grace and resilience.

Despite the hurdles we faced, my mum tried to focus on my strengths. She marvelled at my creativity, my knack for building things out of junk, and my unwavering sense of self-expression. And while my challenges may have overshadowed these qualities in the eyes of others, my mum accepted me for who I was.

When asked what she is most proud of, her answer was simple yet profound: my kindness, resilience, and unwavering spirit. It’s a sentiment that speaks volumes about the bond between a mother and her child, transcending judgments, and negative expectations.

Looking back on our journey together, I’m filled with gratitude for my mum’s unwavering love and support. She navigated the highs and lows of parenting a neurodiverse child with courage and grace, leaving an enduring mark on my life.

As I continue to navigate the world as a neurodiverse adult, I carry with me the lessons learned from my mum’s unwavering strength, intuition, and unconditional love. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

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