Special Needs Parenting

Dear Exhausted Parent – Mindfulness for Special Needs Parenting

Here I am. I’m lying in the grass and my mouth tastes of mud. It isn’t raining so the mud must be from the tears. I have so much pain all over my body from tensing my muscles and my throat hurts from screaming into the dirt. I can hear my heart beating and I’m feeling hot although the temperature is -2. I’m making grass angels, face down in the mud!

I’m calming down now. I’m starting to worry that the neighbour’s might be looking. So I get up and I start to dust myself off. I turn around and look up to the neighbour’s windows. There is someone there but I can’t tell who. So I wave and smile and shrug my shoulders. This isn’t the first time! I can hear my phone ringing but I can’t find it. A hand slowly appears over the fence and waves it towards me as though it’s signalling some sort of ceasefire.

I gulp and walk towards the fence. I take the phone silently and a voice whispers through the fence “bad day?” So I just sigh and reply “you have no idea”! I walk back inside and shut the door behind me.




I’m a single mom to my son, who is 16 and has “quirky tendencies”.

He is diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and he isn’t such a big fan of people or life. In his words “people are stupid and life is futile”.

As a parent how do you work with that? It’s hard to make sense of as I was the opposite growing up. I always had lots of friends and loved life. I always wanted to be friends with everyone, I always wanted to be around people and hated to be at home on my own.

My son however thinks that he is actually allergic to people and that he will definitely internally combust if forced to make contact for longer than it takes to smile and wave on passing.

Up until a few years ago I would say that we were “that family”. We argued 24/7. Well to be fair, usually I argued and he would stare blankly. When I would stop to breathe he’d say “great thanks for the chat” and turn around to continue gaming. That reply usually caused another argument.

The biggest argument we have at the moment is his obsession with drumming on his computer desk in his room. It drives me crazy. It’s so perfectly repetitive. I actually have visions of attacking his desk with a sledge hammer and dragging the bits into the garden before throwing ten litres of petrol on it, starting a massive bonfire and dancing around it like a Native American on special brownies. Which is actually ironic because the drum beat as I dance around the fire is the same beat that he plays over and over upstairs. Go figure!

I do this a lot. I “clock out” and come back into the room smiling. Mostly people will just be looking at me in a very confused way but I have worked this one out. People now think that I have chronic fatigue syndrome and that this “brain fog” is just one of the unfortunate symptoms. This way they actually support my “time out” moments with comforting smiles and head tilts instead of frowns and looks of “oh hell should I run?”




I’ve started to read a lot and this helps. The only problem I’m having is that I never make it past the first 5 pages. I’m always so tired so I keep falling asleep and can’t seem to even make sense of that. My eyes drift off and I end up re-reading the page over and over.

You would think after 2 months with the same book I would’ve mastered the first few pages. I see my book addiction as a cheap alternative to sleeping pills and it doesn’t come with the side effects either, which is good.

I’ve also developed an unhealthy addiction to something called “mamas wine time”. This usually takes place from around 5pm although I like to start planning for it at about midday. My routine usually includes humming while shining my wine glass before placing it in the fridge to give it a few hours of chilling before I use it. I like to do this as it calms me to know that it will be wine time in around 5 hours. Time goes quickly then.

I get up to usual mamma stuff in between. You know like lining up the cans in the cupboard in date order so that my son doesn’t freak out when realising that I’ve used a can dated for December before a can dated for October.

Luckily this is no longer an obsession and we have moved on. His new thing is gaming. I spend around £200 per month on gaming subscriptions and upgrades or skins as he calls them. He wakes up and shuffles from his bed to his PC. It’s a constant battle to get him to want to do anything else. He actually bought a bell off Amazon so that he could ring it when he needed food or something to drink.

That bell took a swim in the River Dee and hasn’t been seen since.

I still however find myself climbing the stairs throughout the day to provide the sustenance he needs to enable him to defeat Ahri, the nine tailed fox or whoever he is battling against at the time. He justifies his computer addiction by letting me know that some of the top gamers in the world earn hundreds of thousands through endorsements and you tube channels and gaming competitions or conventions.

He further justifies this by letting me know that they get to travel the world and stay in some of the best and most expensive hotels for free.

He also lets me know constantly that I could travel with him if I support him as he would need a personal assistant.

I am practicing mindfulness techniques and usually I find that moments like these are good times to engage with my inner path of harmony and retreat to my room to find some peace. If I don’t then the result is usually me face down in the grass, screaming into the mud.

I decided that these regular “moments” that I was having were not good for my health! It leaves me exhausted, drained, embarrassed, worn out and powerless! I needed a plan!

So I started to study as a therapist and mindfulness practitioner!

So how does being mindful help you on your parenting journey?

  • It can help to support you be more aware of your anxiety, low moods or exhaustion levels
  • It can help you to challenge the negative self-beliefs that can cause you distress as a parent. Those “am I good enough” thoughts
  • It can help you to practice tools to calm your anxiety attacks and build confidence in your abilities to cope with everyday stress
  • It can deepen the relationship you have with self-care practice, offering you better sleep and a calming approach to parenting

My journey as a therapist specialising in supporting families (especially moms) on the autism spectrum has been incredible. I have learnt more about human interaction, unconditional love and pure acceptance for the individual spark of uniqueness that we are all born with in the last four years, than I have in my 36 years on the planet! My heart explodes with gratitude each and every day and I have found tools and strategies that really work to bring balance and peace within this chaotic environment.

I now support other parents by offering face to face, group, online coaching and counselling services specialising in working with families with special needs!

I feel full of thanks, gratitude and love for what I do! I have found that in doing this work, I am feeling more free and aligned with my purpose as a parent and a human being!

I have written a book which combines CBT, mindfulness & metaphysical tools to help you gain clarity over your parenting struggles.

Surviving The Special Needs Battlefield

Surviving the Special Needs Battlefield – Self-care survival skills for parents of young people with Autism, Aspergers & ADHD

This book is now available on Amazon here:

SURVIVING THE SPECIAL NEEDS BATTLEFIELD

Wishing you much love, health and happiness on your parenting journeys!


Love Tanja

Surviving The Special Needs Battlefield

Find us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/theproteaproject


 


Also published on Medium.

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10 comments

  1. very inspiring and beautiful story

  2. Great story! It’s so nice that you help others out too!

  3. So interesting. Couldnt stop reading.
    Thanks for helping others Tanja.
    Need to buy this book!!!

  4. You mean the foam bath paint?

  5. Profile gravatar of Lisa💕

    This is a great artical and i think every parent will find it as a benifit to read and know most parents are so tired and have special needs. Great stuff im sharing this artical.

  6. Profile gravatar of vhutshilo

    Wow that a story thanks it’s really helpful

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