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Undiagnosed ND parents + intense ND children = indescribable overwhelm

Updated: May 21

Being a parent is challenging enough, but for many parents who aren't aware they're on the neurodiversity spectrum, who are also raising ND children, life can become an ocean of endless overwhelm and neverending intense challenges. Since many ND parents may not be aware they and their children are ND, they often struggle with parenting because they're trying to get them to follow rules/expectations of the neurotypical world in neurotypical ways.

The neurotypical way is linear, unquestioning, conforming, tick the expectation boxes, do as you are told, be quiet, sit still, pay attention.

ND kids are unconsciously given the message that this is the only way and they must bend themselves to fit or they won'y be accepted by society. They grow up thinking they will be alone. Unsafe.

What parents may then see is explosive anger, swearing, vicious words that cut deep, hitting, throwing objects, smashing, breaking of objects/your home, and hanging around less than ideal people who take advantage of your children and their vulnerable state.

Maybe there's also deep anxiety, poor mental health, and a negative sense of self that leads to despondency and a lack of aliveness and joy. Withdrawal from the world and life.

Due to this combination (which I consider a twice exceptionality from most people’s parenting experiences) it results in your anxiety and stress hitting the roof.

You might be traumatised and not realise it. You may not realise you are experiencing daily 'little t' trauma. This is an accumulation of trauma that builds in small ways so that you don’t even realise or notice you're traumatised until you are pushed over the edge into burnout mode. You realise you just can’t cope any more. You’re exhausted. You’re done.

Your perception of yourself as a person and a parent drops. You feel like a failure. You doubt yourself and your decisions. You beat yourself up and carry the burden of guilt and distress, but you keep it covered up. You don’t want that part of you to be visible.

Maybe you withdraw.

Maybe you don’t talk about it.

Maybe you pretend all is fine because you don’t think anyone would understand or even worse — they might even judge you — or give you “advice” making you feel more frustrated than anything else because chances are you’ve already tried so many things and tried so hard.

It’s not for lack of trying that’s for sure.

I’ve been there and I empathise. However, from experience, I know for parents of ND kids that this falling apart may actually be the ultimate gift to you.

Many realise through falling apart that they themselves may be neurodivergent. Whether they suspect ADHD, autism/Aspergers, giftedness, high sensitivity or a mixture of several.

Then how do you cope? Knowing you have this crisis of your own identity disintegration as well as trying to figure out your child and how to best help them? It’s an overwhelming situation to be in.

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