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Parenting in the Rain, Episode 15
Parenting a Child with ADHD & Autism: Penny Williams’ Story
In This Episode:
- In this episode, Penny Williams tells us what her journey of parenting a child with ADHD and Autism has been like for her and her family.
- She shares some helpful strategies such as validating her child’s feelings during times of upset, remaining calm during stressful situations such as meltdowns and tantrums, communicating with the school, and much more.
- She recommends that parents advocate for their child’s needs and educate themselves as much as possible. Knowledge and understanding is key.
- She refers to her son as “Ricochet” to respect his privacy. His soccer coach gave him that nickname at his first day of practice at 4 years old.
- At first she didn’t realize that his behavior was out of the ordinary. Feedback from peers and teachers helped her to realize that something was going on and there was a need to seek more information from a specialist. She eventually sought out an appointment with a Developmental Specialist, which took a while to get an appointment. During that time she researched to try to find answers on her own.
- Penny thought that since he was able to focus on things that he loved, that focus wasn’t really an issue.
- She shared what her family’s lives were like before the diagnosis with school struggles, the search for answers and strategies, and the emotional impact of it all.
- She felt overwhelmed and in search of information to “fix” it after she received the diagnosis. But, then she realized that she couldn’t “fix” it. She searched out knowledge to help with strategies and techniques. She wrote 3 books so far to help other parents learn from her experience. It was really a mindset shift for her and her family. It took her about 2 years to come into acceptance that it couldn’t be “fixed”, but it can be helped and their family could feel joy and peace together.
- Penny talks about the reality of the struggle – “an on the bathroom floor” type of struggle. It can be difficult and leave parents feeling inadequate, frustrated, and in emotional distress. She tells us that suppressing feelings does not make anything better.
- She mentions the metaphor of the flight attendant instructing parents to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before they do their children, so that they can be there for their kids. It’s important to validate your own feelings as a parent as well as well as realize that self-care is so important. Skipping on self-care can intensify the struggle.
- She tells us about the “Happy Mamas” Conference coming up in May.
- In her books, she provides specific strategies to parents to help de-escalate situations, communicate effectively for school, understanding the difference between developmental and chronological age, and much more.
- ADHD will never go away, but you can improve the situation.
- At first she thought was only Sensory Processing Disorder, SPD, and a Specific Learning Disability, SLD, which does have, but when she went to a Developmental Specialist, she also learned that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD and eventually learned about Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, too.
- After the diagnosis, she felt guilty for grieving. She compared her situation to people struggling with other diagnosis that seemed worse. Now she knows that each person experiences the struggle and it’s important to engage in self-love and care during that time.
- It’s important to validate your child’s feelings instead of trying to teach in that moment of emotional overwhelm or shame them through comments such as “you’re acting like a baby”. This can leave children feeling defective and we don’t want that for our kiddos as it can have a long-term negative impact.
- She has a free training coming up at the “Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy” http://parentingadhdandautism.com/freeadhdwebinar Space is limited, so it’s important to sign-up soon to reserve your spot.
- Penny will be offering parent coaching and online courses later on this year.
- Penny Williams is the award-winning author of three books on parenting kids with ADHD, Boy Without Instructions, What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD, and The Insider’s Guide to ADHD. She is a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine, Healthline, and other parenting and special needs publications.
- Penny has been in the ADHD trenches for nearly 8 years now, and often describes herself as a “veteran” parent of a child with ADHD. She had to learn the hard way how to successfully parent a child with ADHD, since there were no guidebooks at the time. It’s now her mission to shorten that prolonged learning curve — and the pain and struggles that come with it — for other parents on a similar parenting journey.
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