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Co-parenting and ASC

Laurenxsned
Laurenxsned Member Posts: 4 Listener
edited November 13 in Autism and neurodiversity
Hi everyone, 

I’m Lauren and I’m mum to a very gregarious 4 year old girl undergoing referral for an autism assessment, and a wonderful 10 year old too. 

I’m finding everyone’s posts and support for each other really great - thank you all. 

I wanted to ask though and maybe connect with others on how to navigate co-parenting around my daughters emerging needs and diagnosis and support processes. I have been divorced from my children’s father for 2 years now and have struggled with things such as getting him to understand her behaviours while at my home and the difficulties she has, as well as almost “teaching” him about his child and her needs, as well as taking the brunt of the coordination/fight for her to be seen by specialists who can help her. Routines and approach to parenting is pretty consistent across both homes, which I’m grateful for, but as my girlies level of distress seems to have increased and her ability to regulate since starting school appears to have reduced I feel like things do need to be adapted for her. 

Also… She does seem to mask differently with him and then erupts when she gets home or even to school at times. Is this normal for children to mask more with one parent or the other? 

Another thing I struggle with is that I feel like I’m often questioned by professionals also around is the fact that we are divorced the cause of her presentation? In my opinion it’s not and I’ve articulated this to professionals, but it’s said a LOT and I often fall into the pattern of thinking that what if it is? And as the person who left the marriage, is this all my fault? 

I’m not sure what I’m looking for in terms of response, but I probably am just wondering if I’m alone in this and wanting to hear some reassurance that other parents feel the same! 

Thanks for reading and hopefully chat with some of you soon! 
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Comments

  • Ross_Scope
    Ross_Scope Posts: 5,377

    Scope community team

    Hello @laurenxs

    Welcome to the community, thank you for joining and introducing yourself.

    It sounds as though you're doing a fantastic job and absolutely aren't to blame whatsoever. This stage of a child's life can be tough to navigate, and I'm sure that as a parent you're constantly evaluating yourself and considering whether you could do better, but it seems to me as though you're doing fantastically. 

    Divorce can impact a child, whether it has or not I can't say of course, but it's important to work around any difficulties the child may be having as a result of it but without blaming yourself, if leaving the relationship was the best thing for your well-being then you shouldn't have doubts about doing that.

    I'm not a parent, so I hope that others will be able to advise, but I just wanted to point you in the direction of a couple of Scope services, Parents Connect and navigate, which are both aimed at parents of disabled children.
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  • Reg
    Reg Member Posts: 88 Pioneering
    Hello @laurenxs

    A warm welcome to the community.

    You certainly are not alone in what you saying or feeling. I speak ( or write) as an ex- professional who used to help divorcing couples sort out child care arrangements for their children after a separation or divorce.

    If professionals have made you feel bad about your situation because of some of their comments then please don't worry about it - most of us have a very clumsy way of expressing ourselves at times.

    It is really common for children to react after contact and especially so if your daughter started school in September ? That would have been a massive change for her and it will often result in behaviour changes around contact.

    I am really impressed that you have managed to sort contact out as so many parents cannot do so but sometimes if a parent struggles to understand their child's needs then family mediation can be a safe space to explain things from your daughter's perspective .

    Other parents keep a contact diary that they hand over after contact to help you work out if there are likely to be reasons for melt downs , such as over tiredness because of trips out or too much sugar etc.

    Does your ex ever have the children individually as that may give you both special time with one child because of their different needs and ages ? 

    Finally, if can be hard dealing with it all so sometimes a bit of talking help or individual counselling can really help with coping on the occasional bad day or when your ex just does not get it or understand why you are asking him to do something .

    I am sorry it is not a parent response but like Ross said it sounds to me as if you and your ex are doing rather well 






    Reg

    I am a Scope volunteer.
  • Laurenxsned
    Laurenxsned Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thank you both so much for your responses, I really appreciate it. 

    I’m also a professional working in the family sector (psychotherapist and family therapist for SEMH as part of a safeguarding team) so definitely understand the impact of separation on children which informed our decisions around sorting the children’s routines and lifestyle as a priority. I always thought we had done well but have had a crisis of confidence since things have escalated with her behaviours/needs! 

    A contact diary sounds like a really great idea and will cut down on the amount of chats I have to instigate and responsibility to manage everything alone. I think I’ll broach that as an idea this week. 

    I’ve also signed up for the Navigate service and contacted our local autism support outreach service for some peer support monthly too, which I think will help. 

    Despite helping all kinds of families with wellbeing, including supporting other families with ASC and other disabilities, I feel like everything I would say to help others has fallen out of my brain when it comes to looking after myself and moving forwards with all of this 😂
  • Reg
    Reg Member Posts: 88 Pioneering
    As well as the contact diary do you have a children or parenting plan ? 

    If you do not then you should be able to find a copy on the Cafcass site.

    The parenting plan is another good way to start a parenting dialogue on your daughter's and your son's needs.

    I forgot to say that you should definitely not blame yourself for leaving the relationship as I am sure you know that it is far healthier for children to be brought up in a single family than in a family where one of both parents are not happy. I think all the children led research shows that so please do not blame yourself - you did the right thing 




    Reg

    I am a Scope volunteer.
  • Teddybear12
    Teddybear12 Member Posts: 1,267 Pioneering
    edited November 13
    Hi  @Laurenxsned   The first thing you need to do is to get rid of the "blame" idea. Children are great at playing one parent against another even at 4 years old. Although you mention co-parenting do you have an even split or do you do the majority of the parenting , the meetings with the Professionals, could you not go together so he can also have some input and support you. As she is fairly new to school your daughter will still be adjusting to a different environment  and rules she will settle. When she comes home from school try to get her to tell you what she has done that day what she liked and disliked and see if you can help her with the dislikes. You sound to me as if you are doing a brilliant job under difficult circumstances. As parents we do our best sometimes we need to cut ourselves a bit of slack.  Good luck. Take care.  
  • Laurenxsned
    Laurenxsned Member Posts: 4 Listener
    We coparent pretty much 50/50 on a set rota of time shared, with the only additional time I get is that they are home every Sunday to get ready for the school week at home with me. It’s worked well I suppose but may need to change to make things easier for 4yo. We do also have a parenting plan, which will probably evolve as things need to for my youngest. 
    Dad comes to meetings when he can but is pretty useless at providing much input and awful at the advocacy side of things when speaking to professionals and trying to put things in place. 
    But we roll with it! I’m clear about my boundaries and assertive around upholding them.

    Thanks for the support from you all, it is appreciated. My goal for this week is to practice a bit more self compassion! 
  • L_Volunteer
    L_Volunteer Community Volunteer Adviser Posts: 539 Pioneering
    edited November 14
    Hello @Laurenxsned

    Thanks for your post. I am glad you are finding us supportive! I can confirm it is typical for individuals to mask more in some environments and around some people more than in other environments and around other people. I am wondering whether your daughter is clear about when she is going to her dad's? For instance, do you have a regular timeslot in the week, and is this demonstrated on a visual timetable? A common difficulty for lots of people with autism is difficulty with change and this could enable her to anticipate the change. 

    In terms of yourself, please try not to blame yourself. This situation sounds really tough for you and you are doing really well. Your care is evident. Though, I know it is easier said than done. Parents are unfortunately often blamed for autism and it is common stigmatisation. It does not mean that it is your fault, rather it further highlights the attitudes which need to be challenged. You are definitely not alone here at Scope. I think we are a supportive and friendly community. Definitely be more self-compassionate. You may also find our discussion section for children, parents, and families useful and if you are interested you can find this at https://forum.scope.org.uk/categories/carers-of-disabled-children-and-adults.

    Take care for now and I will look forward to hearing from you again soon  :) 
    I am a Scope volunteer. I have knowledge about the following subjects, gained through professional settings such as high level education or employment: autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, down's syndrome, social, emotional and mental health difficulties, assistive technology and education. Pronouns: She/her.
  • Laurenxsned
    Laurenxsned Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thanks everyone! I’ve put myself forward for Parents Connect and Navigate and feel really positive since talking with your staff in my booking phone calls! I’m also linking in with the local autism outreach service for some peer support and help with strategies where I may be missing a trick. 

    We use visual timetables and have a very structured and set and established weekly routine, so Im still figuring out how to further build on that for my daughters benefit.

    A quick update - I met with school last night and alongside the CAMHS referral I’ve been referred to the Early Help Team, and I am struggling to understand why. School state this is because CAMHS won’t consider our referral without that, which I know is incorrect. I’ve contacted and arranged an appointment with the parent advice service locally to clarify this. There was also a comment about “nipping this in the bud” insinuating that my daughters difficulties are not because there is a diagnosable difference that has been present since she was a young child. Something that gets said time and again to families, which drives me mad enough at work but to hear it myself about my daughter just makes me want to scream! 

    Ultimately, I’ll roll with it and see if they can support me to enforce the change that is needed in terms of the children's contact with their father and suggest that they work with him on his parenting of her and how he responds to her needs, but I’m also really hesitant due to the amount of time and disruption that I know this process can cause for family by having a FSW involved as what feels like simply a tick box exercise. 
  • L_Volunteer
    L_Volunteer Community Volunteer Adviser Posts: 539 Pioneering
    Hi @Laurenxsned

    Thanks for updating us with your progress. How are you feeling today? I am really glad you have found some support services which you feel are working well with you. I am sorry to hear that this was not the case with the CAMHS referral though. Have you tried discussing how this makes you feel and the potential reasons for this referral with the person who referred you to the service? They may have more of a response than I can provide as I, unfortunately, don't have access to the same information. However, we can certainly be a listening ear on this journey with you. Take care for now and I will look forward to hearing from you again soon  :)
    I am a Scope volunteer. I have knowledge about the following subjects, gained through professional settings such as high level education or employment: autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, down's syndrome, social, emotional and mental health difficulties, assistive technology and education. Pronouns: She/her.
  • Teddybear12
    Teddybear12 Member Posts: 1,267 Pioneering
    Hi @Laurenxsned That all sounds very positive, I hope you are able to get the support that you need. Take care.

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