Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Welcome to the PARENTING…on your own path BLOG!
I’m glad you’re here. I’ve spent the last 15 years working with children with special needs and their families. I’ve worked in public schools, a hospital-based assessment clinic, and private practice. I’ve completed evaluations, delivered hard news to parents, been to hundreds of IEP meetings, and consulted with teachers, administrators, and school-district staff. But my heart is in catching families after the diagnosis and getting started with the helping part. Over time, my psychology practice has evolved into providing therapy to children and teens with diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, anxiety, depression, sensory processing difficulties, and learning disabilities, or a combination of all of the above. They have taught me so much, and so have their parents.
But I have another teacher. My son was my greatest curve-ball in life and he is still teaching me everything I didn’t learn in graduate school. I won’t be discussing his story here because it will be his to tell one day. But I’ve sat on both sides of the IEP table, I’ve been on both sides of the diagnosis feedback session, and I know the helpless feeling of being tired and thinking you are out of ideas. That is one of my inspirations for this BLOG. We have to keep sharing our ideas. What works for one child may or may not work for another. Our kids are complex. Our families are complex. There is so much information out there, but we are ultimately the decision-makers of the next best step in our child’s journey. And that’s a lot of pressure. But, we can do this. We will sift through all of the recommendations in an effort to find the balance between pushing our child to learn new skills, which may cause fear and frustration, and creating the space that keeps them happy and calm.
The Hard Stuff and the Truth
Since this blog is mostly for parents, let’s start with the hard stuff. So many parents have shared their struggles with me. Many have felt that pit in their stomach when they noticed something was different about their child’s development. Some have experienced that denial when they tried to explain away a quirky behavior, and many have sat holding that grief when doctors and clinicians confirmed their suspicions. Then there are the feelings of inadequacy, which some even experience as shame. The “inadequacy” makes us question every decision we have ever made as a parent. The truth here, though, is that every parent has felt this sense of “not enough.” It’s that moment as a mom when you look up and it seems like that other mother is doing it “better,” with more ease, and in a more put-together outfit. That’s all in our heads though. The truth is that we are all on our own path, with our own stories, and our own challenges. But there is nothing else like the experience of having a child with special needs that makes you realize, “Whatever you knew before, does not help you here” and that feeling of inadequacy is amplified. Some of you are just starting this journey and some are well on your way down the path. This blog is for all of you.
I have been a witness to so much progress over the years, both for children and for their parents. Many parents notice that the denial happened because they were scared to let go of the picture they had created in their head about this parenting journey. The grief happened because it’s hard to accept that this parenting journey truly is harder than others. And let’s all take a collective deep breath and let the “inadequacy” roll on by. It does us no good. The “inadequacy” is only there to trick us into thinking we are “not enough” and the shame tries to tell us that we must have had something to do with these challenges. We didn’t. Parents of children with ASD especially feel this way. The history of how we have perceived ASD in the United States in the last 20 years has led to so much shame. The book, Neurotribes, explains how we ended up where we are and where we are going next in understanding neurodiversity.
The Irony of the Path
So, if any of this speaks to you, this blog is for you. You are on your own path. The irony is that it’s actually not your path at all. It’s your child’s path. We’re just following behind, jumping ahead at times to whack bushes out of the way, and figuring out what our child’s strengths are to help them forge their own path one day. The story will be their story to tell.
There is so much hope for our children's progress and our children's future. I hope that this blog helps parents, teachers, caregivers, and other clinicians in understanding the perspectives of families raising children with special needs in the 21st century. I’m hoping this blog reaches families outside of metropolitan areas who do not have access to the most up-to-date ideas in parenting children with certain developmental needs.
I plan to share all kinds of topics including how to support anxiety and emotional regulation, the thinking patterns of ASD, how to structure routines at home for children with rigid thinking and/or executive functioning weaknesses, how to talk to your child about their brain, building support with your child’s school and teachers, having that sex talk with your child who is wired differently, how to support your child’s neurotypical sibling, and how to take care of yourself.
**All content provided is protected under applicable copyright, patent, trademark, and other proprietary rights. All content is provided for informational and education purposes only. No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical or psychological diagnosis, advice or treatment. Information provided does not create an agreement for service between Dr. Emily W. King and the recipient. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to you or your child's symptoms or medical condition. Children or adults who show signs of dangerous behavior toward themselves and/or others, should be placed immediately under the care of a qualified professional.**