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IsabellaLinton
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13 Dec 2021, 7:14 pm

Are there any other autistic single parents here, with kids who are also on the spectrum or have other disabilities?



AngelL
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14 Dec 2021, 10:45 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Are there any other autistic single parents here, with kids who are also on the spectrum or have other disabilities?


I don't check all the boxes (my daughter isn't on the spectrum or otherwise disabled) but I was a single parent.



MrsPeel
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31 Dec 2021, 2:47 am

*raises hand*
been single for a few years now.
my kids are technically adults but have a few issues hindering their independence.



timf
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03 Jan 2022, 7:56 am

Sometimes it can be difficult to find someone else who has traveled you path. It might be more effective to post an inquiry that is more specific. For example a specific issue dealing with a child will be different that an issue that deals with single parent dating.

Considering the difficulties associated with single parenting, getting insights to specific problems from others can be beneficial. Helpful insights may not necessarily be limited to those who have the same situation.



IsabellaLinton
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03 Jan 2022, 10:15 am

Thanks everyone.

I didn't have a specific question at the time of posting. It had just occurred to me that I didn't know any other autistic single parents of autistic kids / teens / adults.

When I google "autistic parenting" I get stories about NT couples raising autistic babies. I'm not NT and I'm not a couple.

I've seen a very limited number of articles about parents who are autistic, but they're always married too. If not married, the other parent has a strong role in the child's life.

I've been on my own for 25 years, since my daughter was six months old. She's is ASD, ADHD, CPTSD, and has Epilepsy on top of a permanent physical disability. She is still dependent and may always be. My son is also very high needs and dependent despite being a little older.

More than anything I wanted to know that I'm not alone. Surely there are other single autistic parents with disabled kids of any age. My main questions would be about burnout, but also coping strategies related to:

- conflicting sensory disorders (you need ABC, they need XYZ)
- conflicting ASD behaviours (similar, but different ^ )
- meltdowns (how to juggle theirs and yours when you're at the end of your rope)
- self-advocacy as a disabled parent (dealing with social services, phone calls, executive function)
- social stigma and not being recognised ... anywhere ... with additional help
- ableism from others and in the media
- shame (feeling like a failure, feeling embarrassed of limitations)
- exhaustion from work / emotional depletion / physical health
- demand exceeding capacity (especially with empathy, problem solving, home ownership)
- practical matters (housework, cooking, cleaning, transportation, education, homework, jobs)
- financial planning, Wills, life insurance, disability insurance, disability pensions (paperwork hell)
- power of attorney, planning for their longterm needs when you die :(
- navigating family law (court, custody, exes -- if applicable)
- mutism and effective communication styles (with services and also extended family)
- meeting everyone's needs without sacrificing all of your own
- hyper-vigilance, worry, fear, carrying too much responsibility (including lack of sleep or rest)
- dating (theirs and yours), and being vulnerable to exploitation
- having to do things outside your comfort zone (socially, emotionally, financially)
- overwhelm (no ability to shut down or take a break, ever)
- time management and accommodating schedules
- conflict resolution (also sibling - sibling)
- being responsible for ageing parents while also juggling your children's needs
- mental health (theirs and yours, plus the intersection)
- that feeling that you're so proud of yourself -- but you also want to die because it's too much
- codependence (when your children need to parent you, or their skills exceed yours)
- adult dependent children (how to parent another adult)

and so much more

All thoughts and comments from people in the trenches are welcome.



kraftiekortie
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03 Jan 2022, 2:59 pm

I'm the autistic son of someone who was a "single parent" after I was 10----and, for all intents and purposes, most of my life.

Recently, she stated that she might have "a touch of Aspergers." She was born in 1934, even before there was a formalized "autism." She lived through a very rough time---the Depression and World War II. She certainly has quite a few psychological problems.

I can tell you that she had a very rough time with me. And she was rough with me partially because of considerable frustration.

She went through a lot for me, and I might not appreciate it enough.



IsabellaLinton
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03 Jan 2022, 3:08 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
I'm the autistic son of someone who was a "single parent" after I was 10----and, for all intents and purposes, most of my life.

Recently, she stated that she might have "a touch of Aspergers." She was born in 1934, even before there was a formalized "autism." She lived through a very rough time---the Depression and World War II. She certainly has quite a few psychological problems.

I can tell you that she had a very rough time with me. And she was rough with me partially because of considerable frustration.

She went through a lot for me, and I might not appreciate it enough.


Rereading what I wrote -- Wow, I'm the queen of brainstorming aren't I? 8O

It actually felt good to cleanse the palate and identify all those stressors.

I've never put it all in words like that before.
Maybe I should start a forum or write a book about it, or something constructive?

There must be an audience, somewhere.

I feel for your mother from what you've told me. She's a strong woman and I know she's in poor health now too.

It's very sweet that you recognise how much she sacrificed for you, even if there were tough times emotionally.

I know my kids adore me. I'm not complaining. I'm very blessed - I couldn't ask for more from them, really.

I think I feel guilty to admit that I'm struggling, because it might sound like I regret being their mother.

That's the farthest thing from the truth as I'm sure you know.

It's just a very, very hard job and I've never found anyone who can relate.



kraftiekortie
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03 Jan 2022, 3:12 pm

Trust me----there are very many single mothers who can "relate" at least on some level. And there are many others who, for all intents and purposes, are single mothers because the husband might do practically nothing but drink or whatever. You just have to find them.

There used to be shows in the 1970s about single mothers: "One Day at a Time," and "Alice" as examples.



IsabellaLinton
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03 Jan 2022, 3:40 pm

Yup. I get that. I know quite a few single mothers, or mothers who were single and recoupled (with men or women). None of them are autistic, though. None of them have autistic kids. Most of them have either full autonomy from the other parent, or some form of cooperation -- legal or amicable. I have neither. I have a litigious lunatic who sues me as well as his own child, and has succeeded in destroying my life for 25 years while breaching court orders, not cooperating, and not leaving us alone. He's driven my daughter almost mad. It's my job to pick up the pieces.

There's a whole other level of struggle involved for autistic parents who need care themselves, when they're responsible for other human beings. That's not even mentioning my ADHD or my strokes, or what I went through from exploitation and abuse subsequent to this man ^ .

Poor executive function and theory of mind make it very hard just to tread water. Then add conflicting triggers / meltdowns / sensory issues, and trying to teach them things that I don't know how to do in the first place.

Some days are a total nightmare and I don't know how to carry on.

I'm only hoping to find someone or anyone who gets it.



kraftiekortie
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03 Jan 2022, 3:46 pm

^Yours is a unique and very rough situation. I understand that, of course!



MrsPeel
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03 Jan 2022, 11:34 pm

Mm, I am glad you started this thread.
Parenting is the area in which I struggle the most due to my AS. There was a thread once with a question about what we dislike most about our autism, and my response was "the effect it has on my kids".

In other words, I deal with huge amounts of guilt and feelings of inadequacy over not always being the type of parent my kids need and deserve. Maybe NT single parents have the same feelings, to some extent, as no-one can ever be the perfect parent. But it's so much worse being autistic and aware that my kids are needing a certain level of emotional or practical support which I am simply unable to provide due to my own limitations.

As you say, there is no help or support out there for those of us in this situation. Despite a deep interest in reading autism books and scientific studies, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many pieces I have read on being an autistic parent (as opposed to a parent of an autistic child - of which there are thousands). And I have yet to find anything that really grapples with the issues around being an autistic single parent of kids with their own neurodiverse challenges.

Part of me is afraid to even talk about this. I have this deep fear that if we start discussing how very hard it is, we
open ourselves up to the perception that autistics cannot be good parents. Or that we should not be allowed to be parents.

Will NTs understand that when our way of parenting differs from what they see as being good and right, it may be equally valid? Or will they see our different parenting style as the cause of our kids difficulties, rather than an attempt to aid them in the best way we can while compensating for our own limitations?

It is a hard thing to talk about openly, honestly, and with self-awareness.



IsabellaLinton
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04 Jan 2022, 12:03 am

I'm going to bawl my eyes out. ^

Thank you, thank you, thank you - from the bottom of my heart - for your post.

Every word you said struck gold.

Your insights are so valuable and so appreciated; I don't know what else to say.

I really needed that today.

Perhaps we aren't alone after all?

I'll write more when I stop sniffling.

(( Big hugs to you and yours ))



IsabellaLinton
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04 Jan 2022, 12:20 am

MrsPeel wrote:
Part of me is afraid to even talk about this ... It is a hard thing to talk about openly, honestly, and with self-awareness.


I don't talk about it at all. Even on here, I went a year or two without mentioning that I was a mother. I needed a place where I didn't have to process all the emotions. I tend to info dump, and it's not fair to my kids if I start telling their life story or posting to the world that I'm teetering on the edge of collapse. My daughter reads WP. She knows what I'm going through because it's her story too, but it's just ... so hard to talk about.

It's hard to know what to say, or where to turn for help. I've made so many mistakes along the way that I live in shame, feeling like I let them down. I know I didn't, though. I know better. The self-talk is just so scary sometimes. The future is terrifying too. I'm always being compared to NT parents and NT standards. Lawyers don't get it. Exes don't get it. Other families most likely think I'm a freak, because I do things differently. I avoid people because of it, which has led to severe Agoraphobia (another vicious, counterproductive cycle when parenting).

When I've talked about it to other people (Autistics who don't have kids, or NTs who do), they seem to think I'm a superhero. I don't need that pressure either. I'm not a superhero and I'm not a failure. I'm just a person doing the best I can, for the people I love most in this world. I just want an equal footing with other parents, and accommodations support from family / social services when I get overwhelmed. It seems to be the same for you.

Thanks again for everything.

I'll keep thinking and posting, if that's OK with you ... or do you prefer PM?



MrsPeel
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04 Jan 2022, 2:43 am

Yes, let's keep posting here, and hopefully others will come along.
(And also I'm very unreliable with reading and returning PMs!)

You posted a lot of discussion points, so I'm not sure where to start.
Maybe with the sense of responsibility? Because one of the major struggles for me is with the concept of having others reliant on me, when internally I still feel like a child myself. The responsibility feels overwhelming. I'm not sure if that is a general thing that every parent feels, or a particularly autistic thing, or if it's just me.



Benjamin the Donkey
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04 Jan 2022, 7:54 am

Single parent of two boys, 12 and 14, the older with AS/ADHD.


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"Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey."


IsabellaLinton
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04 Jan 2022, 9:08 am

Hi Benjamin and thanks for posting.

My brother was a single dad for about 20 years, and I know quite a few other single fathers. In my experience that's very challenging too, because people tend to think of women / mothers being the responsible parent and trashing men / fathers. It's hurtful to the many responsible men who care for their children either as widowers, divorcees, or by necessity and choice. I'd love to hear more about your experiences and the ups / downs of parenting.

Likewise to you, Angel -- what has it been like for you?

Mrs Peel -- Responsibility. Good launch pad. I was assessed as having a social-emotional age of about 14. It's like living in the book Freaky Friday for the past 25 years, especially now that my daughter has surpassed me in emotional age. She has to take care of me as much as I take care of her, and then I feel guilty putting that burden on her shoulders. We've had to identify our strengths on any given day to see who gets to deal with which task (going in shops, making phone calls, solving problems related to executive function). Then she bears a lot of responsibility that she shouldn't need to.

I have a 24/7 default feeling of hyper-responsibility where I want to overextend myself and do / be / solve all the world's problems for them and I burn out or feel guilt when I can't. I don't know if that's a trauma response (go - go - go), or if all parents feel that way? I see other parents "letting go" when their kids are a lot younger, so I think this is different. I think my autism has something to do with it, and their neurodiversity / special needs compound it because I'm aware of their shortfalls or limitations. There are some skills that none of us can do, and when those skills are required it's either a three-way meltdown / showdown, a three-way shutdown, helplessness, or unspoken shame.

I'd love to break out of that cycle.

What are your thoughts?