Thursday, 27 October 2016

Autism 'Super Parenting'

Yesterday a news item caused quite a stir in the autistic parenting community (yes, there is such a thing, and yes, we talk). The title of the news item was 'Super-parenting' improves children's autism.

It was, on the face of it, a patronising and insulting title. Are we not, as autism parents, superparents already? Is this yet another study telling us how we have failed yet again?!

autism super parenting

The article stated: 
Dr Catherine Aldred, a consultant speech and language therapist with Stockport NHS Trust, stressed it was not about blaming the parents.
"We're taking the parent's interaction with the child and taking it to a 'super' level, these children need more than 'good enough', they need something exceptional," she said.

This statement in itself was contradictory. On the one hand she's saying that she's not blaming the parents, yet on the other hand she's saying the children need "more than 'good enough'"

Good enough?! Good enough?! I have yet to meet an autism parent who didn't work so much harder at their parenting than any NT parent. We have to battle schools, healthcare professionals, disbelieving friends and family, as well as managing extremely challenging behaviour and I refuse to call that 'good enough' parenting.

However I pushed the semantics aside and carried on with the rest of the article. And what is being done makes sense.

Most parents are left in the dark about their autistic child, at least in the UK. If you're fortunate, you get a diagnosis and a few sheets of paper with the phone number of the NAS and suggestions for carers coffee mornings. There is no preparation for the battles that will follow. It's like sending someone into a minefield, blindfolded, with ear plugs, extra weights and some long pointy sticks for good measure, just in case you miss any of the mines you are stepping over, while people on the outside tell them not to be silly, there are no land mines. All land has funny metal bits in it. In many places there is no support. It's horrendous.

I've been fortunate in that I'm now doing the NAS Early Birds Plus course for a second time. The phrase you hear over and over when doing the course is 'be a detective'. The idea is that all behaviour has a cause and by closely observing your child you can see why certain behaviours exist.

There seems to be a similar idea behind the study being done for this article, but in this case the parents aren't having to do the detective work as all the behaviour is being recorded so it can be analysed later. It has worked and for the families it has helped, that is fantastic.

But to achieve that without a team of experts around you is really hard. For instance in my household I'm a single mum with two autistic kids and one NT. When do I get to analyse behaviour when all hell breaks loose? It's not that simple.

The idea behind the treatment or therapy or whatever you want to call it is sound. And yes I suppose in a way it is super parenting in that no parent can ever achieve it without help or actual super powers! But to suggest that parents on their own can achieve the same results is ridiculous. We need training and support. We need early diagnosis and shorter waiting lists. We need to be listened to when we tell the professionals that something isn't right with our children.

We are ALL super parents. We don't need telling to up our game. We need a side kick. We need support.

I've added this post to Spectrum Sunday.

Spectrum Sunday


  1. I read the article too, and I really agree with what you've written. I think the headlines were a bit misleading, but you're right logistically it can be difficult for a parent to achieve this without extra help. We definitely are all super parents, and I really believe we can make the most difference in our children's lives

  2. "We are ALL super parents. We don't need telling to up our game. We need a side kick. We need support." This is so true!

  3. I've been on two early bird courses too - they are really good. I agree - we are all super parents already. Daft terminology. Thanks for linking to #spectrumsunday

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