One assumption many parents and professionals make is that people with Neurodiversity aren’t motivated to improve their lives.
It isn’t that they don’t want to change, they may not believe they’re able to change.
They often have difficulty finishing what they start or getting started at all. Struggle with creating an action plan let alone executing on one.
This can cause such brutal self-talk they believe themselves to be stupid, incompetent, worthless etc.
The first thing to establish with any person living with Neurodiversity is their mindset around change:
1. Is change something they want?
2. Do they believe they are capable of making the change(s) they want?
3. If things were more like they wanted them to be, what would be different?
4. What one thing could they do to begin making that change?
5. What do they need to believe about themselves in order to take that first action?
6. Do they agree to act as if what they believed what was stated in #5 is true?
7. Do they agree to take the new action and report back?
How they respond to this exercise will tell you a lot about how flexible their thinking is, their level of self-doubt, openness to risk and change, etc.
Again, the objective is to introduce the possibility that change remains accessible and achievable but isn’t attainable until the individual believes it is and takes action.
You may even feel like you’re being mean to others you’re setting boundaries with. Especially because many of them will say so.
It’s important to recognize the positive qualities you’re embodying when you set boundaries to offset any negative feedback you receive.
Should you receive pushback when setting boundaries, focus on feeling the self-respect, honesty and balance flowing through you.
Let that be what drives you to keep showing up in this new empowered way. It’ll be much harder for the naysayers to shut you down.
Say you gently poke your skin with a needle. You feel a slight pain. One that isn’t going to let up as long as the needle is there. But you could keep going if you had to. Though it would be hard.
The needle is mental illness.
Now imagine you were to take that same needle and jam it into your arm.
The needle isn’t bigger, it’s still just a little bit. But wait!
In this case it’s under pressure. Stress placed upon a mind (already trending toward imbalance of some kind) can make whatever mental illness that is there far more vulnerable and reactive.
Please consider this when putting yourself or those you love in stressful situations.
There is no such thing as a stupid question when you live with neurodiversity.
I read an email from my son’s school this morning about registering him for classes for the next term.
It listed the instructions on how to do it, but guess what happened?
I began reading it and it made sense for the first few sentences then turned into a jumble of nonsense in my brain.
I experience dyslexia along with my ADHD.
On any given day I can’t be sure which executive functions are firing and which aren’t.
Today, my language translators and sequencers are glitchy.
Now I could blow this off and not ask for help because I’m afraid his teachers will think I’m stupid.
I could assume that everyone else finds these instructions simple to follow. That I “should” be able to follow them too and there’s something wrong with the fact that I can’t.
That’s the voice of comparison, not the voice of compassion.
You must allow yourself some flexibility. Especially when it comes to rules established without taking your challenges into consideration.
Follow the instructions. There clear as day.
Listen, because I’m only going to say this once
If you can’t follow simple instructions, you aren’t smart enough to trust with this responsibility (I’ve been told that before).
Self-advocacy may need you to go beyond asking for what you need. You may need to educate others on how intelligence and learning style have little to do with each other.
People without our challenges are like people with 20/20 vision. They don’t appreciate what it’s like to see the world without glasses in all its blurriness.
When you don’t have the tool you need to see clearly. It isn’t because you’re lazy, unmotivated or not trying hard enough. It’s because you don’t have what you need to be successful.
Well to be successful in registering my son for classes I was going to need a little hand holding.
So I told comparison to take a seat. My focus is on getting a result that allows my son to keep moving forward in school.
I measure success in this regard on the result I achieve. Not one of those criteria includes the opinion of others on whether I needed help to do it.
It took work to unlearn comparing myself to others. I can avoid it more often than not, which has allowed me a great deal of freedom.
As well as increased my creativity.
In any case, I emailed and asked for what I needed. I’ll be meeting with a member of my son’s team to go through the process.
Not every instance of self-advocacy will go smoothly, of course.
But let’s make sure the reason isn’t because of all the booby traps you set up between your own ears.
I make clear to them they can feel sick and happy.
I have yet to experience anything that keeps you aware of the interplay of life’s opposites like chronic illness does.
Working to find that sweet spot between pain and comfort, exhausted and rested.
It’s often hard to tell whether challenging yourself will lead to a triumph or exacerbation.
Balance, balance, balance.
One way to find balance is to create space between you and the experience of, in this case, pain.
The way I frame it in my mind is this…
There is terrible pain in the legs that have come with this body of mine.
But I am not the pain and
It’s as if I were standing in a rain storm.
I am not the rain nor
The pain is there and we have a relationship.
Like there are storm clouds passing through the sky.
Like after a storm, when the birds start singing again.
Letting you know it’s safe to come out.
As this pain storms today,
Balance, balance, balance.