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Parent experience, Clara

When Jess hit teen years there was a lot of turmoil and anxiety about her life. She struggled with friendships and her mental health and as a consequence started School Refusal. Jess is now 16 and we still don’t have a diagnosis. We’re living in a little bit of a limbo state where we know she needs support but we’re unable to access anything. Living with a neurodiverse young person certainly has its challenges and has been a steep learning curve for me as a parent. 

The two of us actually ended up going to Family Counselling and it was the best thing we ever did for our relationship. I was originally embarrassed about attending as I felt that I had failed as a parent, but it was exactly what we needed. They were wonderful, patient, understanding and completely non-judgemental. It really helped and has helped us to understand each other a little bit better and it means I am better able to support her through this journey. Life is throwing her a lot of challenges and she is still struggling with her mental health and anxiety but through it all, she at least knows that her family will be beside her.

The last few years have certainly not been easy for the rest of the family either. It’s been hard for her siblings to understand why she got to ‘stay’ off school and it’s been hard on us as parents trying to juggle everyone’s very different needs and its exhausting having to fight for her every step of the way.  And if I’m being honest, it can be a bit of a balancing act figuring out if something is caused by the autism, mental health or just being a teenager! I have learnt to take help when it comes and that it is ok to do so.  Just having someone to listen to you and understand what you are going through is massive. My advice – make sure you have a support group – whether that is family, friends or other parents going through the same thing.