As the parents of neurodiverse children (and neurodiverse adults ourselves), it can be challenging to navigate the unique needs and challenges of raising a child with unique needs. That's why it's important to actively plan to prioritize our own self-care and well-being, as well as the needs of our children and family. Here are ten resolutions that can help neurodiverse families set goals and make positive changes in the new year:
1. Seek out and prioritize self-care for all family members, including physical, emotional, and mental health.
As a neurodiverse family, it is important to prioritize self-care for all members in order to maintain healthy and positive relationships. This may involve finding time for physical activity, such as going for a daily walk or joining a gym, practicing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation or journaling, or seeking support from a therapist or counselor. Self-care activities might include setting aside time each day for a relaxing activity, or setting boundaries with others to protect personal time and space.
2. Build a supportive network of other neurodiverse families, family members, and professionals to help us navigate the challenges and celebrate the strengths of our family's diverse neurological profiles.
Having a strong support system can be crucial for neurodiverse families, as navigating the unique challenges and strengths of diverse neurological profiles can be emotionally and physically demanding. This might involve joining a support group for neurodiverse families, connecting with other families online or in person, seeking out the advice and guidance of professionals such as therapists or teachers, and enlisting the help and support of family members. Practical examples of building a supportive network can include attending a support group meeting, reaching out to other families for advice or to share experiences, or inviting a trusted family member or friend to provide respite care so that we can take a break.
3. Stay informed about the latest research and developments in neurodiversity and neurological conditions.
It is important for neurodiverse families to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in neurodiversity and neurological conditions in order to make informed decisions about our family's care. This might involve reading articles, attending conferences or workshops, and consulting with professionals to stay informed about the latest developments in the field. You can subscribe to a professional journal or newsletter, attend an educational conference or workshop, or consult with a therapist or other professional about treatment options for our family.
4. Advocate for the needs and rights of all family members within their educational and therapeutic settings.
As a neurodiverse family, it is important that we advocate for the needs and rights of all family members in order to ensure that they receive the best possible care and support. This might involve communicating with teachers and therapists, participating in school meetings, and speaking up if we feel the needs of any family members are not being met. Communicating with teachers and therapists about the progress and needs of all family members will ensure that everyone is informed, and speaking up if we have concerns will resolve any issue quickly.
5. Encourage and support the independence and self-advocacy skills of all family members.
Helping all family members develop independence and self-advocacy skills can be crucial for their long-term success and well-being. This might involve teaching self-care skills, helping them learn to communicate their needs and preferences, and encouraging them to take on new challenges and responsibilities. Practical examples of encouraging independence and self-advocacy might include teaching self-care skills to all family members, helping them learn to communicate their needs and preferences, and encouraging them to take on age-appropriate responsibilities such as helping with household chores.
6. Create a safe and structured home environment that meets the unique needs of all family members.
A safe and structured home environment can be especially important for neurodiverse families, as different neurological profiles may require different levels of structure and support in order to feel secure and regulated. Establishing routines and schedules that accommodate the needs of all family members, setting clear expectations and boundaries, and creating a physical environment that is organized and free of distractions. Practical examples of creating a structured home environment might include setting a consistent daily routine that accommodates the needs of all family members, using visual schedules to help all family members understand what to expect, and minimizing clutter and distractions in living and play spaces.
7. Encourage and support the hobbies and passions of all family members, and help them find ways to pursue them.
All family members benefit from having the opportunity to pursue their interests and passions, and this is especially important for those with neurological differences who may face additional challenges in finding and accessing appropriate opportunities. This might involve finding resources and opportunities for all family members to pursue their interests, such as classes or clubs, and helping them develop the skills and confidence to pursue their passions. Practical examples of encouraging and supporting the hobbies and passions of all family members might include signing them up for classes or clubs that align with their interests, helping them find resources or mentors to support their pursuits, and encouraging and celebrating their achievements.
8. Work with our therapists and teachers to develop and implement effective communication and behavior strategies.
Effective communication and behavior strategies can be crucial for helping our child succeed and thrive. This might involve collaborating with professionals to develop and implement communication and behavior plans, and being proactive in seeking out strategies and interventions that can help our family succeed. Practical examples of working with professionals to develop communication and behavior strategies might include attending therapy sessions and actively participating in the development of treatment plans, following through with recommended strategies at home, and seeking out additional resources or interventions as needed.
9. Find ways to balance the unique needs of each family member with the overall needs of the family.
It can be a challenge to balance the unique needs of each family member with the overall needs of the family, and it is important to find ways to meet the needs of all members while also maintaining a sense of harmony within the family. This might involve seeking out additional support and resources, setting boundaries, and finding ways to divide responsibilities within the family to ensure that everyone's needs are being met. Practical examples of finding balance might include seeking out respite care or other forms of support, setting limits on our time and energy commitments, and finding ways to divide responsibilities within the family so that everyone has the support they need.
10. Foster and maintain a positive and understanding attitude towards neurodiversity and neurological differences, and promote acceptance and inclusion in our community.
As a neurodiverse family, it is important that we foster a positive and understanding attitude towards neurodiversity and neurological differences, and work to promote acceptance and inclusion in our community. This might involve educating ourselves and others about neurodiversity and neurological conditions, advocating for inclusive policies and practices, and being supportive and understanding of the unique needs and challenges of each family member. Practical examples of fostering a positive attitude might include seeking out information and resources to better understand the needs and challenges of each family member, advocating for inclusive policies and practices in our family's educational and therapeutic settings, and being a supportive and understanding parent to all family members.