Autism, Anxiety & Emotional Wellbeing

In honour of World Autism Level Up Month, I was delighted to be interviewed by Sharon McCarthy for Autism Journeys Podcast. We explored strategies to support behaviour, anxiety and emotional wellbeing, how to make a ‘Back to Basics' and ‘Social Connection' plan, the 1% improvement secret and much more.

2:15 How the work of autistic adults has helped me see that I'm a novice in autism after working in the area for 19 years

5:40 Be curious not furious – a person's behaviour is a window into their nervous system – and what to do about it

11:00 Hidden signs of anxiety

13:00 Three step approach to anxiety management

18:00 Three core needs for wellbeing

20:00 Why the pandemic and school closures have had such a big impact on First Years in secondary school

22:00 How and why you should make a ‘Back to Basics' plan to help young people cope with stress and anxiety

24:20 How and why you should make a ‘Social Connection' plan

26:00 Supporting children with remote learning – environment design, sensory strategies, music for focus

31:15 Supporting young people's psychological wellbeing by layering protective factors

34:00 How to counteract our inbuilt negativity bias

37:00 Simple ways to make the ordinary extraordinary

39:00 The 1% improvement secret

40:30 Self care as the foundation to good parenting – how and why to make a selfcare plan

42:40 Be the adult you want your children to become

44:40 Supporting kids to get back to school

46:20 Creating a supportive environment in school

48:40 Free parent club

49:30 Reclaim Parenthood membership with masterclasses, Q&A sessions and guest expert sessions

50:45 Why I don't recommend reward charts, time outs and punishment and what I recommend instead

52:00 The most effective discipline approach – High Structure, High Nurture

54:40 Sibling fighting, emotion coaching and conflict resolution

1:03:30 My top tips for parenting autistic children

On The Merits of Fort-Building

When I was expecting my first child, I spent much of the pregnancy reading baby books. My particular obsession was how to Get the Baby into a Routine and Sleep Through the Night. On my quest, I read Gina Ford, The Baby Whisperer and What To Expect When You're Expecting, to name a few. However, not one of them gave me even the slightest notion of what it really means to be a parent. If I knew then what I know now, I would quickly skim the books, then read the following poem by SARK each day.

How to Really Love a Child by SARK
How to Really Love a Child by SARK

I first came across this poem when heavily pregnant with my second child, suffering through severe pelvic girdle pain while engaged in daily power struggles with my two-year-old who had just learned the words “no” and “why”! It had a profound impact on me at the time. The lines “Say yes as often as possible” and “Say no when necessary” magically reduced the power struggles. The “put them in water” line is my if-all-else-fails option.

It now hangs in my kitchen and, whenever I am in need of parenting inspiration (i.e. every day), I try to remember the central message. My favourite line is “Remember how small they really are!” – It helps me to remember that this time is so precious.

I'm off to build a fort!