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Raising kids with special needs: Helicopter Parent equals Autism Parent

Raising kids with special needs: Helicopter Parent equals Autism Parent

I think the above blurb taken from Google is an insult quite frankly; I take a defensive stance to this.

Some other descriptions from across the net - • Highly-strung, control freak parents • Restrictive, patronising, nannyish • Obsessively protective mums and dads Here is my definition of a helicopter parent, which one do you gravitate more towards?

Noun, informal “A parent who is vigilant and or is conscientious and or protective of their child or children” You see I don’t want to be this way, I’m not neurotic, I’m working on it and I apologise if I appear to be mollycoddling my son but there are reasons for this.

I am a helicopter parent because…

• At any given moment even though he’s sat enjoying those crisps you gave him; if a south easterly wind was to pass and blow his perfectly placed tuff of hair in a way that feels out of the ordinary he will lose it.

• Although you think he’s being greatly affectionate and interested in your newborn; my throat is in my mouth and in the split second that he loses interest and feels like dropping your bundle of joy – like NOW onto the floor, you will be glad I’m there.

• What a great wedding. It’s lovely that your daughter is playing nicely with the other girls on the dance floor; but I am watching their body language trying not to engage him in “Ring a Roses” that my son is clearly not picking up on and I just read his lips say “I’m going to tell my mum”.

I am a parent who is there to protect, reassure, and prevent harm (physical or emotional).

I do this as millions of women before me and millions after me will do for their own. I don’t do it to turn my child into a spoilt brat as some may see.

I do it to guide his competence and confidence. Every opportunity where I will intervene like the examples listed above, I turn into a learning experience for my son who struggles to understand situations in the way typical children do.

I understand that help is not always helpful but there is a time, place, and environment to let them try these things out on their own or to push their boundaries.

It’s more often than not within familiar surroundings like at home or school, where the fallout can be contained.

• I will encourage him to try new foods/textures even though they may make him gag.

• I will encourage him to try and resolve his issue with his friends at school by himself.

• I will tell him that he can’t always have his own way and to wait his turn. • I will discipline him accordingly when he has misbehaved.

So you may see me a bit on edge in new and social situations. I’m not ignoring you, I would love to enjoy the Latte going cold on the table and above all I truly envy that you can leave your child to their own devices but…

My child is autistic, I am a helicopter parent because…I love!

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Claire Smyth

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