Do you continually feel discouraged and frustrated as you pursue an Autism diagnosis for your child? Are you being shut down and dismissed by doctors about your concerns? Does it seem like no matter how hard you push or advocate for your child, no one is listening?
This week, you’re hearing a conversation with my former client and friend Julia, whose experience I think all of you will deeply resonate with. As a single mom of premature twins, she first came to coaching feeling like life was challenging with no way to manage the obstacles she was facing. She’s been pursuing an Autism diagnosis for her children for years, and she recently received the news she was waiting for.
Join us on this episode to hear Julia’s experience of advocating for her children and the grief she’s feeling about her role as an Autism mom. She’s offering her journey of working with doctors, the news she’s processing right now, and how coaching has given her the tools she needs to support herself on this journey.
You are listening to episode 91 of The Autism Mom Coach, Processing an Autism Diagnosis.
In today’s podcast I am bringing you a recent conversation with my former client and friend, Julia. Julia is going to talk about her experience coaching with me, how it changed nearly every aspect of her life. And how the skills she learned continue to support her as she officially stepped into the role as an Autism mom.
Before we get to Julia and her moving story, I want to take this time to remind you all that you don’t have to do this alone. If you are struggling, if you are in pain, if you want to do tomorrow better as an Autism mom, schedule a consultation for my one-on-one program. It is truly the best gift that you can give yourself, your child and your family. And as Julia will share with you, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
You get these tools, you get support implementing these tools with me as your coach and then you take them into your life forever. You don’t have to sit on a couch for years and years to get relief. You can get it now, you are worth it. Your life is worth it. Your mental and emotional health is worth it. So stop waiting. Stop putting yourself last and schedule a consultation with me using the link in the comments.
Now, if you are looking at my schedule and you don’t see any times that work for you. I want you to email me at email@example.com. Tell me what days and times work for you and I will work with you to make one work. Alright, let’s get to today’s episode.
Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach podcast, I am your host, Lisa Candera. I am a lawyer, a life coach, and most importantly, I am the full-time single mother of a teenager with Autism and other comorbid diagnoses. I know what it is like to wonder if you are doing enough or the right things for your child and to live in fear of their future.
I also know that constantly fueling yourself with fear and anxiety is not sustainable for you or of any benefit to your child. That is why in this podcast I will share practical strategies and tools you can use to shift from a chronic state of fight, flight to some calm and ease. You are your child’s greatest resource, let’s take care of you.
Lisa: For today’s podcast, I have my former client Julia with me. Julia and I coached together for six months and we have been planning to do this podcast for a couple of months now. I wanted her to come on and to share her experiences coaching with me as a single mom of twins. As it happens, Julia has gotten some news today that is very fresh for her.
So instead of really focusing on what we coached about in the past, I’m going to have Julia share where she is right now with her news because I think that this is something that all of us experience. And since Julia is here experiencing it now and she’s been kind enough to share her experience with us. I think this will be really helpful for everyone. So with that, Julia, can you please introduce yourself?
Julia: Yeah. Hi, Lisa. I’m so glad to see you. I’m glad to be here today. I am Julia. I’m a single mom like you said, of boy, girl twins. My twins were 27 week preemies. So we’ve had from day one, a journey, to say the least. But I obviously have benefited greatly from the coaching that we have had. And yeah, just really excited to chat with you about this new information that I have received recently so thanks for having me.
Lisa: So let’s just give some background. You and I coached about a year ago for six months. So what was it that you originally came to me looking for?
Julia: Oh, gosh, I don’t even know that I knew exactly. But I think for me I felt like there was a lot of things in life with having twins with multiple diagnoses and things like that, but I had tried coaching before. For me, I was really looking for someone that got it. And when I came across your website I noticed that you are a single mom too, that you’re professional, and that you’d been through it. And for me it was just really important to be able to talk to someone that has done this.
Because over the years I’ve had a lot of parenting advice come from people in a lot of contexts who aren’t even parents, which I don’t know, to me, I don’t really understand how that’s a thing. So it was more that I just knew that life was really, really difficult in a lot of areas and I was having a hard time managing it. And I was getting a lot of advice from a lot of people that I felt didn’t know really what this experience was all about. So maybe what I was really looking for was empathy.
But I was able to get really clear on a lot of the things that were my beliefs and the stories that I had about my life. I was really stuck as a victim of my life circumstances and we worked through a lot of that together. But what I appreciated the most was just the experience that you have.
Lisa: It’s so interesting because you don’t need to have cancer to be an oncologist, we all know that. You don’t have to have a certain experience in order to help someone. But when it comes to Autism, when it comes to special needs, when it comes to the tenderness of being a parent, you definitely are able to hear things differently when they’re coming from someone who’s walked in your shoes. Because I could give you the same advice maybe that you would have gotten out of a book but it might just come out differently.
You might feel it differently. You might be able to listen to it differently because you know that I’ve walked the walk.
Julia: Yeah, absolutely. And that meant so much to me, but also I think I have had bad advice.
Lisa: There’s that too.
Julia: I mean my kids were in play therapy with, I think a counselor who was a mom and she was like, “It’s all about time in, time in.” And I’m like, “Okay, but my kids are having violent tantrums, they’re trying to hurt me because they’re not okay. If I try to hold them and have time in with them it gets worse.” So I don’t know. I just maybe felt a lot of times along the way that there were people that just really didn’t understand maybe the severity of what I was talking about or I felt blamed or criticized for an approach and I was really struggling.
So knowing that you had lived through, maybe not exactly what I’ve lived through, but they’re similar and you know sort of the extremes that parenting goes to with our kids. I think you coach from that perspective, which was exactly what I needed at the time.
Lisa: So share with us at the time what were your children’s diagnoses?
Julia: Yeah. So when we started working together, so my kids, their very first diagnosis was something called DCD or developmental coordination disorder. I think, I’m in Canada, that’s what it’s called here. But I think in other countries it can also be referred to as dyspraxia, which I understand is basically diagnosed clumsiness, is how I like to describe it. But it’s a disconnect between cognition and the muscle coordination. So that was first when they were about four years old and that was diagnosed by their NICU follow-up.
And then at that time we were told to go pursue an ADHD diagnosis because there was a high incidence of ADHD with DCD. So we did and they were both, I think, in junior kindergarten around age four diagnosed with ADHD. And later on, a couple of years later when they were in second grade, diagnosed with learning disabilities in math, reading, writing, as well as generalized anxiety.
So when we started coaching together the official sort of diagnosis that my kids were being sort of treated for were anxiety disorder and ADHD. And at the time I really suspected that my son probably had Autism. I had people mention it along the way but tell me reasons why he didn’t have it and then it was never sort of pursued. But I was very much thinking that he probably did.
Lisa: So speaking of that, why don’t we get into today’s topic and why don’t you just lead us up with how fresh this is and just where you are right now.
Julia: Yeah. So, I mean, I guess just a little bit of context is I have really struggled to find the right doctor for my kids. We’re now on our very third pediatrician who is fortunately really wonderful. And I waited on a very long waiting list to get in to see her. And a couple of weeks ago we had our first appointment and she did a very thorough assessment where she read all of their past reports. And then had two hours of meetings with me, two hours of meetings with them, another couple hours meetings with me.
And yesterday she let me know that she is going to be diagnosing my son with Autism. And we’re looking at an Autism diagnosis for my daughter, but it’s a bit unclear still at this point. So it hasn’t been confirmed, but over time she’s going to sort of monitor some things and get to know her better and see what she thinks. So, yeah, I got the official diagnosis for my son just yesterday.
Lisa: And so you were saying before we got on that when you were filling out the paperwork, what was your experience. You said things like, “I knew and it was validating.” Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Julia: Yeah, for sure. I mean one of the things with this has been over the years I have brought it up to doctors that I suspect that my son might be Autistic. And it’s been brushed off. Our last pediatrician on our first visit into him when we were sort of just getting to know each other said, “I’d really like to explore some testing for my son for Autism because I think he might have it.” And he took one look at him and asked me, “Well, has the school says he has it?” And I said, “Well, no, I don’t think that that’s their role.”
And he said, “I really don’t think he has it and if he has it, the school will say something.” Which is definitely not how things work here, the school would never bring that up. So I felt really dismissed. And I think in that moment I felt like I definitely can’t work with this doctor either, just sort of like the one before who I think I had also mentioned it to. And even from the age, he was a baby, his early occupational therapist and people said, “Maybe Autism.” But then it was brought up that, “Well, he likes to cuddle so it’s probably not Autism.”
So it’s been discussed over the years and then I guess for the last couple of years I’ve really thought that’s what’s going on in addition to everything else. And so again, on my first meeting with this new pediatrician, I did say I have some suspicions about Autism. And she said, “Tell me more about that.” And I explained to her, for both my daughter and my son, some of the things I was seeing. And she said, “Alright, well, we’re going to get some checklists going. You can send some to the school.”
And so I filled out, there was two different ones. I’m not exactly sure what they’re called, but all sort of ranking scale or yes, no questions. For my son in particular it was alarming to me at just how obvious it was. That if these are the criteria he is overqualified, I guess, in terms of that.
Lisa: He’s passing this with flying colors.
Julia: Yeah, he’s definitely passing this test. And my daughter, in different ways. There was different ways that she was really passing the test and they present very differently. So filling out the form, it felt good actually, it felt validating. I felt thankful that this doctor was paying attention. I felt grateful to his teachers and her teachers that they’re willing to fill them out and share their observations. So overall, I think that was a good process because in my head, in my mind, I’m just so ready for him to have a final answer, of what’s really going on, the full picture.
And it doesn’t really change anything because I mean both my kids with all their diagnoses, they’re already in self-contained classrooms in their schools, they’re getting great support from the school system. It’s more just [inaudible] the answers.
Lisa: Yeah. It’s more context around why something’s happening and just that own validation for yourself. Tell me about how that’s felt, to have always known but now getting an official diagnosis.
Julia: So I was surprised. I’m surprised at how the official diagnosis, so at first it was [inaudible]. So it was very sort of a matter of fact. It was like, “Okay, the next steps, I’m going to send you a letter. We’re going to also try this new medication.” All the things that I would talk about with a doctor. And I felt very calm and confident and shared sort of the information with who I needed to share it with. I’m very administratively inclined. So she immediately sent the diagnosis letter, which I then sent to the school.
We’ve actually agreed that I’d like her to be the one to tell my son about the diagnosis because I think that he’s going to have a lot of questions. And I think his context around Autism, I don’t think he understands that it could be a possibility for him. I think what he sees at school is just maybe the cases that are a bit on a different place in the spectrum, maybe non-verbal or things like that.
So I don’t think he has a full understanding of what it is and I don’t feel completely equipped to answer all his questions. So we kind of made a plan for that for how that was going to happen and I feel good about that. And I sent the paperwork to the school and got registered in the Autism program or whatever, so that he can start to be on all the waiting lists.
Lisa: Yes, hurry up. So you can wait.
Julia: Yeah. And then I went through my work day and had my meetings and it was busy. And then I got in the car at the end of the day at work and it sort of surprised me that all of a sudden this very heavy, sad feeling came over me and I just cried and cried. And I think off and on I have been crying since then. And I’m not sad about the diagnosis. I’ve known this for a long time, it’s not that.
I mean, I think it’s that I’ve been advocating for so long and had to go through so many hurdles just to get to this point and had to push so hard. I feel that I’m a person that has a lot of privilege to be able to do that. I speak the native language of our country. I’m able to send strongly worded emails and I’m able to do all the things but it still took a long time to get here.
And so I think this grief that I’m feeling is, I don’t know why but for some reason in my mind, that word Autism. It depicts a neurodiversity that the world seems to be starting to really understand in a way that ADHD and anxiety just sort of don’t. So my son has been Autistic since birth. It has shown up in his Autistic ways since birth. There are so many sort of moments throughout life that I’m being reminded of times when I knew something more was going on.
There was more to the story, where I also didn’t have that name for it. I wasn’t able to say, “He’s Autistic and Autistic people struggle with this.” The reason he’s having a meltdown, tantrum that I can’t control at the end of this really fun fair event is because he’s completely overstimulated. And the stares and all the things that happened that whether we had the diagnosis or not would have still happened. But for me it would have been so helpful to just have a name for it.
That information would have been so helpful. And not to mention, he’s 10 now but if I had known this, all the services that he’s accessed, all the things that we’ve done along the way to support him. I think this could have been really helpful information. So there’s a heaviness and there’s an anger. There’s an anger at the system of people that I feel didn’t listen to me even I told them what was going on. And while it’s validating to know now, there’s also this feeling of injustice that it shouldn’t have to be this hard, it really shouldn’t.
And as I’ve learned in our coaching, those are stories that I have around this topic that I believe I’ve developed the skills to kind of work through them. But I’ve also learned that it’s really important to feel my feelings. I have to be where I’m at with this so that I can be able to process it. And so that by the time it’s time to let my son know about his diagnosis, that it can be not about me, but it can be about supporting him.
So for me, the goal right now is to feel my feelings, find my support, process it all. And then get to a place where I can be fully present and show up for him with my nervous system regulated and being calm and collected and his rock because that’s what he needs from me, so yeah.
Lisa: There are just so many profound things that you said in there, I don’t know where to start. But obviously the most important thing is, you touched on some things that we did in our coaching with the stories. But then you also countered it with the feelings which is so important because we’re never saying, don’t feel your feelings. And the fact is it is bullshit. It isn’t fair. That’s 100% valid. And for feeling that anger and that grief and all of that and letting all of that be part of your process.
When we’re talking about the stories it’s like, but how much of it do you want to bring forward and live in day-to-day? And there is a difference, but yeah, that is bullshit and it’s not fair. And I’m just giving people a little bit of context, you touched on it briefly. But you’re kind of a big deal. You’ve written a book. You’ve done a TEDx talk. You have a big job. If there was somebody who could get people’s attention and had the resources, you certainly did and you were still being shut down.
And so I think one of the things that’s frustrating to know is that when we’re getting shut down and we are feeling very capable, what’s happening to people who are less inclined or less able and you think of that. And you can definitely get swept away in even more grief and all that. But this was not for lack of trying, this was not for lack of advocacy. It was just the opposite. And so being frustrated, being upset by that is 100%, let yourself feel all of those feelings.
Julia: Yeah. I think about that because I think it just made me, first of all, the thing that keeps coming to my mind too is I’m a lot more kind to myself now than I used to be. And so one of the things that you taught me was to have my own back and to support my decisions and not to second guess myself and question. And that was something that I did a lot through this process, these thoughts of, well, if I had done this then maybe blah blah blah. And I don’t feel any of that right now.
I do feel both my son and I and even my daughter with her sort of maybe, maybe not diagnosis is we’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be. I know that for sure. And sometimes exactly where I’m supposed to be is really uncomfortable, because there’s some kind of learning or there’s some kind of growth or the time is just right for some reason. I don’t know why now. But the one thing that I learned definitely in this process is not to give up because if I had given up, I don’t know what would have happened, but I’m just grateful that I didn’t.
And I almost did give up. I remember when we were coaching together, I had just gotten this new doctor. And I had a lot of, maybe shame around that things didn’t work out with the first doctor. I just felt like he didn’t have enough experience in complex mental health diagnoses for kids and he wasn’t as comfortable prescribing the medication. So I found this new doctor and he was and he was almost, he was pushing up the dose, up dose but really didn’t understand how, with anxiety and ADHD, the medications, there needs to be a real fine balance and I knew that.
I could see it because not only am I doing my own research and trying to educate myself, but I’m also living it day-to-day. And I was really spoiled when my kids were in the NICU because we were part of a lot of programs where the parents were really part of the care team. And really we were considered to be almost equal to the doctors because we were the ones with the kids, we were the experts. And I just thought erroneously that the whole healthcare system would be [inaudible].
Any doctor would say, “Well, you’re the expert on your kiddo, because you’re with them day in, day out.” But in my case, I guess, doctors were, I just felt like they wanted to pat me on the head and [inaudible] me out of their office kind of thing and say, “There you go. Let’s just increase the dose and everything will be fine.” But part of the challenge was I had to wait to get in to see that new doctor, so there was a lot of relief. I went, “Okay, now, I have a doctor that will be comfortable prescribing. Now I have a doctor that will listen.”
And it’s the same thing, but different. He’s not going to listen. And so, okay, now I’ve got to try again. And I felt shame going back to our family doctor and saying, “I’m really sorry. I don’t think it’s me, but it’s not working out with this doctor.” But you know what? She knows me and she listened to me and she said, “This is disappointing, but we can’t have you have a doctor for your kids that doesn’t listen because they’re going to go through puberty. There’s going to be hard times. So you need to be able to have a doctor you work with.”
So I talked to a lot of people. I found the exact doctor that I needed through not just online research, but asking people, finding people that had kids with complex mental health diagnoses through Facebook or through wherever. And finding out who is the best doctor. And the doctor we have is now, she’s further away but this is her area of expertise. And so it took, her waiting list was 18 months when we got on it. It might have been a bit quicker than that but there’s been a lot of like you said, hurry up and wait.
Lisa: Yeah. And I remember you getting on her wait list, and I remember how relieved you were. But then there was this whole sort of dance that you were doing with the other doctor. I also remember if you want to share, I mean, and this is all part of you being the expert on your child. I do remember your doctor making a medication recommendation that you didn’t take, that you actually, you had some back and forth about that, but you listened to your instincts there.
Julia: Yeah, I mean part of managing ADHD and anxiety at the same time is that, I’ll just share my kids are on an SSRI for their anxiety and then a stimulant for their ADHD. And they counteract each other and the increase to the stimulant will up the anxiety. So it’s a very fine balance. And this doctor really sort of discredited that and said, “No, just increase the dose. They’re not on the highest dose, they’re not on the highest dose.”
But our goal had always been to keep the lowest effective dose of the stimulant so that the anxiety could stay under control too. And so when he kept sort of pushing the dose, pushing the dose, I ended up really pushing back. And the other thing is, and this is now the story all comes together but for both my kids, their anxiety doesn’t show up like it’s fight, flight, freeze, FON, whatever it is. They are fighters.
Julia: And thank God because my daughter was one pound at birth, my son was two pounds. I’m glad they’re fighters. But their anxiety shows up as fight. And a lot of doctors don’t understand that there’s some kids that are just like, “My tummy hurts. I don’t want to go to school.” My kids are like, “I’m going to scratch your face off”, when they’re anxiety is high. And so my doctor had [inaudible] my son’s anxiety and all of a sudden he’s kicking people randomly or doing just behaviors that aren’t usual for him when his anxiety is well managed.
But he wouldn’t listen to me when I said that stuff. So this is shameful to admit, but I would go in and lie to him, I’d be like, “Well, he’s anxious.” And said, “Well, how does that appear?” And I’d be like, “Well, he’s really nervous and he doesn’t want to be in the…” I would give examples from the past that I’ve also seen, they weren’t complete false. But any time I said anything about anger, he would just say, “No, that’s ADHD, we have to up the ADHD medication pills.” So I was able to kind of, I guess, through manipulation tactics, get what I needed.
Lisa: We call it advocacy.
Julia: But yeah, I mean, it didn’t feel good though because there’s this fear that goes with it of I shouldn’t have to do this. You should listen to me. But in any event, I mean where we’re at today is that we have the right doctor. And I think one day I’ll look back on the journey that it took to get here and there’ll be learning in it for sure. And I’m going to choose to sort of move forward.
But the one reason, people in my life said, “Well why are you pursuing the Autism diagnosis so hard? What difference is that really going to make? Is there a different treatment?” Because they’re already getting a lot of support at school, like I said before. And I said, “Because it needs a name. I need the validation of that name. And my kids need to know the whole picture of who they are. Because the more I learn about Autism and just this idea of being neuro atypical, it’s an identity. It’s part of who these kids are.
And to know that, they can find their people. To know that, they can find their brilliance and their spark and the things that make them tick. They need to know who they are and I don’t know. I have a lot of Autistic people in my life, and they’re some of my favorite people, the way their minds work is so different. They think about the world’s problems through a different lens. And even in the last five years, I think about my kids who also have dyslexia. And this idea of dyslexic thinking being an asset is something new in the business world. Things are changing.
Lisa: So when you say kids there, do you mean your students’ kids?
Julia: Yeah, older kids. So I mean I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I’m not grieving the diagnosis. I’m grieving that it took so long to be able to have a name for who my son is, or at least a part of his identity.
Lisa: Yeah, I think that’s such a beautiful perspective. And I know for my son when he found out he was 11, he was intrigued. He wanted to know more and he wanted to understand more. And I think it did help him in some ways, understand himself and appreciate things about himself more than he did before. Before I’d always told him, “Your brain is like a super computer and it organizes information differently. It can retrieve information differently than mine.”
Because he would always be annoyed with me when I couldn’t remember things. Where he’d be like, “Remember the time”, and he would be very specific. And I’d be like, “No.” He’s like, “But.” And he would give me more details. And I’m like, “No, my brain does not work that way.”
Julia: I have this moment that has been playing over in my mind a little bit for the last day since I’ve got this information which is sort of I think what I think of as the first moment in my son’s life where I really knew something’s different about this boy. And it’s not even a crazy story. But he was two years old and his language was just starting to develop. It actually developed quicker than my daughter’s. And he could kind of mimic words, if he heard them said he could mimic them but he wasn’t really talking and he definitely wasn’t obviously reading or anything like that.
So we went shopping at a mall that was near an Olive Garden and we went to the Olive Garden for dinner. And as we were going in, I did say, “We’re at the Olive Garden, look, Olive Garden.” And then we went in, ate dinner, everything was fine. And as we were leaving, my son looked up and he waved and he said, “Bye, Olive Garden.” It wasn’t even that clear but I could tell what he was saying. And I thought, what? It was just this really weird, how did you hold that information in your mind this whole time? He was two.
It was just weird and it gave me that feeling of there’s something different about this kid. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t think that’s a thing that a two year old would do. And ever since then, I mean every now and again, one of the things about him is he’ll be like, “Remember that time.” And then he’ll describe something that happened six years ago. And it takes me a long time to figure out what. But then I’ll see that he’s describing, we were living in our other house. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh. I don’t actually, really remember, can you tell me more about that?” But yeah, I mean that memory thing is funny.
Lisa: It is, it’s wild. Well, listen, thank you so much for being willing, again, this podcast episode, we had a very different idea. And the fact that you were willing to still come on and to talk about this, I really appreciate it. And actually, I’ve had a couple of new clients come on and a couple of consults in the past week of clients or potential clients who are very new to the diagnosis and they’re going through something similar to you. And I think your willingness and your bravery and putting this out there will be very helpful for other people.
Julia: I know originally we were going to talk about the coaching. And would you be okay if I just said a few things that have changed for me since we did our coaching?
Lisa: Yeah, I would love that. And I would actually also too just to get your thoughts on what you learned from the coaching and how that’s helpful for you now getting this news. I mean what’s different for you?
Julia: Yeah. I mean, I think my whole perspective on it would be totally different if this happened before coaching. So again, when I say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I have the capacity to handle this now in a different way. But I just remember, I didn’t really talk about this a lot today, but a lot of what we talked about early coaching, was the nervous system and the stories that I created around my life. And I remember when we had our consult, you told me that I was creating stories and my thoughts were creating stories that were deciding my feelings essentially, and kind of that was affecting the outcomes.
And I was like, “I don’t know.” But then I really started to see how that was true as we worked through week by week, circumstances in my life that I was struggling with. And I’ll just share one of them was really feeling alone in the single parenting journey. And even though I was dating someone wonderful when we started our coaching together, we had sort of set up the situation where we were very much living separate lives and we each had our own places. And my life with my kids was very separate from my life with him.
And a lot changed through our coaching and the times where my partner was with the kids and I were very stressful for me because I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle it or it was just a different dynamic and that kind of thing. And potentially together without the kids was so calm and peaceful and lovely. And we worked through a lot of that in our coaching, the stories that I had around that and the assumptions that I was putting on him.
Lisa: Well, I mean, I remember it was very much a fear that it would be too much for him. And so wanting to keep those worlds separate because you didn’t think that you could have both.
Julia: Yeah, and meanwhile, every time I’m alone with my kids, I feel like I’m all alone, I’m doing this all alone. So those stories were sort of not helping each other. And the feeling alone, I mean, part of our work was I went from dreading time with my kids to now I really treasure it and we have so much fun together. And it just really works because I figured out the ways in which we can have fun together. And I had to accept a lot of things along the way that they weren’t going to go according to my plan, necessarily.
Lisa: Yes, I remember that.
Julia: But I learned to kind of roll with those things and that was just not something that transformed for me quickly, was slowly over time checking in with my stories and my thoughts and my feelings and how much control I actually did have over that and learning how to regulate my nervous system. But I’ll just quickly share that that partner of mine has since moved in with the kids and I at his suggestion, not mine, but it’s been about, I guess, going on six months now and it’s better than I could have ever imagined.
I really now have a real partner in this, he loves my kids and is so helpful and is building his own relationship with them, slowly but surely. And I don’t think without the coaching that could have been possible. So I’m really grateful to you for that.
Lisa: I remember, we almost fought about this a couple of times. I’m like, “What if?” And you’re like, “No, it can’t be because it will never work and it can’t be possible.”
Julia: Well, it’s just so funny because as I reflect on it now, you encouraged me to change the story about I’m all alone. And then you fought with me on my fixed mindset around things with my partner. And I’m a stubborn girl but I did eventually come along.
Lisa: You always implemented. And that’s one of the things, even if something was uncomfortable, I always admired your willingness to implement, to try.
Julia: Well, I don’t know, wise people in my life tell me that when I’m in enough pain, I’ll change. So that’s my motto. But I just wanted to say it’s amazing to me how that story of I’m all alone, by the work that we did in changing that story, literally I have a new reality in my life today and I’m not all alone anymore and I feel supported. And even in this diagnosis, my partner and I are really in it together and I’m just so grateful for that.
I learned that I can do it alone, and I’m good at doing it alone, but I don’t have to. And so today I have a partner. I don’t know. I don’t think it could have been possible without our work together, so thank you, Lisa.
Lisa: Well, it couldn’t have been possible without you putting in the work that you put in. And you put in a lot of work, a lot of work. So on that note I want you to speak to your thoughts about doing it alone. That also meant you could have DIY’d this. You could have gone through a lot of therapy. You could have read a lot of books and things like that. And I just want to get your thoughts for those in my audience who are coaching curious, why do it with me? Why do it with a coach, what’s the benefit of that?
Julia: Yeah. I mean for me I was ready, I think. I have done therapy and there’s definitely a place for that. I’m not going to knock therapy at all. But for me it was I needed action. I needed things to really change. I felt my therapy stuff, childhood [inaudible], all of that. It’s not about that. It’s that life today, I don’t know what to do. I’m really struggling and I don’t know why. And that’s why, like I said, it was really important for me that you had kind of gone before me and could share your own experience but also that this is something that you also work through.
You learn this and you’re passing it along to others, other women who are having struggles. Where it’s, I just knew it wasn’t working and I didn’t know how to fix it. And I didn’t have time to do a deep dive into anything. I needed immediate results. And I think that’s what coaching is. And I think there’s some places in coaching too, where I got to where I realized, hey, you know what? I need more therapy on this. This is a deeper issue. It’s bringing up big stuff. So I think there’s a place for both.
But for me in the day-to-day just being able to have strategies to deal with my own thinking around things and feeling my feelings and calming my nervous system and being able to co-regulate with my kids, regulate myself so that I can help them regulate which is, I think, the number one thing I’ve learned about kids like ours is they need to borrow our calm. And so for me I had to learn how to do that.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. So what would you say to the mom who is coaching curious, who is on the fence about whether or not to make the jump?
Julia: I would say you’re worth it. I mean, it’s so cliché, people always say secure your own oxygen mask, but things didn’t start to get better with my kids until I was okay. And I couldn’t be okay until I learned how to be okay. And I mean, it’s just that simple. I overcomplicate the hell out of it but once I stopped doing that and just started taking action and doing something, asking for help. It was really about just getting out of my stubbornness and asking for help and saying, “I don’t know how to do this, and I need the help.”
And I don’t need the help in terms of, I’ve listened to all the books, I’ve heard the podcast, I’ve got the resources. I need someone to sit with me and call me out on my thinking and say, “You’re actually able to think about that differently if you want to, and here’s how. And you’re creating this story and is that the story you want to be a reality? And where else is this showing up in your life?” And all of those questions.
But I could really start to see how the answers that I needed were all within my own control. No matter what the circumstances were, I could decide how I wanted to think about them. And I could decide to create a calm state even in the midst of chaos. It’s a superpower.
Lisa: Right. It’s like having the keys to the operating system. Julia, thank you so much for taking the time, especially with everything that’s going on, and you sharing what you’ve shared. I just think that it’s going to be so helpful to other moms who are in this tender spot of knowing, but then knowing and finding out and all the feels that go with that. So I so appreciate everything and all of your time.
And just again wanted to shout you out for just being such a tremendous client and you showed up for yourself all of the time and you implemented and you did the hard work. And I’m just, I’m so impressed by everything you’ve been able to create for yourself and your kids are so lucky to have a mama like you.
Julia: Thanks, Lisa. So good to see you.
Lisa: So good to see you too.
Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you are ready to apply the principles you are learning in these episodes to your life, it is time to schedule a consultation call with me. Podcasts are great but the ahas are fleeting. Real change comes from application and implementation and this is exactly what we do in my one-on-one coaching program. To schedule your consultation, go to my website, theAutismmomcoach.com, Work With Me and take the first step to taking better care of yourself so that you can show up as the parent you want to be for your child with Autism.