We are in the New Year and everyone is talking about resolutions. Resolutions are great, but they aren’t usually an agent for lasting change. So, in this week’s episode, I’m talking about a way that you can make changes in your life as a Special Needs Parent that will last throughout 2023 and beyond.
Whatever you want more of in your life, whether you want it for yourself or for your child with Autism, coaching will provide you with the tools you need to create the life you want. If you’re curious about coaching and how it can change everything for you, keep listening to this episode, and come back next week when I’ll be interviewing one of my wonderful clients on the show.
Tune in this week to discover what coaching is, how it works, and how coaching changed my life when I was at a breaking point. I’ve tried therapy and never found it very useful, but when I found a coach who understood Autism and my experience as a working mom, combined with some amazing mindset tools, I was able to start building a life I loved.
You are listening to episode 44 of The Autism Mom Coach, How Coaching Changes Everything.
It’s the new year and everyone is talking about resolutions. Resolutions are great but they usually are not an agent for lasting change. So in this week’s episode I am going to talk to you about a way that you can make changes in your life as a special needs parent that are long lasting. Specifically I want to talk to you about how coaching can provide you with the tools you need to create the life you want even when that life looks nothing like you imagined. Stay tuned.
Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.
Welcome to the podcast and Happy New Year. I hope you are doing well and survived the holiday break. Thank you to all of you who took the time to rate and review the podcast in December. I really appreciate you and I hope you loved your gifts. And of course for all of you who have not yet rated and reviewed the podcast, please do. More reviews means more visibility for the podcast and the easier it will be for moms like you to have this as a resource.
Okay, one announcement before I get started with this week’s episode. I will soon be releasing my first mini course called The Keeping Your Cool mini course. In this mini course I will teach you the before, during and after process I created for keeping your cool while your child is melting down. So if you are not already, get on my mailing list and you will be the first to receive the link to this free mini course. It will consist of four videos from me walking you step by step through the process.
You can get on my email list by going to my website, theautismmomcoach.com, just wait a couple of seconds, you will see a popup and that’s where you can enter your email address.
Okay, on to today’s topic. In the next two episodes of the podcast I am going to talk to you about coaching. In this episode I’m going to tell you what coaching is. And in next week’s episode you will hear from one of my clients, Jamie, the mother of twin boys with Autism, as she talks to you about her experience being coached by me. First, before I tell you what coaching is, I want to give you some context because the one thing I do know about my experience is that it’s not just my experience.
You are all having these experiences too and as much as I can, I want you to feel seen. So this is why I share some of the more personal aspects of my life. Here goes. I found life coaching in the parking lot of my son’s middle school. It was February 2020, weeks before the COVID shutdown and I was attending the parent orientation for the middle school my son would attend the following year.
After hearing about the rotating schedule changes, seeing the big hallways and the lockers and listening to the presentations by the teachers and the questions from the other parents I left the building and cried in my car. I was in a full out panic. How? How am I going to do this? How am I going to get him through this? How am I going to get through this? I was at a breaking point. I had been white knuckling it for years, getting my son through the next thing, and the next thing. And now it was middle school and this was, well, this is a big deal and then came high school.
I was just at a loss and I was panicking. The thought of him getting older, the differences between him and his peers getting bigger and bigger. And how was I going to support him through that? And how was I going to get through it myself as a full-time working mother? One thing was very clear to me in that moment. Something needed to change. I needed to change. I needed to find another way of managing the crushing anxiety and fear that I was feeling all of the time, but how? Frankly I was not looking for therapy.
My experience of therapy had been a lot of talking about the past to understand the present. And I really wasn’t looking for that. I was looking for tools to make today better. And in my view, catching a therapist up on 40 plus years of life was not what I needed. Also I had been to therapists many times during the years and I found it frustrating that none of them really understood Autism or what it was like to parent a child with Autism. Now, of course this isn’t a requisite for effective therapy but for me I wanted to feel seen, I didn’t want to have to explain everything.
I wanted someone who just got it. This was the moment I decided to give life coaching a try. Up until that point I had been passively consuming it via a podcast and I liked it. So I thought, why not, I had tried everything else, therapy, yoga, meditation, medication, support groups, essential oils, you name it, I tried it. So in that moment I decided that I was going to hire my first life coach, which I did and I loved it. And I loved it so much that I wanted to learn more. I wanted to learn everything I could about the process, about the tools that I was being taught.
And so I got certified and here I am today. So what is it? What is life coaching? Life coaching is and I have to say the way that I do it and the way that I experience it as a collaborative process whereby the client creates goals and the coach works with them to develop the skills to achieve those goals. It is teaching. It is challenging limiting beliefs. It is being seen, heard and offered tools and alternative ways of looking at things. Coaching by design is like that proverb, you can give a man a fish or you can teach them how to fish, it’s kind of like that.
In coaching you get the tools, you get some practice applying them to your life with the support of a coach. But then you get to keep those tools and all of the results that you create from that experience. And then you can apply that same skill to different areas of your life to create new results for yourself all of the time. So it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. Once you learn the skill you can apply it to anything in your life however you like.
So who is coaching for? In my view, coaching is for people who are doing life usually quite well, at least from the outside, but inside it feels terrible and they have this nagging feeling that things are harder than they need to be, or that they just want to do life better.
Now, therapy can serve these purposes as well and there are plenty of people who are in therapy for these exact reasons. However, therapy is also for people who are not showing up in their lives. They are incapacitated by anxiety or depression, or some other tissue. And in my view that’s not a place for coaching. So if you come to me and you are depressed, and you have not been able to get out of bed for a week, and you don’t know what the purpose of your life is and the point of going on. I am going to suggest that you contact a therapist.
Coaching is not for you at the moment. Coaching is for people who are functioning in their day to day lives. And I will tell you, my clients are not just functioning, they are highly functioning and probably over-functioning. And that is actually part of the issue they bring to me. They are doing so much and they are still so scared that they’re not doing enough. And so they keep pushing themselves and pushing themselves. They are ignoring their own selfcare because they are so laser focused on their child.
Or they are walking on eggshells just trying to keep things together for their child and that is the focus of everything that they do. They feel lost but not because they are depressed per se, more because they have been drinking nonstop from the Autism fire hose immersing themselves in everything Autism. Changing their lives in countless ways to support their kid and one day they take a look around and their life looks unrecognizable to them. They don’t know who they are.
And then add to this, many of my clients are students of self-development and actually a few of them are therapists themselves. So then they beat themselves up because they tell themselves that they know this stuff. They should know better. They should know how to stay calm. They should be over it by now but they still struggle in the moment to stay in the present. They still struggle to keep their cool and it becomes a vicious cycle of beating themselves up, losing their cool and then rinse and repeat.
This is where coaching can be a gamechanger, having someone standing side by side with you as you work through challenges, set goals and achieve them. And here is the benefit of working with a coach who you believe, as the client, gets you. I have found for my clients at least it allows them to lower their guard in that they are not trying to prove to me how hard it is to raise a child with Autism. They are not fighting for that story with me as they might do with people who they think don’t get it or even their doctors and therapists, and educators.
With me, when I challenge them, instead of fighting me and fighting themselves they actually look inward. And this is really powerful. Let me just give you an example of this. Let’s just say you have the best friend and she has two kids and both are neurotypical. And she sees that you are struggling with your child and tells you, “You need to take some time to take care of yourself.” How do you react? Most of us want to scream, like, “Okay, I appreciate that but are you kidding me? You have no idea. That’s easy for you to say.”
But now imagine that even a complete stranger like me who has a child with Autism says the same thing to you, “Hey, you need to take time to take care of yourself.” How do you react then? It’s a little different. This is in my experience with my clients. When I ask them about selfcare they don’t tell me off. We work together to find ways to incorporate selfcare in a way that works for them. And that’s just one example.
But this is why I exclusively coach moms raising kids with Autism, because I think it’s really powerful for us to work with someone who gets our lives, because we can drop that fight right at the door. Okay, you get it, I get it and now what? So I have tremendous compassion and empathy for my clients but I am not there to tell them that their life is hard and to feel bad about their lives with them. That is not what coaching is about. Coaching is about, yes, this is my circumstance and this is what’s happening and I want to do it a different way.
And that’s the role that I play is bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be with some very powerful tools. So on that point let me just tell you a little bit about my coaching. The kind of coaching that I do borrows heavily from cognitive behavioral therapy which posits that how we think creates our feelings, and how we feel drives our actions. What this means is that it’s not the circumstances in our lives that are creating whatever emotions we are feeling, and actions we are taking, and results that we are creating.
Our feelings, our actions are the results of whatever thoughts we are thinking in our brains about life happening. We think thoughts in our brains, these thoughts create feelings and these feelings drive our actions, and our actions give us the results in our lives. This is just one part of my coaching and this is what I call the cognitive approach.
I also incorporate a nervous system approach as well and I’m going to get into this deeper in future episodes. But for now I will just say, our nervous systems are constantly responding to the stimuli in our environments. And our nervous systems have three states. There is the ventral vagal state where we are feeling safe and connected. There is the sympathetic state where we are in a fight, flight reaction. And then there is the dorsal state where we’re in shutdown. We’re like crawling under the covers and head in the sand, that kind of a thing.
Our nervous system state whichever of these three states that we are in, create our stories. So let’s just say I walk into my house and I hear screaming. My nervous system goes into a fight, flight state immediately. And my story is something like, this should not be happening. That thought right there, or that story is activated by my nervous system response to the stimuli in the environment. And my nervous system is interpreting that stimuli before I even have a thought about it. And my nervous system is telling me by the activation of the fight, flight response, danger.
So really these two approaches, the nervous system approach and the cognitive approach, they work hand in hand. Whatever your nervous system for response is, is creating the story. The story creates how you feel, it creates how you act, it results in the results that you create in your lives. So these are the two main modalities that I use in my coaching and you will hear more about this next week when I interview my client, Jamie.
She talks about how helpful it was for her to learn about her nervous system response and how she was able to use that knowledge to modulate her own reactions and to coregulate with her twins.
Okay, that’s it about coaching for now. In the meantime if you are intrigued, if you are ready to change your life as a special needs mom, schedule a consultation with me. You can do so by going to my website, theautismmomcoach.com and click on Work with Me. Thanks and I’ll talk to you next week.
Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you want more information or the show notes and resources from the podcast, visit theautismmomcoach.com. See you next week.