Meg signed up to our parents and carers’ group coaching course in November 2020 a few months after her 10 year old son Patrick was diagnosed with autism. I spoke to Meg in June, six months after she’d completed our course to find out what impact it had had on her and her family.
What made you sign up to our group coaching course?
Although I’d suspected that Patrick was on the autism spectrum for a long time, I found the diagnosis process difficult. I was struggling to adjust and the support I was hoping to access after his diagnosis just didn’t materialise.
I worried about being judged by others because sometimes his behaviour was so out of kilter with his peers. What’s acceptable behaviour at three or four years old, isn’t for a 10 years old. And if I’m totally honest, even though I love him with all my heart, sometimes I was embarrassed by his behaviour. To put it simply - I didn’t understand him.
How did the course help you?
The course really helped me! Before I was just existing.
Being in a small group of other parents in similar situations was really helpful. And talking about the issues we faced helped me slow down and reflect on everything in my life and how I could improve things.
The coaches helped me to take a really close look at what could be driving Patrick’s behaviour, some of which I realised was caused by sensory issues, stress and anxiety, and some of which was just normal parts of his autistic personality.
I realised that in a lot of ways he’s very different to me. I’m quite chatty but he’s not, and him not being chatty isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a difference between us.
Now I have a much better understanding of him as a person and so I’m much better at seeing the world through his eyes and understanding what he needs to thrive.
Has anything else improved because of the course?
Very much so. It’s not just parenting Patrick that has got easier. What I learnt on the course is also helping with my other son. The way I react has changed, for example yesterday my eldest was shouting at Patrick and instead of shouting at him or reacting straightaway I was able to stay calm and to diffuse the situation.
And it’s also helped other relationships too, including my relationship with my husband and in-laws. I’m much better at accepting that we’re not always on the same page with things and that that’s ok.
Even the relationship I have with Patrick’s school has improved. They used to only talk to me when they had negative things to say but I talked to them about the coaching I’ve done and it changed how we interact in a really positive way.
Before the course I felt helpless. But now I’ve stopped caring what other people think. I’m much more confident, I feel much happier, it’s like something just clicked.
And what about Patrick, how have things changed for him?
He’s great and is doing really well. He’s much happier. And I’m confident I can help him get the support he needs. I know he’s going to do well in life.
Meg’s three tips for getting family life back on track:
Take a little bit of life at a time and make it better. That’s what’s really helped me. You don’t have to do everything so try not to get bogged down by the little things that just don’t matter.
Take time to work out what’s driving your child’s behaviour. Not all bad behaviour is caused by naughtiness. Look for what else is causing the behaviour such as sensory issues, uncertainty or stress.
Ask for help when you need it. Talking to others who are in similar situations or have been through similar things really helps.
At the moment I feel well equipped to deal with bumps in the road but I’d definitely come back for more coaching if I felt I needed it in the future, and I’d recommend coaching to others who are feeling overwhelmed or stuck - it can have a huge impact.