Friday 16 October 2015

Talking to other mums - dinosaur and kitten chat

It can be difficult to talk to other mums about your kids when your kids have additional needs and theirs don't.  It's not that I have difficulty talking about my kids.  It's just almost impossible to talk about my boys without mentioning that they are on the autistic spectrum.   Conversations just fizzle out or become difficult because the other parent and I have very different experiences and we struggle to find common ground.  It's like they are bringing up kittens and I have dinosaurs.

Take for example this week at a playgroup.  Now that my boys are both at school I've been trying to enjoy quality time with Jane at regular playgroups.  We couldn't attend 'normal' playgroups with my boys as it was too stressful for me, the boys, other kids and the other mums.  Now it's just Jane and I during the day, I've been back in the playgroup rota.  Sadly a study early this year found that nearly a quarter of new mothers felt isolated.  Playgroups are great.  Along with other things, they provide a way to get out and meet other mums.  I'm not with my dinosaurs today, so surely I'll get some regular kitten conversations?

Within minutes the question arises, "Is Jane your only child".  I reply that I also have two boys at school.  "Oh really, that must be a handful(!), which schools?"  And that's it; the answer means the conversation is about the boys and their ASD. Then despite me asking about their kids the conversation stops.  Sometimes it feels like I should just wear a badge "I also have autistic kids - there, now let's talk about something else".  

It turns out that talking with others isn't just something that my autistic sons have difficulty with.  I recently went mad on a SEN chat forum as a way of connecting with others who understood. But the good news is that I do get to have adult conversations, often it's with the volunteers running the playgroups and, you've guessed it, other mums of kids with additional needs that are there too.  There are also SEN parent activities and most of all with our loving family and friends. These guys are all comfortable with my dinosaur/kitten chat and are happy to roar and purr with me appropriately.

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