How do autistic mothers manage their sensory needs alongside their child?
Well, they need their downtime to be respected! They need their own sensory strategies, and more than anything, they need a space where they feel safe and secure to discuss their needs and their strategies with others who understand their position.
Are you an autistic parent? How do you manage your sensory needs?
Study details here: https://www.facebook.com/autisticnottingham/posts/10158468900237634
Learn more about autistic motherhood here: https://www.facebook.com/autisticnottingham/posts/10158411926572634
Full paper here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-021-05188-1
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Who: Talcer, Duffy, & Pedlow
Journal: Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders
Title: A Qualitative Exploration into the Sensory Experiences of Autistic Mothers
Sensory Experiences of Autistic Mothers
part 4. strategies & needs
This study wanted to explore the sensory experiences of autistic mothers, the impact on their role as mother, and the coping strategies they employ. Seven autistic mothers described their experiences in depth.
This research had five themes:
antenatal, sensory experiences
in motherhood, impact, strategies & needs, and diagnosis.
> Asking for help
> Sensory Strategies
> Finding your Tribe
> Planning & Routine
> Autistic Mother’s Group
> Professionals Training
strategies & needs
All the women needed downtime to recharge; this was essential, but not always achievable, or valued by others.
“I wish people accepted that you need that, as opposed to calling you lazy and that nobody sleeps during the day.”
They found it hard to ask for help, but found it invaluable when they did.
Some found it difficult to ask for help due to the fear of being considered a risk to their child
“You fear they’re immediately going to go “Postnatal depression”, and think you are a risk for this family or child”
Support from other autistic mothers was particularly valuable
“I would say try and get in touch with other autistic mothers… So you can share experiences, because everybody’s got their own different coping strategies”
They all had strategies to deal with sensory input
“I don’t have the big light on, I’ve got lamps”
“A lot of the time I would use music to calm them down because it calms me down”
“I ended up carrying him around all the time as an extension to me, so instead of him being a bump in me, he became a bump on me.”
Most participants read a lot to prepare for being a mother.
Some were able to learn more about their sensory needs through their child’s care pathway.
The role of mother didn’t feel natural for everyone, and they didn’t find much literature which they could relate to.
“Parenting books talk about that rush of love and all that, and I just used to think, “I feel awful”. Trying to access anything that let me know that this was okay to feel like this, well, it wasn’t possible.”
They valued their relationships with other autistic mothers, who they met mostly online, as it was a judgement-free zone and helped them to develop a positive self-identity
“I found a lot of online solidarity”
They identified that they needed to be able to network with other autistic mothers, and that they needed access to better autistic friendly services. They felt that professionals with limited autism training were more likely to judge their abilities as a mother.