#75 | How to Help My Daughter with Self-Determination When She is Determined to Do Nothing

actions adulting autistic create daughter difficulties fact give happening kids knot life listen mom progress skills suggest thoughts triggers uncomfortable Jun 06, 2022

Watch the webclass, "4-Part Roadmap to Encourage Adulting Actions."

Get the Preview of the workbook, When Autism Grows Up by Lynn C Davison, Adulting Coach, Available in Fall 2022.

Download, "The Quick Start Guide to STEAR Mapping"

Our struggle today comes from a member of the Art of Adulting on Facebook. She's wondering, "How to help my daughter with self determination when she's determined to do nothing."

Sounds like this mom is experiencing a lot of resistance from her daughter about changing anything in her life. Let's tackle this one today.

Keeping in mind of course, that what we're trying to do is encourage our autistic young adults, our autistic high school graduates, to practice adulting the set of mental tools that help us manage our thoughts, our emotions and our actions so that we can achieve goals set by us for us. Adulting is pretty much a synonym for self advocacy. And it's truly what we want for our kids when we're gone. We want them to be able to:

  • Choose what they want in each part of their life
  • Figure out what their next step is, and
  • Maybe who they need to recruit to help them in achieving those actions.

That's what I want to be able to do is go to sleep, you know, when my maker comes, knowing that I've done everything I can so that they can do well on their own self-advocating.

Now how do we do that? It's when make the transition from being the director of their life, to the advisor to the coach of their life.

We do that by acting in these three ways and staying in that lane.

  1. We encourage them
  2. We warn them, and
  3. We're consulted by them.

Interestingly enough, this is the triad of responsibilities of the Her Majesty the Queen of England. You'll notice that she doesn't legislate action, but she sure knows a lot about what's going on in that country and has observed quite a bit of during her reign. So she can encourage, warn and be consulted by the members of the British government to give her best shot as to what you know they should be on the lookout for. So sometimes when it's a little frustrating, I think of putting my crown on and let's take a minute to understand what is going on with our autistic young adults.

This word, neuroception, describes what goes on when we are perceiving safety, danger or life threat. This happens often with our kids, something's happening in their inner world, some kind of emotion is coming up or something's happening in their outer world or something's happening between them and other person that can trigger that fear that is ever present and blocks quite a bit of our learning.

It's really hard to learn when we're trying to survive. So that protection instinct is what we're trying to get a handle on to understand better what is our what are the triggers for our kids, for them to hide, and refuse and resist any future actions. What are they expecting might happen, and what in their past maybe has created that expectation? That lack of confidence that they can achieve what they want.

Another way to look at it is it's our nervous system, listening to what's happening inside our bodies. So we're scanning all the time and if we're tensing up automatically before even we're conscious of it, that's what we want to pay attention to. We want to pay attention to those messages. And that often leads to protection, self protection, because,  "Oh my gosh, they're asking more of me than I'm comfortable doing. And this has happened so often to me, and I'm going to go right back into the cave and decide not to do anything."

What we want to do is provide that sense of safety for our autistic adults, so that they can connect with us. They have to feel safe before they'll reach out and connect with us. Because they sense threat, she's gonna, you know, go back to protection and we need to create that sense of self safety with our autistic adults.

So okay, how do we do that? How do we connect ourselves better to our autistic?

And I want to suggest that we have to start with ourselves first. Because it sounded like when I listened to the words that our mom suggested, she is getting a little frustrated as this like things are not going the way she hoped they would. In fact, she's probably really worried about how things are going to turn out for her daughter and for her.

So let's take the time to notice what's happening inside of us as well. And in fact, I suggest that we really do find the feeling.

  1. Name it we don't have to be poets. We could just call it a really uncomfortable, uncomfortable.
  2. And it's like a knot inside my chest or inside. Feels like a band is around my head or my shoulders are tight or my stomach is in a war. My intestinal tract is just you know, clenched.
  3. Where is it in our bodies and if we can relax into that feeling, notice that and kind of relax into it and
  4. Describe it to ourselves. Wow, that felt like a bunch of knots in my lower body. Or my neck got all stiff. My head is just, you know, we can describe what that looks like. We as if we were describing it to somebody that we really felt safe with. It's purple, and it's all knotted up. And it's tight and it just keeps tugging on what's happening inside of me somehow describe it.
  5. And that okay, if that's what's going on. I'm going to just be with it. Relax into it. I'm aware that I'm physically safe right now. So I can experience this feeling in my body.
  6. And I notice that it is caused by my thought like, Is this ever going to get you know, this is never gonna, he's never going to get anywhere if she doesn't do something. I can imagine that thought would go across my mind if I worked in this position where I had a daughter who was determined not to do anything I've had my kids have been determined not to do anything so I get where this money is coming from. And if we just let ourselves kind of feel those feelings, and we can get to more of a neutral place ourselves.
  7. And then if we can sort of notice what are those thought and keep coming up?
    1. She's never going to get anywhere if she doesn't do something.
    2. Here we go again.
    3. Yuck.

Any of those thoughts we can ascribe write them down and figure out what part of our life and what part of our selves is is creating those thoughts. Oh my brain protected myself from going out. 

  • I want to be evaluated to someone who's who's not a good parent.
  • I don't want to be evaluated as someone who didn't teach my kids, you know, in order to survive without me.
  • I'm really concerned that now I'm not going to like how this all turns out.

There's a lot of thoughts in there, and we can get our arms around and then we can decide to be compassionate and time with ourselves. Like, this is a more challenging road to go down than we expected when we had our kids.

Now I'm not sure that all parenting isn't challenging. I do believe that having a child with an autistic brain presents us with more confused, confusing in heart wrenching challenges then I see my peers go through.

I see a lot of moms who are doing at least from the outside it seems like they're doing fine. But, you know, maybe that's just the Facebook version of their life. They're probably having some difficulties in practice. I think we all do.

When we decide to engage in close relationships with the people that we love, conflict is going to come up. It's very, very normal. To be expected. In fact, if we look at it is as a hint of what's going on for both of us. And maybe we can make progress.

It's worth considering that these hardships just might be the fuel that we need to create a stronger and better relationship or more at the end of problem solving together is really one of the ways to create stronger bonds. So maybe if we looked at look at it as, "Well, it's okay I can do this. I can do this."

When we're trying to connect our with our, our, our high school graduate. We want to make sure that we reflect on when listening to them.

You know, I know sometimes this is really difficult. Like I'm already high tech myself. So sometimes when we're hijacked ourselves, we just need to be honest and say, hey, look, "

  • I'm really uncomfortable right now. I'm going to need a couple of breaths in between now and the next things that come out of my mouth. Can you just give me?
  • I just need this space to just kind of get myself recenter and I'll be right back with you.
  • After I've taken you know 3d deep breaths.
  • Counting backwards from 10 or let the dog out or go into the bathroom or whatever it is that really is going to help us get to the get to a better place for ourselves.

Maybe that's what we need to say to our kids sometimes. Not for me to just take a quick break. I'll be right back. The whole idea is not to say you are making me angry and give them responsible responsibility for the way that we're acting.

What we want to do is say we own where we are right now, and we just need a break. Right? And then when we come back we'll be in a better position to reflectively listen, "it seems like you're really upset because I'm asking you to do something that you don't want to do."

And then we just keep reflecting until some of their thoughts get heard.

And that's how we help them feel seen in the suit in our presence so that we have a secure strong bond with them and can move these things forward.

Now there just isn't a magic wand that any of us can wave is going to make this whole process easier.

I'm not sure we'd really want one because it's the working through the difficulties that bind us together and that uplevel our own skills to be the kind of mom that wouldn't really want to show up behaving like.

We never really meant to be a which we were looking for the joy in our parenting, and we can find it. It's just sometimes we have to go through some really uncomfortable times like this when you're trying to get some movement and it's not happening.

So now what do we do? You know, we're not going to be perfect at all. In these skills. We're going to make mistakes, but if we keep trying, we will make progress.

I mean, I've had to recently apologize for my own reaction to something that was said and the disconnection that happened with one of my my autistic young adults. I didn't expect it.

I mean what happened was the, the words that they said kicked a bruise in me. It made me think of the box that had nothing to do with them have everything to do with the way that I was processing what was happening. It had literally had nothing to do with them. But I haven't really dealt with some of the some of the difficulties that I've had in my life.

I just watched myself react and I'm like, it's like, "what was that?"

So I'm working through, you know what caused that and trying to become more compassionate with myself in all the parts of myself that are there because of all of my experiences in life and make more friends with some of those things that have been difficult for me.

So we'll talk more about that in another video but just know that this isn't always...that you don't have to be the perfect mom. That our expectation is that all we can do is make progress, not perfection.

So, you know what I'm going to suggest and that's the collaborative, proactive problem solving process, that Dr. Ross Green advocates on his website livesinthebalance.org.

  1. We agree on the facts together.
  2. Then we listen to their steer maps, and that's the empathy step. We want to make sure that they feel seen and soothe and safe in our presence so that they are secure in their brain has stopped adding those alarm bells that disconnect us.
  3. And then we share our STEAR map so that our autistic young adults start to learn how to take time to listen to our perspective. It's that perspective taking that is a skill that has definitely lagged and it takes time to build the you know the skill of doing that of listening enough to hear the other person's perspective without interrupting. That's quite an achievement when we can get our autistic young adults to actually hear us all the way through. Doesn't happen all the time. But when it does in my house is like a victory.

So I can't recommend this process enough because it starts to build the trust between us and our autistic loved ones who we just you know, love every part of them. Especially the difficult parts because it's those difficult parts and help us learn and grow together.

And I know that sounds cheesy and woowoo but I gotta tell you, I'm starting to learn how to see those things as gifts. Those difficult times as gifts, because then I know we're right on the path to make some progress together.

I'm making progress, noticing what triggers me and they're making progress noticing what triggers them and what skills they need to employ. And the two of us together. In my case, the many of us together can move forward together and create those connections that really matter most.

Please take a moment if you want to go to my blog to see the transcript of this video. It's www.LynnCDavison.com/blog.

You can see lots of other videos where I address the struggles that we moms face as the leaders of our families. And as we love our autistic young adults for the rest of our runway.

Bye for now.