My kids are 11 and 4 who both got diagnosed with autism during COVID. Periodically I think I made a mistake getting them diagnosed.

We are seeing therapists and moving to school districts with better school support for them. They are doing better now than before getting the diagnosis. But my husband and I are exhausted with the financial pressure and endless decision making of which therapy to pursue.

How is the future going to look better? What does a diagnosis really do?! What help do we really get?!

My ten-year-old son is in fourth grade and came home completely stressed out about math yesterday, literally four days into the school year.

It turns out they’re learning geometry, right angles, obtuse angles, etc. It’s not the entire curriculum of high school tenth grade geometry I had when I was in school but it seems above what is considered developmentally appropriate for fourth grade when we were in school.

It’s actually not entirely horrible but my kid is completely stressed out. Maybe it’s the culmination of all he’s exposed to in school, plus having to wear a mask all day and be socially distant, that’s put him at somewhat of a breaking point. Just wondering if this rings true to you.

 

I have a four-year-old son with an ASD diagnosis. My son’s mother is in the process of getting a formal assessment for autism now as well. She has identified her own childhood was full of conflicts with her own mother and now her ability to maintain client relationships, thus negatively impacting her ability to sustain her business.

We are separated and co-parenting has been difficult. My perception is that autism influences the extent to which we don’t really understand each other’s motivation or accept each other’s points of view. It has led to police investigations and ugly disputes at family court over what I did or did not do according to her perception. i.e., the way I greet her on the street.

I see all of it connected to autism and a lack of understanding of what other people consider reasonable.

I don’t know to what extent my son has inherited these tendencies from both of our sides. If anything, he seems much happier than either of us, which reflects how hard we are both working to give him a good start.

I remember reading on your blog that both you and your ex-husband have autism and that you now seem to be getting on much better than before. I’d love to hear more about this.

I homeschool my two kids — they’re 6 and 9 — and I am coming to terms with the fact that something is off-kilter with my youngest. I think about you getting a diagnosis as you sought help for your son.

I’ve always found labels uncomfortable, mostly because I haven’t found them to be helpful and I hate having to explain them to other people. Plus, I’m not sure about what specifically can be done to help my daughter, especially since she’s not in school.

So my questions are:

Do you think having an autism diagnosis has helped you and your son? Also, do you think that the specific diagnosis/label is more helpful to understanding each other and to your parenting than knowing your individual Myers-Briggs personality types?

I’m planning with my husband the next couple of years with kids.

I wanted to know, after everything you learned, if we had to choose, is there a “most important phase” to stay home with kids? The baby phase, the primary school phase, the teenage years..? I’m asking so we can organize ourselves financially.

The hardest thing for me is that I take care of the kids 24/7. No matter how flexible I am with family / extended family (even my ex’s family) or how hard I work at forging a community, I can’t find reliable people who can help watch my kids and I can’t pay for childcare on my income. How do you do it? How do you spend all day every day with kids and not go completely insane?

Whenever I think maybe I’ve found a balance and gotten some normalcy established, everything gets upended again and I’m back to square one with little to no childcare and staying up hours past their bedtime just so my introvert self can recharge. Idk if I’m just venting or if I actually think you might have an answer I haven’t thought of yet.

A friend sent me this blog post you wrote that has studies about how poetry and empathy feed on each other. I don’t know about poetry but I’d like to learn to read it. And I’d like my teenaged daughter to have more empathy as you could imagine even though you have sons. Can you tell me books to get?

I know I can speak frankly with you since you’re not actually going to be reading this.  I found you through an internet search that went something like “what distance is too great lessons Suzuki drive”…for my six Suzuki Strings players with their myriad practices, private lessons, and group classes.

Sometimes, and especially as a musician knowing how insidiously vicarious living can hold sway in these decisions, I worry that I’m wasting time that could be better spent elsewhere or that my motives for pushing on are poor.  I was, therefore, cringing inwardly reading your post about same.

But, your unschooling philosophy also has flaws, as does your idea of channeling children away from extracurriculars that don’t fit their personality. That assumes a great deal of perspicacity on the part of the parent and seems against “delight directed learning” that unschoolers seem always to be promoting.

I also don’t believe children in general will have focus or discipline to keep at even areas of delight without training from an adult. Do children or adults even know themselves? It takes years and better personality tests.

In addition, there are some life skills that are necessary whether one is delighted by them or not – basic math, cleanliness, literacy, and (I would submit) religious training all come to mind.

Penelope, I’m rambling now. I’m going to close by thanking you once again for writing in an honest, open, approachable way about your opinions.

I’m reaching out to you and hoping you would share any insight you might have.

I’m an INFP with one toddler. I want to have more kids but my ENTJ husband doesn’t want anymore. He says we can’t afford them. So I want to go back to work (community/career college teaching) to try to set aside enough money to have more kids, but wonder if this is pointless because I think my husband just doesn’t want more kids, period. And a lack of money is just the excuse he is giving me.

I feel a little useless because I’m not working, but I still leave them for 5 hours a day to have time for myself. I’m also not very good with emotional stuff. You and my husband allude to not being good in this area, but you’re both far more real, articulate, and honest than I am. So I don’t even bring the supposed INFP strengths to our relationship. My husband is really good at the things ENTJs typically excel at — leadership, decision making, real-time crisis management, and he’s better than I am at the stuff INFPs are supposed to be good at, like reading and responding to emotions and listening. I feel the only thing I’ve ever done really well was being pregnant and giving birth. I wish I could do it again.

When I read your posts and listen to you, I feel like you could be my husband’s soul sister or something. You’re so similar, and since I’m too hurt and scared to talk to him about this (again) and I don’t want him to feel pressured, I’m wondering if you have an intuition of what I should do or how I should handle this. Go back to work? Keep doing what I’m doing and get over wanting more kids? Perhaps if I hear it from you, it will be less triggering than hearing it from him.

Thank you so much for being who you are.

I’m 25 years old and I’m angry with my mother.

She did well raising us. She came from a poor family and used her skills to create her own business. She didn’t even graduate college. Over the years, she earned money to buy us a house and several necessities. She paid for our education, she gave us allowances. She just made sure we were okay financially.

And we are okay. Until now. Or maybe it’s been a long time but I’ve just realized it now. I recently resigned from my job and while I have my savings, I don’t have to rely on them too much because I don’t really spend a lot and most of the things I need she buys (we still live in the same house). I’m grateful in that aspect.

But I’m just frustrated with my anger at her. She was never loving, never emotionally attentive. She never said “I love you”, hugged us, kissed us, not even a moment where she actively showed she appreciates us. Even though we’ve grown as respectable, responsible adults. Despite the difficulties we experienced and how we’ve overcome our struggles. She never told us she’s proud of what we’ve become.

And she gets angry when we do things wrong. Absolutely humiliates us. Undermines us for every wrong thing, even though she could simply tell us to do it right and not berate us.

I’ve confronted her about it on several occasions. Told her she’s too cruel. She should be kinder; aren’t we her kids? She would always throw the same argument: but I gave you food, money, all the things you enjoy! Which is true.

I just want to know if what I feel is valid. And if I should just move out or something. Maybe space will make her more loving? I resigned because of work stress (and maybe I’m having a quarter-life crisis? I’m just lost right now. Figuring things out. But generally okay, like I just need to rest for a while) and I don’t feel like having a job just yet, but maybe I need to find a job soon so I could interact with her less.