In a world full of parenting books for “typical” kids and books about understanding specific disorders, there aren’t many books that guide us on how to embrace and parent an atypical, neurodiverse child. Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World is a judgment-free breath of fresh air; it shows parents like me how to see, parent, and celebrate the kids we’ve been gifted to raise. This book encourages parents in “confidence, grace, and optimism“. For me, reading it reenergized me to embrace my daughter’s uniqueness wholeheartedly, without worrying of what others think, or where she is compared to other kids her age. It is exactly the book I’ve needed for 16 years.
I haven’t written much about my 16-year-old because it’s tricky. I want to be transparent but my daughter is a person who has a right to privacy. She doesn’t like me to talk about her or take her photo. However, I can write about my parenting journey– and it’s been a journey. One that started in shame and ignorance (thinking I was such a bad mother and her behaviors were my fault) but has grown in understanding and compassion for both myself and for her.
It’s taken me years but now I know that not only was my own mother wrong — I was not nor ever have been a terrible mother — but I was also reading books that DID NOT apply to my child. You cannot apply the principles of books like Love and Logic to all children.
For example, I vividly remember reading a book about parenting picky eaters which said that if you set and stuck with your boundaries, kids would eventually eat what you wanted them to eat. NOPE. That didn’t and doesn’t work for a child like mine. She literally will not eat. Period.
Once she refused to eat for four days…until I gave in and fed her the ice cream she demanded. Days! I threw out that so-called parenting wisdom long ago because I didn’t want my child to starve or develop an eating disorder. I needed a book that would help ME and my child with her neurodiversity to thrive.
Differently Wired Is a Must-Read for Parents
Differently Wired by Deborah Reber is a must-read book for any parent who has a child that has a neurological difference — which apparently is 1 in 5 if you take into account all the possibilities including autism, ADHD, processing speed, giftedness, and sensory integration issues.
So the premise, as I mentioned, is that parenting an atypical child is not the same as parenting a typically developing child. I agree.
Differently Wired is filled with reflection questions which I found immensely helpful, as well as stories and information about leaning into this journey.
The majority of the book is organized into these helpful sections which Reber calls Tilts (a reframing of our mindsets). I’m bolding the ones that supported me the MOST in this particular moment in my life. You should know that I originally had this as an ebook but I quickly bought the hardback version so I could highlight and take notes.
- Question everything you thought you knew about parenting.
- Get out of isolation and connect.
- Let go of what others think.
- Stop fighting who your child is and lean in.
- Parent from a place of possibility instead of fear.
- Let your child be on their own time line.
- Become fluent in your child’s language.
- Create a world where your child can be secure.
- Give voice to your reality.
- Practice relentless self-care.
- Let go of your impossible expectations for who you “should” be as a parent.
- Make a ruckus when you need to.
- Align with your partner.
- Find your people (and ditch the rest)
- Recognize how your energy affects your child
- Show up and live in the present.
- Help your kids embrace self-discovery.
- If it doesn’t exist, create it.
I know that I will need all the wisdom in the different sections at different times. Right? Because we can read something in six months and find what we need but it will probably be different than where we are right now.
After reading this book, I decided to get off social media for a while. Comparison doesn’t help me be my best parenting self.
I’m really working on finding my people — and ditching the rest. That’s been a big realization in the last few years ever since I’ve been on my own healing journey from mold toxicity. And frankly, this keeps me remembering the truth of who my daughter is. YES! Why didn’t I do this ten years ago? (Well, when you know better, you do better as Maya Angelou said.)
I wrote down my biggest fears about my daughter’s future — and let them go. Whoa. Talk about a weight off. (But remind me to do it again in a few months, okay?)
And I’m leaning in like crazy to acceptance of who my child is and where she is. With acceptance. With support. Not trying to fix it. Yes, I’ll still support with therapies and whatnot but I’m doing so with a different motivation.
Because of this book, because I read it with interest and openness, I am a better parent. I can’t thank the author enough for bringing this book into the world.
What’s more — I’ve been listening to Reber’s TILT podcast and it’s amazing. It also is contributing to me knowing more about my child, reframing things, parenting with compassion, taking care of myself, understanding her neurological differences in a deeper way, and just being my best self. Don’t miss it. You can find it here. Oh, and talk about finding your tribe… 🙂
Read the TiLT manifesto here.
Comment or email me if you want to talk more about this book — or want to know there are other, like-minded parents out there. We can do this!! (firstname.lastname@example.org)