In this most personal episode I've ever created, I'll share with you how my autism self-diagnosis has helped me to understand the experiences I've had in ways that bring a great deal more clarity and insight than I've had up to now.
In addition to hearing from me, you'll hear the actual voicemail the therapist who has been helping me left to explain the results of my autism screeners, as well as conversations with friends about things that are hard in our friendships.
You'll hear from listeners who find things I do on podcast episodes to be hurtful and judgmental and also relatable and approachable, and sometimes it's the same things I do that prompts both the 'positive' and 'negative' reactions.
And you'll hear from a listener in my membership community who has been on a similar journey to understand how her ADHD diagnosis wasn't really about her as much as it was about her reactions to the ways her family interacted with her - they encouraged creativity and expression in her artwork, but never never never ever related to emotional expression.
My goal with this episode is to help you draw together threads in your own life in a way that maybe you haven't been able to do until now so you can understand yourself better, and make requests to help you meet your needs, and maybe change the situations you're in so you can be in them with more ease and authenticity.
And I also hope it helps you to see how your child's struggles are a reflection of their needs, and of whether those needs are being met. Just as you didn't need fixing when you were a child (and neither did I, despite all the people who tried to fix me), your child doesn't need fixing either. Instead, we can use the struggles to better understand our needs and our child's needs, and work toward meeting them both.
To investigate screeners that Dr. A. has available for free on her website, visit https://spectrumservicesnyc.com/resources/Jump to highlights(02:52) My book is coming out on August 2023(03:29) The ‘emotional intimacy’ between content creators and audiences(05:50) I looked at my racial privilege through a series of podcast episodes(06:09) I’ve also been exploring my recent autism self-diagnosis through the podcast(06:57) Dr. Andalibian’s voicemail telling me about the results of my autism screeners(10:30) I’ve always had a hard time fitting in(11:29) My entire teenage years were marked by a huge withdrawal from everything and everyone(12:33) School was miserable as well because I was good at learning but couldn’t figure out how to make friends(13:04) Gemma describes what she remembers about me(15:38) The librarian created the Library Monitor position for me(16:30) Sarah explains how we met(20:08) Sarah pointed out that there is much less ambiguity in our relationship than in many of her relationships(22:50) I was surprised to hear that Sarah found the absence of ambiguity to be a helpful part of our friendship(24:13) An example of when I’ve misstepped and didn’t know how to fix it(26:43) A listener and I chat about imposter syndrome back in 2020(28:50) A listener in my Learning Membership community said she has felt judged by some of the things I’ve said about schools(30:26) One of the characteristics of autistic people is that we see things in a very black and white way(31:35) I have some genetic autistic component that nobody knew about when I was a child(32:47) In many areas of my life, my self-reliance served me well(34:30) We are stuck in a comparison mindset(35:59) I have a new series of Q&A episodes launching this year(36:18) My parents were traumatized by their own parents’ attempts to shape them to succeed in a White supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist culture(40:11) Don’t compare yourself with me but with the person that you might be if you weren’t held back by these old habits(41:07) Parent Claire from my Parenting Membership community shared about reading Dr. Gabor Mate’s book on ADHD called Scattered Minds(46:04) No one wins from negating their true selves(48:57) I remember one kid in my high school who was ALWAYS in trouble(50:40) Our children do things that seem like the best strategy they have to meet their needs
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Jen Lumanlan 00:10Hello and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. Today’s episode is going to be really close to home for me, which is a bit scary, but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway because I love learning, and I have a feeling I’m going to learn something through the process of developing this episode for you.Jen Lumanlan 00:27So, here I’m going to tell you about some experiences I’ve had in my life related to the podcast, and then looking further back to my childhood and friendships. You’ll also get to hear from quite a few folks I know – the therapist who has been supporting me recently, some of my friends, and also a listener who has been on a similar journey as me, and several listeners who have emailed with me over the years and who have given me permission to share what they wrote with you. Then I’ll tie all of these elements together with my new understanding of how they’re connected. But this episode isn’t just about navel-gazing; I’m not just telling you about me for the sake of telling you about me. My goal with all of this is that maybe you will see how seemingly unrelated events in YOUR life tie together as well and that helps you understand them and maybe shift how you navigate them in future…or maybe not, if that’s what you decide is most authentic to you. Maybe you’ll also see your child’s struggles differently, and from there you might understand their needs in a way that you don’t right now, which might help you to meet their needs. Once their needs are met, they will probably struggle against you less, because people don’t struggle when their needs are met. And then it’s much easier to meet YOUR needs as well. Alright, let’s get into it!Jen Lumanlan 01:41As many of you know, I’m running a business here, even though a lot of the time I wish I could leave the entire business aspect behind and just do the parts where I research podcast episodes d work with parents. There’s an idea in business marketing that pretty much everyone who is running a small online business knows, which is that you introduce someone to your work, and then your job is to get them to know, like, and trust you. I think that for the most part I don’t struggle with developing trusting relationships with listeners, largely because I deliver what I say I’m going to deliver when I say I’m going to deliver it. The podcast episodes keep showing up on the correct schedule, and I’ve always done the research I need to create an interview that generates insights that listeners haven’t heard from these guests before. Jen Lumanlan 02:25I think I have a much more difficult time with the ‘knowing’ and ‘liking’ elements, and that’s what I want to dig into today. I’ve always known that I personally and my work as well are an acquired taste. Not everyone wants to sit through 45-60 minutes of me talking or interviewing someone about the scientific research on a pretty narrow issue related to parenting and child development. I’m also a fairly private person, not because I have anything in particular to hide – if you read my book that’s coming out in August 2023, you’ll know at a high level pretty much all there is to know about me, so it’s not like it’s a secret. You’ll learn all about my difficult relationship with my Dad, and how I married a crack addict – for real! – and how patriarchy shows up in my marriage. So it’s not that I’m hiding anything big; I just don’t really think anyone else is that interested in how I live my life. All that stuff about me wasn’t in the first draft of the book, but my editor wanted me to add it because – and you can probably see this coming – it helps readers come to know and like me early in the book so it will make them trust me and want to keep reading. Jen Lumanlan 03:29People in in-person relationships also engage in this mutual revealing behavior to show that they know, like, and trust each other and somehow the public revealing behavior is supposed to create some sort of ‘emotional intimacy’ between content creators and audiences, but I don’t really buy it. I don’t see this as real emotional intimacy, which is why I don’t really use social media. I didn’t have Instagram until I started my business, and I did have Facebook but I never posted on it. I still don’t post anything personal on any social media channel because I just don’t see the point. That’s no judgement on anyone else who does choose to use it, and I do get some enjoyment out of seeing other people’s updates, but I don’t think anyone is hankering to see mine.Jen Lumanlan 04:15I think I actually have talked about myself a fair bit over the years. Not so much in individual social media posts where I say how I’ve failed, but in the courses and memberships I offer, as well as in podcast episodes. Parents in my memberships hear a lot more about difficult conversations I have with my husband and daughter, but only inasmuch as it helps to shed light on THEIR struggles. Way back in episode 49 I looked at how to raise a girl with a healthy body image, since my Mum had actually died as a result of anorexia, which I mentioned on the show. Then more recently in episode 150 I covered how to avoid passing on an eating disorder to our child because this topic is so important to me. I don’t have this one fully worked out; at this point I’ve basically conceded that it is not possible for me to be in the world where I don’t care how I look. And there’s a good deal of irony attached to that because I don’t dye my hair, and I don’t wear makeup. I bought a tube of tinted moisturizer for my wedding in 2010 and just a few weeks ago, 12 years later, the tube was finally empty, so you can tell how often I use it. I hate clothes shopping, and when I’m not on camera I spend all of my time in comfortable hiking pants and t-shirts and fleece jackets that have holes in the elbows, and when I’m on camera I only ever wear tops from one designer because they’re reasonably priced and they fit me OK and they never seem to be either in or out of fashion. And yet, I can’t get past the idea that it MATTERS how my body looks even though the vast majority of you never see below my rib cage. But I have done episodes on those things.Jen Lumanlan 05:50I looked at my racial privilege through a series of podcast episodes, which felt very exposed at the time because I had no idea what I was doing, and I was pretty sure I was going to get attacked for doing it. As it turned out I just lost subscribers after I published each of those episodes, because some folks didn’t want to hear about White supremacy on a parenting podcast. I’ve also been exploring my recent autism self-diagnosis through the podcast. If you missed the episode on neurodiversity last year, I took a free online test called the Autism Spectrum Quotient, which is scored on a scale of 0 to 50. An average person who isn’t autistic scores about 16. A score of 26 or greater indicates the presence of autistic traits, and 92% of autistic females score 32 or higher. My score was 42. After I did the episode on parents’ neurodivergence with Dr. Andalibian she offered to give me some autism screeners, which are a bit more in-depth than the free online tests. She left me a voicemail telling me about the results, and she gave me permission to share that with you. I did have to edit it to remove my actual scores because she said SHE couldn’t be the one who shared those publicly, but you’ll still get the idea.Dr. Andalibian Voicemail 06:57Your review from your husband puts you right at the basically the cusp of mild and most of his, so there's five subcategories, and most of them, were right around that range. Like your awareness was not in the clinically significant range, etc. So overall, there, his indication or his review was that there are challenges and reciprocity and reciprocal social behavior, that would be clinically significant. And that might lead to mild or moderate interference with everyday social interactions, which is basically confirms what you already know. And then your self-report, which is you know, because you're very honest about yourself, your self-report is what I would probably lean more towards. And that puts you right smack middle of the mild to severe, that's the way that they categorize it forced the language is horrible, which I hate. But so, scores in this range basically, again, reinforced what your partner had said, also a reciprocity of social behavior, or reciprocal social behavior, and that are clinically significant that might be causing difficulty in everyday social interactions. And overall, your personal scores on your self-worth. So it says basically, such scores are strongly associated with clinical diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. So you are confirmed officially on a screener based on your report that yes, these are, this is the right direction for you to be going in. So the areas that social awareness, so you're pretty aware when you know you basically the way that translates is that you're well aware of what is going on around you and you're not like clueless to that to the dynamic. It's the social motivation, social communication, and restrictive interests and repetitive sort of behavior piece that seems to be the higher part.Jen Lumanlan 09:06So before we go on, one thing Dr. A. did want me to make sure to communicate was that this is the result of a SCREENER plus my fairly extensive interactions with her about the podcast episode we recorded together plus her extensive clinical experience in this specific subspecialty. She wants to make sure you know that a result on a screener is NOT the same thing as a diagnosis; it’s more a confirmation that you’re looking in the right area, although for my purposes a diagnosis probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference in my self-understanding or any services that I might look for to help me, and it would be really expensive, so it probably isn’t worth pursuing. This is also why I’m going to call this a “self-diagnosis” rather than a “diagnosis.” But just know that if you do take a screener online somewhere else, the result is not definitive without some clinical interpretation. Dr. Andalibian is going to put some of the screeners I took, and maybe some others as well, up on her website in a few weeks and she said there will be a mechanism to identify yourself as a Your Parenting Mojo listener and she might be able to do a short consult with you to discuss the results with you. I’ll put a link to her resources on the website page for this episode at yourparentingmojo.com/meJen Lumanlan 10:20So on the autism – the main area where I see this impacting my life is in HOW I communicate with others, which is probably how it impacts you as well. I’ve always had a hard time fitting in, and up until last year, I just assumed this was a combination of being introverted and not having learned social skills. I think some of it started even when I was a baby, because my Mum wanted a baby who would need her but she got me instead, and I was fairly self-sufficient as babies go, so she didn’t know how to connect with me. Jen Lumanlan 10:52I did have some friends when I was in primary school and I remember what were apparently pretty normal social interactions and visiting each other’s houses. My Mum died at the very end of primary school so in that period at the end of primary and beginning of secondary school when there’s a lot of social learning happening, I was going home every night to cook dinner for my family. I didn’t think I was missing out because I didn’t enjoy socializing anyway, and we had to eat dinner. I had a new stepmother within a year and it’s not an exaggeration to say that she hated me, and I know this because I remember it and because my Dad has confirmed it more recently. So my entire teenage years were marked by a huge withdrawal from everything and everyone, and I spent most of my time that I wasn’t in school alone in my bedroom wishing people would just stop noticing me. My Dad and stepmum did send me to therapy a couple of times in those years but the focus was very much on seeing what was wrong with me and fixing me so I would stop being so annoying to them. As far as I could tell, they didn’t make any special effort to change what they were doing. One of the therapists told me I should try to connect with my stepmum by offering to make her cups of tea, which she used to drink probably 8-10 times a day. She always accepted the tea, but was never interested in the connection. Then I tried offering to help make dinner, figuring maybe we could talk while we cooked. I told myself I would do it every day for a month, and every day she would sweetly say “no thank you” when I asked if she needed help....