Autistic Parents Peer Support Group - My Role.
Aupeer CIC's first partnership! It's great to be partnering with Diff - Ability CIC because it brings in the wealth of knowledge of owner Cristina to enhance our service provision. (As well as her big heart and cracking sense of humour!)
I'm a stepmum to be, I have co-habited with my partner's children for 2 years. He has welcomed and upheld me as another parental figure in the children's lives and they have done so too, wonderfully! I wipe bums, clean cuts, support their education, speak about worries, wash clothes (so many clothes!), cry with them and laugh with them. I spent the bank holiday drawing and colouring Super Mario and Luigi...I spend half and an hour in the local charity shop searching for the books from the 'big book list' I have been given of their desired kids reads...
I do so as an autistic person who has to cope with sensory challenges, burnout, executive function challenges and so on. And I went from living with just my cat (yes I DO miss those quiet days where I controlled my own environment sometimes!) and zero children to living with three in what felt like overnight.
Yet I feel that I can't ask for support in my role as it's not a legally defined one. I have slight imposter syndrome co-facilitating this group because I am not 'officially' a parent, despite my hands on role. I have had someone imply to me that as I chose to play this role by choosing my partner, I should suck any rough times up... but that doesn't help me fulfil the moral obligation I have to support myself so I can support the children I live with 50% of the time.
I'm putting it out there so other autistic parental figures of any kind feel welcome to our new group. So that autistic people who are thinking about taking on such a role can come along and feel welcomed. To show that as autistic people we play every role in society, as we should. And I'm guessing we won't all come to parenthood the traditional way given our unique way of experiencing the world!
But of course at the heart of the group is the fact that we will all be autistic parents. I don't see much parental support out there tailored to our needs as a community in the mainstream.
Aupeer is here to put autistic and lived experience led peer support front and centre as means of supporting our community. This is another step on that journey to meeting the needs of autistic people in all walks of life.