Breaking the Cycle: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome for Mothers of Autistic Children

by | Mar 12, 2024

Let’s start with what exactly is imposter syndrome.  The Oxford Dictionary says it is the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has legitimately been achieved as a result of one’s own effort or skills.

Essentially, what this means is that no matter the success you gain you still don’t believe you’re worthy of it.

This is a very, very real trait that most, not all, mothers have.  That no matter how much success that they can see through the hard work and dedication that they’ve put into their child, that they’re still somehow failing their child, or missing a vital component. This then leads to negative self-talk, increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) and so much more.

For mothers of newly diagnosed autistic children, imposter syndrome can manifest in various ways. Despite their tireless efforts and dedication to their child’s well-being, they may still feel like they’re falling short. They may compare themselves to other mothers who seem to have it all together, amplifying their feelings of inadequacy. They may worry that they’re not doing enough, not providing the right support, or not meeting their child’s needs in the best possible way.

Recognize Your Achievements: Take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments as a mother. You’ve been advocating for your child, learning about autism, and adapting to new challenges every day. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made and the obstacles you’ve overcome.

Recognize Your Child’s Achievements: Take the time to look back 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, last week and see how far your child has come in such a short amount of time.

Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you’re doing the best you can with the resources and knowledge you have. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Treat yourself with the same empathy and understanding that you would offer to a friend in a similar situation.

Challenge Negative Thoughts: When imposter syndrome rears its head, challenge those negative thoughts with evidence of your capabilities and strengths. Remind yourself of the love and dedication you have for your child, and the positive impact you’re making in their life. Remind yourself of your why.  This is paramount.

Seek Support: Connect with other mothers who are on a similar journey. Join online support groups, attend local meetups, or seek guidance from a therapist or coach who specializes in supporting parents of autistic children. Sharing your experiences and receiving validation from others can help combat feelings of isolation and self-doubt.

Focus on Progress: Not Perfection: Shift your mindset from striving for perfection to embracing progress. Recognize that parenting is a journey filled with ups and downs, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Celebrate the small victories and milestones along the way, knowing that every step forward is a testament to your dedication and resilience.

Remember, imposter syndrome is a common experience, especially for mothers navigating the complexities of parenting a newly diagnosed autistic child. But with self-awareness, compassion, and support, you can overcome these feelings of inadequacy and step into your role as a confident, empowered mother. You are not alone on this journey, and your love and commitment to your child are enough. Trust yourself, believe in your abilities, and embrace the incredible journey of motherhood with courage and grace.

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