Honoring the Teeny-Tiny Bandwidths of Children from Difficult Beginnings

anxiety low and slow narrow bandwidths neurodiverse children therapeutic parenting toxic stress Dec 06, 2023

Neurodiverse Children have Limited Bandwidths.

What does that mean?

It means that they have little ability to absorb the stress of intense life events, without negative side effects like emotional outbursts, refusal, opposition, and meltdowns.

What can you do to honor your child’s neurodiversity needs?

Give them a break.  Seriously, they need you to adjust your expectations of them preceding and following a stressful experience.

What are huge life stressors for neurodiverse children? 

Life.  And, life has its ups and downs for everyone. If there is a huge test at school, when there has been an overnight, when you have gone away for self-care, when rejected by a friend, when there is an up-coming party or an outing or a field trip or tired or sad or disappointed or someone bumped them in line.

First, your child will likely have huge stress leading up to any event that they know is coming in the form of anticipatory anxiety.  Stress.

Then the stress of the event itself pumps high adrenaline and high cortisol throughout the body during the event.  The length of the event actually matters, too, because high-stress hormones for prolonged periods are toxic to the body.  Stress? Or double stress?

Finally, the aftereffects when you require your child to be “normal,” do "normal" things like their chores, picking up after themselves, helping out, sharing, going to church or weekend activities or usual weekend errands that require patience, waiting, or boredom.  Stress.

This last part, dear therapeutic parent, is where you come in. 

On the heels of a big blip in stress, you can honor your child’s thin bandwidth for “normal function” by giving recovery time--a break from the usual tasks, more rest, more choices, less activity until their systems re-regulate. "Downtime" is a thing.  It will help your child's stressed brain recover, and spare your ears the sound of yet another outburst of emotion. Win-win.

Love Matters,

P.S. To join a vibrant post-adoption parenting community, check out Love Matters Parenting Society. For an easy to read parent pick me up, get Ce's book, Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents. If you're looking for a quick pick-me-up or a gift for someone you love, visit our Love Matters Swag Store! And, did you know Ce has a new podcast? Yep, you can subscribe to it here: Unmuted Love With Ce Eshelman. 


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