In 2019 we as a family were given news that changed our lives forever. Our eldest child who was 18 years old at the time, was identified as Autistic (and that this meant that our other children and us as parents probably were Autistic too).
With news this monumental you might expect to receive wrap-around support, guidance and tools to help us navigate this new and overwhelming journey as a family…
However, the reality for our family (like so many countless others) were handed a diagnosis report, a handful of pamphlets and a list of websites and left to find our way through a stretched, confusing and disempowering system.
This life-changing discovery came after years of struggling to support our children with their mental health through the system (and failing). On the one hand, it was good to have a reason for why, however, initially, the only thing this identification process gave us was a name for what was happening and a million more questions and worries for our child’s future. Not only this we still had all the same challenges as before our child was identified as Autistic, but now we also had a shitload more research and self-education to add to our already overloaded capacity as parents.
We were a family at crisis point. To say we were struggling would have been a gross understatement. I can still remember how lonely, isolated and totally overwhelmed we all felt. It felt like the world closing in on us as things just spun further and further out of control… Most days were just spent getting by, keeping everybody safe while praying that tomorrow would be a better day.
Deep down I knew that I wanted more for my family than simply getting by. This is why I invested in myself and my family through countless hours of engaging coaches, therapy, self-inquiry, reparenting myself and learning from the lived experiences of other Autistic and ADHD individuals.
I made it my mission to understand Autism and ADHD and my children’s (and my own) unique wiring.
Things slowly got better, and easier and Wayne and I started feeling more confident in parenting our Neurodivergent children. Now, to say that I have all the answers and that parenting is no longer challenging for me would be a lie. Autism and ADHD are lifelong and dynamic disabilities, we are all different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution that will work for everyone and this comes with its struggles and challenges. This is a reality that we parents of neurodivergent parents and individuals live with daily.
What I learned through my research and lived experience was:
- Understanding of how my children’s unique brains and nervous systems work.
- Understanding of myself and how my brain and nervous system work influences how I parent my children.
- How to treat myself with grace, kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
- Trauma-informed and neuro-affirming tools and strategies to support me to be the type of parent my children truly need.
- How to parent from a place of hope, curiosity and possibility instead of parenting from a place of worry and fear.
- Understanding of how the New Zealand school, medical and disability systems work and how to advocate for my children and family in these systems.
- Confidence in myself and the ability to trust my parenting decisions and instincts.
- The importance of surrounding myself with a community or other parents who ‘get it’.
The most rewarding thing for me as a mum from this learning journey has been how the quality of our relationships as a family has improved.
- We can approach conflict situations with curiosity and understanding.
- My husband Wayne and I are on the same page with our parenting approach (which is something I thought we would never be able to achieve). And we can talk to each other and respect each other’s perspective when we aren’t.
- We can have open, honest and authentic conversations about the hard stuff.
- We are so much more connected as a family. Our children feel seen, heard and understood which has opened the way for them to trust Wayne and me, as allies and come to us when they are struggling, have made a mistake or need support.
These are all things I could have only dreamed possible before our Autism journey began. The kids, Wayne and I share our journey with other families on our podcast. You can listen here.
This journey has been so transformative for us, that it fueled my desire to offer my 1-1 parent coaching and a group coaching program for parents of Neurodivergent children and teens in 2024. With this intention, The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox was born.
What Is The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox?
The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox is a neuro-affirming, trauma-informed, 6-week online group coaching program and community for New Zealand-based parents of Neurodivergent children and teens.
Our mission is to support New Zealand-based parents, with the lived experience, guidance and community to help them understand their children (and themselves), cut through the confusion and the overwhelm and give you real and actionable tools so that you can feel equipped, empowered and confident as a parent.
I wish a program like this had been available to me and my family at the beginning of our journey. This was such a vulnerable time for us as a family and I know that it is for you too. My family deserved so much more than a handful of pamphlets and a list of websites and so do your family.
Here are some questions you may have about The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox.
Q – Who is The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox for?
The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox is for New Zealand-based families of neurodivergent (Autistic, ADHD or AuDHD) children or teens, who are looking for a way to support themselves and their child in a neuro-affirming way.
This wrap-around toolbox program teaches you important tools to help you understand your child’s unique wiring, safeguard your child’s (and your) mental health and improve your relationship with your child.
Q – Do we need to have an ‘official diagnosis’ of Autism or ADHD to be part of The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox?
No. Official diagnosis is something that not every family has access to or seeks out for a variety of reasons. We believe that self-identification is valid. We are inclusive and accepting of all Neurodivergent families.
Q – Can You Explain How The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox Works?
The Neurodivergent Parents Toolbox is so much more than just a 6-week group coaching program. It is a place for New Zealand-based families of Neurodivergent children and teens to find their village.
The program is delivered online and live using a method of weekly workshops, and weekly reflection prompts and interactions within our private community. Our private community (which is not a Facebook group) is available through the Mighty Networks app and is part of the Parenting Neurodivergent Kids Together Community.
Here is what you will get as part of the program:
- 6 x live 2-hour group coaching sessions.
- Neuro-affirming and trauma-informed program with practical tools and strategies developed from lived experience and evidence-based frameworks and research!
- A small private online community away from social media of parents who ‘get it’.
- Full access to the recordings and community after the program ends.
Each intake of families is capped at 20 families to allow you to get to know the other families in the program in a real and meaningful way. The group of parents from your intake become your village. (Your dedicated group of online besties whom you can go to for support and encouragement when you need it.) Of course, I am part of your village too, there to guide you every step of the way.
You also have the benefit of connecting with parents from other cohorts of the program in the main Parenting Neurodivergent Kids Together Community.
Being an exclusively New Zealand-based community means that it is possible to meet the families you connect with online in real life.
Q – I am looking for something that my partner and I can engage with together so we can be on the same page with our parenting, can we attend The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox together?
Yes, you can! I understand how essential it is for both parents to be on the same page with parenting their Neurodivergent children. The cost of the program is for two people (You and a co-parent).
Q – My partner and I have differing work schedules and find it challenging to attend things live together. Are the sessions recorded so that we can watch these together?
Yes, you can! Although it is recommended that you attend as many of the group coaching sessions live as you are able, all sessions are recorded so you have the convenience of watching the recorded session (or rewatching sessions) at a time that suits you and your schedule.
Q – Will I have access to the program materials (recordings, workbooks etc.) and the community after the 6-week program is finished?
Yes! You will have access to all the program materials as well as the community for the lifetime of the program at no additional cost.
Q – I noticed that The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox is for New Zealand Families only. Do you have anything for families who live in other countries?
Due to the nature of the material covered in The Neurodivergent Toolbox, it relates specifically to New Zealand families. I am available to work with families from other countries in my 1-1 coaching practice.
Q – What will we get out of being part of The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox?
In a nutshell, this 6-week group online coaching program will support you to go from feeling confused, overwhelmed and helpless as to how best to support your Neurodivergent child/children, to feeling calm, confident and empowered in your parenting by equipping you with essential understanding, tools and strategies.
Here are some of the things you will learn:
Week One: Understanding How Your Child’s Brain Works.
- Gain a life-changing understanding of how your child’s Autistic, ADHD or AuDHD brain, and nervous system work, and why they do the things they do.
- Learn how to use this understanding to adapt your parenting to support your child in a way that really works!
Week Two: Understanding Explosive Behaviours, Meltdowns, Shutdowns and Burnout.
- Get to the root of why meltdowns, shutdowns and burnout happen.
- Learn how to support your child during and after a meltdown or shutdown happens.
- Learn about the connection between meltdowns, shutdowns and burnout.
- Learn strategies to reduce the occurrences of meltdowns, shutdowns and explosive behaviour and safeguard your child’s mental health, while protecting them from burnout.
Week Three: Understanding Demand Avoidance / Drive For Autonomy.
- Gain insight into what demand avoidance /drive for autonomy is and how this affects your child and their behaviour.
- Learn strategies to work co-operatively with your child in a way that supports their nervous system while addressing your concerns and expectations.
- Learn ways to work with your child and their nervous system so you can create more peaceful connected moments with your child.
Week Four: Understanding Executive Function.
- Gain valuable understanding into how executive functioning works and how this affects your child, their behaviour, social interactions and their school work.
- Learn how to work collaboratively with your child to teach lagging skills in a way that engages your child and safeguards their self-esteem.
Week Five: Supporting Your Child With Relationships With Others.
- Understand ways that Autism and ADHD can affect relationships with others.
- Learn tools and strategies to support your child to navigate sibling and peer relationships so that they can stay connected to themselves while creating meaningful connections with others.
Week Six: Navigating The System And Relationships In A Way That Feels Good For You and Your Family.
- Learn valuable insights into the New Zealand school and disability systems.
- Learn how to get support and funding for your family that is aligned with your family values and your aspirations for your child.
- Learn strategies to help you set boundaries with friends and extended family and what to say when you come up against unhelpful and ablest comments or advice.
In six short weeks, you will learn the tools and strategies to support your family for a lifetime to move from merely surviving to thriving.
This toolbox experience goes so much deeper than tools and strategies here is what you will gain from being part of the program:
- A deeper connection and understanding between your child and yourself as a parent!
- Feel more connected to and on the same team as your parenting partner!
- Feel confident and empowered in your parenting decisions!
- Confidently advocate for your child and your family!
- Restore joy, connection and calm to your parenting and family life!
- Rediscover what a good life looks like for you and your family aligned with your values and aspirations!
- Grow your village of support with other parents who get it!
- Start parenting from a place of hope and possibility again!
The investment for the program is:
$525 (Afterpay is available in checkout)
- As part of my commitment to ethical practice, extended payment plans and hardship scholarships are available on request.
- Please speak to me about how you can use your carer support hours or individualised funding to pay for a portion of or the whole program.
Q – When is the next intake?
The program is run during New Zealand school term time (Programs start February, May, July, October)
Q – I still have more questions. How can I contact you to find out if The Neurodivergent Family Toolbox is the right fit for me and my family?
You can email Tanya: email@example.com
or call Tanya on 027 924 8202.
I look forward to supporting you through the next stage of your family’s journey.
Tanya Valentin is a Trauma-Informed and Neuro-Affirming Family Coach, NZ Registered Teacher, Lecturer (Te Pukenga – Early Childhood Education and Care), Author and Podcaster.
Tanya is a Neurodivergent person and a proud Mama of 3 Neurodivergent humans. She works to support, educate and foster inclusion, acceptance and positive life outcomes for all neurodivergent children, teenagers and adults in all her areas of life.
Tanya lives with her family in beautiful Northland, New Zealand. She has authored several books and blogs and co-hosts the Seen Heard Accepted Podcast with her family. She is the founder of the Neurodivergent Family Toolbox and the Parenting Neurodivergent Kids Together Community and podcast.
Tanya is committed to making a difference in the world by supporting parents with practical tools and strategies to help them understand their child and their unique wiring, feel confident in their parenting and nurture strong connections between themselves and their children.