A Reddit Mom Coparenting Her Autistic Daughter Clashes With Ex on What Qualifies as 'Coddling'

Navigating co-parenting with an ex is tough. Doing so when your child is autistic is even tougher. A mother who has been working hard to make sure her child isn’t triggered into nonverbal episodes took to Reddit to see if she was in the wrong for “rescuing” her 4-year-old daughter, namely when she was having an episode at her dad’s house.

“My (32f) ex husband Mark (34m) and I have three children together. Two boys and one girl, they’re all 9yrs old (triplets). Our daughter’s name is Ellie, and she’s always been much more sensitive than her brothers. She just behaved differently than they did, and in the beginning I dismissed it as the boys being identical and her being the fraternal triplet, but with time I realized it was more than that. Ellie was eventually diagnosed as autistic when she was 4,” the OP starts.

The mom describes her daughter as sweet and very quiet, and noted that she has a difficult time around loud noises and often is very quiet herself. “Anytime we have to go somewhere, I bring her noise cancelling headphones and a few of her favorite stim toys just in case the headphones don’t help enough. Lately, when she has a meltdown, it dissolves into a panic attack and then she’ll just be completely nonverbal for a day or two. I hate seeing her go through that, so I do everything to help her manage and avoid her triggers as much as possible.”

Her ex doesn’t seem to be as on-board with making adjustments for their daughter, although the OP noted that he is coming around to it since moving in a with a girlfriend. Still, he ultimately “thinks I coddle her too much and that my efforts to help her avoid meltdowns and sensory overloads are actually just me giving in to her tantrums.”

Let’s just take a step back to confirm that no — having stim toys and a plan set in case your autistic child goes into a nonverbal meltdown isn’t coddling. That’s parenting. Viewing sensory overloads as something that can simply be controlled or stopped without interventions is not only an uneducated viewpoint, but a potentially harmful one.

“It’s supposed to be his week with the kids, so I was just at home catching up on some cleaning when one of my sons called me on Marissa’s cell. He said that Ellie had shut herself in her closet and was refusing to come out, and that their dad was getting upset with her about it. I asked him to put his dad on the phone. Mark immediately started telling me that he could handle Ellie’s fits and that our son shouldn’t have grabbed Marissa’s phone to call me, but I told him that I at least wanted to talk about what had triggered Ellie to begin with, and I wanted to talk to her as well just to see if she was okay.”

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