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APUK Blog

Musings on the Family Balancing Act

By Becks Harper, Autistic, wife, mum to 3 sons, crafter of various creations, seeker of deeper understandings and sharer of my mind!


I don't know why the word "co-regulation" took so long to enter my vocabulary! As an Autistic parent to Autistic children, co-regulation is the basis of what makes or breaks how our days go.

If I am in a state of dysregulation then my ability to help my children navigate their own challenges and moments of distress is greatly reduced. We bounce off each other's sensory overwhelm, heightened to perceived criticism and irritations. I struggle to walk away, as a parent, because I want to make things better but walking away is what I need to do to gain control of myself. It also demonstrates better-coping skills to my children. Taking time out is a good thing.


On the days I am settled and stable in my mind and environment, I can take on the dysregulation of my children and find ways to calm the distress they are feeling. I can think clearly through choices and options. I can put aside time pressures knowing that a few moments spent to try and bring in some calm will mean doing what needs to be done. Being late but better regulated is often preferable to not getting somewhere at all!


Safety is the partner to self-regulation. To be safe is what we ultimately aim for. Safety in mind and body.

I wrote the piece below after recently experiencing both extreme dysregulation and being well regulated, at times when my children needed to be brought to spaces of safety within themselves...then reflecting on the ways my children were either sent further into their feelings of distress or I was able to bring them to a safer, calmer space.


Today, we...


Today you struggled again.

I felt that to my core, like I always do.


Today I struggled to know how to help you.

I felt that to my core, like I always do.


Today you didn't feel safe.

I dealt with it brilliantly, like I often do.


Today you felt insecure.

I dealt with it badly, like I sometimes do.


Today you felt overwhelmed.

We worked through it together and you were ok.


Today you were lost in your place in time.

I made it worse and someone else had to step in.


You tell me I understand you better than most.

I feel that as a responsibility like no other.


I understand better because I have been where you are.

That understanding slices through me like a scalpel.


The anxiety, panic, frustration, betrayal.

The noise, the lights, the change in plan, the unknown.


Fighting my past to help you take on your present.

I can't rely on my now known to bring you sooner to your own.


Today we do the best we can with where we are right now.

Mistakes, big wins and delicate balancing acts.


Sometimes observed. Often just seen by those who already know.

Trying not to focus on the outward scene, but rather the unseen understanding between us.


When it all falls apart we have to ride that storm to the calm, often cast adrift from the other.


Today we find each other again as the waves settle and the sorrys are said...and today we are ready to keep moving on.


Becks H 2022

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