I think all parents tend to take note of what their kids does, what the result is and then modify accordingly. She is always crying at 5pm, maybe she needs dinner sooner than 5:30. If he wakes from nap after 3:30 he doesn’t go to bed until 9, If she is in the sun to long she gets headaches, etc.
As a parent of a child with special needs we do this too—just super high level. He isn’t sleeping, we have to keep a sleep diary: what did he eat today, what screen time did he get, was he wet when he woke, any meds we gave him, etc. Not all parents need a detailed break down of their child’s day, then highlight something unusual, take notes on it, and then put it in the notes/observations clip on the side of the fridge. Do we want to? No. Do we like it? No. Do we enjoy the fact that everything has to be a fight to progress? Absolutely not.
Everything we do is the same as parents of children who do not have special needs, we just take it to a whole new level. It can be exhausting, especially when you track, journal, investigate, etc and still haven’t found the cause.
I think this is where the mama/papa bear theory of Autism (special needs) moms comes from. When a parent works SO HARD on EVERYTHING they do EVERY DAY they get possessive, defensive, and even angry if someone messes with it or is not taking what you say seriously. Don’t get me wrong, all parents want whats best, all parents fight for their kids, but not all parents have to battle the same time and commitment –hypervigilance that special needs parents do.
My point is simple, if you see a parent doing this, don’t judge. They may not be doing a “helicopter parent” thing, but trying to get to the bottom of things so they can help their child overcome it. Don’t tell them they are overreacting or looking to much into things, we don’t want to, we have to. Don’t take offense if they are protective of their work/notes/observations and want that opinion to matter. If we say they cant have screen time after 7 or they wake up at 3, that is what we know to be true, please respect it. If we break down and cry because what “we thought caused something wasn’t really it and we still don’t know and we just are so sick of always having to do this,” I guess what I am really getting at is, you may not have realized what all goes into Autism (special needs) parenting, but we do. We ask for not only acceptance of Autism and the child who has the diagnosis, but the family that is also doing the best they can to figure out how they work the most efficiently to be a strong Autism family.