Raising a child with ADHD, Autism or neurodivergence can be mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and alcohol can seem like an easy way to relax and turn off your brain at the end of the day

Neurodiversity encompasses a variety of conditions such as autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, dyslexia, and more. Each condition presents its own unique set of challenges and strengths, impacting the experiences of both the kids and their parents. 

Dr. Emily King notes,Most  neurodivergent  kids  have really big feelings and sensitive  nervous  systems. They may be too overwhelmed to interact socially the way neurotypical children do. If you’re the mother of a neurodivergent child it’s like parenting on steroids. You have to be more consistent and on your game all the time and that can be completely draining.”

There are also complex emotions parents feel when having a child diagnosed with neurodivergence. 

Dr. Emily shares “There  is  this  sadness around the  child  you  thought  you  would  have  and the  life  you  thought  they  would  have, the  things  you  thought  you  would  enjoy  with  them  and  the  reality. There’s resentment in  looking  at  other  parents of neurotypical children who  aren’t  struggling  with  the  same  things  you  are  and  thinking,  ‘Why  me?  This  isn’t  fair.  Why  can’t  this  be  easy  in  that  way’?

Combine the stress and responsibilities of parenting a neurodivergent kid with the fact that women, to a greater extent than men, tend to drink to cope with stress and negative feelings, and you have the perfect recipe for alcohol to become both a coping strategy and a problem for moms in this situation.

An Atlantic article on women drinking to cope with stress described the effect of alcohol on stress in this way: In the short term, alcohol can be extremely soothing; it mimics the effect of a relaxing brain chemical called GABA. “It’s taking you out of your head a little bit,” Julie Patock-Peckham, a psychology professor at Arizona State University said. “You’re not going to be overthinking things.” But the effect is short-lived: When someone who has been drinking starts to sober up, levels of GABA in the brain go down, and excitatory chemicals like glutamate and cortisol rise, so people wind up feeling more anxious in the aftermath. 

Mothers often handle the majority of caregiving responsibilities for neurodivergent children. From chaotic mornings of getting children ready for the day to the emotional toll of navigating meltdowns and therapy appointments, the journey can be overwhelming and moms absolutely need relief and a break at the end of the day.  

But in the long run drinking to relieve the stress of parenting a neurodivergent kid can add anxiety, overwhelm, poor sleep and depression to the list of things you’re coping with. 

If you are parenting a neurodivergent kid, you need strategies to protect

your mental health without turning to alcohol to escape.

🎙️My guest, Dr. Emily King, is here to help!

As a Child Psychologist, and former school Psychologist and the mother of two neurodivergent children, one on the autism spectrum and one with ADHD, Dr. Emily is uniquely qualified to talk about how to protect your mental health while raising a neurodivergent kid. She also quit drinking 2 years ago.

Dr. Emily has spent the last 20 years working with neurodivergent children, along with their parents and teachers, to build an understanding of how a child’s developmental skills, relationships, and perception of safety intersect to create the ideal environment for their growth.

In this episode, Emily and I discuss:

Why raising a neurodivergent child is like “parenting on steroids”

How to navigate the complex emotions that can accompany a diagnosis and the daily stress of parenting

✅ Strategies for self-care to protect your mental health: finding time for relaxation, building a support network, embracing activities that bring you joy, managing stress and seeking professional help when needed

✅ How to understand and support children with ADHD, autism, and anxiety

✅ How to access resources such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavior intervention services

✅ How to navigate social situations while making sure your neurodivergent child feels safe and supported

Resources related to Protecting Your Mental Health While Parenting A Neurodivergent Kid

Parenting A Neurodivergent Child is Hard! | Psychology Today

What to Know About Raising Neurodivergent Kids

Can Your Children Drive You To Drink? – PMC

Stress Drinking Has a Gender Divide

Hangover Anxiety: How a Night of Drinking Can Tank Your Mood – The New York Times

Ep. 101 ADHD, Women + Alcohol | Hello Someday Coaching

3 Ways I Can Support You In Drinking Less + Living More

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Connect with Dr. Emily King

Emily King received a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006. Wanting to learn more about providing mental health services in public schools, she completed an APA-accredited psychology internship at Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston, Texas. After completing her internship, she remained in Houston to complete her postdoctoral training in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD where she provided evaluation, therapy, and consultation services in elementary, middle, and high schools.

As a Raleigh native, Emily and her family returned home in 2010 and where she worked for a group practice before opening my solo practice in 2012. She is a Licensed Psychologist and Health Services Provider in NC specializing in therapy and consultation services for neurodivergent children and teens including those diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, anxiety, giftedness, and/or learning disabilities.

She is passionate about helping parents connect with their children in order to cultivate loving and supportive interactions that are felt by both parents and child. Her background in School Psychology has given her extensive experience conducting psycho-educational evaluations and consulting with teachers and school administrators, which is helpful when supporting families as they navigate school services for their children.

In addition to her psychology practice, Emily provides online educational resources for teachers and parents at Learn with Dr. Emily. When not in the office, she enjoys singing, reading on the porch, long walks with her dog, and traveling with her husband and two sons.

Looking for my online resources, blog, podcast, or speaking opportunities? Visit www.learnwithdremily.com

Connect with Casey McGuire Davidson

To find out more about Casey and her coaching programs, head over to www.hellosomedaycoaching.com

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Are you looking for the best sobriety podcast for women? The Hello Someday Podcast was created specifically for sober curious women and gray area drinkers ready to stop drinking, drink less and change their relationship with alcohol.

Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life and sobriety coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking and The Sobriety Starter Kit Sober Coaching Course, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

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Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol-free life. 

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Protecting Your Mental Health While Raising A Neurodivergent Kid with Dr. Emily King



kids, child, ADHD, drinking, talk, teachers, parents, struggling, love, age, differences, notice, autism, support, hard, learning, teaching, autistic children, years, listening, self-soothe, self-esteem, protecting, mental health, raising a neurodivergent kid, neurodivergent kids, neurodivergence, healthy coping mechanism, big feelings, sensitive nervous system, triggers, behavior, anxiety, grief, sensory processing differences, language differences, Occupational Therapist, Speech Language Pathologist, emotional regulation, celebration, exposure, preschool, support, pediatrician, Child Psychologist, social communication weakness, sober, alcohol-free, childcare, schedules, predictability, visuals, take care of our body, movement, sleep


SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Dr. Emily King


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.


Today we are talking about


how to protect your mental health while raising a neurodivergent kid


and how to do it without drinking to cope with it.


My guest today is Dr. Emily King. And she’s a Child Psychologist and a former school Psychologist. She spent the last 20 years working with Neurodivergent children, along with their parents and teachers to build an understanding of how a child’s developmental skills, relationships, and perception of safety intersect to create the ideal environment for growth.


I know that a lot of my private clients have Neurodivergent children, and it is a unique source of stress that they need to cope with. And it also is a reason that they emotionally want to check out and drink too, as a way to self-soothe. As a way to take care of themselves, which then causes more difficulty.


So, I wanted to talk about this today. And Emily is also 2 years alcohol-free, which is amazing.


She’s a friend of a good friend of mine. So, I was excited to connect with her.

So, Emily, welcome.


Emily King  02:44

Thank you so much for having me, Casey.


Casey McGuire Davidson  02:46

Yeah, I’m really excited for you to be here. Because I always try to have guests who have expertise in something that my clients struggle with. And I also don’t have personal experience with I refer them out. But I know that if my clients struggle with it, so many women listening to this podcast, often have similar problems that they’re dealing with.


And we always try to talk about how to solve for the triggers in your life that make you want to drink without drinking with healthier coping mechanism.


So, let’s dive in.


Will you tell us a little bit about how you came to this work and experience with this?


Emily King  03:29

Yeah, so I came to this work originally wanting to work with kids in schools, I first wanted to be a teacher. And then, when I got into school, I realized that this school psychology thing was a profession that I could make it. I was really interested in how kids learn, really interested and why anxiety can impact our learning.


So, from a, you know, College or my early career, in Grad School and in Internships in schools, I quickly knew that I was fascinated by like, all the things that interfere with learning. And that’s before I really understood all the things that happen in our emotional regulation that has to be solid before we can even learn, which is in our you know, our upper cortex, our higher level thinking, our problem solving, we can’t access all of that until we’re emotionally regulated.


So, over the course of my career, it’s been an evolution because I was a school Psychologist before I was a mom. And then I became a mom to two boys. So, I have a 16 year old and a 10 year old. So, over the course of having kids and raising them, of course, is I think every working parent does, you’ve learned so much from your kids and then even if their teachers listening or if their therapists listening, you’ll probably resonate with the idea of like, I know all this stuff for my job, yet I seem to not be able to implement it because I’m losing it emotionally when my kid makes me mad or whatever. There’s so so many things I learned from my kids. And then, they both had been diagnosed with different types of Neurodivergence over the years and have taught me so many things.


And so, we relocated when my youngest was 3. Back home to North Carolina from Texas. And so, I went into private practice at that point, because I had already just fallen in love with working with like, pretty complex kids, that I wanted to do, not just evaluation, which is mainly what school Psychologists do, but also Consulting with teachers and Counseling with parents and then doing specific types of play therapy, mainly with young autistic children, but some with children with ADHD, all the while raising my boys and learning from them and navigating school and navigating my practice and navigating my marriage.


And, you know, in interests, you know, that’s something that we can circle back to. But I will say, in the 2 years since I stopped drinking, I have had space and time for my interest. And that’s been the biggest gift that I’d kind of didn’t see coming. So, I’m really passionate to talk to moms, women about this journey that isn’t an intense one. I know this from all the parents I’ve worked with. I know this from the teachers I’ve worked with, and you have to remain professional when kids are coming at you with big feelings.


Most Neurodivergent kids have really big feelings, they have sensitive nervous systems.


I like to say it’s kind of parenting or teaching on steroids. You’ve got to use all the same things that you do in other, you know, parenting and teaching situations, but more consistent. You have to be on your game, like all the time. And that is completely draining if you’re juggling lots of different things.


Casey McGuire Davidson  06:46

Yeah, I can imagine how difficult that is. I know that when I was drinking, you know, my kids, when I stopped, they were to an eight and are not neurodivergent and parenting them, regardless with a hangover and bad sleep and not having time for myself in the evenings. Because I was just, you know, drinking a bottle of wine and watching TV I don’t remember. And all that stuff is so challenging, because you physically don’t feel well. And so, when you’re talking about being on your game, and kids coming at you with big feelings, and I know when I have a headache and a hangover, I’m like, everything’s too loud, can we just slow down, I want to be by myself. I can’t imagine how much more difficult that is.


Emily King  07:38

Right. And so, you know, the mornings of being tired and having a headache. Think about the hustle and bustle of getting your kid out the door in the morning, autistic children, children with ADHD, who struggled to remember all their belongings, they need systems and structure. And it is like, you wake up, and you hit the ground running. And it’s a little bit like, having young children longer, you know, your kids just aren’t. Your kids just aren’t as independent as their peers until they get a little older.


And of course, every single autistic child is different. Every single child with ADHD and anxiety is different. But generally speaking, what it feels like as you’re supporting them longer than this friend of yours over here with neuro typically developing children who are getting their belongings together who are sitting in coloring without you having to entertain them, you know, we’re doing things more independently sooner. And the risk we run here is this like, just being so overwhelmed by the end of the day, and then repeating the cycle because we do as I know you talked about many times have this. I deserve a glass of wine, mommy wine culture of like, there’s no one that feels like they deserve some sort of relief at 5 o’clock than the mom of an earth virgin child. But the relief has gotten to come in different forms. If you do feel that drinking is getting in the way of you sleeping and being your best self for yourself and for your kids.


Casey McGuire Davidson  09:12

Yeah. And, you know, the truth is, you do deserve relief, and you do deserve a reward. It’s just that alcohol. It’s like that easy button that gives it to you and then takes it away and makes it so much worse.


Emily King  09:27

Yes, yes. And that’s what I felt. I’m kind of a stubborn learner when it comes to taking care of myself. So, it took the pandemic. It took being a mental health professional, and my kids being home learning during the pandemic for me to really notice my patterns. And I was always aware that I could be susceptible to drinking because my dad was an alcoholic, but of course in all of our lives. Minds were like, but he’s not me. And, you know, we come up with all these ideas of dismissing genetics.


But during COVID, the stress the professional stress was higher. And What I will say, a little bit as a tangent about being a therapist during COVID is, that the vibe that you get from kids you work with in play therapy, or parents you work with in person, that is taken away when you’re working online. And I don’t think any of us really realized it until we did a lot of telehealth online. But I would do full days of therapy online, and I couldn’t work with the like, I couldn’t do play therapy with young autistic children anymore, because that’s not doable online. So, I had pivoted, and was doing a lot of parent teaching and parent coaching of helping parents play with their children online. But it was nothing but exhausting, because it was hard to get that vibe from people that you get when you work with them in person, which is what makes being a therapist. so, rewarding and validating and then we were all in this like chronic stress stuff, right? And then, I’m like, trying to help my kids who are, don’t have the most excellent attention spans with online learning. So clearly, I felt I deserved a beverage on my porch by myself at the end of the day.


Casey McGuire Davidson  11:21

Yeah, yeah.


Emily King  11:23

That’s how I started to notice. Yeah.

Casey McGuire Davidson  11:26

And how did you? Okay, let’s, let’s briefly talk about that. So how did you notice that it wasn’t serving you or that it was a problem? I assume you tried to cut back and moderate when you first struggled with it? Because we all know that you do and what was the path you took to get support or education or reinforcement when you were stopping?


Emily King  11:53

So, I started to notice that I was having a drink on my porch by myself with my book, Newman, more often that, rather than hanging out with my husband, at the end of the day. It seems like we excused so many things during quarantine. And it like, didn’t. I didn’t notice it quite at the beginning. And then I started to impact. My sleep is when I was like, I just don’t feel good. And then I would have headaches. And I didn’t realize how crappy I felt, actually until months after I stopped and realized how good I felt.


And so, I started following a few people who you know, who write about this. I’m more of like a quiet observer. I’m not going to go telling everybody I’m thinking about things over here. It’s, I’m ready to talk about it.


Now, as many people are a few years out, feeling more solid about it. But I had followed a few people on Instagram, and we’re reading. I read several books. And I was like, Okay, this makes sense. And of course, at that time, I was trying to moderate a little bit, which in retrospect, I clearly that, you know, did not work very well. And actually, our mutual friend reached out to me because she saw that we were following. I was following these Authors on Instagram. And as, as we sub or women do, we call each other out and ask very honest questions. And I just remember telling her like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just know that right now how I’m doing it and not working.


So, any advice for me? And we just started this amazing, you know, texting conversation that was my lifeline in those early days. And I did a lot more research and learning, which is how I like to absorb information. And she was really my community of one, for a little while, until I got out with you know, after COVID.


Quarantine was over a little bit more, but I live in the south, like, I didn’t know any. So, for people. And that’s what I think was my biggest barrier was once I got out of quarantine, and we were socializing again, there was this like second layer of like, saying that I wasn’t going to have a glass of wine at dinner with my girlfriends. And it was really ended up being no big deal. But in my head, it was so big.


So, those are some of the things I remember.


Casey McGuire Davidson  14:23

You know, what’s funny, you said I live in the South, and I think it’s everyone who is a big drinker. I mean, I didn’t. I lived in Seattle. I didn’t know a single person who was sober when I was sort of worried about my drinking. I hear from people and they’re like, well, Wisconsin, it’s a huge drinking culture that other people are like, God Boston, you know how people drink. Everybody drinks, right? It’s a culture and also, you don’t find other people who don’t drink until you stop drinking because if you’re always fostering drinking events and you hang out with people who drink and we attract, you know, similar people.


So, I just think that’s funny because every single planet, people are like, well, lawyers, it’s a huge drinking culture. And then other people are like, Well, I’m in Marketing and Tech, you know how that is. And then teachers are like, drinking among teachers. And I’m like, seriously, teacher? I just was like, you know, it’s crazy.


Emily King  15:29

Yeah. And I think, you know, it’s the perfect example of like, we have these things in our mind that we think it’s because fill in the blank, right? So, I could be where I live my profession, my season of life. And even though we may think that the reality is, if you’re coming up with reasons, then there’s a reason behind why you think you need a reason. Right?


Casey McGuire Davidson  15:56

Yeah. And like stopping drinking is hard. For everyone, for everyone. I mean, I’ve Coached like 150, women, one-on-one.


And women will say like, well, I have little kids. And so, it’s really hard for me to drink, to not drink. And then people are like, obviously, I’ve had clients who have neurodivergent kids. I mean, my heart goes out to them, just because having kids by itself is incredibly hard.


And we’re going to talk about strategies for you know, additional, really difficult situations. But also, people will say, I’m an empty nester, I’m lonely. So, I drink because I’m bored. Other people will say, Well, my husband drinks. So, it’s incredibly hard for me to stop or I live alone. There’s no one to help me accountable. So, it’s hard for me to stop.


So, if you’re listening to this, just know it’s hard for everybody. And you can still do it.


Emily King  16:57



If we can, you can. That’s what I always say.


Casey McGuire Davidson  17:02

Ah, well, so the first thing I want to talk about, and I want to get into,


coping mechanisms, and mom’s mental health, and how to do all the various things dealing with triggers, behavior, and anxiety, all that stuff.


But to start, when we were talking, you mentioned,


coping with the grief of the diagnosis and moving from denial to acceptance to celebration of your children. Can you talk about how the grief and the denial sort of impacts you and what to do about that?


Emily King  17:42

Yeah, so I think that some of this is evolving with the normalization of neurodiversity. And honestly, specifically with autism, autistic teens and adults telling their stories and culture changing to make life just more accessible to people. But you know, when you have developmental concerns about your child, you, many times, we go to that dark place, immediately. We go to this, like, all or nothing place of it’s going to be terrible. It’s that fear of the unknown. I don’t know what I’m doing. This feels like a lot of work. I don’t know, you know, all the, I don’t knows. And that’s often where pushing back against, well, I don’t want to get my child evaluated, because then I’ll know, well, that is, of course not going to answer the things that the struggles may still continue.


Your child has strengths, we may not know how to tap without that evaluation. So, I know it’s so hard. But we have to have data to help teachers and therapists best understand how to support children in those early years. I have, you know, given those evaluations. I have watched my own children take those evaluations. Been there when another colleague has given me feedback on my own kid. It is an emotional overwhelming experience, because it’s so vulnerable to hear about all the things your kid is, is good at, but also struggles with.


My best advice for that phase is, just remember, those evaluations are a snapshot of your kids skills that time and just try to take it one year at a time.


Because we go down this rabbit hole.


Grief sends us down this rabbit hole of, I don’t know what’s going to happen. So, I’m going to imagine the worst case scenario. It’s better just to imagine, it’s a mystery. I don’t know what’s going to happen yet and go one year at a time because sometimes that grief will hold us back from even getting our child support in the first place.


The next part of this, I will say is more about, when some families I work with and then I went through this a little bit myself. I was still grieving on the inside that I knew something was different about my first son and then of course what through all the motions knew what I needed to do professionally to get him support and all those things. But I was far down the road of giving him support before I really fully embraced that this was our journey. I think there was a part of me that was still working so hard for, you know, him to be in a regular school and a regular, whatever, whatever, in my head I had defined as regular or normal, all the while knowing that, you know, we got to a certain point where he did need a specialized classroom for a few years. And that was really when my stress absolutely dissipated, because I felt like, Okay, this teacher gets him, he is around peers that, you know, he’s not feeling different from, you know, it was just this window of opportunity that I didn’t know, I needed, basically.


And it was. I felt like a surrender. Like, I was like, Alright, I’m just going to let it go and let all the people tell me what my kid needs, even though as a professional, I knew it too. So, it’s that, I know, but I can’t feel it thing. And when you allow that surrender to happen of like, okay, one year at a time. I’m going to make the best decisions I can for what these professionals are telling me my child needs now. Over time, what starts happening is you start noticing all these awesome things about your kid that you like, previously, they might be reminders of differences. And that may give you a little pang of sadness of like, Oh, they’re different. They’re not doing that in the way, when I mean, many of us call these, like, quirks in kids.


But then, as they get older, it’s, it’s really all about their mood. If your kid is happy but had some quirks or has some like special interest, knowledge, but they are happy. That is what matters. And that’s what we all want, right.


And so, there’s so many decisions you have to make along the way, and you, so many therapies, and so many, you know, school meetings, and all of those things. But if you can just keep your child’s regular emotional regulation and mood at the forefront, the rest of the stuff will kind of fall into place. And it’s really cool to watch what unfolds and your kids. And I will say, this is true for everyone.


It’s just like, What I often think about is like, a family who their child’s never struggled. And let’s say, I’m totally making this up hypothetical, but let’s say the parent really wants them to go to this College. And they’re very disappointed when the child doesn’t get into that college. And that’s like, the first disappointment that family has felt. Because everything’s always gone. So, well. It’s, it’s like that feeling. But way earlier on steroids, you’re in a grief cycle, because you don’t know what’s to come for the next 16 years of your child’s life. So, it’s a little bit like that. But getting to that place of celebration is freeing. Yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  22:54

And I, you mentioned this, I’ve heard this from other people as well. There is just this sadness between and the idea of like, this isn’t fair between the child you thought you would have in the life you thought they would have and the things you thought you would enjoy with them. And the reality is, they’re also like, looking at other parents who aren’t struggling with the same things you are, and being like, Why me? This isn’t fair. Why can’t this be easy in that way?


Emily King  23:33

Yeah, so the story that this reminds me of as I was in the thick of it when my son was in kindergarten, and he was too overwhelmed, to do to interact really, with any child socially, we were struggling to get him just to be, you know, appropriate and safe with teachers at school at that time. And we, I was on a field trip. So, I’m kind of milling around honestly, by myself, because my, I don’t have any like, friend moms because my child at that point didn’t have any friends. And I, Oh, I overheard this group of moms complaining about their children not being placed in the same class for first grade, because they wanted to be with their friends. And that is valid for that child’s experience, not discounting that at all, but my emotional experience at that time was just like, a gut punch. Like, I wish my kid had friends to miss. Right? So, it’s this feeling. It’s just an overwhelming feeling of sadness every now and then because you’re sad for your kid. But I will say, the sadness we feel as parents is through our lens. I was a very social friendly kid. I love my friends. And the kid I’m talking about right now, who’s a teenager is totally happy with family and maybe one or two acquaintances that have similar in interest, like we do not have the same social needs at all.


So, we have to remember, like, we are filtering what we’re worried about through our own experience.


And then the other thing to remember is like, I don’t know why we think, we deserve to have the kid, we thought up in our head. Like, none of us get like a big kid, we thought up in our head, we just get what we get. Right?


Yeah. And we, we move forward, figuring out how we can be the best adult we can be for that kid.


Casey McGuire Davidson  25:34

Yeah. And when you were talking about teachers, I mean, I, of course, have a different experience. But one of the things that I think we all want is, we just want people to love and appreciate our kids. Like, when someone tells me, Oh, I noticed your child. And he’s so sweet. Like he, you know, my son. Like, one of the comments we always get is from the women who work in the cafeteria at school, that he’s the one who it’s always like mentioning them by name, asking how they are helping them move the chairs afterwards. And like, that’s who he is. But the fact, I mean, he is not the smartest. He’s very smart. You know what I’m saying. Other kids achieve more, they test better. They do XYZ. And so, when someone notices how sweet and kind, and gentle your child is, you’re like, Oh, thank you, right? Because then they’re emailing you like, and their binder was a friggin’ disaster. And, you know, didn’t bring the right thing to class. But you know, I mean, I think it’s different, but you just want someone to love your child, not to criticize them.


Emily King  26:54

Right, and I’ll throw in a strategy here that this is reminding me of, as we were talking. So, all of those things that educators notice, they’re all relative, right? So, one kid remembering to turn in their homework is like, monumental call home with the good news. Whereas another kid turning in their homework is like, not news at all. That would have been me as a student, you know, like, not news at all. Emily turned in her homework, she does that every day.


Um, so I think that, when we’re thinking about our teachers understanding our kids, communicate with your teachers of like, if my child, let’s say, if my child tolerates going into the bathroom, when other kids are in the bathroom at school, that is a huge deal, because they’ve never done that before, or whatever the thing is, your kid has never done before, that teachers may think, is whatever, because it’s every kid does that. Or they may think it’s kind of a quote, unquote, “normal” thing for that age to do. It could be a big deal for your kid.


So, communicate all those things, so that your teacher is on the lookout for these moments, and they can let you know what they see.


Casey McGuire Davidson  28:09

Yeah, well, so let’s talk about coping strategies at different ages. And I can assume getting help getting understanding realizing other parents are going through this is huge, but what are your tips, whether someone’s dealing with a child who’s very young, or in elementary school, or middle school, or whatever you can teach us?


Emily King  28:35


So, if your child is young, like under 5, like preschool age, and you’re concerned about ADHD, or autism or anxiety, usually what we’re seeing around those ages is, sensory processing differences, language differences, that would be making sure you’re seeing by an Occupational Therapist or Speech Language Pathologist to start exposure to preschools, great if you can do it just because your preschool teacher will be able to give you feedback on how they transition how they do in a group, how they follow along.


Really, preschool is about kind of learning to do school. And if there are going to be some emotional regulation differences or some sensitivity to noise or any type of attention, weaknesses, you’ll start to see them in preschool and that teacher can help you notice those things. And exposure, of course, is great.


For some children, we absolutely can diagnose autism as early as 18 months. For pediatrician, like developmental pediatricians, psychologists who have seen a lot of autistic children, if it’s a more severe presentation, like that child is not talking. That child is spinning and flapping as a lot of self-stem behaviors it can become it can be more obvious in those young ages. For some kids, with a milder presentation of autism, it’s not. It can possibly not be diagnosed school age or even middle school. This we know so much.


Now there’s some, you know, young adults and even parents that are getting diagnosed. And that’s just because we’re learning more about it not because it wasn’t there when they were younger. So, as they’re going into school age, this is when we start to notice ADHD meeting kind of a diagnostic threshold. So, all preschoolers are active, and impulsive and egocentric, and they’re bumping into each other and all the things. But once they get to like 6, 7 years old, yes, they do still need to be playing in kindergarten. So, I’m always an advocate for that. But once they’re like 6, 7, 8 years old, they should be settling into being able to sit and listen, sit, and do some work, they of course, still need lots of movement.


So, if you have a highly energetic kid, if you have a highly emotional kid that sometimes is also this anxiety ADHD mix to look out for. These are kind of the kids where you’re like, I don’t know how to sue them, I, you know, they’re upset about things, they’re talking negative about themselves, you know, lots of families will start with a therapist. And then we want to usually loop in a psychologist or the school psychologists to evaluate kind of what’s going on. So, all those things kind of converged with, of course, academics and social. And anytime you have a child who’s starting to do that negative self-talk, or is noticing that they’re different, or they’re not as good as their peers, we want to get on top of figuring out what it is actually, that they need support with and helping them understand. You’re not a quote unquote, “bad” kid, this is ADHD, and you need supports in these areas, and then finding all the things they are good at and making sure they know those things, too.


Casey McGuire Davidson  31:45

Yeah, yeah. And so how do people go about finding that diagnosis or that support if they suspect something’s going on?


Emily King  31:58

For very young children under 5, you can start with your pediatrician. And there is a range of what happens after that, depending on where you live, and the resources where you are. At age 3, school psychologists can, and different districts and states do it in different ways. But at age three kids can be evaluated through the public schools for free, even if they’re coming into private preschools.


Casey McGuire Davidson  32:25

I’m not even in school at that age, right? Yeah.


Emily King  32:32

Yeah, so the law starts at age three, that you can be evaluated and received developmental services. And the idea there is that you’re preparing them for schooling, which is in America, we have public access to schooling. So, at age 3, you can access those services, you would talk to your pediatrician or your local elementary school to figure out what that would be. There’s usually like, like, in our district, there’s a preschool services office for the whole county, where they would go and then of course, you could go through private practice.


So, Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapists, and Child Psychologists have private practices that provide evaluation.


And the difference is just you have a little bit more, sometimes you can get in faster with the private services, sometimes they’re covered by insurance, sometimes they’re not.

Sometimes it’s the person who’s doing the evaluation. And then we’ll continue to see your child for therapy. So sometimes, it’s a relationship you really want to have with that therapist. But there are public and private options for those things. And, and it’s just always good to get as much information as you can. And then your child will need to be reevaluated Best Practices every three years, just because you know, a five year old is very different from an eight year old.


And then, you can’t really plan middle school support on testing from an eight year old. So, we want to do the retesting again, so often, that’s what I see is every three years to help the school team and the provider team plan, the best support and also from where I am and the consultation. I do. It’s not just thinking about the support, but also what is this kid into what kind of activities do they mean? Where do we where are we going to find these situations and activities that light them up and help them feel happy and successful?


Casey McGuire Davidson  34:20

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.


Can you talk a little bit about the difference between autism and sort of the range of behavior differences in children with autism versus add ADHD?


And by the way, please, please, please jump in. When I say the wrong thing. Educate me like, I’m not well versed. And I don’t want to say the wrong thing. insult anyone. You know what I mean? Like, just use things that are outdated.


Emily King  34:58

Yeah, I think we’re in I feel like we’re in Language evolution and we are probably we’re kind of always in a language evolution when it comes to any type of marginalized group that feels like other people are speaking for them and ends up happening but the way even in the world of alcohol-free, sober, is really struggle with alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder.


Casey McGuire Davidson  35:13

Same thing, right there is an evolution of language, as people are more educated that is less stigmatized and derogatory.


Emily King  35:34

So yeah, yeah, I want to use so jumping off from there.

Yeah, in the DSM were the manual that we use in the medical model, it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder.


I’ve never even used the word disorder in my practice, because I don’t really feel it’s a disorder. I feel it is a different wiring of the brain. So many autistic teens and young adults prefer person first language, which is, you know, autistic person. I’m an autistic person. They feel like they can’t. I’m sorry, I just said it backwards. Disability first language. Autistic person. And then we’re. I was trained on person first language, like a person with which many people with ADHD feel like ADHD is just like, am a person with ADHD. So, it varies. But generally speaking, disability first language is what autistic people are preferring that said, if an autistic person prefers something different, I’m just going to do what they prefer. So, it’s all about when I’m working with parents, I will say all these words in lots of different ways, and then let them know at some point, when your child learns about their brain and the words we use to describe their brain, they will want to identify how it’s a little bit like gender and self-expression and how they wear hair, like how do you want to identify your disability. And so, it’s evolving, but I just encourage everyone to stay open and listen to your kids and to any other autistic individuals about that.


So back to your question about kind of the differences in behavior. So, autistic brains tend to be very concrete and black and white and have very literal thinking. But all of that usually leads into some extensive strength and literal patterns. So many, and again, there are exceptions to all of this. There are many kids and teens that will have an all young kids are concrete. But when kids kind of shift over to being more abstract, and this usually happens around 3rd and 4th grade, where we shift into, like reading comprehension to find the meaning behind the story, or we’re doing fractions, and we’re thinking about holes and parts rather than just like arithmetic. So, 4th grade is sometimes where our rote thinkers or our literal thinkers can start struggling in school. But there’s also this overwhelming sensitivity to sensory processing and anxiety that’s happening, and you don’t have to be autistic to have sensory processing differences.


Many kids with ADHD also have sensory processing differences. ADHD, kids who are sensory seekers are the really active ones that are going to like run and crash and jump and climb and like you know, if this is your kid is scared. You’re going to be hurt, like all the time, or you’re terrified all the time.


Yeah, yeah. And then there’s sensory avoiders who often this is a tactile defensiveness, like they don’t like to touch sand or, or playdough. And they don’t like how their clothes feel. And they sometimes had have food sensitivities with the textures of food and can have feeding things, feeding issues that are hard.


And then, I will mention enteroception here just because if anyone has ever heard of it, so we actually have 8 senses. We have our 5 senses that we know of. And then we have proprioceptive and vestibular and interoceptive. So, it’s our balance and also the pressure we feel on our body but interoceptive is our internal body system. So, feeling hungry, having to go to the bathroom, feeling hot, feeling hurts, like these are all things that are usually harder for autistic brains to register in a sensory processing weigh ,so many of these kids can be hard to toilet train, they may have a high pain tolerance because they’re not their brain is not registering their pain, or they may be very sensitive to pain, it can go either way.


That said, the cornerstone of autism really is the social communication weakness.


So, you really do have to have a clinician that can tease this out. If you feel like your child is anxious, has social weaknesses, and is inattentive. We really need to have an evaluation. And to figure out what’s what, because sometimes kids will look very, you know, shy and not social, but then they’re very social when they’re not anxious. And that wouldn’t be autism, that would be anxiety.


Or a child may have really big upset behaviors, but it’s always, you know, it seems to always be because they need something rigidly to be done and the way that their brain is thinking about it, and that could align more with autism. So, that’s why evaluations are, are really helpful. And then the therapy that can sometimes come after that, and, and, and helping your child probably and honestly, the therapy is not because a child is autistic, or because child has ADHD, the therapies and parent consultation is about helping your child connect and play and feel less anxious, whatever the presentation is. And then for ADHD, it’s often lots of strategies with the parents with the kid with the teacher of basically externalizing, their frontal lobe, which is where all of our executive functioning is with like systems, so that they’re not forgetting things, and they can learn a system to help them.

Casey McGuire Davidson 

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Casey McGuire Davidson  41:11

Yeah. And we’re sort of I’m sort of jumping all over the place as my as I’m learning. But I didn’t episode interviewing someone on ADHD, ADD and you can tell me what the difference between those are on what the right term is. But I learned in that one that people with ADHD are 50% of them struggle with some sort of substance use, and they’re five times more likely than the general population to struggle with that due to all these things, all these reasons, but also like a deficit of dopamine. Do you see that too at all? I mean, not the substance use because you deal with children. But in terms of dopamine, and the way they ask, because also a lot of women. I think typically men were diagnosed with it. A lot of women that I’m working with, are being diagnosed later in life and have sort of used alcohol as a coping mechanism. Yes.


Emily King  42:13

So, both with autism and ADHD, our diagnostic criteria are heavily based on, in my opinion, male presentations of those brain differences. And we don’t have enough research on girls and women. So, for ADHD, ADHD is what we call the in the 90s. The reason why the new term hasn’t really stuck is because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But we call it all ADHD now, but there are three types.


There’s ADHD hyperactive impulsive type, there’s ADHD inattentive type, so your basic that’s ADD. So, you’re basically saying, the hyperactive word isn’t there yet, we’re saying an attentive type. And then the third kind is combined tight. So, you have your inattentive, you’re impulsive, and you’re hyperactive. So often what happens, and we know I was 20 years ago, I was trained that girls fly under the radar, you have to look closely, and we didn’t use the word masking back then it was a more of this, like slip through the cracks and fly under the radar terminology. But when what would usually happen is girls that I see with a lot of anxiety, we need to make sure that there’s not a deficit and attention or learning. Because if you’re in an environment that’s higher in expectation, then the skills you have not necessarily the intelligence or the academic skills, but the attention skills, that’s going to be stressful, and you’re going to feel embarrassed that you don’t know how to answer that question, or you totally missed what the teacher said, or you don’t have your belongings.


You know, that’s what I hear more of in girls and women. And you’re absolutely right, and more women in our generation are getting diagnosed with ADHD, and even autism, not because they didn’t have it when they were little, but because they were missed, or they were labeled as something else.


They were labeled as anxious. They were labeled, as you know, honestly, a people pleaser, or a perfectionist, which is also anxiety. But if you work really hard to do the right thing, and it’s exhausting. That could be a recipe for underneath it. There could be some inattention, but I think too, when I because I work with kids, I don’t can’t totally answer the question on like, adult dopamine and ADHD. However, what reminds me of is the sensory seeking, the impulse control, and when I’m reminded of two is Jessica Lahey’s book, Addiction Inoculation. I believe it talks about this a little bit of when we are raising really active sensory seeking kids. It’s important that we have, I’m in environments that went because they like, like sports or like music where they, they need a lot of input and action and that we’re putting them in environments where that Safe Action.


Casey McGuire Davidson  45:12

No, that’s really interesting. So how do you set your child up for success? Because I’ve had some clients who modify, you know, a bunch of their friends are getting their kids together, and they’re like, Okay, I can’t put my kid in that environment, or I can’t put my kid in that environment for a long that, you know, is all over the place. How do you once you recognize or when you’re working with parents, once they recognize what’s going on with their kids? What steps do they need to take to make sure their kids are in an environment that that sort of feels safe to them?


Emily King  45:54

The first thing to recognize is that not all scenes are going to be your scene. And I think that as women, mom’s social circles we’re in I think we all go through this, we have like our mom, friends, and then we have children, and our children may not be friends. So, our friendships sometimes shift. So, raising a child with different skills is similar to that. But for different reasons. You got to find your people that understand that you may not bring your kid to this outing, because it’s not fun for them, or you may come for 30 minutes. And that is tops, what their attention span or, you know, energy level can handle or what you can handle and supporting them and that environment. So, that’s the plan.


Soz just telling your friends that, hey, I’m coming for 30 minutes, because this right now is our window of socializing. You have to realize, though, that that’s going to get better. And I think that’s where sometimes we get stuck of, like, I am sad that my kid can’t do the things like other. So, I’m just going to, I’m just going to push it and try to do it anyway. And then that can sometimes blow up in our face, and our kid is stressed, and we’re stressed, and no one had a good time. Or you can go the other direction and never show up to the things which also is not going to give your kid exposure.


So, you’ve got to find the right type of environment, the right timing for it, and the people in that environment, you can prep them for what your kid needs, what your kids into. And I always suggest prepping, if there’s an older kid in that situation, prepping the older kid, because there’s so many helpful older kids or even same age neurotypical kids, they’re so open if we just explain it to them, like, hey, my kid loves playing with balls and only balls, and he will play with balls whole time. And if he doesn’t have a ball, it’s going to go south. So, will you play with them the whole time? And they’re probably like, sure, you know, kids are so resilient. So, you know, thinking outside the box on some of those things? Yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  48:02

And does it get harder as kids get older? We talked about young kids, but I know as kids get older, some of them, you know, can be mean can be ostracized kids, and that’s really hard as well. How do you deal with that? I mean, cause you talked about just explaining it to him about the ball and, and kids are so caring, especially if children might be younger than them. But once they’re their age, does that shift?


Emily King  48:35

I’m so glad you asked this question. So, in my work, with all ages, I usually see this kind of Too Cool For School developmental shift and neurotypical kids around age 11, around like late fifth grade, where they feel uncomfortable with differences. And so, for those listening, who are like, Well, my kids are neurotypical, how can I help them be accepting peers? I could talk for days about this because once my kids and other neurodivergent kids get to a certain age where, you know, they’re maybe standing out a little bit more, they may be noticed as like, gosh, they’re still upset about this. And they, most kids around them are not getting upset about this or whatever it is. It’s the other kids the environment they’re in that can make a huge difference.


So, you can coach your neurotypical kids on noticing differences that aren’t obvious.


So, I think all of us would hope that like if our if our kid saw someone in a wheelchair there would help them or saw someone with you know, who was visually impaired with a walking stick would know what to do and be kind. What I’m talking about though, as a kid with big explodes Some emotions or a kid that, you know has to quit a game because they can’t handle it. You know, we need to normalize some of these things for our kids and say, hey there, what I usually coach kids on is they’re having a hard time. Let’s give them some space. And you can go ask their grown up if you want to know how you can help. And so, a lot of times, kids are scared, kids are uncomfortable, they don’t know what to do. And many times, that’s because we accidentally, inadvertently model Oh, I don’t know what to do. I’m that kid looks explosive.


But what you can do is give that child space and ask their grown up whoever is with them, what would be helpful right now, like, if you see a kid meltdown and target, it’s so helpful to just connect with that parent. And with a young child, we How many of us have looked at another parent and target of a toddler screaming and be like, I’ve been there, I got you, oh my goodness. Right.


But a 10 year old melting down and target. It takes a parent who has been there and understands that to just lean down and be like, Do you need anything? Can I do anything for you? And usually, the answer is no, just got to sit here and wait it out. But sometimes that can be helpful and to Coach your kids on that, so that they’re not feeling like that kid is different. Because when kids hold it in, and they feel different, there’s this like crowd mentality and middle school where they think it’s okay to joke around about differences. And it’s not, I think that we have evolved in terms of better, I think there’s better social interactions with kids with intellectual disabilities and kids with physical disabilities. But this area of this child is struggling in school are struggling to control emotions, for is joining the group, but you know, has some awkward motor skills or something like that those, you know, appearing to be milder presentations, even though they’re very hard for that child. I think we have more to work on for that.


Casey McGuire Davidson  52:06

Do you ever find that with teachers who are perhaps not as kind or patient or educated as maybe they should be? Or could be meaning they’re like, your kid acts out, they just need to go sit in a corner, I can’t deal with this. They’re disruptive.


Emily King  52:28

Sometimes, yes. And this is two things to say about that. Our teaching program, this is why I do so much professional development for teachers are teaching programs, I think at baseline, across the country, and maybe the world are getting outdated, this stuff changes so fast. And so, I learned stuff from my clients in real time that I can share with teachers, and I do and share stories and professional development. And it’s all new information for them. And they’re sponges to learn that stuff. But they didn’t get it in Grad School, right.


The other thing I’ll say, so there’s this like, divide between, like their training and what’s happening. Now, the other thing I’ll say is, just if they, this is my mission in the world, if a teacher is also a parent, that’s neurodivergent, they get it. And there’s this sense of like a parent, knowing like, Oh, we got a teacher this year, and they get it. Like, what that means is like, they understand my kids not being bad, they understand that they’re overwhelmed, upset, they’re in a stress response, they can’t do it, not that they won’t do it.


And so, we have some work to do and helping everyone understand that most of the time, it actually is a can’t, sometimes it is a Wait, sometimes it’s like a, he made me mad.


So, I’m going to knock on over his tower on purpose. Sometimes it is that and once we figure it out, we’ll support that too. But most of the time, it’s an overwhelm, and we have to figure out what’s going on in the environment that’s too much, or with the expectations, that’s too much. And the old school kind of traditional discipline of stuff like you did this. So now this is the consequence. That only works if the child knows a better way for next time, which some I guess neurotypical kids can like, look around and be like, oh, yeah, I know what I was supposed to do. And I didn’t do it. And that would potentially work. But that rarely if ever works for neurodivergent kids because they don’t know what to do instead. So, we have to teach them what to do instead.


Casey McGuire Davidson  54:43

Yeah, yeah. And when you talked about the 10 year old melting down in Target, I, I know from myself how even when my daughter was younger, how difficult that was the tension between in getting you and your spouse, the difficulty when they are, you know, sort of being really hard on you emotionally. And we talked about how easy it is for all of us, but especially if you’re in that sort of stress response, to turn to alcohol to numb out to give yourself some reward, some relief, some quiet between you in the situation. So how can you protect your own mental health, but also find other ways other than drinking? To deal with that?


Emily King  55:41

Yeah, this is why I often will say you deserve relief. You know, we often get in this, that we often say, I deserve a glass of wine. Well, we have to expand that list of what is relief for us that that time of day, it could be a bath, it could be a walk.


The main concern and issue logistically, with raising neurodivergent kids is childcare.


You have to have another person who understands your kid and who you trust with your kid. So, building that village is number one. And so, whether that is a specialized babysitter, there are sitters that have training that you can you know that, you know, if your spouse, you, and your spouse can tag team, that’s, of course, wonderful. This does get better as kids get older, as it does with all kids, but it even it does get better.


There are also some support groups I know online for kids who have significant either intellectual disabilities or significant impairment with genetic disorders and things like that, where they, they do not become independent. And so, that’s not what I’m talking about here. But there are supports out there for families who need lifelong respite. So, some sort of, you know, schedule where they’re getting respite regularly. But for a family who needs to like tag team it, it is about structuring your day and your week, start to notice your patterns of when you want to tap out. And strategically putting things that you love in those moments. And you have to just be on top of scheduling that and aligning it with when you have childcare when your child has maybe add an activity.


And then, this is where schedules come in handy with autistic children who love predictability and visuals which are great for all ADHD and autistic brains for different reasons.


One is predictability. But ADHD brains forget a lot that said, verbally. So having it there, either digitally or on a whiteboard is huge. And so, helping your family know that you are not going to be available for this 30 minute window and it’s predictable, can be really helpful moving forward. And it’s similar to when you had a toddler, and you were trying to pee. And the only time you were by yourself was when you were peeing. It’s like that it just happens longer into their development.


So, you need a plan.


Casey McGuire Davidson  58:18

So, what are some of the things that I know you work with parents that you suggest, like tangible examples, I know help a lot of people they’re like, yep, do something you love for 30 minutes, they’re like, I don’t even know what that possibly could be.


Emily King  58:34

I would start with taking care of your body. Because I truly believe when we take care of our body, then we can start to think about what we like.


Like when we are in our house and the thick of it, it is so hard to figure out what you would want to do. But let’s say you commit to going on a walk several times a week. And then during that walk where the noise of children the noise of decisions, like all that noise we have going on mentally is gone. Committing to that first and then it’s almost like for me at least it was like layer by layer, I started to just notice more of when I felt joy and when I felt fun. And trying to expand those windows of time.


Which we have to prioritize our movement and our sleep first for those to happen, which of course as we know gets better when you’re not drinking. Because you sleep so well.


Casey McGuire Davidson  59:32

Yeah, absolutely. So, what about your marriage or your partner? I can imagine there’s tension there both from like, different parenting strategies or if you’re tag teaming not enough time together or frustration that you know, I know my husband and I basically take turns being frustrated like If someone is super frustrated, like the other person turns super understanding, you know, they mean. Yeah, yeah. So


Emily King  1:00:09

I think at this point, we’ve, it’s always like a well-oiled machine in terms of like, my husband’s an Engineer. I’m like a feeler-writer-thinker, only when I’m like feeling stuff, and you know, he’s like solving problems. And so, if any type of like, collaboration or communication about, like, all the things seem to happen, like, that’s me and if ever like the fixing and strategic research seeds, and that’s him.


But um, so we, you know, we’ve pretty much got those like jobs down. I think of like, roles that we feel like lean into our strengths. But one thing I will say is that, and this is because we’ve done a lot of parenting work, to parent our kids, which you can’t really do parenting work without talking about your dynamic, right? So, that’s been really helpful for us to just increase our communication and be completely honest and be honest sooner, like don’t walk around thinking about it all day.


But asking, for example, my husband, someone like, I’d tell him exactly what I think what I need, just tell them exactly, you know, a lot of men are that way. And because I don’t, we didn’t, we don’t have time for him to figure it out. We don’t have time for me to like, think about how I’m going to say it, I just say what I need. And then, the other thing I will say is, as the kids have gotten older, we have figured out like our own social needs, and celebrated how those are different.


And I think I haven’t mentioned this yet, but my 2 kids have very different social needs. My, I would say. My older son is like the Safety Patrol, and my younger son is the Cruise Director. And the 2 together, it’s kind of hilarious, because one like, never wants to break a rule and like thinks everybody’s going to get hurt. And the other one is like, the more the merrier, invite the neighborhood over. And it’s like, that’s hilarious.


So, it’s very normalized in our family to have different social needs. So, my husband and I are very open about that, too. I need to go out to dinner with friends more than he does. But he does it sometimes. And we are very open with our kids about like, this is his turn to go out with his people and my turn to go out with my people.


Or when it’s time to. I mean, we. It is true that we do not get away by ourselves at all as much as other families. And that’s just something that we’ve accepted. We do. We have worked very hard to go on family trips, I blog about this, I write about this in terms of like teaching your neurodivergent kids to travel, and how they can grow and learn and do so many cool things when they travel that they don’t do at home, because I’ve seen this over and over again, with clients and with my kids. But we do a lot of family travel. That helps us feel like we’re not, you know, stuck in a rut at home.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:03:04

Yeah, yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. What else haven’t we talked about, that you think would be helpful for someone listening to this, who has a neuro divergent kid who needs to needs relief who needs to take care of themselves. without drinking?


Emily King  1:03:29

I would say, I want to leave everyone with some hope, and some patience with time because I don’t know about you. But I just, I’m a person that like, when I decide I want to do something, I want it to happen yesterday. So, getting used to like the evolution of like sleeping more and moving more and getting in a workout routine that works for me. And all of that has taken 2 years. It has taken 2 years.


So, that first year was like, me figuring out how to not drink. It was just me not drinking and living my life without drinking.


The second year was like, I feel like it was about where there is space. Now I’m rested, sometimes not all the time, but sometimes more than I was before. You know what? I’ve added music back into my life, which I had kind of ignored for the last 20 years of work and family. And that has been a huge bonus to my life, both socially and also just kind of spiritually.


So, I think just having the patience that just do one next best thing for yourself, and you’re building this life into the future and your kids are continuing to grow and they won’t continue to do the things they’re doing right now. I really had to embrace kind of the mystery of like, I can’t wait till I see what this kids do. Do weigh in when they’re 20. Because I have no idea. I just like released all those expectations and just take it one year at a time. And that’s, that’s been a blessing.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:05:10

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. How do you celebrate your kid? Like, how do you notice and take joy in who they are.


Emily King  1:05:23

So, my kids get really enthusiastic about one in particular about his interests, which are quirkier than some. And we just lean into that. We lean into what he loves to do, and we plan things around it, we plan trips that I would have never gone on, you know, we try to really help our kid help them expand the time and experiences when they feel successful. I feel like those time end up being buffers to the challenging times. And if we have the time, and the means to do it, we do it. And so long ago, we let go of the idea of like, going on this trip because I wanted to or my husband wanted to, you know, we’re just in a season of life where we celebrate their interests, and we try to nurture those. And for many, many parents do this, but they’re just more common, like, traveling for sports, or a musical concert or something. But if our kids are in this thing, we’re going all in?


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:06:34

Yeah. Oh, that’s interesting. I was telling you right before that. My son was about to get his license. And I was really excited because he played select baseball. And he had 40 games between June and July last summer. And it took my entire summer. And just personally, my husband’s a Baseball Coach, watching baseball is not my favorite thing in the world. I, you know, if I had to go to a game once a month, I’d be thrilled. 40 games in two months is a lot. And it is in no way equivalent, but I can imagine, you know, your kids really into something. You may not love doing it. But you like that your kid is happy and engaged. So, you do it. Yeah.


Emily King  1:07:21

Yes, it’s really it’s actually not that different. So, the example is my kid loves US history. He loves presidents, I have been to two presidential libraries I would have never been to before. Oh, my kid not been my kid.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:07:39

And also, I was like, that’s kind of cool. Yeah, yeah. Also, we’re interested in the baseball, Jeff Kinney.


Emily King  1:07:46

Right. So that’s the thing, like we all they’re not us. So, they’re going to have interests that are theirs. And we’re just that vehicle that lets them like, explore that interest. And we can provide that and provide that joy that they feel whatever the interest is, what is getting in their way is the cultural expectations of, Oh, isn’t everyone into baseball that is more common of an interest than US presidents, by us. At the same time, like, doesn’t matter, like whatever people are into is what people are into. And that’s how we make the world go round. Like, that’s why everything works is because all in this something different. And I tell my son all the time, like, I am so glad that you are into this because my brain can’t do it.


So, my son has a really specific high strength and remembering dates. And it’s completely normalized in our family that like, if we can’t remember where we’re going, or when we went somewhere, like he knows.


So, you know, like, I don’t know how we’re going to work that into a job one day, but it’s just this thing that we have lifted up as a strength and he loves being able to share that and loves getting feedback from people that like, that’s his thing that he loves. Because he totally knows more in that category than most neurotypical people.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:09:11

Ya know, that’s super interesting. As I said, also, I was American History major. And so, I was like, actually, that’d be really cool. Don’t get me wrong. I love sports. I love watching basketball and soccer and little bit of baseball. But yeah, I was like, oh, American History, presidential libraries. That’s super interesting. So, it takes out.


Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, I can imagine that one of the most important things that people can do if they’re recognizing this in the thick of it struggling with it, is to get support. Support for their kid and support for themselves and support for their marriage.


Tell us about where people can find you. I know you have a lot of resources both on your website, the work you do you speak, and also on your social media. So, talk to me first about that. And then any other suggestions of resources.


Emily King  1:10:13

Yeah, the best place to go to find all my resources is my website at learnwithdremily.com.


But if you’re ready to completely dive in, I do have a very active Substack at

learningwithdremily.substack.com, where I have lots of blogs and articles and host monthly parent workshops there. And then, I also offer Professional Development to Teachers. So, if there any teachers or administrators listening, you can just contact me through my website for that. But you’re right, the community aspect is really important. So, I post community threads on Substack, where we talk there and share resources with each other, whether it’s ideas, or just locally in your area strategies for that. And, you know, talk to other parents in your kids schools, about where they’re going for, you know, therapies, or for social groups or activities. Because when kids are young, it’s all about, you know, helping, they’re helping them build skills and get used to school and kind of keeping everybody emotionally regulated in the family. And then, as they grow up and get interest, you start to figure out what they’re into, and you start investigating that. So, every season is different. And of course, locally, these things are these services are different. So, but talk to other parents, and usually you find those reaching out to teachers, or getting connected with other parents in your child’s school.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:11:46

Okay, that is super helpful. I’m going to ask one more question. That is probably. Yeah. I don’t totally understand. Substack. Can you explain? I am. I know all these people in the alcohol-free world who are starting with Substack, and writers and I don’t totally get it. Well, you tell me. How are ya??


Emily King  1:12:06

So, Substack is like WordPress and Facebook had a baby. So okay, it’s a blog, platform. But there is a social media feed component. So, you can post. So, I post my blogs there. But I also can post about a Workshop and have links out to somewhere else, I can repost things in my feed that other writers will see. So, it’s basically, I think of it as like social media for writers.


And then writers are doing a lot of like workshops or sharing other people’s writers. And there is a subscription component to it. So, there’s a understanding that like, some of it is free, but then also writers need to be paid for their work. So, they’re usually subscription levels to everybody. Substack. I love it, just because I love to write. I am working on a book. So, I’m thinking, Yeah, I’m thinking through, you know, other writers on there and, and what they’re writing about, and I just, I spend most Friday mornings reading, Substack.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:13:21

It sounds to me like social media for people who also want to learn about specific topics or are very interested in that.


Emily King  1:13:32

Yep. Yeah. Okay. Then it’s all. It’s all blogging and writing. Like, there’s no ads. There are no ads. There’s no, I mean, you can post a video, but it’s not like a real popping into your face.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:13:48

It’s like, yeah, I’ve also invented it. It’s kinder and gentler than a lot of the social media out there. So far. Yeah. Fingers crossed, man. Right.


Emily King  1:13:59

Yeah, no, frost. Don’t they all start out?


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:14:04

I know. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I know this conversation is going to help so many people. And I hope that anyone listening to this starts following you and knows that they’re not alone and gets the support they need.


Emily King  1:14:21

Well, thank you so much for having me and letting me talk about this cross section of mental health and neurodivergence.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:14:28

Oh, you’re so welcome.


Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday podcast.
If you’re interested in learning more about me, the work I do, and access free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol. Please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it. And join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 


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