Having worked in the field of autism for over 20 years, Sharon McCarthy’s expertise is extensive, including lectures at UCD and Cork College of Farber Education and Training.
Not only has she studied and researched the area, five out of six children are neurodivergent. About two and a half years ago, Sharon herself was diagnosed with autism.
Sharon, now 45, is a former parenting professional who says it’s not uncommon for many families to have more than one neurodivergent member.
“Current research shows that if one child or family member is identified as having autism or other neurodivergent traits, it is likely that another child or parent is,” says the 7-year-old. Sharon, who has children up to 25, says.
“That’s why I believe we need to make screening available for the whole family when someone is diagnosed.
“They are positioned to see themselves as ‘complete and capable autistic people’ rather than as archetypal failed neurotypes. ”
Sharon, who recently taped a Tedx talk about being autistic and having ADHD, had a very negative internal conversation, saying after a night out with friends that she was “wrong.” I was always blaming myself for saying that.
Fifteen years ago, she began researching autism after her family’s first child was diagnosed with it. Five of her six children have autism, dyslexia, or schizophrenia, sensory processing disorders, and anxiety.
“First and foremost, I enjoy being a mother. I did,” said Sharon.
She did autism research at UCC and also studied at Mary Immaculate College. During her studies, Sharon “checked many boxes that needed to be checked to process an autism diagnosis.
“My main motivation for getting the diagnosis was the fact that I was very self-critical and felt that I could be as good as everyone else. I wanted to create a story.
Sharon also takes things literally, an indicator of autism.
“Whenever you say something, I always take it at face value, regardless of whether the person intends it to be sarcastic, unkind, etc.
“From an ADHD perspective, my brain would be very busy. When I think about ADHD, some people automatically imagine their child bouncing off walls with very high energy. But for me it’s the brain that doesn’t stop thinking.My head is so busy that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking.”
Now that Sharon knows herself better, she doesn’t get bogged down in small things.
“I am less irritated with myself and I am much kinder to myself. From a parent’s perspective, I definitely have a better understanding of my children’s perspective and I can connect with them more easily now. I got
“In terms of friendships, I have a great circle of friends, but I have connections with other people with autism who are going through similar experiences to mine. affirmative to.”
Sharon received a lot of help at home from her mother and mother-in-law when her children were young. Now she runs her own business and is able to work around her children’s school and study hours. Her husband works from 9pm to 5pm.
“As children grow, they’ve learned to understand themselves better. They’re all doing very well in terms of self-regulation and supporting themselves.”
Sharon says she never tried to set social rules so that her children could get along with others.
“In our home, we’ve always thought about empowering our kids to be their best selves. It definitely laid the groundwork for a somewhat positive experience.”
Sharon had to travel out of the country to get her own diagnosis, but in order to survive in the world, she learned a lot about society’s rules, watched other people, and learned the phrases they might have said. He said he paid attention to
“I look a little awkward, but I unconsciously look people in the eye. Make no mistake about it. A person is autistic or neurodivergent but presents themselves in ways they believe others would like their behavior to be most desired.They do not express how angry they are . ”
Sharon says the needs of autistic/neurodiverse people are not being met in this country.
“Approximately 40% of people with autism are diagnosed with anxiety at any given time, compared to 15% of the general population. are nine times more likely to experience suicidal ideation when they are younger, which speaks to a high level of unmet need, especially for mental health services for people with autism.”
Sharon, who provides training to companies and plays the role of an advocate for neurodivergent people, wants to see “a judgment-free diagnosis in which people understand and meet and whose experiences are considered and validated.” “This is essential when it comes to adult assessment. In schools, peer education is essential to ensure a judgment-free environment for all children who attend.”