[beginning of introduction]
Jean (Jodi's Mom): After she passed away, I was talking to her youngest brother and I asked him one day, “did mother seem kind of different? Did she do odd things?” and he said, “oh,” he said “she was weird. I don't know what it was, but she was weird.”
Jodi Carlton: We all always called her quirky. That was a word that we used, that she was quirky and set in her ways. And she's just granny, that's just granny.
In part two of my conversation with my mom. We talk about how we discovered neurodiversity in my own family. And so many of you are going to relate to this because it's a similar story to how you discovered neurodiversity in your family. Neurodiversity is not just about our domestic partnerships, the person we're married to, or the person we're dating.
It spills over into the whole family and when we start looking and digging, we start to see neurodiversity there in so many different people. And it's part of the overall narrative of the experience that we're having with, not just that partner, but with so many people. And it's important that we all start to learn more about how to interact with each other.
How to communicate with each other, and how to bridge that gap. I keep using that word a lot lately. And I just taught a live workshop from the communication program that I have. And I just focused a lot on building that bridge because neurodiversity is so much about the way we perceive the world differently. We use language differently and nobody's right or wrong. It's just about being different.
And being fluent in different kinds of language, being more fluent or less fluent in emotion, more or less fluent in logic, and there's strength and there's weakness in both of those, but together we can actually be a pretty good team. So I hope you enjoy the second part of my chat with my mom and, next week is my chat with my best friend who also has a neurodiverse family of her own, and it's also quite an interesting conversation. So tune in.
[end of introduction]
Jodi Carlton: Hello and welcome. I'm Jodi Carlton, creator of this podcast and leading world expert on neurodiverse relationships and interpersonal communication.
This show is for real people, just like you, who are trying to figure it out. Maybe it's you who may be on the spectrum or maybe it's your partner, or maybe you're not sure.
I get it. My world is full of people who are neurodiverse and it hasn't always been easy for all of us. This show is to help bridge the gap and help us all to understand each other better. Be sure to follow the podcast or subscribe to my YouTube channel for updates on all my programs and courses that will help you with specific tools and skills for your relationship. So what will we talk about today?
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Talking about family, as my mother aged, it became more apparent to me probably because I was becoming more educated about the topic, that I think we realized that something was different. Something was neurodiverse about her. I suspect it was autism. The way she would communicate sometimes, the way she would take things that were said, there were just a lot of things.
We never approached her about it because she was aging and I don't think we would have gotten very far with it if we had ever pointed it out.
Jodi Carlton: Oh no, we wouldn't have, yeah. Let's talk about her because as I said before, this is genetic and so many people, once they realize neurodiversity is present and they zoom out and start looking at the family and look at the family tree, there's a lot of, oh, there's just like a lot of aha moments for my clients and people who are listening today. And so with your mom, this is my granny, you guys yeah, when we all started learning more about autism, and we started thinking about her.
We all always called her quirky. That was a word that we used, that she was quirky and set in her ways. And she's just granny, that's just granny.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): I'm going to throw in here right quick too, that after she passed away, I was talking to her youngest brother and I asked him one day, I said, “did mother seem, kind of different” Did she do odd things” and he said, “oh,” he said “she was weird. I don't know what it was, but she was weird.”
Jodi Carlton: Yeah. So there you go. And even, so the word weird and again, that's that term we've used that term as a term of endearment and my Abby embraced that term really young.
She had her username on gaming platforms for the longest time as “weird girl.” She owned it. She goes, yeah, I am weird. And she owned that term. She recognized her weirdness was different. I'm different. And I'm unique. I'm special. And I'm different from all y'all and I embrace it.
And that just goes to show with your uncle. That goes back in time to even her childhood, that she was definitely different
Jean (Jodi's Mom): And he knew nothing about neurodiversity at the time. I suspect their father, my grandfather also was on the spectrum. Yeah. Just with hindsight.
Jodi Carlton: And I didn't know him.
But when I think back to your mother and what I know now about autism and how she was very rigid with her routines, so much social anxiety to the point of almost being what I would call agoraphobic, which is this just fear of leaving home or, I don't even know if it was fear or if it was just, she just flat out didn't want to.
And, people ask me about autistic burnout and it is a thing because over the course of time, autistic people mask in order to be in public and be around others and there are socially appropriate ways to do that. My grandmother wasn't a particularly social person, but she was in social spaces.
She went to church. She kept children for a living. Which she loved children, but didn't particularly love the adults that went along with these children.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): And she had her script, I think when she was in public.
Jodi Carlton: And interestingly though, she kept children for a living, but she didn't do well with her grandchildren. She struggled in her relationships with us be that interpersonal piece of it.
She had that script with the kids that she kept and they all adored her, but she had that script of being the authority and she had them all on a routine. And it was an in-home daycare situation, way back in like the seventies.
Yeah. She had the routine, their breakfast, their lunch, their snack. All of that was scheduled out. And that worked for her and she didn't have an assistant. So she didn't have any other adult that she had to deal with really.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Except for me part of the time.
Jodi Carlton: Yeah. Yeah, but then when the grandchildren came over. She really struggled with that because that was a different kind of relationship.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): It was. And I wondered sometimes if she felt like the adults, for example, me or even Abby when Abby was growing up. If she felt like we were judging how she took care of them or what she said to them.
And oftentimes we wanted to be judgemental because we didn't like what she said. Especially I remember when Abby was a baby and she would tell us “you ought to make her clean up” and Abby didn't understand how to even do that at that time? And because she was familiar with what she had taught on the script that she did to the children she kept.
Jodi Carlton: True, and she didn't have the filter. She didn't have a filter.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Right.
Jodi Carlton: She was just very blunt about her observations about everything. And she said what she thought in a way that there was just no filter there and all of that makes so much sense to us now, looking back, and I agree with you. If we had figured all this out more before she died and it's been…
Jean (Jodi's Mom): 14 years.
Jodi Carlton: Yeah. And Abby's 19. So really we're still just understanding it ourselves barely, even when she died, and so it's been a process over the years of us even putting it together and we've even looked even more at our family tree and we see other family members and some we've discussed it amongst ourselves and some, we keep to ourselves. I know that I know my listeners are going to relate to that because you don't necessarily when you realize when you start seeing it in your family, you don't necessarily just go running out to your family members and say, oh, I think you're autistic or I think your kid is autistic, or I think your husband's autistic that's not easy to do. It's not necessarily appropriate, but it's important to have that clarity for yourself.
Sometimes it answers a lot of questions. I know it has for us.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Yes.
Jodi Carlton: It's been huge.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Yes.
Jodi Carlton: What else is there? Is there anything specific that you want to share that you think would be helpful just from your perspective as the matriarch of our family, who's been on this journey with us?
Jean (Jodi's Mom): If you see people in your family or even outside of your family that you think in your head, “oh, they're quirky,” don't ever say that out loud, for sure. But be aware of the fact that there's probably something deeper there that's causing you to think they’re – I hesitate to use the word “different”, but neurodiverse.
And, their actions are different from typical, maybe the ways that you would do things, just be aware, especially if you have neurodiversity in your family. If you know that there's already a diagnosis for someone in your family, it's very likely that other members in your family are also neurodiverse.
And so just be aware of, if you felt like, it's yourself, be aware of that and seek help, like people like you [Jodi], because there are very few people like you, I know, and just be open, don't be close-minded be aware and understand all you can about neurodiversity. Learn from others. Read books.
Research, and find out what more of the symptoms are. You may see more of the symptoms in them. Don't try to convince someone who's not that they are. Be open-minded in that respect as well. There may be other reasons, but I would just say, be very aware, especially if you know it's in your family.
Jodi Carlton: Yeah. Yeah. The education, the learning about it, make sure to pay attention to the resources that you're reading. A lot of the TV shows out there really exaggerate.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Yes. Take in who wrote these things as well. What is their experience or what is their knowledge? Where did it come from?
Jodi Carlton: And there are so many more people now who are autistic themselves, who are speaking out and educating. And that, I think that's so wonderful. And, we need so much more of that and, I'm neurotypical and what my role is right now is to help neurotypical and neurodiverse bridge that gap because we do exist in a world where we are in relationships with one another, but to also learn from other people who are neurodiverse and that there are YouTube channels and TikTok channels and learn from people who are neurodiverse, who are talking about their experiences too. That's super important. What would you say before, just as a closing here? What would you say as far as communicating with Abby?
Just in what you've seen here in our family. What do you believe, or what do you think has been the most useful mindset shift or strategy or tool or whatever in learning how to communicate or just is the most helpful thing for you?
Jean (Jodi's Mom): It's a hard question to answer really. Discover first of all that they are human beings just like you. And they have a sense of humor. They laugh, and they enjoy fun. They enjoy being with other people, as far as family's concerned, once they feel comfortable, I think. But don't hold back in communication or in interacting with them. You want them to feel accepted.
And that's one thing I love. I love the experience that I have with my grandchildren. I love talking. Abby and I sometimes will be in the car together or we'll wind up at the table. Just two of us if others are gone or working and we have some of the best conversations. So don't, don't feel uncomfortable talking to them. Nake yourself available, make yourself conscious of what you're saying, and enjoy the interaction.
Because I love Abby and Aidan both, I love the conversations I have with them. And it's a joy to me to be able to interact here, living in the same household and just, and it helps me to learn more about them. Not everybody can do that, of course. But when you have couples that come to you, then they certainly can, they can enjoy each other.
It doesn't have to be a strain to carry on a conversation and your communication courses and all of those types of things add so much to that. I wished I had something like that available to me. Before Abby was even born for my students to help me understand how to talk because I think that one of the biggest problems people have is “I don't know how to carry on a conversation with a person who's neurodiverse.”
So I don't know what to go to and as a background. So –
Jodi Carlton: I wish I had it available to me before my divorce. Yeah. Honestly, I've said that before. I don't know for sure that my ex-husband and I if we could have made it if we'd had somebody like me to help us, I don't know.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): I think teachers should have workshops to help them learn how to identify and are to pick up on children who may need further testing or things of that nature, but mostly just to help them know how to communicate.
Jodi Carlton: Yeah. I think we're at least doing a little bit better job in the school systems now identifying autism. And so I think we're identifying it, but the supports that are being put into place oftentimes are things like, it's focused on academic success, like extended test time, taking a test outside of the classroom, that kind of thing. And I don't think that there's much training going into communicating, like communicating, talking, how to interact, and even just basic education about what autism is and what that means.
And it's certainly not going into the mental health care system at all which is so problematic, and that's where I come from. And I hope that will change over the next decade, five years. We need it sooner rather than later. We need it yesterday.
You mentioned enjoying your, whoever your people are that are neurodiverse. And I think that's such an important message because so many people have developed this relationship that is just full of angst and full of heartbreak and pain. And a lot of that is because of misunderstandings and confusion.
And I think it's such an important message. We can get to a point. We can get to a place where once we understand that we're just different, we're just different. You're not going to be like me and I'm not going to be like you, but that's okay. We aren't meant to be just like our partners. We're not meant to be just like our children. None of us are meant to be exactly like the others in our life.
And once we have that, oh, okay. That's why we're misunderstanding each other. Then as long as we have this bridge and communication is that bridge. And once we have this bridge to close that gap so that I can understand you and you can understand me then like you said, we can enjoy each other and our family, we enjoy each other.
And that's something I love about us. Now, we sometimes get on each other's last nerve, but we absolutely laugh together. We joke together. You can hear us laughing, probably a few houses down sometimes I'm sure, we just, we do enjoy each other and we are all as different as night and day, every single one of us, the personalities and the brains in this family, we've got right brain, we've got left brain. We've got engineers, we've got creative minds. We've got neurodiverse, we've got neurotypical, we've got OCD personality cough, mom, old.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): And we have old and we have young.
Jodi Carlton: And we've got kind of slob personalities – me – But we all just love each other and respect each other for our differences. And so I think that's a great message what you said.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): I'd like to say in closing on my part that I am very proud of you for what you do to educate people on this topic because it's one that's been ignored. And you're helping so many people worldwide to be able to have better relationships and to understand what we're saying here, to understand, and to accept and appreciate each other as human beings that are just different.
Jodi Carlton: Thank you, mom. I appreciate that. It's nice to have your support. And I, that is my goal too. There aren't enough people to help. As I said, I wish there had been someone to help me in my marriage. I don't know if it would've made it, but I can't say that it wouldn't have. I don't know.
There just was nobody to have to identify and recognize what we were dealing with, and there's just not that many people who know what this is. So my goal is to just reach as many people as I possibly can through education and through this communication program that I've developed. I wish there was just, I could clone myself.
There's not enough of me to go around. But thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and talk to me and share your insights and thoughts.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): I'm glad I could share my insights and thoughts as well.
Jodi Carlton: All right. Maybe you'll have to come back some other time. Okay.
Jean (Jodi's Mom): Alrighty. Bye-bye.
Jodi Carlton: Okay folks tune in next week for the last episode in this summer series on communication and where I share my own neurodiverse people with you. My best friend will be here. My best friend, Kathy will be here to talk to me about our friendship and her neurodiverse family. And it's a really awesome conversation that you're going to want to hear.
If you want to hear more about the communication program that I talk about all the time, I highly recommend that you check it out because it is truly changing the lives of people who are going through the program. You can check it out at CrackTheCommunicationCode.com or visit my website – Jodicarlton.com.
And if you have any questions at all, just reach out to us at [email protected]
See you next week.
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