Ep. 74: Not What I Expected – Help and Hope for Parents of Atypical Children with Dr. Rita Eichenstein

Mar 29, 2022 | 0 comments

Part of the mission for this podcast is to provide help and hope to parents, caregivers, and educators to children who learn and think differently. Oftentimes the parents’ feelings may be overlooked when it comes to raising an atypical child and today’s episode is all about validating your emotions during various phases of helping your child. 

Dr. Rita Eichenstein joins me today to talk about her research and her award winning book, Not What I Expected: Help and Hope for Parents of Atypical Children. She found that in the midst of tons of parenting books, there wasn’t anything for parents who are dealing with confusing and sometimes overwhelming emotions. Dr. Eichenstein uses her expertise and passion to provide parents with the validation that it is okay to feel the way you do and that you are certainly not alone. So listen to this episode to learn the science behind the brain of a parent and what to expect emotionally as you help your child navigate their own unique journey in life.


Show Notes:

[3:12] – There are patterns in how parents feel. There are a lot of stigmas and common reactions.

[4:18] – The goal is for children to be happy and people need support.

[5:12] – Dr. Eichenstein gives examples of what questions parents commonly come to her with.

[6:51] – With raising an atypical child, fear and anxiety are common feelings for parents.

[7:46] – What makes us human is our diversity.

[9:19] – It is important to know that some kids will need more support than others.

[10:31] – There are tons of parenting books available but Dr. Eichenstein realized that there wasn’t anything about what it is like inside the mind of a parent.

[11:56] – Research shows that the development of the brain changes when a person becomes a parent.

[13:12] – Dr. Eichenstein explains the science behind the changes in the brain and hormones when becoming a parent.

[14:29] – The brain of a parent with a baby is the equivalent to the brain of someone in love.

[15:27] – There is also a time of grieving that Dr. Eichenstein describes.

[18:10] – Depending on the age, atypical children will need different types of support. The parent worry brain is normal and you are not alone.

[20:01] – The first phase for some parents is denial.

[21:20] – Anger is the next phase for some parents.

[22:24] – Anger is a natural response and parents need to learn to trust.

[24:32] – Seeking solutions is commonly what happens next. Google can be a resource but you will not always find accurate information.

[25:54] – There is research to support evidence based intervention provided by experts.

[27:21] – Depression is also normal during these times.

[28:33] – Self-care is incredibly important and it is okay to ask for help.

[30:14] – Acceptance will come and it is okay to feel heartbroken and total love for the child you have at the same time.

[32:40] – Although we think a child may not understand, be careful of the messages you send to your child by being self-aware.

[34:08] – Make it clear to the child that you are there for them. Convey messages with compassion and empathy.

[35:39] – In some cases, parents may feel a sense of relief when they learn what causes certain behaviors.

[38:14] – Being wired differently are both superpowers and obstacles.

[40:01] – Dr. Eichenstein’s book is available on Amazon and highly recommended.


About Our Guest:

Dr. Rita Eichenstein is a licensed psychologist with post-doctoral training in pediatric neuropsychology and special education. She specializes in pediatric neuropsychological assessments and parent training skills. Dr. Eichenstein maintains a private practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in Los Angeles, California. Areas of expertise include learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, autism spectrum, gifted populations, as well as college students and graduate students, as well as counseling parents of all ages. She is also the author of the award winning book, Not What I Expected: Help and Hope for Parents of Atypical Children. 

Connect with Dr. Rita Eichenstein:

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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.