Parenting with Power: Finding Resources for Raising the Neurodiverse
By Marcy Willard, Ph.D., NCSP
Parents of individuals with different brains may feel at times as though they are walking around in the dark. Especially in the early days, the process of finding reliable information to help their kids can be daunting. The list of professionals and services goes on for miles even as the right answers could be just inches away.
It is impractical and unfair that this valuable information about children with unique challenges be reserved for the well-connected. It seems obvious that the people who really need the information should have access to it. Even more importantly, the information should be understandable and free. There is simply no reason that psychobabble must take the place of clear and reliable guidance; or that parents who sincerely seek to help their children should be caught in a tornado of pop-ups and advertisements.
In the past, the accessible information was not reliable. For example, information obtained from quick internet searches and mom-blogs is easy to find but may not offer anything useful. The reliable information was not accessible. For example, feedback coming from high-profile clinicians can be hard to find. The combination of accessible and reliable just did not exist.
Accessible and Reliable
At Cleape.com, a team of psychologists decided it was time to change all of that. Many issues that face our children with different brains can be addressed at home through parenting techniques; or at school, by way of accommodations and services. We believe that if parents have the power to access reliable resources, much of the time, energy, and money can be freed up for the right types of supports. Moreover, parents can get back to family time again. Parents can have a chance to take a break from advocacy work and reignite the joy and spirit of accompanying their amazing children through life.
This site offers up quick and clear questions that help parents navigate and identify any challenges their child may be experiencing. Parents might be asked questions like:
“Is your child doing all his own stunts?” ~ Sensory Seeking
“Is your child working at a snail’s pace?” ~ Processing Speed
“Is your child intimidated by new procedures or approaches? ~ Fluid Reasoning
“Is your child saying wabbit for rabbit? ~ Articulation
If a parent answers yes to one of these questions, an article follows to explain that issue and what they can do to help. For every one of the 99 issues addressed on the site, there are practical strategies that parents can try at home. Thus, the idea is,
“We help parents help their kids.”
In developing the website, we realized that parents may have more questions beyond the articles posted on Cleape.com. In order to address these concerns, a separate organization was formed called CLEAR Child Psychology (clearchildpsychology.com). The psychologists there offer consultations, referral letters, and customized profiles. These are fee based services. However, parents can use Cleape.com for free as long as they like. There are no ads, no pop-ups.
To that end, Cleape.com was created for parents and professionals who are concerned about a child’s mental health. This site provides guidance and tips to help concerned individuals determine a child’s current or potential issues with mental health.
Unlike the wait and see model or the frustrating random walk from professional to professional with no conclusions or solution, our site provides an interactive visual guide to identify these concerns and point more directly to those resources, services, and recommendations that can make a meaningful contribution to the child, his or her parents, and the family’s well-being.
No face. No pretense.
For every issue addressed on the site, one picture is included to visually describe the matter. The images deliberately avoid showing the child’s face and are stylized to further de-identify the children depicted. Many of the children have no clear gender, race, or physical beauty. Rather, the images show that any child can experience these challenges.
Who is Cleape?
The home page character represents all kids with challenges developing and thriving. The name ‘Cleape’ is a blend of ‘clear’ and ‘leap;’ both symbolizing this child’s potential to jump over hurdles. Offering clarity around mental health concerns, this individual is authentic and direct. Cleape stands for a new non-stigmatizing way of understanding mental health. Cleape reminds people that we all feel experience a multitude of challenges. Cleape fights and grows through the hard times and flourishes in the long run. Sometimes this child may work at a different pace; but still in time to live out dreams and ambitions. Cleape lives in the real world where there are bumps, bruises, fears, and disappointments. This individual shows bravery and hope; holding on through the inevitable ups and downs inherent in navigating mental health challenges. For kids who have been hiding in the shadows, Cleape tells them to be themselves and let go. Meet Cleape. The one who tells us ‘what’s the matter.’
Parents with Power, Know-How, and Voice
The Cleape.com site is entirely free. The point of this website is to offer reliable and accessible mental health information to parents. In this way, parents have the power and knowledge to navigate the sea of resources to help their children. As these children grow up to be adults with different brains, they also will have the understanding to voice their own needs, hopes, and dreams.
Marcy Willard, Ph.D., NCSP
Editor in Chief at Cleape.com
Dr. Marcy Willard is the Editor-in-Chief at Cleape.com. She is a Licensed Psychologist, Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and co-author on an autism assessment textbook. She has experience as a Psychologist, conducting diagnostic assessments for a wide range of issues. She has worked as a School Psychologist for several years, providing assessment, counseling, and consultation. She has specialized expertise in: autism, reading comprehension, Tourette syndrome, hyperlexia, and the legal requirements for school-based services and assessments. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two boys and her dog that looks remarkably like an ewok.