Parents can help special-needs kids by caring for themselves- ‘It is not selfish to look after yourself,’ says Encinitas author

Recent article featuring my book Thrive Now Blueprint in Encinitas Advocate written By Lois Alter Mark

Flight attendants always remind us to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others, and this advice has been taken to heart by Encinitas author Siobhan Wilcox in her new book, “Thrive Now Blueprint: Self-Care & Success Strategies for Parents of Special Needs Children.”

Originally from Ireland, Wilcox is a stress management expert and spiritual life coach who began her journey after burning out from stress at the age of 24. She devoted herself to increasing her health and well-being, and began to pass her knowledge forward, hosting retreats, working with private clients and speaking at events.

As the mother of two sons, one who is on the autism spectrum, she saw firsthand how these techniques also worked in her life as the parent of a special-needs child. She wrote the book to help others better cope with these challenges.

Here’s what she had to say about caring for a special needs child and the importance of caring for yourself first.

• Why do you think this topic hasn’t been written about before in terms of parenting children with special needs?

Honestly, parents are just so overwhelmed. The time and energy focused on healing their children is often immense. At one point, I was taking my son to therapy of one sort or another five days a week, sometimes twice a day. These demands don’t even give parents the bandwidth to consider taking time for themselves, because where would they possibly fit it in?

• Why did you decide to write this book?

After recovering from stress burnout, I realized the need to support my own physical and emotional well-being. So when I brought my son to Occupational Therapy, I would also bring my yoga mat to do some relaxation exercises or simple yoga poses while he was in his session. When we went to vision therapy for him, I would bring an inspirational book to read, and during his physical therapy, I would perform mindfulness exercises to notice how my body was feeling and then consciously release any tension that was building in my shoulders, back, etc. I was always there with him doing my parenting role, yet also allowing myself to have the necessary space and time I needed to come back to balance.

People kept asking me how I looked so relaxed, so energized, when obviously everything was very challenging for me. So I decided to share the tools and techniques I have been using in my own life and teaching clients for over 16 years.

• Why is it so important to care for ourselves first?

As the Dalai Lama said, “The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one’s family, to one’s neighborhood, to one’s community and so on.”

I discovered years ago when I was working with a group of single mothers that when they brought the tools and techniques I outline in this book into their lives, things changed in a way none of us expected — calmer kids going to bed on time, more compliancy at home, more laughter. I was so surprised, I had them ask their kids what was different. They returned with tears in their eyes and answers like, “You’re not shouting at us as much,” “You are just being nicer,” “I feel more relaxed because you are smiling more.” Even now, I get emotional about this because these results blew us all away. They prove that our children are super-sensitive to how we, as parents, feel. They are sponges, and when we take the time to nurture ourselves, it directly impacts those around us. It’s what I like to call being “wisely selfish,” a phrase I have adopted from the Dalai Lama.

• What is the most important thing you can do for yourself as the parent of a special-needs child?

Realize that you are number one, that it is not selfish to look after yourself. Doing so brings new energy and vitality to your life and allows you to be more present with those around you.

• I love when you quote Olympic Gold Medalist Wilma Rudolph, who said, “The doctors told me I would never walk; my mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” How does that fit into the philosophy of your book?

Our children always do better when we believe in them, when we focus on their gifts and abilities rather than what they appear unable to achieve. When we take the time to balance our own health and stress levels, we have more energy to be positive, to be supportive and to not always feel we are being challenged.

• At the end of each chapter, you feature exercises that invite self-reflection. What do you hope readers will get from these?

When I began unfolding a way to recover my health, I realized I had to take responsibility for my own well-being and not blame others. I became empowered, engaged, focused and healthier, and my life changed dramatically for the better. The exercises in the book are designed to bring insights and awareness while being gentle and supportive. I consciously designed this book to be easy to consume — no chapter is more then 10 pages in length, the exercises are simple to complete, and I offer an online tool kit with video and audio support to help the reader get even more guidance.

• What’s the one message you really want readers to get from your book?

You are important, you are valuable and you are worth spending time on. When you do, all those around you — particularly your special-needs child— will benefit.

You can find Thrive Now Blueprint on Amazon, Kindle and at SoulScape in Encinitas. Visit

Find ways to feel empowered while parenting a child with needs

Find ways to feel empowered while parenting a child with needs – Experts Beacon Article by Siobhan Wilcox
As parents of kids with special needs, we have very unique challenges. The truth is our children need us more. And their care requires us to have extra stamina and a way to maintain our energy.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison gauged the impact that parenting a child on the autism spectrum can have on parents’ stress levels.
For eight consecutive days, researchers followed a group of mothers, whose offspring were either adolescents or adults with autism. The researchers conducted daily interviews with each mother about her experiences and took their hormone levels mid-way through the eight days to assess their stress chemical balance. The results were shocking. Hormone levels were consistent with people experiencing chronic stress. The researchers compared the mothers’ blood work to that of soldiers in combat—and found their levels to be similar.

The ongoing events and responsibilities of parenting a special needs child can result in our bodies undergoing increased challenges that can have a compounding effect. This can eventually drain our ability to cope on a daily basis and can result in negatively affecting our health levels.

Consequently, we need to find a way to support ourselves to maintain our energy, health and happiness. It is vital to support oneself with conscious coping strategies and extra self-care. This article contains tried and true advice for parents.

The Secret to “What if” you are creating your Stress!!

As the mom of a special needs child I need to take conscious time in my week to get balanced. I feel we all do, however when you are parenting a child on the Autism Spectrum self-care is ESSENTIAL and needs to be scheduled in your week.

So this week I decided to take time out to bring my dog to the beach. It is one of my favorite places to go. I always feel energized and uplifted there. I love the crashing waves, the sea breeze and racing with my dog up and down the water’s edge. It is a tranquil place for me to connect deeper with my internal process and observe my reactions to what has been going on in my life.

So the other day as I walked my beloved canine pal “Sugar”, I found myself observing how the language I use can either create fear or help me avoid fear altogether.

These words “What if” can bring stress, I began to realize they lower my energy levels and my health vibration. I became aware of how often the words ‘What if’ was appearing in my language and in my internal self-talk.

“What if I am not good enough.

What if my son overwhelms and becomes aggressive.

What if I make a mistake.

What if I make the wrong decision.

What if, what if, what if!!!!”

Of coursed as I recognized these two little ‘What If’, I became even more aware of how they had created stress in my body this week as I had been planning an event at my home.

“What if I don’t have the energy to run this event! What if I don’t have enough food! What if I have forgotten to ask someone! What if it rains! What if no-one comes! What if someone spills red wine on the white carpet, what if my son overwhelms!” etc…

This awareness was the answer to why I had been feeling so stressed this week and wondering if I even had the energy to host this gathering at all, the realization was refreshing. Now I had fully awareness it was obvious that it was these two deadly words “What If” that was feeding the stress and creating my resistance and fear.

So I decided to substitute these words for “I wonder” and I began to notice a difference in my body reactions.

“I wonder if I don’t have enough food, what will I do? -order pizza :-)

I wonder if I have forgotten to ask someone, how would that be? -invite them over for dinner another night :-)

I wonder if it rains, what will I do? -get a bouncy castle with a roof and set up extra chairs indoors

I wonder if no-one comes how will I react? – they will come!

I wonder if someone spills red wine on the white carpet how will I deal with that? – buy a carpet stain remover and get the carpets cleaned the next day!”

This experience was very different. Instead of stress in my body I felt relaxed and empowered. Try it next time you hear those two little words appear in your negative internal or external talk “What If” and shift to “I Wonder”

Let me know what you become aware of as you start to observe your internal self-talk. Share it with us here or on our community facebook page. Your awareness maybe just what someone else needs to trigger them to be in a place of deeper healing.

Together we can make a difference in the world.

Love and blessings


Parenting Special Needs and Why Sometimes It’s Good Not to Care!!!

Parenting a special needs child like my son with autism often requires alot of routine , structure, detail and following others guidelines. However I also realized how important it is to release perceived ideas of what is expected of me to free my soul.

I explored this while taking a Zumba class one day. It was my third time and I am so loving this new form of exercise. The first class I took I struggled to follow all the moves and there had been some resistance within me to return but I really love to dance so I pushed myself to go again. However this time I decided to really tune inwards as I was dancing and to observe my points of resistance.

WOW did this change my experience and it changed my day and it has probably changed my future too. Because what I noticed was my perfectionist had appeared. That part of me that wanted to leave the class because I wasn’t getting it all ‘RIGHT’. This is also a part of me I often see appear while I parent my child, wanting to get the therapy ‘right’, wanting his results to be ‘right’ wanting to balance everything ‘perfectly’.

So right there in the middle of class I decided to change my life by changing my reaction to this situation. I made a decision to just ‘NOT CARE’.

To not care if I messed up.
To not care if I clapped when no-one else did.
To not care if I felt clumsy.
To not care if I looked clumsy.

And then something inside me shifted and it felt huge. A new energy rushed into my body and I saw the freedom that had come with this release. I began to just move ‘NOT CARING”, if it was the choreographed move or not and I had such fun. My heart opened. I felt excited. I felt energized. And I sweated more then I had at any other exercise class I had ever taken. I wasn’t holding back and wondering what if I get it wrong.

So my friend – what will you do today that frees you from the perfectionist archetype? What will you do today that will allow you to feel fun and excitement rushing through your body? Just pick something, anything and try it! Don’t allow that voice inside you to say, “well someone might see me, and what will they think”. Try dancing in your kitchen or singing in your car or even at the store. Just take a chance, Free yourself and allow your joy and vitality levels to increase. Then let me know how you do and if you feel inspired pass this onto others so they to can”NOT CARE”.

Let me know how you get on.

Love & blessings


Finding more balance as a busy mom while parenting autism!

This is an article I wrote a couple of years ago, which I think is very valid today, enjoy!!

I realized yesterday that I am falling fowl of the great overmothering syndrome. My awareness was brought to it, due to not only my exhaustion, but also how the male energy around me was rebelling. Some were rebelling passively by ignoring me and others by refusing to do anything I asked. My 7 & 9 year olds were turning into teenagers.

So as I analyzed this, I was guided me to a place of deep awareness. I became aware that on our planet right now the feminine energy is changing. This does not pertain to just women as men also have an aspect of feminine within their beings. The feminine has felt unappreciated, unseen and ignored for a long long time. However now this beautiful divine energy that is within each of us wants to be rebalance and acknowledged.

Some of the symptoms you may notice are that you maybe a little unbalanced, this can stem from overmothering – your kids, your partner, your clients, your friends, your pets the list is long. How this can manifest in your life if that you may be feeling unappreciated, or even unseen for your worth. If you overmother then you do not self-care for yourself enough, as you are spending all your energy mothering all else around you. Of course the result is exhaustion, frustration, anger and perhaps even sadness.

Self-care is the only answer here. The message I received was to look after myself. To see who I have been overmothering and to gently send them love and support them so their independence can unfolding. Of course the biggest blessing in this is not just the return of our energy but also that those around us learn how to self-care for themselves. As we model for them how it is done we encourage them to do the same for themselves.

Let me know does this resonate with you today.

Love, light & blessings


Letting Go To Trust!!

Day15 Parenting Autism Real and Raw with Siobhan Wilcox – let go of resistance and trust!
When we let go of resistance we go with the flow and have more energy. Often we create stress through our resistance without even knowing it. Only when we manage to let go totally do we actually feel freer.

When we were asked to leave my sons current school because of his extreme overwhelm I was initially devastated, however I soon realized that the release from this was energizing and freeing.

It gave me space to consider once more what I truly wanted for my son. I was able to create in my imagination a positive outcome, a campus where he would feel safer, more nurtured and supported. I was able to move forward with compassion, trust and hope.

Think about your own life? Are you currently holding onto an outdated system, a old pattern etc that maybe de-energizing you. See how it feels in your body when you think about letting it go and focusing on what you would like to replace it with. Be inspired!

Wishing you love and blessings in your day

Siobhan shares about what it was like to be asked to leave one school for her son and how this traumatic experience can actually create more peace when you being to trust and allow.
Surrender, trust self-love and compassion.

Big Boys Don’t Cry – Why They Should!

I have cried alot this week, it has been intense, uncomfortable at moments and healing overall. I have laid in my wardrobe wrapped in blankets weeping like a baby.

I know crying is healing as I have cried so often over my lifetime, particularly as a parent of a special needs child. I have found that after a good cry I feel better, like my soul has been washed clean. However did you know that there are very specific reasons why crying is healing to the body, mind and spirit.

Biochemist William Frey researched tears emotional tears compared to irritation tears (such as onion peels or allergies) found that there are toxin released from the body when a human cries due to grief or strong emotion. These toxins were linked back to those produced during the stress response of the body.
So our tears are de-stressing us and helping us maintain balance.

They also act to help connect us to each other. Humans are bonded through common emotions. When we relate to others pain something responds within us – a need to reach out, to help, to heal, to hug. According to his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama “Compassion is the most wonderful and precious thing… it is encouraging to note that basic human nature is, I believe, compassionate and gentle.”

I believe so to as I have witnessed so many others reaching out to console and help others in their times of need. This is one of the reasons I have created this blog to perhaps inspire or assist another parent living through what I have experienced. It is that very reason I get up at 6.30 each day to record this blog, the reason I still work on my book even in great personal intensity and what pushes me forward to serve.

Share this with others and leave your comments.

Wishing you love and blessings in your day

The science behind why we need change!

This blog builds on my last one where I spoke about shifting your routine. Our body wants to help us! Our brain even rewards us by releasing dopamine a neurotransmitter that helps us feel good when we do something adventurous or exciting.

This is a huge reason to change our routine, try something new and shift our brain chemistry. It doesn’t require you to jump off a building to get this thrill either, although I have chosen to do just this for charity in August, simple changes and new experiences can have the same affect.

As a parent of an autistic child routine is so important to behavior and environment management, however OUR BRAINS need to shift outside of routine for optimum well-being. So go out and try something new this week and get a natural high in your body.

Let me know how you get on and leave your comments to inspire other parents. Together we can support and inspire each other.

Wishing you love and blessings

Why Routine isn’t always good!

Trying something new in your life is essential to increase your joie de vivre. When you parent a child with autism routine is so important, yet for a parent this can dull your mind and leave you in a rut. Shifting gears by consciously choosing to trying something new once a month and making small changes each week, like ordering a different sandwich at the Deli keeps life fresh and your mind engaged.

So what will you try this week to bringing something new into your world! Share it here and inspire others.

Wishing you love and blessings in your day

Did you know that play increases your health levels

I have found that parenting a child on the autism spectrum can be very isolating. Often we meet our adult friends through our kids ‘best friends’ at school, play-dates or at the side of the baseball pitch. However with a autistic child social interaction can be their biggest challenge and this can greatly affect a parents ability to create a supportive group of friends and social network for themselves.

If this is the case I urge you to deliberately seek out other ways to connect. I have joined meet-up groups, hosted meet-up groups, joined a book club, taken Zumba all to meet other moms and have some interesting conversations.

Spending time with others has been proven to reduce your stress. So go out and find a club or group to join, you will feel more elevated and energized just from creating your own play-dates.

Love and light