She explains how raising a child with autism is demanding and one needs to adopt and adapt new parenting techniques to make it work.
Every parent has a different parenting style they follow to raise their kids. Some believe in giving their children screen time and some don't, while some opt for co-sleeping and others put them in a separate room or some are fine with giving their kids packaged food and others are not. It all depends on what works for the parents and their child. A mom and therapist, Gretchen Winterkorn—who goes by @reallivetherapist on TikTok—came up with a new way of parenting and is seeing positive results in her kids.
Winterkorn shared how she switched to low-demand parenting. "We've been learning about our son and the way autism manifests, which is called PDA and also I'm seeing myself in the profile as well," says Winterkorn. "So, we've swung to doing this very different thing called low-demand parenting. We bought Amazon Fire iPads for our kids two weeks ago—they've never had anything like that." The mom further added, "We would like to reduce screen time and used to have an hour each day on the weekend and that's it. Like, he can watch screens a lot of the day now. We're not making him come to the dinner table. There's all kinds of things we're doing and we're seeing super positive effects."
This parenting style doesn't make her kids look perfect, but they sure enjoy themselves. "It's uncomfortable because if you took a snapshot of my son right now, I would look like a sh*tty, kinda neglectful parent potentially. He's eating ice cream — it's like 8:30 a.m. He's on his iPad, not getting dressed. Like, what am I f*cking doing?" she says. "But actually, we are learning about his nervous system, his neurodivergence and trying to support that and radically shifting out of like values that felt good to us or aligned with us for my son. And it's actually helping us all."
The video went viral with nearly 489k views and 45k likes. It is captioned, "I was parenting my son the way I wanted to be parented, but with his diagnosis of PDA Autism, we've pivoted to parenting for him even though it is almost opposite from what we'd imagined." @ahtpse commented, "It's super unsettling and we're seeing positive results. It's both of those things for us. But it's so kid-centered and important." @mama2larry&karl shared, "I'm a teacher of kids with level 3 autism- we begin with low demand and gradually raise the expectations so they can adjust." @bundles_of_fat_quarters expressed, "It's brave to parent in a way that makes you uncomfortable because it's what's best for your child."
Winterkorn posted a follow-up video and explained, "It's for kids who have PDA Autism or adults or other people…meaning you're not placing as many demands throughout the day," as parents usually do. "But I started to notice that my son was eating ice cream on his iPad we bought two weeks ago, watching whatever he wanted on my sofa, not eating at the dinner table that reminded me of my father's house," she further added.
She then talks about her childhood and how her dad had a similar parenting style. "I mean, he was doing low demand, we like had 400 movies we copied like the second VCR that he had from Blockbuster, we had like cookie dough…drinking soda out of baby bottles, watching whatever movie I wanted...It was just a place where you could play." The mom concludes, "It's helping me feel confident when I'm looking at my parenting. I do know something about this from the inside and I think it helped me and it's kind of nice."