Today my guest is Dr. Rita Eichenstein, a licensed psychologist who specializes in pediatric neuropsychological assessments and parent training skills. Rita’s areas of expertise include learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, autism spectrum, gifted populations, 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

Rita is committed to helping parents find more peace in their unexpected parenting journey, and toward that end is very in-tune with the emotional stages many parents move through from the moment they first discover their child is atypical. In our conversation, Rita walks us through the five-stages of acceptance (similar to the stages of grief, but modified for parents of differently wired kids), and shares her insights from working with parents like us about what often gets in the way of accepting who our children are, as well as what to do about it. 


About Rita: Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D., is a noted psychologist, pediatric neuropsychologist, and author, renowned in the field of child development, and author of the award winning book: Not What I Expected: Help and Hope for Parents of Atypical Children. Dr. Rita has a private practice in Los Angeles, California, where she has served both atypical children of all ages, and their parents, for over 25 years.

Her life’s work has been to create a diagnostic and assessment environment that is warm, supportive and accurate. Understanding that the child is not a single unit, but comes with an entire system of parents, siblings and families, the approach to working with atypical children must include the parents. An “atypical child” – a term coined by Dr. Eichenstein – encompasses children who do not conform to the usual expectations, whether because of a learning disorder, behavioral or psychological issues, medical problem, or another condition , as well as quirky kids, whose symptoms and behaviors defy official diagnostic categories, but who still face challenges.



  • What atypical parenting skills for atypical kids are
  • Why Rita believes it’s important for parents to “grieve the loss of their idealized child”
  • The “five feeling states” of processing a child’s different wiring
  • What parents’ biggest hangups are that get in the way of their accepting who their child is
  • How to figure out which expectations to prioritize / where should we focus our energy, and why
  • Why the root of denial is always fear
  • Ideas for getting a parenting partner on the same page





Read through the whole episode!






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