Debbie Reber Reflects on 7 Years of Tilt Parenting & the Tilt “Revolution” (solocast)

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This is going to be a different kind of an episode, because it’s the seven-year anniversary of Tilt Parenting (!) and it felt like a good time to reflect on where we – you, me, this community – are now. And I wanted to reflect because I think it’s important to pause, take a breath, and notice this moment. 

So, in this episode, I’ll share reflections on what has changed in the “Tilt revolution” and the neurodiversity movement in the years since Tilt Parenting first launched, including the language used in this space. I also get a little personal and give you some updates from my world, our family’s journey, and what’s next. 

Lastly, I always want to offer something practical and tangible that you can take with you into your daily life, so I’ll tell you about the five biggest lessons I’ve been learning over the past few years and explain how they’ve impacted our family dynamic, and my own life as the parent of a differently wired kid.


About Debbie Reber

Debbie Reber, MA is a parenting activist, bestselling author, speaker, and the CEO and founder of TiLT Parenting, a resource, top-performing podcast, consultancy, and community with a focus on shifting the paradigm for parents raising and embracing neurodivergent children. The Tilt Parenting Podcast has 6 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, and the author of more than a dozen books for children and teens, Debbie’s most recent book is Differently Wired: A Parent’s Guide to Raising an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope. In 2018 she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How the conversation, and terminology, surrounding neurodivergence and the “movement” has evolved over the past seven years
  • How I envisioned Tilt when I first developed it
  • Why I believe there is no such thing as “normal”
  • What I see as the most exciting developments in neuroscience developments and how they’ll impact differently wired children
  • How my personal life has changed since I started Tilt and the challenges I’ve encountered in doing the inner work
  • The five biggest lessons I’ve been learning over (and over) again in recent years

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Episode Transcript


This season of Tilt Parenting is being brought to you by the Differently Wired Club. The Differently Wired Club is grounded in the values of optimism, hope, radical acceptance, curiosity, self reflection and respect. If you’re committed to a neuro diversity affirming approach to parenting, please join us doors open for a few days at the end of every month. Learn more at


Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber. And this is going to be a different kind of an episode because it is the seven year anniversary of Tilt Parenting. And it felt like a good time to do some reflection on where we, meaning you, me, and this community are now. And I wanted to reflect because I think it’s important to pause to take a breath and to notice this moment. I mean, that is what we’re working to do with our kids. And I recognize that it’s something I probably don’t do often enough with Tilt. Because my brain is wired in such a way that I am always thinking about, what more can I do? What else can I create? What are new ways to reach more parents? How can this community grow? So I think it’s important for me to take this moment. And since you’re in this with me, I thought it made sense to share this pause with you. So … deep breath.


When I consider the landscape seven years ago, when I first launched Tilt Parenting and this podcast over it pretty dorky, honestly, Facebook Live. So, so, so much has changed. And I think it’s worthy to note that today, there are so many more resources available for parents raising differently wired kids, especially in the past few years, it feels like there has been an explosion of websites and summits and podcasts and books embracing this work of shifting the paradigm and looking at neuro divergence through this broader lens, which is amazing. I mean, one of the primary reasons that I started Tilt in the first place is that back then, you know eight years ago when I was developing it seven years ago, when I launched nearly all of the resources for parents raising kids with neurodevelopmental differences and disabilities, were narrowly focused on very specific diagnoses. So you had your ADHD books or organizations here, your dyslexia podcast, or your autistic or gifted program there. And while it was great that those resources existed, I really wanted to bring parents raising these complex kids together. Because the challenges we experience in having our kids measured against some arbitrary measure of normal air quotes, or struggling to figure out a path for childhood and education in systems that just aren’t designed for our kids. That’s for the most part universal. Together, we are all swimming upstream against old systems and models, and it can be just so overwhelming. So I wanted to bring us together so we could experience the power in our numbers and realize that our kids aren’t actually outliers at all, and neither are our families. And because from my little office in Amsterdam, where I first developed the idea for Tilt, I envisioned what I was creating as a social change movement. In fact, back then I called it the “differently wired revolution.” And I was hoping more than anything that the revolution would take off. What I find perhaps most exciting as I reflect on the year since then, is that it’s clear that the boundaries between different ways of learning and thinking just don’t matter in the same way as they did back then. What does matter is that as a society, we are starting to recognize that seeing, embracing and respecting every child, as an individual with unique needs and profiles, is what we should be doing. There is no one size fits all way of supporting differently wired kids, our kids do not need to be siloed by their differences or made to feel like aberrations. More and more people are getting with the program and realizing that there is indeed no such thing as normal. There is no right way again, air quotes to think or to learn or to be. And I like to think that Tilt had something to do with that.


Language is another area where things have meaningfully evolved. When I first started Tilt, I landed on the phrase differently wired. It felt optimistic and not deficit spaced and also my own differently wired kid Asher approved. Back then the phrase differently wired was not part of the lexicon in the parenting world. And now it’s pretty much ubiquitous. It’s honestly astonishing and pretty cool to see that language differently wired being used in so many different spaces and capacities. In addition to differently wired another term that wasn’t widely used back then, neurodivergence, is now everywhere. It’s been embraced by those of us navigating personal or parenting journeys that include any sort of neurodevelopmental differences. 


Overall, the language use when referring to neurodivergence and neurodevelopmental disabilities continues to change and shift to and I think this is largely the result of the millions of adults, especially women, discovering, either through formal diagnostic processes or through self identification, their own autism or ADHD or giftedness or twice exceptionality, and leading the way with passion and purpose. People like Kristy Forbes and Katherine May and Jennifer Cook and Jacquelyn Fede, and Devon Price and just too many powerful humans to name are using their voices to affect change and set the discourse and to help the rest of the world get caught up. 


I wanted to share just a few examples of how terminology has shifted in recent years. There is the idea of identity first language so autistic person, not person with autism. We know that disabled is not a bad word people are disabled by environments and systems that don’t accommodate for their neuro differences. differently abled is a euphemism, that’s largely frowned upon functioning labels such as high functioning or low functioning or profound autism. Those are considered harmful by most autistic people. Non speaking is the preferred term over non verbal and generally speaking language that pathologizes difference – disorder comes to mind – is problematic. I love the way that Marcus Soutra, he’s the president of the mentoring organization Eye to Eye, uses identified rather than diagnosed as he was identified as having dyslexia and ADHD. I love that the profile of autism known as PDA which technically stands for pathological demand avoidance, how’s that for a label with a serious ick factor has been redefined as a persistent desire for autonomy, which is a much more respectful and accurate description. And those are just a few examples. And I will say right now that I am sure I get it wrong plenty. I’m quite sure that I have earlier podcast episodes that include some of this language I just mentioned. And that makes me cringe just a wee bit. I do my best to keep learning and growing and I defer to the actually autistic community and other neuro divergent thought leaders when it comes to language and preferences. And I will continue to do that.


Perhaps the other thing that has changed most significantly since I started Tilt is that the neuroscience surrounding things like emotional regulation, nervous system management, polyvagal theory, coregulation, and neurodivergence in general has really taken off. So we know so much more about things like the internal experiences of differently wired kids and trauma, and fight flight freeze or fawn and sensory intensities. And that knowledge allows us all of us parents, caregivers, educators, to respond with more understanding and effectiveness to kids who are dysregulated. And that is so exciting. The work that people like Mona Delahooke and Laurie Desautels and Tina Paine Bryson and too many to mention, are doing to get this critical information out far and wide. So our kids don’t have to suffer fills me with so much hope. And I’m so grateful that access to this information is widely available to parents with younger kids. At the same time, I can’t deny that I feel a little sad. For the younger me, the mom with a dysregulated little five year old who never heard of sensory issues, or coregulation or nervous system management. I feel like all I had in my toolbox back then was a chart, some stickers, and a kid who was motivated by Legos and breakfast for dinner. And honestly, that bums me out. And sometimes I wish I could have a do over. But the great news here is that there is a growing understanding about what’s really going on beneath the surface of a child who’s having a hard time. And I’m just so thankful for and excited about that. That means that millions of kids will have the opportunity to grow up without being punished for who they inherently are. Or internalizing a sense of shame, or feeling like they’re not smart are good enough. I mean, what could be better than that.


So those are some of the bigger picture changes in the paradigm shift. But personally, life is different for me too. And since many of you have been on this journey with me since day one. I thought you might like to hear a little bit about my reality too. And when I launched Tilt, I had an 11 year old now I have an 18 year old. When I launched Tilt we were living in the Netherlands. Now we’re back in Brooklyn, but our dream is to eventually get back to the Netherlands. Back then, I knew I wanted to start a podcast and that I wanted it to be an ongoing thing. But I don’t know, I would have realized I would still be in production and loving this work. Seven years later, I know I couldn’t have imagined I would have had more than 330 episodes in the can, and approaching 6 million downloads. I never imagined that tilt that this community and especially my Differently Wired Club, would be the epitome of work, life and purpose all blended together in one beautiful package. I seriously get off my office hour in coaching calls full of humility and gratitude and optimism. I think the biggest surprise though, is how doing this work, and pretty much very publicly learning and growing and screwing up and navigating all the joys and heartaches of parenting and neurodivergent kid has profoundly changed who I am as a human. I’ve embraced my own twice exceptionality, and my own processing and attention differences. And that has allowed me to show up to my work to my family, and to myself with so much more grace and understanding. And it’s helped me heal parts of me that have felt broken or not enough for pretty much most of my life. So yeah, that’s kind of a big deal. Since I launched Tilt, I’ve also parented a complicated teen through repatriation to a new city, a transition from homeschooling to a former high school, and a pandemic that hit before any of us had a chance to even find community in our new home. So it has been a little brutal.


I’m regularly moved to tears by the emails I get from parents who share with me their incredible stories with candor and vulnerability and heartache, and who got in touch just because they wanted me to know that tilt, or my book, or this show was the thing that changed their family’s life. I mean, emails like that, literally leave me speechless, I get hit with these waves of gratitude for them, taking the time to even write to me that I get to do this work in the first place. And even though technically, these people are strangers, I know and feel truly and deeply that they’re my people. We are a community, all of us. And that is pretty fantastic. And speaking of community, can I just say that the neuroscientists and authors and therapists and parents committed to shifting the paradigm to a world that’s more neurodiversity affirming, and inclusive, is composed of literally the best people I know. I’ve never felt more seen and accepted and at home with a group of peers in my life. And as someone who’s lived and worked in many different spaces, and career fields, that’s saying something, people doing this work are the real deal. Passionate, genuine, thoughtful, and committed. And I sometimes pinch myself that I get to be in relationship with such wonderful humans.


Lastly, to be fully transparent, I have to share that being very much still in it, in this season of parenting a differently wired human and all that goes along with it while being somewhat of a known figure in this neurodivergent space, it sometimes feels complicated. During my hardest seasons, over the past few years, I have sometimes put additional pressure on myself to get it right. I mean, I have access to all the things I read all the books, I talk to all the experts. So there’s really no excuse to not nail it on the parenting front, right. But perhaps this is where my own personal growth spurt has been the most profound. I mean, I often talk about the importance of our doing our own deep inner work as parents, but I don’t know that I knew I meant this deep. Yet. That’s what’s happened. And that’s what continues to happen for me. I have found a whole new level of learning and healing and uncomfortableness and depth that I’ve leaned into. And I have to be honest, not always with a smile on my face. The truth is, at times that is felt really, really hard. And sometimes I’ve struggled to be an advocate for hope and possibility when those emotions felt pretty far removed from what I was experiencing in my own life. But I know that there is no going around any of this. The only way is to move and go and grow through. So that’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what I am doing. And knowing that you out there are in this with me is really it’s just everything. So thank you for being on the other end of this ongoing journey and conversation.


Okay, that feels like enough reflection, don’t you think? But before I close out this special episode, I want to leave you with some tangible takeaways or ideas for you to noodle on as you go about your day showing up for your kids. So I’m going to share the five biggest lessons that I have been learning sometimes over and over and over again in the past few years.


Number one, the relationship we have with our kids is everything. That foundation of respect, and communication and love and deep, meaningful connection with our children is critical. As our kids grow and evolve. It’s worth prioritizing that over everything else. And I mean everything.


Number two, individuation. That process whereby teens and young adults work to separate from us as parents and create their own sense of self and identity is painful, and unavoidable, and amazing and terrifying, and exactly what our kids are supposed to do. Our job as parents and caregivers of kids in this stage of life is to trust in the process. To continue to prioritize connection, go back to point number one, and find ways to support ourselves emotionally and mentally.


Number three, speaking of supporting ourselves, we all need help sometimes. And thankfully, that help is available to us if we ask for it. Having all the tools and resources and information does not mean that we’re not going to struggle. So reach out for the support you need therapy, support groups, community meds, whatever you need. We do not have to white knuckle parenting or life for that matter.


Number four, there is no completing the curriculum of parenting differently wired kids, they are ever evolving and changing. And the challenges and situations we’ll have to figure out as a result will be ever evolving and changing to the good news. For those of us who embrace the identity of a lifelong learner, we have got that covered. The bad news, there are some lessons or courses of study in this parenting journey that we would surely like to master and just move on from either way, it’s best to lean into all the messiness with curiosity, and openness.


And lastly, number five, we cannot control the outcome of, well, anything in our kids lives, really, and truly, we cannot force will them to do or be something they’re not. There are no perfect choices we can make that will guarantee they’ll never experience pain or trauma or unhappiness. And we can’t make them feel more worthy or mentally healthy or optimistic or motivated by saying or doing the right thing. All we can do is love support, guide and show up for our kids as they are every single day and know that they are exactly who they’re meant to be.


So with all of that said, I’m going to close out this episode. But before I do, I just want to say thank you for being along on this ride with me. Thank you for listening to this special unconventional episode. And thank you for showing up for the phenomenal differently wired kids in your world. They are lucky to have you in their orbit. And so am I.


You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast. To go deeper into this episode, visit the extensive show notes page. For every episode, there’s a dedicated page on my website with links to all the resources mentioned, a full transcript and a podcast player with key takeaways marked so you can easily go back and re-listen to the sections you’re most interested in. Just go to and select this episode. The tiller parenting podcast is hosted by me, Debbie Reber, author of the book Differently Wired and the founder of Tilt Parenting. This episode was edited by Andrea Curtis-Amezquita and show notes were put together by myself, Andrea and Lindsay McFadden. If you get a lot out of this podcast and want to help cover the costs of its production, please consider joining my Patreon campaign. On Patreon, you can sign up to make a small monthly contribution as little as $2 a month and it’s super easy to sign up. Just go to To learn more, or click on the Patreon link on any show notes page. To follow Tilt Parenting on social media, go to @tiltparenting on Instagram and Twitter and on Facebook. Lastly, please help this podcast stay visible and easily found by the listeners who need it by subscribing and leaving a rating or review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you so much. And that’s all for this week. Stay safe, stay well and take good care. And for more information about this podcast or any of the resources that tilt offers, visit


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