Thursday, April 23, 2015

Autism Answer: From Tree to Tyran

"What's in a name?" wrote Shakespeare, who died on this day in 1616. Well, my son was born on this day in 1996. So, let's have a peek at names, shall we?

I was pregnant again and I'd already used the name "Jory". A name I'd fallen in love with while reading the Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews. Now that I was going to have another little one, I'd need to fall in love with a new name. 

My sister suggested making one up. Inventing a name. Well, that would be a new name but I had no ideas. I'm not gifted at creating, although I do enjoy recreating. I do love seeing things that already exist and playing with what they mean to me. So, my sister said, "You like trees. Why not play with the word tree?"

I did. Treedan. Treeman. Raytree. Raiyntree. Treean. 

I didn't have a clue. But I kinda liked Treean. I played with that. 

Treean. Teeran. Oooohhhhh! I liked the way Teeran felt! 

But, I needed it to have a "y" in it. Don't ask me "why" but I really wanted a "y". So, I tried "Tyran". I really liked it!

But then I realized it looked too much like "tyrant". Well, who wants to start life off almost a tyrant?

I felt lost. I tucked the name away, saving it for a character in a story, and kept looking, though nothing seemed right.

And then on this day nineteen years ago, he was born. I held his wrinkly naked crying body in my arms and asked him. 

"What's your name little love?" I comfortably wondered. He told me. He told me his name was Tyran. 

The past nineteen years with Tyran have been enlightening, lovely, scary, intense, and gorgeous. 

Tyran isn't a tyrant, but his innate need to make us think outside the box and shake up expectations is almost like a tyrant. And like a tyrant, he has been a bully. When he was small anger and rudeness sometimes overflowed and cascaded onto those who annoyed him most. He would also be the one to step up, fists at the ready, if ever anyone threatened those he loved most. He was often angry and conflicted. 

Yet, deep at his root, where his name and soul gather nutrition and meaning, he's like a tree. He's strong. He's organic. He insists on being himself--a home for some, a moment of shade for others, and when he's in your way he knows it's your job to find a way around him. He'll not move just because you think his ideas are inconvenient. Or because you don't want to take the time to see their value.

Like a tree, he helps me breathe. 

He's beautiful.

But he is not a tree, and he is not a tyrant. He is Tyran. 

And the world is lucky to have him. 

My son went from Tree to Tyran, and he's done it (is still doing it) in the most magnificent ways!!!

Happy birthday, Tyran!!!!
I love you, I'm proud of you, and I miss you!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Tyran is a safe and favorite place for his little cousins to rest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Autism Answer: FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD: DVD Review

A short time ago I purchased FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD: DVD set for Season One.

Although Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad is my mom, and I could have gotten the dvds for free, I opted to pay $187.00, because more than anything I want to support this show.

With over six hours of beautiful footage, brain facts, behavior tips, and insightful ideas, purchasing this dvd set is possibly the best money I've ever spent.

FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD is an international docu-series that airs on The Autism Channel, and I'd already seen snippets of the show. Every episode, indeed every snippet, offers surprising and almost simple ideas for making big change. Ways to play with our children that will encourage healthy brain growth and (possibly my favorite part) a real connection with and understanding of our kids. There are many moments when watching this show that I have to pause and truly reflect. Not only on how important making these small changes is (and it really has been!) but on how unhealthy our society has become for our children. Luckily, though, this show offers so many solutions that rather than shrink away or become afraid of the world, I grow excited to be an active part of it. I want to teach what I'm learning!!

FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD on The Autism Channel

Also, I've fallen in love with Trisca and Milly, the mom and autistic daughter in Uganda. Trisca is adorable! And her mom faces familiar problems that are highlighted for me in this unfamiliar place. Financial troubles, confusing expectations, judgmental neighbors, and much more.

FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD on The Autism Channel

I've watched the season in it's entirety twice now. I've laughed, cried, considered, reflected, "aha-ed", clapped my hands, and learned a lot. And I've become a better mom. 

Also, when I need an energy boost I just pop in the dvd and am instantly made happier. 

I'm really looking forward to season two!!!

And season three!!!!!

And yes, I will purchase those dvd sets as well!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD dvds. Sign up for The Loop so you'll know about the next sale!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Autism Answer: Welcome Home!

Me and my sister, and my two oldest nieces!!
Before leaving for my five day fabulous babysitting trip, where I got to see my nieces and my oldest sons and my brother and my sister and my mom, I made sure to leave the boys staying behind (hubby included) with plenty of food.

And though I got home to a mostly empty fridge, I couldn't help but notice that the vegetable crisper and the various healthy snacks I'd lovingly purchased for them remained untouched in my absence. 

Also, there were various fast food napkins and wrappers and pizza boxes tucked away--almost where I might not see them. They weren't quite scared enough of my reaction to take them out to the curb. 

A few moments ago my youngest son (a perfectly capable fourteen year old boy) gave me the biggest hugest happiest hug, then asked me to please get him a drink and a snack. "Welcome home!" he laughed a little bit cheekily and a lot comfortably. 

I rolled my eyes and headed to the kitchen, returning with organic iced tea and a plate of broccoli and dip. "I am welcome home!" I offered, a little bit cheekily and a lot comfortably. 

We snuggled again and watched a bit of Attack on Titan

I am welcomed home.
I am!!

And what's even luckier...
I'm welcomed in many homes!!

I am!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Autism Answer: Parenting In The World

When I see a child (regardless of age) having a tantrum or melt-down in public, and I see a mom or dad or sibling struggle to help, or ignore, or teach, or insist, I rarely judge. The parent or the child.

I don't think "Well, maybe the child is autistic" or "Perhaps it's just because they've had a rough day" or "I hope that kid learns to behave soon" or "That family has their hands full" or... well, you get it. 

My own sons had tantrums and melt-downs. Sometimes because they were overwhelmed, sometimes because they thought it would get them what they wanted, sometimes because they liked the feeling of everybody staring at us. 

I didn't like it, and I always did my best to parent the way I thought I should in the moment, and that was that. 

So, when I see it happening with another family I generally smile and understand and think, "Parenting sure is a lot of work. And we all have to learn it in front of an audience. That makes it a little bit harder for most of us. But boy, it's totally worth it!"

I don't think it's kind to give parents a smile and a nice word just because their loved one might be autistic or have a sensory problem or painful gut issues. I think it's kind to give parents a smile and a nice word because they are people doing the best they can with what they know. 

And so are we. 

I'll admit, it was autism that gave me this thought. Autism answered again! It was because of loving people who struggle with sensory issues and gut pain and face blindness that I began to realize the importance of never judging others. I started off thinking "Well, they could be autistic." or "It could be an invisible problem that I should be accepting of." 

But then I realized..... well, heck! I should just plain and simply never judge others! It's not my place to make excuses for them, or to sit in judgement.

Having thoughtful opinions and ideas about the people in my world is nourishing and valuable. But choosing to judge them, as though I have some important role, is unhealthy for all of us. 

The world is already getting overly hidden away and unconnected. Being able to avoid grocery store meltdowns and playground social lessons has grown easier in a world that brings food and entertainment easily to your door or pocket with the click of a button. 

I suggest we make parenting in the world as kind and forgiving as possible. We don't have to remind ourselves "Maybe she's on the autism spectrum" but can instead remember "We're all doing the best we can with what we know."

And then we can connect and reach out to know more! 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Autism Answer: They're So Big, These Small Silly Things

*Trigger Warning-
I've written this in honor of sexual assault awareness and prevention month.* 

"Let's Face It, Your Prince....
Turned Into A Toad."
I'm sorry. Love you Mucho,

That's what the card my step-dad gave me when I was twelve said. That's one of the ways he apologized for molesting me. 

I had told my mom about the midnight touching and she kicked him out of the house. But first she insisted he apologize to me. 

At the time this card, with a cartoon drawing of a prince on its cover and an adorable little toad on the inside, seemed almost ridiculous.

It wasn't. 

I still have it today. 

My mom is brilliant. 

My step-dad not only admitted his guilt, he gave me something physical that blamed him. Not me, him. 

You have no idea how big that is. How comparatively easy it made my healing, and possibly his. 

Well, maybe you do know. 

A scary number of boys and girls, men and women, are raped or molested. 

A scary number are never believed and are alone in their healing. That's after they've gotten the courage (and boy, does it take courage!) to tell someone what happened to begin with. 

A scary number never tell in the first place. 

My mom is brilliant. 

Not only was she aware of how important it would be for me to know entirely that I was believed and not at fault (because she is one of the scary numbers who was not believed and even blamed) but she insisted he apologize and make it obvious. 

Not only did I heal in ways my fellow molested brothers and sisters often never do, I learned the value of small seemingly silly offerings. 

If I can do something to help someone, or can do something to make up for my own mistake or failure, but the something seems inadequate, I'm tempted then not to do it at all. It's almost embarrassing sometimes to do such small silly things. 

But then I remember that card. Bought by my step-dad at our corner drug store when my mom insisted he apologize for molesting me. 

"Let's Face it, Your Prince...
Turned into a Toad."

He did. 

But by clearly acknowledging it we were both free to find new princes and far away lily pads.

How big they are, these small silly things. Don't ever be afraid or embarrassed to do what little you can. 

Because quite likely it's not silly or little at all. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!! 
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Jeff: A Sexually Realized Spiritual Odyssey of Stepping Into Love-- by Lynette Louise

*I never saw my step-dad again and he passed away about ten years ago. He had a new life and I hope it was worthy of him. Of course, because I never saw him again, I don't know what that would be.

**If you are struggling with abuse the effects of abuse, past or recent, I encourage you to reach out to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and also to read the book my mom wrote. Jeff: A Sexually Realized Spiritual Odyssey of Stepping Into Love. With poetry, candor, and masterful storytelling she'll find you wherever you are in the dark and hold your hand as you step together into the light. My mom (Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad) is kind and strong that way. Hugs!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Autism Answer: Happy Birthday Brain Broad! (an Autism Awareness Day Party!)

I invite you, I encourage you, to have a peek at my mom's websites. Inspiration, information, videos, blog posts, ideas, honest struggles and honest answers await you there! Go on over and have some fun. That's the greatest birthday party we can throw for my mom, Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad!!!!
Happy birthday to Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad!!!!

My mom's birthday is April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day. 
My mom, The Brain Broad, and us kids!

That's, quite simply, the universe telling us to have a listen to what my mom has to say. My mom, who travels the world playing with and guiding families of autism toward happiness, health, and skill building. My mom, who legally adopted plenty of autistic folks and in her heart adopted hundreds more. My mom, who kindly encouraged me (and everyone she's ever met) to stop feeling sorry for or afraid of or bothered by autism and to instead learn with it and love helping and believe in the value of knowing people who see and feel and communicate differently, and who have to work hard to do so. 

To know and believe deep down that we are all equal and able and beautiful and fun.

My mom, who insists on always being authentic and kind while traveling the globe with cameras and love and a big colorful brain, so she can SHOW us how she does it and she can teach us how to do it ourselves. My mom, who loves us too much to stop working and teaching, but who really would like to just hang around with family learning trapeze and sipping coffee. 

Happy birthday Brain Broad!!!!!

We love you so much!

Go ahead and take the day off. Sip coffee and hang out with family. I'll wear my ‪#‎fixitinfive‬ shirt, and run around the world pointing them in your direction. Take a moment to breathe and live. 

Enjoy your day with Rye.

The kind of day all of the other professionals warned you'd never get to have--he works, saved up money, bought his own plane ticket, drove himself to the airport, parked his own car he pays for, and flew to visit his mom on her birthday--and know that you helped make that happen. YOU, my mom, The Brain Broad!

And then when Rye goes home--we'll be here still. Ready to learn from you again. 

Happy Birthday mom!!!!!
I love you so much!!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My mom, The Brain Broad, with my niece. This is what mom teaches!

Me, proudly wearing my FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD shirt!
"Fix it in five, because life is a series of choices." ~Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Autism Answer: I Choose Guilt For A Moment (but Only A Moment)

I went for a walk with my son, Tyran, while he was visiting me last month. We ran into a childhood friend of his and stopped to say hello. 

We both knew this friend of his was getting into trouble and struggling. My son was friendly but not so friendly as to try and rekindle a friendship. I was friendly, and tried to offer annoying grown up advice. "Make good choices" type of advice. While being cool and not lecturing of course, which probably made my lecture-like intentions more transparent. 

Well, not long after that this childhood friend of my son's broke into a nearby home with some buddies and, discovering the neighbor unexpectedly home, a tragic shooting took place. The home owner and one of the boys breaking in were killed.

My son's childhood friend will likely be in prison for a long time. I keep remembering that day when we ran into him. I keep feeling like somehow we failed him. But, to be honest, we hardly even knew him. 

The truth is, my son was right to be friendly but careful, and I was right to offer grown up annoying advice. Advice that could have saved some lives but (as I well knew) was unlikely to. 

And though I know better than to feel any true guilt, I prefer my little nagging of "what could we have done different" over the less useful and far crueler "those boys had it coming, I'm glad one of them got killed" that I've heard from others. 

Life has tragedy and horror. But that is no excuse to stop reaching out or to fear our neighbors. If anything, it is a cry for more reaching out and more love for our neighbors. 

Often, you won't make a difference. But if we all do it, with all of our neighbors, all of the time.......

Well, wow! I'm certain that will make all of the difference. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook Page)