Monday, October 5, 2015

Autism Answer: My Son Is Here

My son is here! My son is here!! 
I'm so happy!!!!!

Tyran lives in California and I live in Texas so I don't get to see him as often as I'd like. But he's here for a few weeks and I'm loving it!! 

OBSERVATION: Tyran is nineteen and he's a wellness coach, as well as an Herbalife distributor. I've listened to him help out a few clients over the phone and it's fun how familiar it sounds. Like when I hear my mom help a client over the phone. 

I don't get to hear much, there's generally a confidentiality thing so both mom and Tyran walk away for privacy, but first I get to hear this: Kindness, Confidence, Patience, Answers, and Listening To The Client. Both mom and Tyran are honestly interested in helping their client get what they want, not what mom or Tyran think they should want. 

HONEST REALIZATION: If Tyran hadn't been away from me so much I may have missed noticing this. The last time I saw him he was still stumbling over his words and unsure of his products. Hearing him now the transformation is beautiful and obvious! However, if I'd been around for the incremental changes I may not have noticed.

So I've praised and pointed out his skill, and we've had a blast comparing his weight loss and health products with my mom's mental health behavior skills. At the end of the day, both mom and Tyran are helping people be happier and healthier. So cool!

IN CONCLUSION: 1) It's okay that my son lives far away. 2) It's a good idea to notice incremental changes. 3) I'll have stories about how amazing my family is for the rest of my life; that's how I help people be happier and healthier. 4) See? I'm cool too!! 

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

Me and Tyran!
<----- Check out my mom's website for more about her mental health services. Also, there are videos and plenty of fun to read information!!
<---- My sons are starting their own entertainment company. So, have a peek at their website for Tyran's contact info!! Schedule a health profile with him today!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Short Story: Beautifully Pathetic

Author's Note and Invitation: So, Chuck Wendig did something a little bit different. His Flash Fiction Challenge became a Flash (Non)Fiction Challenge. At first, I giggled at that. Because goodness knows that's pretty much all I write. Then, I thought I'd share the challenge with all of my friends who like to write creative nonfiction while at the same time thinking I wouldn't myself participate. Then, I thought Wait a minute? I can do what I do but with way more freedom? Like, tell any story from my life for any reason without feeling obligated to offer a specific nugget of learning? Fun!! Lastly, I wrote this story! I encourage you to visit Chuck's blog and join in the storytelling fun! In the meantime, I invite you to read this memory from the summer I was thirteen. Hugs, smiles, and love!! ~Tsara Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Beautifully Pathetic

I walked down the aisle; equal parts proud and ashamed. My hands, which held the piece of paper I would be reading from, trembled slightly. Nervously. 

Allowing myself short, furtive glances at the mostly older and entirely well-dressed community members seated in the wooden pews I silently apologized for my lie. Almost immediately, though, I remembered to also silently give them the blame.

My nervousness didn’t stem so much from the lie, after all I had always been a bit of a liar and a proud storyteller. It mostly had to do with the unusual setting and the audience I would be lying to.

I looked at the pastor or preacher or whatever the sermon giving person was called in this kind of church, and his condescending, pitying smile erased what was left of my shame. They asked for this lie, and I decided to be only proud that my abilities as a storyteller, indeed as a writer, had so moved them that they’d decided to put together this special event.
For me. For my words.

* * *

The boys next door to my aunt’s house were kind of cute. My younger cousin, who I was stuck hanging out with on this summer long visit, had a huge crush on the younger boy. The older one was less cute but more experienced in the art of kissing and touching. 

I flirted heavily with both. 

My breasts had finally begun to bud that summer I turned thirteen, stashed away at my aunt’s house. I wasted countless minutes in the mornings brushing my teeth and watching them jiggle in the mirror. Finally!

I would then quietly thank my aunt and uncle for meals, tidy up my messes, shyly avoid eye contact with grownups, and desperately plan my escape to the outside where boys waited to be flirted with and carefully bossed around. 

I overflowed with energy and playfully crafted confidence around boys. From my youngest years there was a strength and power I felt when they were around. 

That summer I was thirteen I let it run wild. It was necessary. I needed to understand and hopefully tame this power because mere months before, when I was still twelve, it had betrayed me.

Grownups made me shy, I never felt the power in their presence. Yet, somehow, my step-dad had known it was there and exploited it. He had touched me in the ways that I used the power to encourage boys to touch me. And then he touched me in more ways. 

So while my mom (a stay at home mom with six kids, four adopted and disabled) kept a promise to me that she would keep us safe by getting rid of him and learning how to work, feed, and teach us away from abusive choices, I had made a bold promise to myself. 

I would let the power out of the barn. I would watch it run wild, follow it instinctively and get to know its heart so that I could one day, hopefully soon, respect and control it. 

I suppose if I had been more aware of the grownups I would have seen the onslaught and bullying circle coming. 

While I bounced my barely boobs and kissed the older boy next door, they tsk tsk-ed, judged, and pitied me. 

I had been molested, I was my mother’s daughter, I was becoming a slut. 

What I needed, they surmised, was Jesus. 

So some of the community grownups (along with my unsure aunt who was not an entirely devout church goer) took me to church, gave me soft pats and pitiful looks from on high, and told me everything wrong with my life.

I missed my mom who would have crouched and come to me, who would have cared about me, who would have helped me with my life.

They brought me back and back and back to church. I smiled shyly, thanked them, and wondered what they really expected from me. 

Then, suddenly, a flash of understanding. They wanted to save me. They didn’t want me saved, they wanted to save me. 

So I wrote them a letter.

Sitting alone in the basement of my aunt’s house I summoned my powers as a schmaltzy writer and weaved a tale of desperation, sinning, and sudden summer holiday saving. I wrote carefully, keeping alive a vision of the pity and dislike that burned brightly in the church goers eyes for mood, writing a lie that felt beautifully pathetic. 

I told the story of a girl who was lost and molested, flirting with boys because she had been tempted by the devil to tempt and recruit others. A girl who was treated with kindness by strangers of a small community church and invited to see the light. To accept Jesus into her heart. A girl who was on the cusp of womanhood, a dangerous precipice, who had been welcome in the arms of God always only she hadn’t seen, hadn’t known. Not until the strangers of the church, who were no longer strangers but now family, had showed her. Had saved her. 

I was properly impressed by my lie and handed it over to grownups with a manufactured timidness. 

My words hit home. I had given them what they wanted. There were grateful tears, blessings and nods of self-approval.  They had done it. 

I was proud. I got to show off my writing skills while they got to pat themselves on their righteous backs. 

I hadn’t expected or wanted, however, the next request. 

What good was saving one soul if only they knew about it? Why not put that soul on display, an example for others and proof of their insistent good work. Why not invite people to hear this saved soul read her words out loud?


I stepped up on the small stage that was barely a stage and pretended to look out at the crowd. There was a wooden podium beside me and I used all of my skills as a liar and storyteller to imagine it was my mom. My mom, who was out in the world helping children by adopting them, fighting for them, rearranging her life and everything she thought to be true for them. My mom, who didn’t judge and tsk, but who took loving action. 

I looked at the words I had written and with a trembling voice, I read my lie.

This time I was not proud of the words or pretty sentences. As the congregation sighed and smiled and cheered, their sounds struggled to find a way through the loud inauthentic filter that was my story.

I now realized with the wisdom and love of my imagined mother at my side, this was my lie—not theirs. So I played the role of lost girl saved. I suffered the inauthentic words and story I had presented—suffering being the only truth my audience might have approved of. 

As I stepped off the stage and accepted the gentle patting and blessings of the church, I made myself a sacred vow.

To use my words and stories to tell only truth. Truth in fiction, truth in conversations, truth in my letters. My words would be my way to share my truth.

I folded up the paper I was still holding and gifted it to the community. This was my lie. But this was their story. 

I would spend the rest of my summer, and my life, telling mine.

Some of my siblings hanging around, telling our stories.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Autism Answer: Our Empathy For His Apathy Starts With Our Understanding Of Him

On our way to the high school this morning my two youngest sons were chatting. I heard Declyn, the youngest, say offhandedly, "Ya, well, I'm pretty apathetic."

I jumped in with, "That's how you see yourself?"

"I've always known it." 

"I've always known you were almost painfully empathetic and had to shut it down by wearing apathetic like a shield. So, ya, I see why you'd call yourself apathetic." 

The windows were open and our words swirled around the inside of our car like plastic bags. Shay grabbed them before they flew out the window and made them his own. "I remember you cried when you were reading The Outsiders. You were, like, ten and you cared so much about it that you had to go outside on the trampoline for hours."

Declyn laughed and smiled, remembering. 

I kept going, "The feelings of other people have always affected you almost too strongly. It's like you're stuck in a room filled with strobe lights and you have to close your eyes so you don't get dizzy or have a seizure." 

"You guys really know me."

We do. We do really know each other. 

I like that!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Declyn and Shay, my two youngest sons.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Autism Answer: You're Pretty When You Percolate!

Author's Note: I was asked by some of my son's young friends to write the post you're about to read. "We love how we feel after we talk to you," they claimed, "but then we forget what you said when we're hanging with our friends. Could you write us one of your articles?" So, after spending a few hours feeling honored and speechless, I wrote this for them! And, as always happens when I write stuff down, I remembered it for me. I hope you enjoy some of the insights too! Hugs, smiles, and love!! ~Tsara


You hear the clich├ęs all the time. “Be yourself!” “Don’t worry about the judgments of others!” “Stand up for yourself and step in when you see others being bullied!” “Just be yourself!”

Sure, but what does that mean, really? 

Rather than try to answer those questions specifically, I would love to give you a suggestion that will help you be and do all of those things, even if it’s accidentally. 

When you aren’t around your peers, take some time to really discover who you like being. Are you giggly and positive, introspective and quiet, sarcastic and witty? Whichever it is, know that who you are and who you’re comfortable being, is exactly right for what you want from life. Because liking who you are is the greatest way to go after what you want, knowing that you deserve it. The next step is simple, and yet makes all of the difference. Step two is letting your personality percolate!!

Looking at the world from a place of percolating with your own personality—while cultivating an interest in the percolating personalities of others—means being so busy as yourself that there is much less room for worrying about the judgments of others, or for sitting in judgment of your family and friends. While your personality percolates it grows more and more bold and flavorful. It fills the room with its fantastic scent and draws others to you, filling them full of a desire to be around you. 

And as your personality percolates, you become prettier! Models and actresses will tell you this trick (though they may use different words) over and over. It’s not the most beautiful who get the work, but the ones who put personality in their face and body. The ones who look so full of confidence, mystery, sincerity--something--that it spills onto us as an audience and pulls us into their emotions.

My son and some of his friends at a photo shoot: Percolating with Personality!

A surprising—but wonderful!—effect this personality percolation has is a smaller chance of bullying incidents. According to international mental health expert, Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad, a large number of the people you are surrounded by suffer from too many delta waves in their brain during the day, or too few theta waves when they try to fall asleep, and a myriad of other unbalanced brain issues that result in your peers (and possibly you?) battling anorexia, insomnia, anxiety and more. Also, a surprising number of teen girls have undiagnosed autism and are struggling with sensory troubles (feeling physical pain from certain types of touch, for example) communication issues (sometimes taking things too literally, or being blunt to the point of seeming rude) and other similar concerns. 

So, knowing that many of your peers are struggling with challenges that you can’t see, or even imagine, percolating with kindness and your own personality puts you in a place of comfort and caring that doesn’t leave much room for accidentally treating others cruelly. 

When you choose to talk with your friends, there will be less chance of cruel comparisons because you will feel no need to put others down in order to feel superior. And when you know well who you are, and are comfortable with it, an honest interest in others grows naturally. Instead of talking about how weird someone is behind their back, you will more likely want to talk with and learn about them. It’s much easier to make connections when you aren’t busy worrying about how to act or what to say. As your personality percolates, you will almost always know!

What is it that makes a person pretty? What she looks like plays a part of course, but what draws a person in is personality. What makes people want to be with you is personality. So discover who you are, and percolate. Unlike makeup and fashionable outfits, it never goes out of style. And it’s forever free!

“Knowing who you are is confidence, not cockiness. Cockiness is pushing it down everyone’s throat. Looks go; they fade. I don’t think looks matter.” ~Mila Kunis 


I invite you to check out my book, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up, where I share memories from my teen years alongside stories of my sons' teen years. My personality percolated over time and eventually found a flavor I am proud of! 

Me and my sons!