Thursday, September 21, 2017

Autism Answer: Video Games And Social Skills - Years Later

 
My youngest son playing video games.

 
My youngest son was on the phone with a college admissions woman the other day. She asked him a bit about himself, including why he wanted to be a video game developer.

"Well," he explained without hesitation, "I used to have autism when I was little, and social situations were really hard for me. I mean, really hard. I felt everyone's feelings and couldn't handle it, it hurt to be so confused and caring, so I just tried to avoid it. It was really hard." 

I continued to pretend to be working on my computer as he sighed and sacrificed a moment, offering silence in honor of the memory. The woman on the other line waited for my son to complete his answer.

He began again with enthusiasm. "But then I discovered video games and I practiced being social with characters. I felt the feelings still, but I felt like I had a different kind of control in there, I was more able to try new things because video games gave me a sense of purpose - you know, missions and stuff - but they also gave me room to figure out social skills. My empathy could cause fear and hurt for me in video games too, but I handled it better and found ways to take action better. You know, because it was a game. And then I practiced what I learned in the games with my friends at school. It took a lot of years but now I'm way better with my social skills and social stuff in general. And I still use games when I need to find that balance again. If I could give that kind of acceptance and place to learn confidence to even just one other person struggling to feel comfortable with the world, if I could do that for just one other person, creating video games would be worth it."

I couldn't hear what the woman on the other end of the line was saying in response to his explation because I moved into the other room and closed my eyes and felt feelings. 

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

RANDOM INSIDER ADDITION: As Declyn's mom I feel qualified to tell you that his story, his explation of learning social skills with the help of video games, is true. But also, it isn't. At least, it isn't the whole truth. I mean, yes, he did use the games in the way described, but he also used them to meet fellow gamers in the non-virtual world. He also had brothers to practice social skills and gaming with. He also had me, encouraging and allowing and guiding and helping him choose specific games. He also had other interests and skills that helped. I know you already understand that there is always much more to any story, but I wanted to take the time to add this addendum anyway because so many of our kids are attracted to video games. We can use them as a tool, but it takes purpose and work. Declyn did the work. With a little help from his environment, a few mistakes along the way, and then reframing, regrouping, and remembering the goal, he did the work of using video games well. I think it's of value to keep that in mind. Regardless of our passions, they can be explored and taken advantage of in healthy ways but they can also trap us in less than healthy, even dangerous, ways. It's of value to keep this in mind when we allow ourselves and our loved ones freedom with our interests and passions. Let's keep an eye on a healthy goal.

BONUS RANDOM ADDITION: My son is seriously interested in that college he was talking to, it's one of his top picks, and we're going to an open house on Saturday.  
_______________________________________

I'd love to share more of our journey with you! As a mom, sibling, and daughter of autism I have learned and grown so much. Feel free to bounce around my blog, read posts that interest you, or purchase my book, Spinning In Circles And Learning From Myself: A Collection Of Stories That Slowly Grow Up wherein I have gathered a few of my favorites that I feel example and explore (candidly, so you'll go to some uncomfortable places with me) life lessons, hurt, mistakes, and most importantly, insistant joy, thoughtful answers, and intentional storytelling. Have a peek at the customer reviews on Amazon to learn what others are saying about the stories. So far, it's been spectacularly rewarding and humbling! 

Happy reading!
~Tsara 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Autism Answer: When Leadership Is Thrust Upon You, Learn


Me graduating kindergarten
"Tsara is thoughtful and quiet. I enjoyed having her in my class." ~Elementary School Teachers
I am naturally nervous with attention from people I have been taught, or I have chosen to learn, to consider more-than-my-equal. And so I quickly learned to stay quiet, be polite, and do as asked around adults or people with some sort of authority, real or imagined. That is why teachers always loved having me in their class. Until they didn't. Because I could only keep up the kind, quiet, do what they say with no questions asked charade for so long. 

Eventually (in my early teens) I felt a growing understanding that what I wanted and who I was mattered equally to what they wanted and who they were. But I was at a loss at how to make this shift. So I became moody and withdrawn (around adults and teachers that is, I was quite an obnoxious flirt with my friends!) until I became gone. Skipping class was my M.O. 

I tell you this only to help you understand just how improbable it always was that I would step into any leadership role. 

But as the oldest sister of a wildly weird rag-tag bunch of kids, labels of the professional kind and of the thrown-at-you-by uncomfortable peers and nosy inconvenienced neighbors kind, I found myself slowly (and reluctantly) advocating, explaining, and exampling the need for understanding, kindness, and expectations. 

In other words, I became a leader. 

My story, of course, is not unique or unfamiliar. Some people (like my mom) are born with a clear vision of how they want the world to behave and jump up on the nearest soap-box to preach, teach, and even beg. But many of us are more comfortable in an audience; in almost any audience at first. 

As we grow to know ourselves better we begin to be purposeful when choosing in what audience we are comfortable being. But still, audience. I am an assistant at heart but I have learned to assist only those I believe in assisting; those that help me connect with myself and my desire to play a purposeful role in the world. 

But as simple as this sounds, choosing a leader or choosing a group or choosing a team, and choosing well, takes skill. In point of fact, it takes Leadership skill. 

And so I learned to be a better leader. I learned and I continue to learn. 

As parents, friends, activists, advocates, siblings, and teachers, I hope you also learn and continue to learn. 

 “A Natural Leader naturally knows how to build herself using the world around her and the raw material of her personage. A Learned Leader learns to do the same. In the end, you can’t tell one from the other. So learn.” ~Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad)
 
LET'S ALWAYS REMEMBER: 

As advocates, we need to hone and refine and enhance our Leadership skills. 

As I mentioned, many of us have had the work of "advocate" thrust upon us because of our passion, love, and view of things that comes from a different perspective. 

Admittedly, large portions of us (example: me) are uncomfortable or unsure in a leadership role. Though, we do our best. We speak or write or attend meetings or example and explain for our neighbors - and we hope that we are having an effect.

With this in mind I am obligated and excited to tell you about an upcoming event, back by popular demand!
 
Please, I encourage you, I encourage us, to take advantage (if possible) of the upcoming Annual Leadership Summit - Albany (Nov. 2-3) and, more specifically, of Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad) who is one of the renowned speakers for the event. 

And even more specifically, attend her cost-free "after party" where she'll host a gathering of folks interested in mental health and/or brain science, especially as it relates to Leadership, parenting, teaching, activism, and advocacy.

Share this with your friends, groups, and networks! 

Better yet, attend this with your friends, groups, and networks!

Lynette is only one of the fabulous speakers who are presenting at the event. Don't miss out!






More info and links here: Recognize, Choose, and Become Better Leaders with Lessons from The Brain Broad

As advocates and team builders for our children, as educators and teachers for other people's children, as parents and siblings in our home, Leadership skills - particularly when taught by a special needs team builder, educator, teacher, and parent - are always necessary and valuable. 

Plus, the event is healthy fun!





 “Ideas don’t grow simply because they have been planted. They must fall on fertile soil.”~Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad)


Take steps to be sure your brain-soil is fertalized for the healthiest ideas! 


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


 P.S: I understand that attending an event can be overly challenging or even impossible. Sometimes an event comes along that we know, we know, we must do all we can to make happen. (Like the time I took my sons to see Mariana's Trench in Dallas, TX and so we ate cheap off-brand noodles every day for a month, or the time I went to New York for a Publicity Summit and I could only eat what was offered free in hotel lobbies the entire trip.) Those are the things we do and we never regret. 

But when an event comes along and we know we want to go, and we know it would be good for us, but we also know that it's not quite exactly worth the sacrifices or challenges at the time, we let it go. I get it. I do that, too.

So, here's the next best thing! If the Annual Leadership Summit America - Albany, NY isn't going to happen for you, no worries! Use that same Leadership skill (the one that determined this was not the event you would attend) to purchase Lynette's Leadership book! It's filled with fabulous, insightful, surprising, actionable, and weirdly exciting Leadership Lessons! Follow this link for more about the book: http://www.lynettelouise.com/book/

And if you are attending the event, bring a copy of the book with you! Lynette can sign it if you'd like, plus it will give you a head-start on learning Leadership skills that you can then build on. You're such a clever leader for thinking of that! ;D

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Autism Answer: An Overthinking Fiasco In My Head

Waiting at the airport.

Well, here's a silly thing my thinking decided to do to me.

Saturday morning I drove two hours in the rain, north to Dallas, thinking with my heart about Houston and the many other cities in my state I knew were busily and anxiously, preparing for Hurricane Harvey and the challenging days ahead. It was a mixed up drive of emotions because while I was hurting and hoping for them I was thrilled for me. You see, I was heading to the airport so I could get on a plane and fly to my sister's house. I was playing the role of surprise birthday gift for her and not shy about the truth that it felt like a huge gift to me! I freaking LOVE hanging out with my sister!!

I arrived at the remote airport parking without incident, aside from the roller coaster ride of feelings, parked my car and looked around at my fellow parking passengers. We were all pulling luggage out of our cars, holding random items over our heads to protect ourselves from the momentarily light rain, and shyly smiling at each other, the way strangers often do. I couldn't help but notice one small family, an elderly man and woman with a young adult man. The young man was clearly ticcing or stimming. "Well, look at that!" I thought.*

*I often find myself having a conversation with my mom (Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad, international autism and mental health expert) about how rarely we see people out and about in the world with any visible challenges, unless they are with an obvious group or school. This is so, so, so, so unfortunate! For everyone! We should absolutely see and meet and learn to be comfortable with all sorts of differences and challenges, and all sorts of differences and challenges should feel accepted and invited into the world. We would grow, change, and shift. Our environment would learn to include everyone. 

We all boarded the shuttle together, and the small family sat near me. What I presumed to be mom and dad sat in the seat directly in front while what I presumed to be son sat directly beside me, leaving one seat between us.

I was a little bit excited. As we sat and began the short jaunt to the airport I saw the tics progress, and the young man voiced concern that we would not find the airport. After comfortable consolation from his maybe-mom he stimmed excitedly and pointed out directions, smacking the seat rhythmically. I heard the what-I-think-was-dad gentleman quietly ask whether the young man had remembered his medication.

Soon, and this is the silly thing my thinking decided to do to me, I went from excited to uncomfortable. You see, I wanted badly to find a way to SHOW my acceptance and comfort with the stims and tics. I wanted the family to FEEL relaxed and okay with the stims and tics. I wanted ME to be part of that.

However, there was no natural opportunity for me to say anything at all. And, funnily, my intense desire to show and share comfort was bothering me uncomfortably and making me wish we weren't riding together. Oops!

Noticing myself and my thoughts I shook my head and smiled. Wow, was I being silly! Time to stop that! For the last minute of our short ride, I was able to relax, be comfortable, and allow the ride its simple joy.

I was on my way to see my sister!! I was sitting with several strangers on their way to continue, begin, or invent their own adventures! What fine, comfortable, fun.

We disembarked and I shrugged my big beige hobo bag onto my shoulder, thanked the shuttle driver and smiled at my fellow travelers. Heading to the security line I thought about my thoughts.

On the drive in my car, I had thought quietly and anxiously about the folks being devastated by the hurricane, while at the same time I had thought noisily and happily about my sister and her family.

On the shuttle, I had wanted to show my comfort to the point of being uncomfortable.

Suddenly I heard my youngest son's voice in my head, remembering something he'd said to me only hours before. "I feel duplicitous sometimes. I'll say I think one thing, then I'll say I think a completely opposite thing. But, the thing is, I do think both of those things in different ways. I'm not lying."

We're all duplicitous. We're all incongruent to some degree. But at the base of our contradictions is, I believe, a relatable and solid reason. The branches of how we behave and react to our reasons don't always look like they are grown from the same root but, usually, they are.

In my case, during my drive and shuttle ride, I just wanted to actively love people and play a role. That's really all. But as I tried to make that happen, the desire itself got in the way. 

Showing my comfort by staying comfortable is a far better action than anxiously trying to find a way to show my comfort!

Boarding the plane and pulling a book out of my bag I giggled. It's a gift to truly listen to my thoughts and follow them to their roots. It helps me know and even edit myself. It also helps me empathize and assume thoughtfulness in others.

But, also, sometimes I just want a break from listening to me. So, I opened my novel and began to read. I decided to let someone else tell me stories for a while.

Of course, I couldn't help but hear myself think about the things I was being told to think about in the story. Aaaahhhh... the fun of it all!

I like to find the answers in the overthinking fiascos in my head. Thoughtful, surprising, kindly intentioned answers. 

Feel free to join me in that beautiful chaos! 


Happy 40th birthday to my fabulous sister!
I hope we get to be each other's gifts again soon!


Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)
My sister and me on her birthday!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Autism Answer: My Weird And Wonderful Mom

Now, not everyone was blessed with a weird and wonderful mom. I know this. 

But I was, and it is my honor to share a little bit about her with you. She is someone who insisted on exploring her own organic oddities - despite being alone in this endeavor and consistently fighting the adults in her world who were working hard to stomp out those oddities - to create something wonderful from scratch. My mom can help those of you who weren't given the gift of someone like her in your lives. She can help you discover the value of organic oddities in yourself and your loved ones. You can do what I do, let her be your weird and wonderful teacher! 

My suggestion: Don't miss any opportunity to learn a few things from the people who stand out. 

You can do that here if you'd like. Join me. Have a seat while I pour the coffee. Hmmmmm... there's no pie but I found a few pieces of dark chocolate. Have a nibble and lean in, get comfy. I'd like to tell you a bit about my mom. 

Oh, my weirdly wonderful mom! She is an endless series of stories I love to tell. I promise, though, to try to keep this telling interesting and on point.

My mom grew up as the “black sheep” in her family. Her strangeness (eventually mom would be diagnosed as ‘Historically Asperger’s’) was uniquely frustrating, and the abuse my grandparents doled out to all of their kids was particularly harsh for mom. From the earliest age, my mom promised herself that she would grow up to have several children, and she would treat them with fairness. My sister and I were lucky recipients of mom’s love and fairness. However, that love's intensity was a little much for our small group and – after having to have a hysterectomy – my mom adopted six more children. Four boys and, later, two homeless teenage girls. So there were eventually eight kids altogether: Four older girls and four younger boys. All four of my brothers had multiple brain disorders, and they all also landed in various places on the autism spectrum. 

My mom was married for the third time when she adopted my brothers. And though that marriage lasted longer than her first two (she was married to my step-dad for nine years) that one also fell apart. So, in truth, my mom was pretty much always a single mother. A single mother with eight unusual kids. 

We moved a lot. My mom was clever that way. We were always interesting to our neighbors and just when we were becoming annoyances, mom found a “great opportunity!” for us, and we’d move. So our most common experience as a family (thanks to mom’s kind deception) was that we were interesting, and living a life of great opportunities. This is just one example of how my mom’s weirdness was wonderful. She rarely considered parenting the way she saw parenting being done by others, and instead parented in the way it would work out for the largest number of her children. 

This bothered most schools and professionals to a surprising degree! My mom insisted on finding people who could follow her lead. People who would look at her children – particularly my brothers – and be creatively willing to teach or understand them from where they were, while believing they could learn. And when they couldn’t be creative she wanted them to at least be open to her suggestions. However, systems and schools are not set up for creativity and outliers. So, mom insisted on looking for ever more “great opportunities!” while creatively teaching us herself. 

This is another way my mom was weird: From the moment she met my brothers she saw them as completely capable; albeit, differently so. 

So, filled with love and leadership for a strange batch of children, my mom educated herself in uncommon ways. Always willing to look where the clues directed her, even though she was almost always sent off alone into areas that were taped off from the public, mom made her own trails. But it was in those places that my mom unearthed the uncommon answers that helped her uncommon children. All eight of us kids have grown beyond statistics and the possibilities offered to us by professionals. Particularly my four brothers. Three are independent men and my most challenged brother lives with mom in California. 

My mom – Lynette Louise (aka “The Brain Broad”) – now travels the world as a mental health expert specializing in autism. She is a speaker and an author. She is a comedian and a singer/songwriter. She is a renowned practitioner and consultant. She continues to make waves and invite controversy. Mom’s most important project is her international autism docu-series FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD (which airs on The Autism Channel). In the show, simply put, she brings cameras with her to work and shows audiences why her weirdly wonderful ways work to help grow healthier families, regardless of culture.

Admittedly, my mom's weird ways often put our family at odds with the world. And for me, a shy type, that was sometimes a problem. But problems are an important part of solutions and my problem of being loved too loud was one that added a filter of everlasting value to my childhood. 

My experience of growing up was thus: We moved, often. We sang, often. We hurt, often. We laughed, often-est. It was necessary. My brothers were challenged and challenging. My mom had little to no help and when she was offered help in the form of social workers or babysitters they generally took on an adversarial role, looking to see what my mom was doing wrong rather than looking to see how they could simply help. (Later, as an adult, I would discover the unfortunate commonness of this. It was a sad realization. But I did feel less like my mom was such a weird mom and more like she was a strong mom, unwilling to bend for the sake of getting along with people who were wrong about her kids.) 

The greatest example of how fun and strange my childhood was is the year my mom took us on a North American Prison Tour. 

My brothers were being bullied in school, learning no academics and only dangerous social skills. Us four teenage girls were in different stages of wild and with so many children to take care of mom needed a way to get us all in one place while teaching us. Well, she had recently recorded her first musical CD (Sing Me A Song…Please!) so a brilliant idea was hatched. We would perform an inspirational comedy musical for prisoners! 

With help from a local mechanic she got her hands on a big cargo van (we kids christened it “The Disco Van” because of its red coat of paint with the fancy silver stripe) and after much writing, rehearsing, and planning, all eight of us kids climbed into The Disco Van and headed out. During this time my brothers learned more (reading, geography, math, navigating, etc) than they had their entire school careers. My sisters and I learned that people in prison were not to be feared or emulated, they were simply people. We also learned we didn’t want to end up there. We simultaneously fell in love with the crowds while decidedly making new choices for our own futures. It was brilliant! 

My childhood was fun, hard, and exactly what I needed.

A Recent Visit With Mom: In February my mom flew to Dallas with one of my nieces so they could see STOMP at the Dallas Theatre. Excitedly I grabbed my youngest brother (he lives in the same small town I do) and my two youngest sons and we met them at their hotel. We had so much fun! As is our habit we sipped coffee, chatted, and laughed. 

Our family is a motley mismatched crew – all sizes, colors, sexual identities, and abilities – but we are so comfortable and happy together! A group of us can almost always be found huddled together around coffee and conversation, although you never know what group. My sister, my nieces, my sons, my mom, my brothers, we move from one place to the next, sometimes these ones living with that one, or that one staying with this one, but always we work well as a team. 

It’s a wonderful thing my mom has built! 

And it was all grown purposely out of the weird and wonderful organic oddities that is my mom's soil. 

Oh, I see you didn't finish up the chocolate. Well, I'll eat that last piece then, thank you. Would you like me to top off your coffee? 

And, while we're here, do you have a story about a weird and wonderful person in your life? Is it you? 

I hope you'll share. It's your turn to talk, I've got chocolate on my teeth. Giggle!

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

___________________________*____________________________

If you would like to share more of my stories with me I invite you to read my book, Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up. So far, folks are enjoying it!  Here are a few customer review excerpts I pulled from Amazon

"Tsara Shelton’s book of essays and stories, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself, is a lovely elaboration on the author’s lifelong pursuit of learning to know and love herself. She seems, even from childhood, to have been uniquely gifted at loving others, seeing past outward appearances and personalities into the inner selves of people. Her honesty and empathy, patience and optimism seem to extend from those around her to her reader." ~Linda Aldridge 


"I read this book in one day because I couldn't put it down! As soon as I was done I passed it on to my best friend and said, "Read this!" Tsara's collection of stories are so varied yet all unveil perseverance for joy, family and self. Her family tree is fascinating! Autism is a major through line in the book, and having so many friends with children on the spectrum gave me perspective, knowledge and tools that will help me be a better friend and empathetic person all around. Tsara's descriptive language paints such vivid images of scenes from her life. It's incredible that she is so open and truly lets you into her soul. I would describe this as a book of hope." ~Jess



"I've been carrying this wonderful book around with me for the past several months, enjoying it in each perfect story-reading moment life has gifted to me! I've found the stories inside to be inspiring, thought-provoking, heart-warming, laughter-inducing, deepest-parts-of-my-soul-touching, and more! Indeed, it's been quite nourishing, and I've absolutely loved reading it." ~Rachel Clark



"Rather awesome to find such an author whose understanding of stories are fundamental to the way we process and experience life events and the feelings that surround them. What a pleasurable read this book is. These stories encapsulate life’s memorable moments and enduring lessons. When such a talented writer harnesses the power of literature and uses it to develop positive lessons and family values our world becomes a more beautiful place to live together in." ~Relena 



"A parent extraordinaire. A coffee sipper, a writer of wisdom, a singer of songs. A free spirit with gypsy in her soul who carries you along with her wonderful stories." ~Sara Luker (Autism Sara)


"............................................................. lovely family..................................... the greatest writing................... stories of her kids are adorable........................... reading felt like having deep conversation with a true friend.......  " ~You (Or, you know, something like that. ;D ) 

BONUS: My book loves to travel!
 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Autism Answer: The Freedom Of Parallel Play



A Lesson That Lasted - The Story: 


Three of my four sons were enjoying a moment of imaginative play. Toy soldiers, wooden train parts, and various kitchen utensils surrounded them; a world of their creation. 

My fourth son, only months old, snuggled into my chest enjoying a post-feeding coma of contentment. 

Everything in my world was – particularly in that moment- exactly what I’d always wanted. Rather than put my baby down I held on, watched the boys create together and allowed my thoughts a parallel moment of free play. 

“The train broke! The robot escaped!” I heard my oldest son announce to his smitten brothers, breaking into my quiet imaginings with a loud crash of his own. 

Suddenly, and with great force, I was struck by a fear so real my entire body stiffened. 

Tightening my hug on the small body in my arms I bravely allowed the scary thought to present itself: “Children, my children, have their own thoughts, imaginations, and beliefs. My love and lessons can be shared but never forced.”

Sure, I had known this already, but never with such life altering clarity. 

As my boys manipulated their world of toys I teased out this truth and declared a parenting promise to myself. “My job,” I decided, “is to guide them. To be genuinely interested in what they want and who they are. Not to teach or applaud only my version of them.”

My body relaxed, my hug softened, my moment resumed.

To any onlooker, nothing had happened. 

But that moment of parenting aligned me. Who I am (less “leader,” more “helper”) and what I believe (we are all born uniquely capable) became a parenting statement I could put into action. 

I watched my sons play. The game hadn’t changed but my style of interest in it had. Still holding the baby, I joined my boys in their toys and asked them to show me around. 

________________       The End    _____________________

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I encourage you to discover the freedom of parallel play. Of being together with the understanding that we can share each other's plans and pictures and scripts, but that we can never entirely know another person. It's easy to get lost in the mess of wanting our loved ones to think the things we believe they should think, or to invest their time in the pursuits we feel are most necessary, or to behave in the ways we are inclined to consider best. But there is freedom and kindness when we let go of that. Don't let go of guiding, teaching, and learning; but let go of believing that your job isn't done until your children, students, friends, and spouses, see things your way. 

Enjoy and learn and teach and connect and find yourself in the freedom of parallel play!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Autism Answer: Diversity Matters

*Diversity
 [dih-vur-si-tee, dahy-]
noun, plural diversities.
1.the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness:
diversity of opinion.
2.variety; multiformity.
3.the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.:
diversity in the workplace.
4.a point of difference.
*Definition borrowed from Dictionary.com


Diversity matters. 

Diversity is valuable and rewarding. Diversity is necessary for a sustainable world.

It also challenges us. It, quite rightly, can trigger nervousness and fear. That's okay. It's not wrong to feel nervous or unsure, but we are safer when we are aware of ourselves and our reasons in those moments. Diversity and difference stretches, reveals, and shows us things we are unlikely, and often unable, to understand on our own. This is an important place to be; where new perspectives and possibilities live. Often we will choose to walk away; often we will choose to change and stay. Let that nervousness wake you up, don't let it make your decisions for you. 

Seek diversity! Go out of your way to find it! In your films, friends, and books. Don't be afraid of seeking it on purpose. It feels weird at first to seek, specifically, a film from another culture. It feels like you're being prejudice or creepy almost, when you ask for books or blogs written by people you will likely label incorrectly because, right now, you don't know them well enough to know how to ask. It almost feels inappropriate in the beginning, to go looking for stories about things you don't like.

Do it anyway! Watch foreign films, read books written by writers with opposite-than-you views of the world, make friends with people you are inconvenienced by. Do it all with an open mind. 

Often, you won't stay friends, or you won't fall in love with the films, or you won't feel compelled to share the content, or you won't be captivated and changed by the books. But sometimes, you will.

It's for the sometimes that we need diversity. Because the sometimes becomes us. We teach our children and loved ones from the sometimes. Sometimes is memorable. And so we are inclined to share it.
 
We humans are a fantastic balance of different and same. We are unique, we crave different sensory stimulus and we work with different abilities and we believe in different reasons. But we are also very much the same. Love, acceptance, freedom, food, shelter. We crave these. In different ways, and different types, but we are all pretty much the same under, under, under it all. 

This is fascinating stuff! This is sustainable and necessary to appreciate and explore! 

Diversity matters, friends. 

Seek it! Appreciate it! Don't be mad at yourself when you fear it, but don't let the fear do more than wake your awareness. Fear is not useless, friends! It's a tool. Use it well! 

Make a new friend, seek a unique story, explore a culture you catch yourself judging without experiencing. Get to know something new! 

It's important.
It matters. 

Have a fantastic and diverse weekend, friends!


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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Autism Answer: New Life, New Roles, and Home


On a shuttle headed to the airport thinking about home.

Well, friends, I've made it home. 

I flew alone, from Texas to California, and I spent a month there. Going to California for the summer is not unusual for me, as most of you know. My mom and sister and nieces and a couple of my brothers and a couple of my sons all live there. But going alone is rare. My youngest sons almost always join me.

And, certainly, going to California in order to be there with my oldest son and his wife while they have their first baby is new! My first granddaughter! 

It. Was. Fantastical. 

Talk about new! A new life, a new role for me, a new role for my son, new roles for everyone!

Birth is always miraculous. And when it happens to your family, when it's personal, it changes and effects and shifts your world. It discombobulates and redefines and renews your sense of self and purpose. 

It's spectacular and beautiful and exhausting and invigorating. 

It's life; new, remembered, shared, shifted, edited, and all-encompassing.

All of our roles are being redefined and built fresh. And all because of one perfectly tiny little girl.

Our perfectly tiny little girl! 

It's good to be home, but I also miss her and the intensity of it all. 

But, it's good to be home. With my husband and younger sons. With my books and my bed and my coffee maker. It's good to be home. 

And my granddaughter's home is her mommy and daddy. (Boy, she's got a beautifully loving home!) So my new role includes the necessity of me leaving, of me going home. As her grandma, as my son's mom, I want to get out of the way while my granddaughter explores and demands from and helps build her new home. I want that for her and for her mom and for her daddy. 

Her daddy: my son: their home.

It feels not long ago that I was his home. 

New roles for all of us, friends! New roles, yes, but consistently and always we are one great big strong supportive loving family!! 

Don't believe me? Here, let me show you!!! 

(Sneaky "check out my pictures" segue! tee hee!)


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

Daddy and daughter


My sister, her two youngest daughters, and my granddaughter. New roles!
Grandma time for me!
My mom, The Brain Broad, loving her great-grandma role! 
My brother, Dar, wondering if maybe THIS time he'll have clear language first. :D
My second oldest son relishing his role as uncle!
 
The new family - Home

It's nice to love your home. Sweet dreams!