Friday, August 30, 2013

Autism Answer: Watch Behaviors for Ideas, not to Judge Yourself!

Sometimes it's hard not to use our children's behaviors as a tool for measuring our own parenting. I've heard myself wonder: If my son is "petting" girls because they are soft, what am I doing wrong as a mom? If my other son comes home past curfew and more than a little bit drunk, where did I mess up?

But it's so important to remember not to do this! When we see our kids behaviors as a direct link to our parenting, we almost always overreact and will become easily overwhelmed. Also, we accidentally don't hold them responsible for their own actions. We might tell them we do, but if we don't really believe it, they can tell!

So, when my son is "petting" the pretty girls that visit his brothers, it IS my job to teach him that he's being inappropriate (over and over and over...tee hee!), and when my other son comes home after drinking with his friends it IS my job to take away his phone and keep him home for a weekend or two, but never was it my job to make sure these things didn't happen. I didn't do these things, they did.

It's necessary to pay attention to our children's behaviors, and to talk about them and teach to them and ask questions about them and make clear, concrete rules about them. Let's just try not to judge ourselves harshly because of them.

Parenting is not controlling what our kids think and do; it's being willing to listen and guess and teach and step-up and love and make mistakes and try again. 

It's really complex and challenging, but it's also really really wonderful!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Autism Answer: School Day Tantrums vs Consistent Confidence

Got tantrums or meltdowns before school? Two things helped when I went through this with my son. 

One: I had to discover my own why. By that I mean I had to figure out why I wanted him to go to school. I know that sounds silly but I really wasn't confident that it was the right thing for him. He could feel my uncertain energy (kids are pretty in tune with the energy around them, especially autistic kids!) and he took advantage. Social skills were hard for him, but he had found a way to be 'on' all the time and become Mr.Popularity... it was exhausting for him! So when he would feel my uncertain energy, he would feel uncertain, and he would have fits. 

Two: I let him have a little control. What I did was talk to him about the exhaustion and remind him that it was okay to let the Mr. Popularity thing slide. Then I gave him five hooky days for the school year and let him choose when to use them. These were days where he could say he wanted to stay home and I wouldn't ask why or argue. I would just allow. Our kids have so little control in their lives. I felt it was important to give him the feeling that he was going to school because it was his choice to go that day.

It worked pretty well! He asked for more than five of course, but I stuck to my guns! Once I had also discovered my own reasons for wanting him to go to school (like social skill practice) then my own uncertainty wasn't getting in our way either.

We both started waking up school day mornings with consistent confidence!

I know these tips are not going to be useful for all families in all situations, but the underlying theme is. Think outside the box! Be willing to look at the why of our expectations. Often we are doing things because we think we're supposed to. But if we discover our own personal why, we can be more consistent, confident and patient.

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!
Autism Answers

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Autism Answer: A Bit about my Sister on her Birthday!

My sister is my best friend in the world. As a child I was always comparing myself to her; trying to be the same, trying to be different. I wanted to be as pretty, smart and independent but also wanted to be different and worth looking up to. 

A lot of who I am is because of the friendship I have with her. She is always there for me, flying me around the world to babysit my nieces and then paying me--as though being with her and her girls wasn't enough--, hiring me as a model (and I am no model!) so that I can make money and feel good about myself, hiring my sons as production assistants and models so that they can make money and feel good about themselves, and so much more. 

I have always tried to be there for her, as much as a big sister living three states away can be. I offer love and laughter. I believe in her, encourage her, learn from her and fully trust her. But I have often wondered, is that enough? 

Then one day as I was driving and wondering about the possible off-balance give and take in our relationship, I thought of my very challenged autistic brother, Dar. I spent plenty of years cleaning his poo, encouraging him to clean his poo, celebrating when he finally was able to properly poo, asking for language and patiently waiting, shrugging at dents in my car due to his meltdown head banging, learning how to make gluten-free dairy-free dishes (helping him comfortably poo!) that both he and my children could enjoy, driving him to doctors appointments and green card interviews. What he has given me in return is the most beautiful of smiles, delightfully delicious hugs and snuggles, displaying and inviting joy by jumping and screaming and clapping his man hands with a child's delight. And so much more!

Is that enough? My God, yes! 

When we give what we can with love and gratitude, with no strings attach, we are giving more than enough. We are giving exactly the right amount. 

So, I love my sister. She is my best friend in the world. When I wonder if I am showing her and telling her enough, Autism Answers: Yes!

Happy birthday Brandessa!!!!!
Hugs, smiles and love... 

AND lots and lots of coffee!!!!

My sister and best friend, Brandessa!
Along with her youngest daughters and one of my boys.
A most honest portrait: happily surrounded by family!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Autism Answer: Looking backwards

The first day of school... again!

My boys and I have done this so many times. School supplies, new jeans, old friends, new loves, teachers to assess, social skills to learn, labels to avoid and discover, self-centered fears and hopes... etc. 

When my boys were tiny I could barely breath dropping them off, fearing judgment of them and judgment of my parenting. Often in those first years, I didn't drop them off! I just called them in sick. And when I would drop them off, I'd pick them up early. So often my weakness and fear was exampled for them, until I couldn't help but see it transferred down. They feared school the way I did.

And so I changed. Not in a moment, but over many moments of insisting I highlight and appreciate the value of school. First, I had to find value, which took me a bit. But once I did, it became slowly easy. And then, over much more time, my boys saw it and felt it too. 

I don't have any kids who wake up weekday mornings feeling thrilled to get to the classroom. But they do adore aspects of it, and they do get up with good attitudes and little stress. 

This morning was lovely. I woke up and made coffee. I snuggled my boys awake, and they got dressed. I made breakfast while they double checked their backpacks and poked at unwanted pimples. Teeth were brushed, music played and shoes were donned. 

There was a little nervousness on the drive into town. Shay talked about finding his classes and being in high school while Declyn down-played his terrific trumpet skills, giving himself an excuse to worry about band practice. We got to the school, they shot me the "I love you" sign, and off they went. 

I drove home remembering so many other first days of school. The crying, the begging, the tangible fear and nervous energy. I wondered how much of that my boys could have avoided if I had only been strong enough and smart enough not to teach it. 

I wondered, but without guilt. And that is new too! 

There is a gift in looking backwards. As long as you look with the intention of seeing the gift and not with a need for what was, or a habit of beating yourself up. The gift of looking backwards can truly enhance the beauty of the present.

That happened for me this morning. This first day of school, my teacher is me. And time. And my boys. And my mom, who taught me what to look for. 

My teacher is life, lived intentionally!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Autism Answer: Why I was MIA (or Remembering my Summer)

**I wrote this for my Facebook Page a few weeks ago, but it pretty much sums up how my summer felt. So, since as of tomorrow all of my school-aged boys will be back in school, and summer holidays will be officially over, I felt it was perfect to share tonight! Hugs!!**

Sorry I haven't been around friends! A bunch of us (mom, brother, some of my kids, myself) were helping my sister move into her new home. Finally, after a month of classy homelessness--they were staying in pretty hotels while house hunting--they are now in an abode of their own! Well... it's a rental, but one thing at a time!

After getting boxes and furniture into the house, after fighting with family (in a fun way!) for the role of playing with my nieces to keep them feeling the fun and avoid experiencing stress, after driving to Starbucks for food and free internet, after so very many sweet, surprising, impressive, exhausting, challenging and adorable family moving moments, it was time for my niece to turn thirteen!!!

For her thirteenth birthday there was a van FULL of fan girls who giggled and sang and hollered and sang again at FULL volume the whole ride to a resort where my sister had prepared a phenomenal party experience. Food, swimming, water-slides; an all night giggle-fest with barely a noise limit. An early morning breakfast buffet where the whole party night could be remembered, drawn and shared via social media.

And then... time to head back to mom's. And time to talk about my return trip to Texas. Far away from my sister, nieces, brother, mom and oldest boys. Back to my other brothers, husband, animals and home.

It was fabulous and fun! It was exhausting and hard. It was emotional and exciting. Change, every kind of change, almost always is. 

A new home for my sister. Back to my old home for me. Away from people and things I love, to be with people and things I love.

So, that's why I've been MIA friends! Because life sometimes gets in the way. And that's okay. Because it's supposed to!

Life's job is to remind us to live it! With flexibility. With fun. And with friends and family!!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Autism Answer: Lessons in a Nose Piercing!

Years ago I shocked my kids with a nose piercing.

When I was turning thirty I had four small children--and a mini panic attack! I felt that I hadn't accomplished enough to comfortably turn thirty. How could I possibly be a grown-up when I had no career, published books or insightful observations to share with the world?? Heck, not only to share with the world, but with myself?? Well, as my birthday crept ever closer, my thoughts got quietly louder, bringing with them an honesty about me that I figured it must be time to acknowledge. I had a fear of being a grown-up who is EXPECTED to handle life, rather than CELEBRATED when I did. That's kind of pathetic!

So, on my thirtieth birthday I went dancing and got my nose pierced. I had no idea at the time that it may affect my parenting, I just knew that it was important to prove to myself that I could be a responsible grown-up and have fun, all at once!

My boys were quite weird-ed out when I got home! Happy to see me after a night of dancing (I almost never left my children when they were small) they came running with happy hugs and tons of tattling. Almost right away they noticed my newly decorated nose and stepped back. "You were supposed to stay home and not get that thing on you." my three year old announced. His brothers agreed! However, I explained that it was something I'd always wanted and it wouldn't hurt anyone. They would get used to it, I promised. And they have! But it has gifted us with more than just cute conversations!

My sons are all teenagers now, and over the years my piercing has been a comfortable reminder of balance. It's great to have fun and make choices that are different and will make you stand out, but always with a balanced nature. It has reminded us that you never know when someone you love (a child, parent or spouse) may head out the door and return different. What matters is that they return.

And exactly as I'd hoped, only even better, it reminds all of us that it's possible to become a responsible grown-up while having fun, all at once! And this may be the most important reminder because I want to watch my boys become comfortable men. And I want them to want that as well! It's kind of hard to ask them to want something that doesn't look a little bit mysterious, and a lot like fun!

You don't have to get a nose piercing to learn this lesson, I know. But I do think it's important to find ways to show our kids that being grown up is fun! And--lucky us!--in showing them we get to have a bunch of fun ourselves!!

Also, don't be afraid to find life lessons in seemingly silly places. Like nose piercings!!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!
Autism Answers

Not the greatest pic, but here I am...
Nose piercing and all!! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Autism Answer: Life's Personalized Learning Opportunities

"What happened to our van?!" Shay asked as we finally approached the remote parking space my little brother had chosen for it. "What's that huge dent? Did you hit something, Rye?"

"No, Uncle Rye didn't do that," I answered while dropping my heavy bag onto the concrete, happy to be home but missing my California family already. It was midnight and we had just gotten to the airport in Dallas, having been with my sister and nieces near Los Angeles only hours before. "Your sister, Andrea, hit something with the van. And that broken taillight was her as well. Uncle Rye didn't hurt the van at all." We piled our bags into the back, I thanked my brother for picking us up and asked for the key as I climbed into the drivers seat. After being away from home for two months, I wanted the feeling of driving my own van. Of being in control of our direction. 

As we noticed the many new stains, smells and little broken things in our van, we all quietly thought about what I'd told Shay. "Your sister, Andrea, hit something with the van...." 

Your sister. Funny, that one. My step-daughter is five years older than me, and very black. Her skin tone is like my husbands, while I'm almost ghostly white. When Andrea calls me mom, people look quite confused! And I feel a bit funny about it because we only recently met. Looooooong story short, my hubby was shut off from her life and always wondered and hoped and wished she was okay and that he could one day know her. Two years ago she showed up on his doorstep, and he's been trying to make up for his absence ever since. 

At the moment, she is in jail. At the moment, my husband is the only person in her life trying to help her get out of jail. At the moment, everyone has a hard time knowing how to feel about it. 

Declyn, our youngest son and Andrea's true half-brother, thinks his dad should let her stay in jail so that she can learn her lesson. "She was the one drinking and driving dad's cars. She's the one who keeps lying and stealing. She's the one who keeps hanging out with those drug dealers and then crying for dad or the police when they are mean. And then she just drives away yelling at them when they try to help her. She's the one who got herself in jail. And anyway, dad is always tired and serious when she's around. He needs a break from that stress."

"I get what you're saying Declyn," I responded,"but dad is also feeling like maybe things would have been different if he'd been in her life. He hopes that if he shows her that he cares by helping her now, she'll feel valued and make different choices. Plus, all of your other sisters and your older brother had an entire childhood with dad, and he feels like doing a lot for her now might make up for that."

I didn't mention that I mostly agree with Declyn, while understanding my husband. Everyone already knows that. 

Shay thinks that he doesn't really mind who does what, help her by getting her out of jail or help her by letting her stay in jail, as long as his dad doesn't feel cranky. And as long as he can have some soda. Shay is obsessed with drinking soda! 

Another dynamic that has shifted since we've been getting to know Andrea is how my boys see my brother, Rye. Rye doesn't qualify as autistic anymore, but he's still socially challenged and tends to have the odd meltdown. So my boys often assume that he is to blame when they find broken things. Lately, however, they are less inclined to assume, and more willing to wonder what happened with an open mind. At first they just figured it was Rye OR Andrea. But eventually they realized that life isn't navigated by thinking "this person is to blame for this," and "that person is to blame for that", but rather "This is what we have going on right now, what should we do next?" 

And they are also learning that the answers aren't always obvious or the same for everyone. 

One of my favorite things about our family is how comfortable we find it to share the whys behind our choices, while not judging each other--or even really ourselves!--for them. I think this is a very valuable life skill!!

It reminds us to see life's learning opportunities--and they are everywhere!--as open to interpretation and personalized. Which reminds us to think for ourselves. 
Man... it's good to be home!!! 

Now, I've got to have a chat with Shay about all the soda he has hiding in his dresser. 

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!
Autism Answers

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Autism Answer: Why I love The Muppets

The Muppets can't really sing. But they do anyway, because they love it! And what happens? They are absolute sensations! 

They have discovered a talent much more wonderful that hitting the right notes and sounding pretty. They follow a desire for music, mix in a dash of perseverance and truth, then pick a goal and go after it with gusto (and, sometimes, chickens with plungers). They make friends along the way and discover that not everyone's talents and inspirations are the same, but that we all have them. And when they reach their goals they take the time to enjoy them, then look for another one!

Life is challenging, our goals are reachable but only if we know what they are and are willing to alter our plans and work our butts off to get them. But life should also be fun! So enjoy finding your family's unique interests and talents. Discover together what wonderful things those talents can become when shaped and understood. Sing, tell jokes, make a mess in the kitchen, work on inventions and bang your drums! Hide away from the chaos for five minutes every so often with a cup of coffee and a quiet mind (closets and bathrooms work well for this trick!) and then jump right back in with intention and heart!

Kermit and his friends have been places and done things no group of misfits like them should ever have been able to do! I know we can too!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Autism Answer: Raising the Bar--It's not to Blame!

I am a big believer (though admittedly, a bit of a late learner!) in raising the bar!! When I or my children gain a skill, overcome a fear, or consider keeping the house clean (a big step for me!) I think it's important to allow that new learning to become comfortable and expected, and to then go forth and conquer the next thing!

However today while I was wondering why I've always been so resistant to bar raising--for myself and my children--and more inclined to mere celebrations of whatever happens without setting clear goals and expectations that are challenging, I realized something interesting. Of course, there's the bit about not wanting to raise the bar out of a fear of failure, I already know this and have been more than willing to overcome it over and over. But, what I also realized (and now I understand why raising the bar is still something I kind of struggle with) is that I look around and see so many people who do not take the time to appreciate what they already have, and I've been partly blaming raising the bar.

I see so many people, with a little and a lot, who forget to live in gratitude and appreciation for their lives. They have a loving friend, a nice smile, a considerate neighbor. They have a cell phone, a pair of shoes on their feet, a meal. Yet their focus is so much more on what they need to get next or who treated them poorly. Sure, they'll say in passing,"Thank goodness I have a job." But that's not living in appreciation and happiness, that's passing it over as unimportant.

And here's the kicker. I realized that I was seeing this habit people have as an unfortunate byproduct of raising the bar. Oops! I was worrying that consistently raising the bar meant consistently forgetting to adore where you are. Silly me!! I thought a belief in raising the bar created a belief in 'make more money, get more things, insist on more respect' without allowing for basking in the beauty of what you already have.

So I have now raised the bar for myself! I am going to continue to bask in the beauty of my world, while expecting more! I'm going to celebrate my children's accomplishments while curiously and passionately asking what they are going to do next!

Wow! It looks to me like I'm gonna be pretty busy basking and celebrating. I guess I won't have time to clean the house! tee hee!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Autism Answer: And now he's Swimming

Declyn (my youngest son) is thirteen years old and despite the truth that we spend all summer, every summer, hanging with family near pools, lakes and oceans, he has never been comfortable in water. He watches from the sidelines, tossing toys and hollering additions to the playful banter, until the fact that he is not actually part of the group drives him indoors--or begging to go home.

This summer, however, his young three year old girl cousins (twins) have asked him to join them, and every time-- he does! As the older one he feels comfortable learning in-front of them while pretending he enjoys pool play. And now he does enjoy pool play! 

Yesterday, Declyn asked the twins if they wanted to swim. His idea, his joy

Letting our kids choose when they are ready to try new things-- while always encouraging and setting them up to succeed--is a beautiful way to watch them blossom!! 

Sometimes as a mom I feel like my job is to give my kids opportunities, encouragement and time. And then, just get out of their way!!

Sipping coffee all the while!!!

I hope you have all had a fabulous summer filled with fun, learning's... and coffee!!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!

My darling Declyn. Just hanging out by the pool....
After swimming for over an hour!!! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Autism Answer: Our Children Choose what they Learn.

I remember it clearly. Sixteen long years ago I was breastfeeding my baby, and watching my oldest son play with an upside-down chair, spoons and a ruined plastic slinky. He was making up some game and chattering happily to himself when suddenly I was hit with a fear that felt heavy in my chest. My son, whom I love, teach, wonder about, protect and play with, is completely his own person. I know that sounds silly, but for the twenty-two year old me it was an honest-to-goodness new realization. 

The epiphany and complete understanding that I could never get inside his head and know his thoughts, that I could never be certain that he learned the lessons I was teaching the way I meant for them to be learned, slapped me in the heart and had me reeling for days. When I finally chatted with my mom about it she helped me see it for the beauty that it is, while also revealing the importance of taking on the responsibility of truly teaching by example.

I learned to see the beauty in knowing that my boys (of which there are now four) were in complete control of their own thoughts and beliefs. For my autistic kids, and the one with Irlene Syndrome, and the one with 'classic laziness'--tee hee!--there was absolutely no way I could even begin to experience the world the way they did (well... maybe the classically lazy one!) and so how could I expect to tell them precisely how to navigate it? I couldn't. But there was so much I could do, and it was much more fantastic once I learned to be comfortable with it!!

I could watch them closely and learn their motivators. I could play with them intentionally to help them with useful life-skills, while asking questions and discovering the world as they perceived it! I could gather suggestions and corral potentially life changing opportunities without feeling it is my job to get it right in the end, but rather their job. And so--biggest challenge but most fantastic of all!--I had to learn to do each and every one of these things for myself so that they would see how it's done and accept my encouragements as valid along the way!

Admittedly, there are still many moments when I wish I could just crawl inside their heads to hear how they think and know what I still need to do to teach them or help them. Especially now that they are wildly moody teenagers! However, there is something so fascinating and eye opening about not being responsible for who my children become, but rather being an important player in encouraging them to become the men they feel good being. 

For me this learning started out as very scary, but became something wonderful. It gave me the encouragement I needed to take care of myself in important ways so that I could ask it of my children, and so that I would have the experience to help them know how. Also, it helped me to become a habitual believer in my children's abilities to figure life out, which helped them to believe it too. 

It's such a wild beast, this parenting thing! You're responsible, but you're not. You're the expert, but you're not. You love them, so you let them leave. 

Thank-goodness it's also filled with these fabulous lessons and sensational snuggles!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Autism Answer: Believe, and Try Stuff!!

My youngest brother (who just turned 28... man, that makes me old!!) has a problem remembering to notice other people. He's a good driver and pays close attention to all of the other cars on the road, but when it comes to using that skill outside of his vehicle, he's challenged! He has a habit of not holding the door for someone right behind him, stepping in-front of people in line or standing a little too close.

However, having been his sister for most of his life (my mom adopted him when he was barely over a year) I've learned some simple tricks to helping him out. I've learned to be concrete and clear, and to give him a specific action rather than obscure or ambiguous thoughts and observations. Well... I've learned because my mom told me. But still! tee hee!

Of course, one reason I am so happy to help him in this way is because he's proven over and over and over, that he wants to learn, can learn and will happily take my ideas and turn them into something more his style, but equally useful!

The other day I told him that for the next few months, every time he goes to a check-out counter he should look around first for someone he can offer the front of the line to. I told him to make that a new habit.

Yesterday the young lady who works at our local Dollar General smiled at me and asked,"What's up with your brother? He's been so pleasant and friendly lately! He looks so happy. Has he gotten a new job or something?" Sweet!! Love it!!

Regardless of who I'm giving tips to: myself, my kids, my hubby, my brothers, the gazillions of teens that show up to chat with me every time they see my van... I remind myself not to shrug and just offer up an excuse like 'that's just who I am' or 'kids will be kids'... but rather to believe that the skill can be learned, and then try stuff!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!

My youngest brother, Rye!
Don't be surprised if he remembers to hold the door open for ya!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Autism Answer: Go Dancing for them, go Dancing for you!

*Author's note: I wrote this for my Facebook Page a few weeks ago. Since it has a very Friday feel to me, I thought it would be fun to share here today!! Happy Friday friends!!!*

I went dancing last night at a tiny little dive one minute from my mom's house. I danced with my cell phone in my hand, peeking at it between songs and dorky dance moves. 

Not a single one of my children called me hoping I would come home. I did get a call from one son who needed a ride home from work, so I left the dance floor and went to pick him up. 

When I told him I'd been dancing he smiled at me and admitted,"That sounds like fun! Are you going back?" I figured I might as well, since no one seemed to be minding. 

I went back. I danced the rest of the night. I didn't get a single message from my boys whining that they needed me or confessing that they'd shaved the top of their head, creating a quarter sized bald spot--the sort of call I used to get when I decided to go out. 

I got home and only one of my boys was still up. The one that is always up because he doesn't like to sleep at night, preferring to line up soup cans. "Did you have fun?" he asked. "I had a blast." I answered. Then we went to bed. 

I guess I can just go dancing now, and it's for me. Not because I think my kids need to learn to let me go out, or because it's good for them to see that grown-ups can go to a bar, have fun and not drink, or because I want my boys to learn that they can take care of themselves--some of the reasons I used to go dancing. 

I can go dancing because I love to go dancing. I can go dancing just to have fun. And I'm going to go ahead and believe it's because I have also always gone dancing for all those other reasons.

So go ahead and go dancing--or whatever it is you love to do! Do it for all those reasons! And remember to take the time to notice the fantastic things you and your kids are getting from that fun!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!

Autism Answers

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Autism Answer: Teach a Man to Fish and it Feeds your Soul!

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime." 

True! But remember, if you teach a man to fish while your own fish pile up and rot, you are also teaching a selfish nature. 

You are also teaching waste. 

It is kind of you to take the time to teach the important skill of fishing, but remember that how long it took you to learn vs how long it takes him isn't likely about desire or work ethic. His skills are possibly far from fishing. Remember that we are all equally valuable, but we are not all the same. 

So go ahead and teach while you share some fish, so he can think clearly and will learn about kindness and the ridiculousness of waste. 

Share your fish so that you can feel the fantastic gift of your fish catching skill in the smile of another. 

And never forget to teach with a belief that it can be learned. 

Teach each other fishing, sharing, connecting, patience, persistence and respecting the fish themselves. 

In truth, the nourishment swims where you teach. 

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and your souls are nourished for a lifetime!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!
Autism Answers

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Autism Answer: There are no silly questions or interests!

When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time wanting to be pretty, wondering if I was pretty, hoping I was pretty, wishing I was pretty. I would compare myself to the other little girls, stare at pictures of Brooke Shields and wish I looked like her, etc. One day I asked my mom,"Who's the prettiest girl in the world?"

She told me that there was no such thing. She said that everyone is beautiful and that taste and timing is what makes one person see another as good looking for them. I was floored! That meant I WAS beautiful!! Right then and there my obsession and worry disappeared. I still wondered and wished, but not with the same concern. Eventually, the truth of my mom's words became such a part of me that I completely stopped wondering at all!

This memory reminds me to respect questions and interests no matter how silly they may seem to me. And let me tell you, my brothers and kids can come up with some offbeat and odd seeming questions and interests indeed! But because of this memory--where my mom took my silly question seriously, answered honestly and changed my world for the better!--I try to keep in mind that one answer or question at the right time with the right attitude just might change their lives!! And regardless, at least the overall understanding is that they are always respected! Win/Win

Happy Wednesday friends!! You are all gorgeous!!!

Now, I'm off to the bathroom to pluck my beautiful goat hairs! tee hee!

Hugs, smiles and love!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Autism Answer: Marvelous Marriage Message!

Howdy friends! I had an interesting thought the other day. I was thinking about how much I like my marriage and how one of the reasons is, it's better than being single!

When I was single there was a part of me always wondering or waiting. Even when I wasn't at all interested in dating, there was part of me that wanted to stay open to the idea... just in case. And when I WAS dating it was almost worse! Every annoyance or disagreement I had with this potential partner had me wondering if I should give up on the relationship or work through. And the wondering had me never truly trying!

Now that I'm married (and was smart enough to marry a fella who loves me and our boys like crazy!) I never wonder and always know that any annoyance or disagreement can and will be worked through. Interestingly, that makes most of them much less annoying and our disagreements much less worrisome! Because I know we have to figure something out, we do! And because I have every intention of being with my hubby forever, it's easy to let the unimportant things go and take care of the issues that actually truly matter. 

Well guess what? This is a great attitude to have when parenting, especially special needs kiddos! Obviously we aren't going to break-up with our kids, so instead we look for answers with an eye on solving issues and teaching skills. However, sometimes when our kids have unique challenges we can make the mistake of looking around for others with bigger, better answers. The right therapy or the best advice. When we do this, we're much like I was when I was single. Looking around for something better or giving up on a good thing (like an idea or a therapy) because of one or two hiccups. Oops!

Now that I'm married it's not as if we never have to work things out. I still reach out for advice and suggestions from others every now and then. However, I do it knowing that my honey and I will figure it out and solve any real issues, together. I do it knowing that my marriage is forever, and we have what it takes to keep it beautiful!

Let's always remember to hold onto that attitude as parents too! When we play with our kids knowing absolutely that together we can solve any issue, and we peel away any less than necessary problems, so much magic and connecting can happen! There is no one right diet or therapy for autism, but there is a right attitude! A belief in yourself and your child and a willingness to look crazy proving it!!

I never, ever, ever thought that one day I would be happily married. But man, are my kids and I glad that I am! There are so many marvelous messages in my marriage!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!

*Authors note: Today is my husband's birthday. It seemed fitting to post this marvelous marriage message, considering that he turns sixty-two today and is still marvelous!!! Happy birthday to my fantastical husband!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Autism Answer: Disabling vs Not Able... a world of difference!

When my mom* Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad* was a little girl she could literally SEE sound as color (a form of Synesthesia). So when she would play the same note over and over on a piano many of the folks around her grew crazily annoyed while she enjoyed the shimmering beauty of a particular shade of blue. Had her family taken the time to ask her why, rather than smack her upside the head, my mom would have had an opportunity to explain, while simultaneously learning that not everyone saw what she saw. She then could have been asked not to play the same note over and over unless alone. 

And both she and her surrounding loved ones would have learned that the world behaves differently for different people--sometimes drastically so!-- and that there is much more value in asking and listening than there is in assuming and controlling

The challenge of seeing sound is disabling, making the world a little harder to navigate and engage in. I would like to suggest that the challenge of smacking before asking is also a disability. Again, making the world a little harder to navigate and engage in. Because of autism I have grown-up in a family that actively and loudly believes that a disability is not an inability, but rather a challenge worth taking on. 

Sometimes we'll compensate, sometimes we'll heal, and sometimes we'll change and grow by looking at habits and beliefs. ALWAYS we are able! Of course, some challenges will take much longer than others!!

Always we are able, even when we are disabled!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!

*Author's note: Please take a moment to visit THIS campaign for my mom's show FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD which is now playing on The Autism Channel. This show litterally allows you to watch my mom work/play with children and adults who struggle with autism (and more) so that you can learn why she gets such world famous and fabulous results. And so that you can do it too!! Check out the Gallery page on the campaign to see videos and more!! Hugs!!!

An international reality series offering mental health answers with play and brain science!