Friday, May 30, 2014

Autism Answer: Like Last Year But With A Twist That Matches His Age!

Declyn (my youngest son) will be turning fourteen tomorrow. And, as with every year, I asked him what he was hoping for on his birthday.

His answer began as an almost identical reflection of last year's. Without hesitation he shared his birthday wish. "I want everyone to be happy. I want my birthday to be about feeling good and not worrying about being broke or too far away or anything like that. I just want everyone to feel good and happy."

I smiled, and understood. And as I was about to suggest he add at least an idea of what he wanted to do or get on his fourteenth birthday he interrupted my almost interruption by continuing to express his birthday hopes. "I want everyone to be happy, except I don't have to be happy. It's my birthday so I want to be allowed to let my mood go wherever it wants. At school and at home I usually work at being happy and nice. But on my birthday I just want to be whatever I am. I can be happy or cranky or sad... that's what I want."

I had a lovely laugh and promised to give him exactly that!!

Heck, he'll be fourteen after all. And that's all about moodiness!! 

Besides, I'm betting that if he lets his mood go wherever it wants, he'll learn the always important and life enhancing lesson that happy and friendly just feel better. And that when we work a bit to hold onto them, the work is always worth it.

Now that's a birthday present that can't be bought!!

However, as I recall, last year Declyn did finally succumb to my peer pressure when I urged him to give me an idea of at least one thing he wanted to get as a gift. He suggested colorful straws. And, as it happens, we just ran out of colorful straws. I know what I'm buying when I head into town today!

So this year my fourteen year old son will be surrounded by happy family members, a freedom to let his mood be the boss, and colorful straws. Not too shabby!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My husband and my youngest son, Declyn,
at his eighth grade graduation.
This kid is learning a lot,
in and out of school!! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Autism Answer: It's a Collaboration

My sixteen year old son, Shay, is very nearly blind. His eyesight is powerfully poor and slowly getting worse every year. This morning we were talking about making another appointment to have them checked.

Me: You know, a lot of people say that when you lose one of your senses, the other ones get better. What do you think?

Shay: Well, I don't know which one of my disabilities is to blame for my amazing imagination. It could be my fuzzy eyesight or my autism.

Me: I bet it's a collaboration of both.

Shay: You're right mom! They work together to help me have such great ideas and imaginings. Man, I'm lucky to be me.

And that was our morning. We collaborated and discovered--once again!--that we are an awesome team and we're lucky to be us.

I'm betting you're lucky too!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Shay Shelton
My fabulous boy and his fantastic imagination
travelling on the Greyhound last summer. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Autism Answer: My Brother Dar

My Brother Dar

My brother Dar jumps up and down screaming and clapping his hands in public places. 

My brother Dar eats food off the floor and out of the trash. 

My brother Dar loves the song Through the Eyes of Love by Melissa Manchester. 

My brother Dar will poke your boob and flick your ponytail even though he doesn't know you. 

My brother Dar will carry the groceries in from the car. 

My brother Dar loves dairy products and the high he gets from them; hide the half and half! 

My brother Dar wanders at night placing random things from around the house on the living room floor, creating designs and mess (perception!). 

My brother Dar will hide your shoes. 

My brother Dar was saved by my mom.

My brother Dar saved my mom.

My brother Dar has a clever and sarcastic sense of humor, and laughs almost at, but mostly with. 

My brother Dar has a hard time communicating because his mouth and body rarely listen to his mind, and strangers rarely believe in his mind or his communication. 

My brother Dar keeps trying.

My brother Dar goes bowling with his friends. 

A Moment In Time
Happy birthday to my beautiful brother Dar!!!!!

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Autism Answer: Create with intention, flexibility, and forgiveness!

"Mom," Declyn hollered at me from the restroom,"did you ever have to deal with a bully? Were you ever bullied when you were a kid?"

"No," I answered honestly from my computer. "Although my sister, your aunt, used to deal with being bullied. I did stick up for her a couple of times. I even kicked one really bad bully in the nuts! But I have a bit of guilt over the times she asked me to help her and I was afraid. So I snottily told her I was busy and that she could help herself. I have a fair amount of guilt over that."

"Mom," Declyn scolded through the bathroom door,"my aunt is amazing. Do you think she'd be the person she is today if you stuck up for her every single time? You shouldn't feel guilty, you should feel proud of her."

I turned away from my computer, swiveling in my chair to face the restroom door. "Good point, Declyn. But I really should have at least tried to help her, so she'd feel me supporting her. Even if we both ended up getting bullied, at least she'd have known I was there for her."

I could hear my son washing his hands. Then he opened the door and looked at me, a little disappointed. "People have to learn all kinds of things, and you stuck up for her some of the time so she knew you loved her. When you didn't stick up for her, she had to learn a new way. I think you need to learn that feeling guilty doesn't do any good, and that instead you should just learn from it for the next time."

I stared after my nearly fourteen year old son as he walked out of the room and headed outside to play with our dogs.

That kid knows a thing or two!

We can't always be there for our loved ones, and we won't always be there even when we can. We're human too.

Forgive yourself, learn about yourself, and create yourself.

You are forever evolving, and so are your loved ones, don't pretend you can completely control it. But do believe you can completely be a part of the creating.

Then create; with intention, flexibility, and forgiveness!
Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Me and Declyn
The kid totally schooled me!
It was awesome!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Autism Answer: Actually We Can, If We Want To

Last night Shay and I were driving into town enjoying the beauty of our wooded surroundings when he looked over at me and offered this observation,"Have you noticed? You're a manifesting mom and I'm a scientific son."

"Wow, Shay," I said with pride, "that's so true! Well said!"

Then he added this other layer of truth. "Some people think manifesting and science don't go together, but that's silly. They go perfectly together, if you want them to. You and me, mom, we go good together because we want to. We could fight all the time like lots of teenagers and parents, and like lots of religions with each other, or lots of scientists with each other, but we don't. Sometimes I think you're wrong about something--well, I know you're wrong (sly grin)-- but that doesn't mean we can't go good together. Actually we can, if we want to."

This manifesting mom had no more to add to that!! Good thing there's no limit on parenting pride, because I'd pulled mine out early.

Have a lovely week friends!

Feel free to go good together!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

A Manifesting Mom with her Scientific Son
We go well together, because we want to!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Autism Answer: A Big Supportive Family

Last night my baby brother showed up just to chat. Rye's twenty-eight years old, but he'll always be my baby brother! 

Anyway, my boys had fallen asleep early so it was just me and Rye, hanging out in the quiet while the sun went down. 

Before my brother'd driven up to our house I had been waiting for my hubby to come by and bring me our car. But since Rye was at the house I called my husband and told him to just wait where he was, Rye could drive me to him.

So my brother climbed into his car and reached over to clean the passenger seat for me. What a gentleman! Then he proceeded to drive--in my slow poke opinion--too fast down our country road. Being the oldest of eight kids I was quite comfortable telling my brother to slow down, to turn his headlights on, to wait longer before crossing the train tracks.... 

Okay, I'll say it, I'm a chronic back seat driver!

Rye looked at me and smiled with confidence. "I'm not going to have an accident, Tsara. You can relax and enjoy the ride."

We laughed as I explained,"Hey now! I've been telling you and all of our brothers and sisters what to do for years, it's my job as the oldest. Don't take that away from me, I won't know who to be!"

He took the corner onto the highway (a little fast) and then looked over at me and said,"I keep thinking about how lucky I am to have such a big supportive family. It's hard to make friends, especially friends that will accept you, but I always have my family. Not everybody has that."

My brother looked over at me and smiled. My heart was so happy I almost didn't mind that he was looking at me and not the road while we were coming up to a stop sign that--in my overly aware opinion--he should have already been slowing down for.

We may not be able to force the world to be accepting and understanding of us or our loved ones right this instant, but we can show the world and our loved ones what we expect by doing it ourselves. This instant.

You can be a big supportive family. Even if there's only two of you, you can. Because being supportive and accepting is big, and it's so beautiful and fun that you will likely grow in numbers.

The true reason my baby brother (who was supposedly never going to be able to take care of himself and would need helpers and drugs and institutions) could do me the favor of driving me to my car while he was headed to his own apartment in town, is our big supportive family.

And the true reason we have a big supportive family is because mom said we had to, and she believed we could. 

So go ahead! Believe in it and insist on it! There is no therapy in this world that'll dwarf the power of a big supportive family. I'm sure of it!

And don't forget to come to a complete stop and wait three seconds before crossing the train tracks. tee hee!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My baby brother, Rye
standing by his chariot! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Writer And The Mechanic ~ A Short Story

The Writer and The Mechanic sat on a cement block taking a short break from the Texas heat. As usual they were enjoying a square of shade that was consistently available in this spot beside The Mechanic’s rundown trailer house. To call the trailer house rundown is to be kind. The dilapidated disrepair and mess of appliance parts, twenty years worth of mail piled all around the place and a lack of usable surface space was startling. Living surrounded by the possibility of usefulness was The Mechanic’s comfort zone. Whether the mess and disrepair had crept from the outside in or the inside out might never be known for sure, but the startling appearance of what The Mechanic called home was unquestioned.

To the unobservant eye The Mechanic’s mess would seem the same as The Writer’s chaotic living space. But in truth, her mess was a bit different. Surrounded by papers, books, toys, photo albums, and stepping over shoes and backpacks was her comfort zone. Life surrounded by the evidence of living. On occasion she and her sons would feel crowded and turn the music up loud while they spent a couple of hours tidying up—never quite finishing the job of housework but happily making their second home feel as though it’d at least been offered a mini-makeover. But most days to come upon the wild abandon with which The Writer, The Mechanic, and their sons lived life was surprising, messy, and startling.

But then, to come upon The Mechanic and The Writer at all was often startling to folks. The Mechanic’s dark black skin was thick and calloused in the hands and fairly smooth elsewhere. Though the years of stress that comes with raising two families (of which The Writer was wife in the second) showed on him in places, the hard muscles and strength that comes with a lifetime of hard labor also showed on him—and he was sexy to The Writer.

The Writer’s white skin (which is a color often described as “milky” in the novels she reads, making her shake her head with disbelief and whisper to the story, ”You mean pale,” the only word that ever felt true when looking at her own white skin) was mostly uncallused and smooth, except for the bottoms of her feet. All her life she’s felt connected to nature and craved the physical touch that comes with bare skin on wild ground. The stretchmarks that came from carrying and birthing four sons are mostly hidden in clothes and much adored by her as part of not only her story, but the stories of each of her children.

The skin color differences in The Writer and The Mechanic are stark, but almost equally startling is the age difference of twenty-three years.

When The Writer and The Mechanic met, The Mechanic had already been married once and raised a family. He’d lived stories of love and loss, mistakes and almost mistakes, that represented so many more years than The Writer had even fathomed. For she was a young single mom when they met, still living with her own mom, and though she’d travelled and done things The Mechanic couldn’t understand or hardly imagine, she had never finished anything.

Reflecting on those days The Writer was often ashamed of herself. Though The Mechanic had been kind, and though he had adored her and her sons (three at the time) in most of the ways she wanted to be adored, and for most of the reasons she craved celebration, she had focused far too often on the ways and reasons he didn’t seem aware of.

Since The Writer had never finished anything there was a part of her, in those days, that craved the company of a man who was A Reader. A man who saw that stories never finish and that endings always come with a sadness or feeling of loss. In truth, she could feel the justification and almost whininess of these thoughts, but was also aware of a truth in them and found herself unwilling just yet to sort out which was which.

And while she told herself that a Mechanic who is not A Reader or Writer could never really understand her,  or love and understand her children the way A Reader—someone who consistently and purposely dives into the motivations and stories of others—could, it wasn’t long before she heard the limits and prejudice in this.

If, on this day as The Writer and The Mechanic sat on the cement block chatting comfortably, a traveler were to pass by he would at first be shocked by their appearance and the look of their surroundings. But if he was an open minded traveler with a willingness to see past his judgments, it would be an easy transformation to comfort. The Writer and The Mechanic had been happily married now for fourteen years and the air around them was always one of absolute certainty in their belonging together. There were no wounds left unhealed or scabs to pick at; just a love and respect, and an interest in being together for whatever happens next.

As they sat surrounded by car parts and the buzzing of insects they were talking—again—about The Mechanic’s Oldest Daughter. A woman a few years older than The Writer, she had shown up on their doorstep a few years back. The instant The Mechanic saw her standing on his doorstep he knew who she was. As he cried and invited her inside, his heart felt at first complete and then, almost as quickly, he was wary.

When The Mechanic was seventeen his girlfriend got pregnant. Just a kid in school he told her that he wasn’t ready for marriage, that he needed to graduate and then they could talk about it, but that he’d certainly help raise their child. His girlfriend said if he wouldn’t marry her she’d take the baby and leave. That he could never see the child, that she wouldn’t let him. He allowed them to leave, but—including when The Writer met him—The Mechanic never didn't love his child. He thought about her, he asked around about her. He learned her name and heard through friends where they were living. Word came that she herself may have had babies, but The Mechanic was never sure.

When she arrived that day at his door he felt so many things. Hallmark films and Lifetime TV movie plot-lines flashed through his head. He knew it would take work. Lots of work. And he felt honored to finally be able to do it. But, as is his nature as a man and a mechanic he wondered, “Why now?”

When there is a rattle in an engine or the squealing of a belt, it’s a good idea to wonder, “Why now?” This helps you follow the parts and find the original problem. It could be that your busted alternator belt is a clue that the power steering hose has a small leak and fluid is dripping onto the belt making it weak. In that case changing the alternator belt becomes almost silly if you don’t also replace the hose.

So hugging his long lost daughter and sharing details of his life with her while asking about hers, was—like a Lifetime movie—played out with a suspicious plot-line brewing. “Why now?”

It wasn’t long before both The Mechanic and The Writer knew, “Why now.” She had exhausted everyone else, she had no one else willing to give anymore of themselves to her and she was struggling to find footing with someone who would. A cousin had told her that she had a different dad than her siblings so she talked him into telling her where. It wasn’t hard to find The Mechanic once she knew where to look. Everyone in his small town knew him and knew he was always wondering about his Oldest Daughter.

The reunion was emotional. The years following were too.

As The Writer and The Mechanic sat in the shade, talking again about how to help the Oldest Daughter and give love to her without hurting anyone else or making her dependent, a rooster from the yard next door came up and gave them a hard stare. The Mechanic shook his head at how funny this particular rooster was, always hanging around like a pet, while The Writer smiled and tried to pretend she wasn’t scared. In truth, she wasn’t nearly as nervous as she had been a few years back when her fear of birds could be considered a phobia. Thanks to the constant cockiness of this particular rooster, and his certainty that he belonged here with them, she had grown almost fond of him. Well, not so much him as the way her fear was slowly subsiding, and his presence gave her call to know it. “I guess you can get used to anything,” she’d muse. “It’s important to keep an eye on what you get used to.”

Since the Oldest Daughter had arrived The Mechanic had given her money, a place to stay, lent her cars, bought her a car, defended her from violent boyfriends that she ran immediately back to, gotten her out of jail, gotten her out of jail again, driven her places, lectured her, lovingly shared with her, angrily refused her antics, explained why with love, and been dangerously close to getting arrested himself by willingly going into crack houses to get her and take her home.

The job of parent is never done or clear cut, you don’t clock out when they move out, but when trying to get back over forty lost years it’s almost more confusing.

The Writer was understanding and respectful of all these truths. She herself had done much for the Oldest Daughter as well, and had loved her longer than they’d known each other. In the beginning of this new character introduction—well, not new really because she’d always been a big part of the story, but now she was more there—The Writer had been open and honest and thrilled to share with another person. Another person to explore with, learn from, and teach to. But as she watched her husband wear down, and she felt his turmoil spill like motor oil over the family—not because he yelled or spewed, but because his energy became almost invisible yet tinted with color that didn’t wash off easily—she began to approach the issue less like a Reader and more like a Writer.

The Mechanic, of course, was working out the puzzle like a man with an eye on how one part is supposed to fit with another.

Both The Writer and The Mechanic know that always, in everything, creativity, ingenuity, and a willingness to see from different perspectives can get the machine running again and so they explored and pondered and attempted to get the story of their family to run smoothly, as it had often before.

The Writer reached over and waved a bee away from The Mechanic’s leg. She suggested once again that he tell his Oldest Daughter with clarity why he didn’t answer the phone when she had called early that morning. He sighed and wiped the sweat off his forehead with the red rag that had been hanging out of his pocket. He reminded The Writer that he had told his Oldest Daughter already, and he was so tired of telling.

They sat in comfortable silence. The Mechanic was thinking of this part of his machine he’d lost for so long and finally it was found, and how he couldn’t seem to find a way—in all his years of making parts work—to find where and how it fit. How to benefit the important part itself while giving it a role that benefit the whole.

The Writer was thinking about her roles as Reader and Writer of the story and contemplating which role would fit her and benefit the family best. As Reader she was able to interact with support and curious interest, without the need to meddle or affect the direction of the story much more than as an audience with the ability to interpret and be considered. However with her husband showing such exhaustion and their Youngest Son’s comment recently, The Writer couldn’t pretend that role of Reader was enough anymore. “I don’t like my sister,” their Youngest Son had said. “She came here and she’s always drunk and now dad’s always stressed out and quiet and cranky. And her energy makes me feel nervous.”

The Writer (and Reader) knew that every aspect of any story was important, that the motivations and emotions of everyone involved deserved to be valued and explored, and that she’d have to step up and play a more active part in creating this story; theirs. For her husband, for all the children, and for herself.

The Mechanic and The Writer approached issues and life differently and so they sometimes struggled to understand how or why the other saw things as they did. And, admittedly, they often attempted to present arguments on their own behalf that just might change the other's approach, turning it into one more like their own. But there also always existed an important sameness. They both knew that the act of crafting a story or maintaining a machine was best served with a desire to do so. To do the work.

It’s easy to want a good story or smooth running machine; but inventing one takes time and work. You have to want it true enough to work for it.

And both The Writer and The Mechanic not only wanted it true enough, but had learned to love the work.

You see, The Writer had been mistaken when she’d assumed The Mechanic couldn’t understand the unfinished nature of people. The Mechanic knew well that no motor or machine is finished until it’s been given up on. Not by one, but by all.

And even then—even then—it is part of a bigger machine, one that needs to be approached with a willingness to make all the parts work regardless of how creative and resourceful you have to get.

The Writer and The Mechanic sat there a while longer, letting their unfinished conversation come to a quiet close. They’d pick it up again later, as they always did.

The Texas heat was wearing The Writer down and she wanted to go back inside where her manuscript sat waiting to tell more story. The Mechanic’s mind was already wandering back to the problem of an old ’86 Ford pickup he was trying to get running. The distributer hadn’t been moving so he’d hit it with a hammer to get it going, and now the truck would start but still wouldn’t run. He wondered how much a carburetor kit would cost.

The Mechanic stood up and stretched, then turned around to offer his thick strong hand to The Writer who pulled herself up with his help.

She walked with him toward the truck in the driveway, stepping over tools and compressors with the ease of one who is familiar with such obstacles. The rooster from next door followed them close.

The Mechanic mumbled something about putting some gas in the tank and checking the fuel pump and The Writer nodded, unsure of his language but confident in his ability.

They kissed, and she headed back indoors. The rooster, who she was only a little bit scared of, stayed back with The Mechanic.

The Writer and The Mechanic 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Autism Answer: My Mother's Day

Mother's Day morning I woke up with a short story in my head. So I reached for my pen and notebook--which I keep beside my bed--and began to write. 

Moments later Declyn walked in, crawled on the bed beside me and gave me the greatest hug and snuggle! It was over a minute before he added,"Happy Mother's Day mom!" Almost like he wanted me to first feel the snuggle as his own idea separate from any special day expectations...

After some fabulous cuddling Declyn got up and told me,"It's Mother's Day. You can write or read or sleep or do whatever you want. I'll get my own glass of water."

What a magnificent mommy morning!!!


For Mother's Day I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Tyran has been bugging me to read it for about a year now, and I've been trying, but they don't have it at our library and I haven't found a copy at any of the thrift stores.

So Saturday I splurged and bought a copy at Walmart. I read a bit Saturday evening and finished up yesterday. The book is lovely, but my favorite part was phoning my son over and over to talk about the characters and our hopes for them, and thinking over and over while reading,"Tyran was here. And Tyran was here. And Tyran felt this, and Tyran thought about that..."

...and Tyran wanted to share this with me!
What a fantastic way to spend Mother's Day with a son who is far away!


I was sitting on the couch sipping coffee and reading on Mother's Day morning when the phone rang. 

"Happy Mother's Day mom," my sleepy sounding Jory said before I could even offer a hello. "Are my brothers snuggling you?" I laughed. My sons know me well!!

Looking at the clock I was amazed. "Jory! It's seven in the morning where you live. You're awake??" 

"I'm awake because you're awake. It's Mother's Day, and I love you."

Years and years and years of waking up for my boys, I had no idea how touched I'd be when they did it for me. 

What a wonderful Mother's Day moment!

The evening was soft and cool this Mother's Day. I was driving with Shay when he asked if we could make a quick stop at the store. 

"Ugggg!!! You're going to buy soda!! I hate watching you guys drink soda!!!" I lamented. And though I did drive him, I refused to get out of the vehicle.

Shay took a little longer than I'd hoped and I found myself feeling a bit annoyed. I like giving the boys freedom with their small allowances, but do they have to poison themselves with soda?!

Finally my son emerged from the Dollar Store with something other than soda in hand. Folding himself into the van he handed me a chocolate bar and gave me that cute, sly, Shay grin. "Happy Mother's Day! This chocolate bar has almonds in it. I wasn't sure if you'd want the dark chocolate one or the one with almonds. I can go exchange it if you want."

"No, Shay, this is perfect. Thank-you so much!!!" I gave him a huge hug and held back a tear.

Turns out the only poison picked up that day were my assumptions and a decision to be annoyed. 

An important Mother's Day reminder!!

My Mother's Day was like every day. Fantastic, busy, relaxing, noisy, quiet, confident, and confused. 

There were choices to be made and moments to actively celebrate!! 

I truly hope your day was equally blessed.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Autism Answer: A Beautiful Future

Last night in our neck of the woods there was heavy rain, thunder, and brilliant bursts of lightening. As has become something of a ritual, Shay and I went outside to sit on our porch-swing under the tin roof where we partly chat and partly quietly think, the sound of storm playing the role of thought stirring soundtrack.

We laughed and talked about nature and pushed the smelly wet dogs away with our feet.

Then we sat and listened for a while, staring out into the dark and violent night trying to understand its language. 

After a few minutes of thought Shay turned in my direction with a sweet grin and looked down at me. "You know what I imagine when I think about the future mom?" he said as I craned my neck to look up at him, still barely used to my sixteen year old's surprising height. "I imagine you sitting on this porch-swing with a coffee, looking out at the trees and thinking about your books. Or phoning me and my brothers because you miss us."

No mention of social status, no worry about success, no hint of concern for.... who am I kidding? Yes, there are lots of beautiful answers I can see in the future picture Shay painted of me, but the one I love most of all is that he thinks about me in the first place!!

We may not feel like our children are watching us, or learning from us, or considering us... but they are. 
Be purposeful when posing for that picture!!

Me sitting on the porch-swing with a coffee.
My youngest son took this picture and said, "This is
so you mom."

We are showing our children what "grown-up" looks like, and they are picturing a future. We can paint their future beautiful by dressing the set with laughter and love, and modeling comfort, quirkiness, and kindness--playing the role with purpose so they can see what a beautiful future might look like!

Happy Friday friends!!
Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Autism Answer: The View From The Backseat Of My Van

My cell phone sort of acts as a family device. Declyn and Shay don't yet have their own phones (though they really, really should!) and so mine is one we all share. 

It's a phone, when I use it. A gaming device when Declyn uses it, and a video camera when Shay uses it. I suppose it also plays the role of constant reminder that my kids are waaaayyyy cooler than me, since they know how to make it do really neat things while I merely find it useful for phoning my sister. Anyway... 

The other day while we were all driving back from a trip to a nearby town, Shay had my phone. I could hear the boys being silly in the backseat while my hubby and I chatted in the front. It was lovely!

So yesterday while the boys were at school and I was missing them, I thought I'd check out the video!

There were my two youngest boys--who are fourteen and sixteen, not really young anymore!!--being typical teen boys, making sarcastic jokes and beeping out the bad words because mom and dad are sitting up front. You know, the usual. I smiled and sipped my coffee and kept on watching.

Then an interesting thing happened. The camera panned around and showed my hubby and I for a moment as we sat gabbing up front, and I was surprised! We don't match at all! And the contrasting colors of our skin is startling!

It was only a moment, because then the camera went back to recording teen boy whit and sarcasm for posterity, but what an enlightening moment! Of course I know that my hubby is black and I am white. I know  that he is twenty-three years older than me. But I feel the love and connection and absolute belonging of me to him and him to me. So when people stare at us, make rude comments and gestures, or even applaud us for our willingness to brave the world and proclaim our love in public, well... I feel like they're making a mountain out of a molehill.

But for that moment, when I was startled by our obvious differences, I was encouraged to understand. For a few more moments I could even see my two youngest sons through the eyes of others--they are vastly different too. Black and white, small and huge, cool and obsessed... 

This was big. This was important! Now I will understand better the stares and comments, not just when I'm with my hubby but in so many more ways, and with so many more people I love. But understanding the stares does not mean allowing judgments or choosing to believe they're necessary. As a matter of fact, it helps me ask kindly for the opposite!

When people stare, that doesn't mean they are judging. It means that something is interesting and different and making them think. Most often people do then start to judge, but not always. And when we continue to go out, show ourselves to be proud and kind, smile at strangers comfortably while we ask our brother to pull up his pants because his excited scream/jump made them fall down, and oh, look! everyone in the store is looking over here wondering if you're okay because most people don't scream in the store, better smile and nod!! (you know, that old chestnut!)--then we example acceptance and appreciation of difference. 

If we continue to understand that we ARE interesting and different, and that we DO invite people to think, we can comfortably help them think thoughts that are useful and kind.

Until eventually there are so many of us out there being comfortable and interesting, that we won't really be surprising anymore!

The view from the backseat of my van was a little bit startling, a lot revealing, and immensely beautiful!

I hope you see that to.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My hubby and my beautiful boys...
Man, this was long ago!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Autism Answer: But Then, It's Easy For Me

I'm human--so I can honestly say I've struggled in life. Struggled with pain, self-doubt, fear, and so on.

But it's also true to say that I've almost always been happy and open-minded. I've learned over the years that the two tend to go together. I find that I genuinely like almost everyone (even though there are many people I wouldn't choose to invite into my life often) and I have a blast with almost everything I do. Whether it's something I've chosen or something I'm pushed into like school, laundry, and paying bills. People who knew me growing up, as well as people who know me today, use words like "satisfied" "happy" "sweet" "positive" and "bubbly" to describe me.

But then, it's easy for me.

Not because I've had a trouble free life--molestation, discrimination, poverty; these are words that play a role in my story. But because, as it turns out, I've got a pretty balanced brain.

Funnily, I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me, if perhaps I was a pushover or naive and that's why I was always helpful and happy. Other times I would assume there was something wrong with other people, because they couldn't just choose to be helpful and happy.

Eventually, in search of a tool that could help Dar,  my most severely autistic brother (all my other brothers had healed to the point of hardly needing help, so it was Dar my mom still sought miracles for) mom discovered neurofeedback.

A tool that would, essentially, save all of us from a life of floating and wondering and searching.

At first it was mom and Dar who got brain balancing sessions with beeps. Neurofeedback is truly wonderful, putting nothing in the body but information and offering feedback that helps balance the brain nearly the instant the brain behaves in the way it's encouraged to.

Both mom and Dar benefited so quickly and in such surprising ways it became a passion and project for mom. To help the family, to certify and educate, and to help families around the world.

It wasn't long before I got to have a turn with her brain reading and balancing buddy. I'll admit it, I was nervous. I wanted to do it "right" and be read as "lovely and smart". Of course, it just reads delta, theta, and beta waves and other brainy things. It doesn't judge at all, so I was being silly. But still....

Well, my mom found my brain to be kind of boring! Turns out, it's rather balanced. And for my mom, a woman whose joy comes from helping others, I must have been a bit of a disappointment! 

But learning that about my brain, and learning via mom's brain expert smarty-pants chit chats the unbreakable connection between how your brain behaves and how you feel, made me make sense.

And it helped me see others--so very many others!!--with even more open mindedness and a truer appreciation for their potential struggles.

Also, it helped me to know that people can grow kinder, more comfortable, smarter, and happier with the proper feedback, minus the judgment.

Knowing that it's easy for me helps me see myself not as "lesser than" or "better that" but rather, lucky.

And obligated to take advantage of that luck to keep on being helpful and happy.

Keep in mind, friends, that what's easy for someone else but hard for you isn't proof that you are less than, it most likely means that you are different than.

And when meeting and being with others, offer them that same kindness and understanding.

Also, know that anything you want to be, you can! Seek the healthiest feedback for you and your brain! And though it may be harder for you than for another, you can do it if it's what you truly want!

If you're having trouble sorting all of that out... call my mom! Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad is gifted at helping people understand and know themselves! 

Perhaps it won't be long before droves of us are able to say...

"But then, it's easy for me."

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)


For one of my all time favorite short videos of my mom doing neurofeedback and playing with a little girl in Uganda: FOLLOW THIS LINK!

But first check out this video of my mom talking about her show FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD, bringing play and neurofeedback to you! The show can be seen on The Autism Channel!