Friday, August 29, 2014

Autism Answer: When Your Mom is THE BRAIN BROAD


When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you are lucky indeed!

Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD (aka my mom!)
Pictured here playing with one of her many lucky grandchildren!

She loved us with action and understanding, always. She knew things about us and our behaviors that we were afraid to know alone, but were blessed in knowing with her by our side. She encouraged us to always step up and step forward; to learn and to grow and to take responsibility for ourselves. Okay, she did more than encourage... she insisted!!! It was a rule in our home, and consequences were creative but always pertinent when we didn't learn or step up!

So now, as we eight kids have become eight adults, when mom works so hard and with such passion to teach and share and give what she knows, we, too, try and give back as much as we can! We share our stories and tell the world about her amazing shows, outreaches, and writing

We also pretend we aren't afraid when she travels to dangerous places. She almost died in India (from a mosquito bite) and created a stir in Uganda. She traveled with an addict and spent every moment with him for weeks--when he was desperate and possibly dangerous--and she waltzes brazenly--and lovingly-- into homes filled with fear and abuse and large violent folks. 

"You can't walk gingerly. You have to step in and say I am going to love you robustly, and we are going to get to the end of this!" ~Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD 

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD you work tirelessly to tell the world and help gather funds for projects that make a difference. *Including an upcoming outreach for her reality series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD (on The Autism Channel) for a family living in Israel, where wars are raged. You do it because you know she can help the family. You don't hope or think... you know.

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD there is no room for fear or worry. There is no place for not stepping up or moving forward, because the consequences are just too great. She can help, and we know. 

She can help, and we know. 

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you forever have support and love that is action oriented and consistently offered. And you never stop learning to grow up!!! 

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you are lucky indeed!!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Enjoy this video of Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD working/playing with a lovely little girl and her mom in Kampala, Uganda. I love this fantastic footage from the first of five families in the international series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD

FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD: Season One, Uganda

PLEASE visit our campaign and become a FIX IT IN FIVER! You're gonna love the perks!!! 

*Once it's published I promise to include and share a link to the upcoming Indiegogo Campaign where we'll be gathering funds and connections for her trip to Israel. Check out our last one HERE. We're coming up with some pretty neat perk ideas (you get different perks with each contribution) and having a blast noticing how far we've come already in the series!! It's such a huge endeavor, but we're beginning to see the truth of it's possibilities!! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Autism Answer: Peer Pressure~ Guest Post by Shay Shelton

NOTE: My son, Shay, wrote this piece two years ago. Today was the first day back to school and my youngest son, Declyn, told me outright,"I've decided to become a bully stopper this year. I've already heard people talk bad about this new kid, just because he dresses and talks different. Well, I'm going to peer pressure them to be thoughtful!" It reminded me of this homework assignment Shay had in eighth grade. Peer pressure is powerful indeed, and both of my youngest sons seem to understand that quite clearly! 

Peer Pressure
By: Shay Shelton
People often wonder;
Even when they're old.
Everywhere they go,
Reality may unfold .

Perhaps they will not like me?
Remember what they said?
Even if I don’t like it,
Suppose I try instead.
Suppose I stop and say no?
Under their sharp gaze,
Real friends would appreciate me,

Even through these rough days.

As our kids go back to school, let's remember the real issue of peer pressure. Let's remind them to be authentic even under "their sharp gaze" knowing that true friends (and they themselves can take time to learn this wonderful skill!) will generally appreciate them. 

And as my darling Declyn suggests, perhaps they can even take advantage of peer pressure now and then to peer pressure their friends to be friendly!!! 

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


This was an eighth grade homework assignment for Shay, and now it's a guest post... my boys are learning that when they put their heart into something it's never just "school stuff"!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Autism Answer: Back to School Virus

My boys go back to school Monday. Also, we haven't been feeling well the last couple of days.

I think there's a connection.

Here's the thing. My sons get a lot of good stuff out of going to school, but it takes intention and purpose and a fair amount of doing things in ways that the administration isn't set up for. We can be challenging for teachers and counselors--though so far we've mostly also been liked by them. Mostly! Every school year we do a lot of explaining who we are, why we do the things we do, and how we best move forward. This explaining is for ourselves as well as others!

The summer holidays are filled to bursting with discovering, being, playing, almost never looking at clocks or schedules. Of course, as the boys get older they have jobs and projects that require scheduling to exist in some form or another, more and more. Even during the blissful holidays!

Which brings us back to school, and some of the biggest and best things my sons (and I!!) get out of it. A place to practice working on a schedule created by an entity other than ourselves. A place to encourage our unique talents to find their value within a crowd of others; other people and other agendas. A place to insist on being ourselves and discovering what that means while making room for other people to be themselves alongside us. Oh ya, and they learn math and science and french there too!! 

There's plenty of potential for important and awesome lessons at school!! But, man, it's a lot of work!!

So today we're dealing with a slight "here we go again, being ourselves while learning to make it work in a group without reinventing ourselves while being open to rethinking our thoughts when it matches what we want, not only so it'll match what other people want" virus. **NOTE: I'm not sure if that's the scientific term. tee hee! 

Symptoms may be but are not limited to : lethargy, junk food cravings, swimming brain and airheady-ness (aka lack of focus), and a strong desire to unplug all phones while hiding away from people.

We'll feel better by tomorrow, now that I've identified the problem. No wonder washing our hands and taking vitamin C wasn't working to fight this illness! What we needed was to remember that this is the work of life that--though challenging-- we're actually pretty good at!! 

But for tonight we'll take advantage of our low energy and sore bodies by sipping sparking apple cider in fancy wine glasses, snuggling on a pile of pillows, and watching a family movie!! 

Feel free to join us!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Back to School!
This Kind of Freedom,
on a Schedule.
I wrote this post for my Facebook Page a few days ago. I almost always write stuff there first, and then share it here. Anyway, we went to the school the other day and Shay (my sixteen year old) showed me around, pointing out his favorite classes and such. We had a blast, and now we're looking (almost) forward to school Monday!!! That back to school virus ain't so tough!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Autism Answer: It's Smart To Believe In Humanity

I don't spend too much time focusing on the cruelty or prejudiced in the world, but that doesn't mean I don't see it's effect on my family. 

It also doesn't mean I don't do my darnedest to make a difference. 

There are those who believe that a positive vision and a belief in humanity, a "hippy peace loving tree hugging" mindset if you will, is cute but naive. Not me.
"Hitler's most monstrous legacy is that such faith in culture and in reason will forevermore be naive." ~Max Frankel
I say, no more.

Peace is action oriented and a belief in humanity is smart and savvy. I used to argue that being kind and believing in people was intelligent and proactive, now I just know and live it. Arguing my position (which is not the same as discussing or debating; two important ways to remain clear about my beliefs and consider when they could use an enlightening shift!) only kept me on the defensive and insidiously left me feeling a little bit naive. Oops!

Immersing yourself in the attitudes you're hoping to shift only puts you in the position of fighting the push and pull. I prefer to live and teach and learn tolerance, acceptance, and love with such volume that it invites others to feel the connection and innate intelligence of it, and hopefully join me. 

I prefer to believe that we can make a difference in our lifetime. That we can live in a world that says no to war and yes to equality and peace. I've lived long enough to see change happen, in the world and in myself, so it's smart for me to believe. When my husband was a child he had to use restrooms for blacks and couldn't walk in the front door of restaurants which were for whites only, he had to work twice as hard as his white co-workers to get half the paycheck and couldn't look a white person in the eye. Yet today he is happily married to a white woman, something that was illegal where we live during his childhood. Something he would have been murdered for. Though we still do see the stares and judgments, it's a different world than his childhood one. 

It's not naive for me to focus on that, it's smart. 

And I'm smart enough to know change can happen even quicker than that if we want it to. If we're willing to see our own roles clearly; making adjustments to our own actions and beliefs when necessary. And it will be necessary! We have all been taught by our surroundings, and our surroundings are quite flawed!

I don't know if my way is the best way for the world, but I'm confident that it's the best way for me.

And because it is the best way for me, I'm more able to take action and choose peace among difference. I'm comfortable expecting the folks at the store and in the schools to let go of some silly expectations to make room for my autistic brother's different needs and my son's interesting interests. It's not naive of me to know that my loved ones are worth shifting conveniences for, it's smart! It's true!!

And for those who need to see the intelligence behind focusing on love and connection in order to believe, I'm exampling that peace and forward motion with my fantastically diverse and joyful family! We don't always agree, we often try to change each other's minds, but we respect each and every member as equal and valuable. 

Not because we're naive, but because we're smart and proactive!

It's smart to believe in humanity. 
It's okay to be smart!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Autism Answer: Robin Williams

Some people can't just "buck up". My mom taught me that.

Often she told me, but I didn't believe. So she had to teach me. 

She had to teach me because I didn't know, and thought people like her were just looking for attention or some kind of special acknowledgement of their difference. I thought everyone was like me inside, so I didn't believe in something different. I was wrong. I was dangerous and cruel--though I was sure I was kind. But I couldn't be truly kind because I didn't believe others when they shared their own experiences if they were far and foreign from my own.

I was wrong.

So I speak up consistently with volume and candor to help others understand before it's too late.

Sadly, so sadly, for Robin Williams it is too late. We'll mourn together of course, and feel for his family, but I hope we'll also learn.

~Reach out. 
~Get/offer support. 
~Seek out neurofeedback. 
~Know that there are answers, and you can find them. 
~Don't be afraid to walk away from those who are not supportive, even if they're family.
~Do believe that one amazing friend is healthier than a roomful of poisonous ones.
~Contact people who know the battle but no longer live it. Encourage them to share their answers and then try those answers for yourself or your loved one. Feel free to personalize as you go.
Believe in everyone, but live around only those who help rather than hinder. 

Robin Williams was funny, smart, creative, and a genius. Often this is a recipe for depression, but it doesn't have to be. It really doesn't have to be. Believe that, and your taking a step in the right direction. 

Keep taking those steps.

Hugs, smiles, and love.

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

My mom (Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD) who also lived with depression--and now travels the globe treating it effectively--loves this movie with Robin Williams. 
I'm betting Robin loved it too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Autism Answer: A Back-to-School Must Have!

Just the other day my sixteen year old son said to me,"Mom, everyone should be given a copy of The WingMaker for back-to-school. That way they'll start off the year with a good attitude toward each other."

What a brilliant point!! 

The WingMaker, by Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD (aka my mom!) is a rhyming picture book written for both younger and older audiences--layered with fun and insights that reveal themselves accordingly. It's the true story of a girl with cerebral palsy and her desire to play and be a bigger part of her own world. Her mom is challenged to believe in her, for fear of false hope, until a fabulous therapist (called Happy-Ness!) shows up. When mom explains that the little girl can't talk or play or walk, Happy-Ness declares,"Well that's okay. Maybe we'll pretend she can day upon day." Recreating!

And just as skills and play are learned, and life is full of living, grief visits in the form of a death. Once again we are reminded about challenge, and then offered gifts for actively handling it, learning from it, and living life fully once again.
Enjoy this beautiful book trailer for The WingMaker
with both the author (my mom!!) and her son--my brother!

The book encourages an attitude of belief, acceptance, and fun. It also examples healthy ways to deal with hurt and grief. For students it's a lovely way to begin the year, seeing their peers--regardless of ability--as equals and valuable. And gifting them with ways to grow healthy in the face of hardships.

Start the school year off with The WingMaker. While you're at it, go ahead and encourage your local school to buy in bulk for every student!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

The WingMaker: by Lynette Louise
A beautiful tale that inspires you to play, feel,
imagine, and believe!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Autism Answer: Co-Parenting with Marge Simpson

I am a very happy person. I have a habit of liking pretty much every day and every moment with all my soul. Yet, strangely, my favorite songs are lyrically depressing, raw or sexually charged. Somehow I seem to sing and dance that darker side of me out. It got me thinking about censorship and how so many parents won't let their kids listen to the same music that my boys and I love. This diary has nothing to do with music... it's about censorship... but it was conceived after too much coffee and listening to Sober by P!NK 


I have never been a fan of censorship.  Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian.  Maybe it’s because I want an excuse to watch Family Guy with my children.  I’m not sure. But being the mother of four boys, I have certainly noticed my ideas and opinions change over the years. Usually coming full circle until I believe them again with reason and intention.

When my boys were very little I wouldn’t let them watch Power Rangers or play most video games because I’m not a fan of violence. And though I don't like censorship I figured if I didn’t have cable in the house or buy video game systems I wasn’t truly censoring, just creating an age appropriate environment.  I still believe that’s true and I put a lot of energy into creating my environment.  

But one day I went to the intermediate school to have lunch with my then ten year old son, only to overhear him alienating himself by lying about the shows and games he watched in order to fit in. Of course, since he didn’t really watch or play those games, his lies made no sense and he looked foolish. I found myself over lunch asking him to be comfortable with the truth, to find something else in common with his peers, and I started going on and on about the value of difference.  

However, I knew that he resorted to lies because he felt he had nothing in common with his peers, their lives and imaginative play seemed to revolve only around Power Rangers and Call of Duty, and for a child that spends seven hours a day in school it’s pretty important that he learn some way to feel like he has something to offer. My heart broke for him and I caved--completely!  Eventually (because I couldn’t stand watching Power Rangers) we moved onto adult comedies like Family Guy and The Simpsons. There was a little excitement in all of us knowing that we were being naughty.  We laughed together and as I explained over-their-head jokes I found myself in a beautiful teaching position. Explaining the sophisticated concepts not only brought us closer together, but encouraged my boys to feel comfortable exploring sophisticated concepts! And doing it with the satire from kinda inappropriate but totally cool shows (and songs) gave my sons a willingness to truly listen and share with me.

Thanks Seth MacFarlane!  Thanks Matt Groening!

Censorship is an interesting issue. As with most things, when I find myself wondering about the rights and wrongs on a global or national level,  I have a bad habit of seeing everyone’s point.  And so I bring it in, look at it from an in- my- home point of view.  Being the mom who let her kids watch South Park, I was finding myself in the position of explaining my choices often; to moms who would never let their children watch anything that wasn’t purely educational, to dads who were buying their young boys porn, and to every type of parenting choice in between. I think the answer, both at home and globally, comes down to personal responsibility and personal beliefs. Doesn’t everything??

As with so many of my learnings, I had an Ahaaaa moment while watching a brilliant episode of The Simpsons.

Marge (the beautiful mom with blue hair) is fighting the powers that be in order to get Itchy and Scratchy (an extremely violent cartoon) off the air.  When eventually she succeeds, all is ridiculously wholesome in Springfield.  Kids are flying kites, reading books and sharing their marbles. Then a group of protesters show up at Marge’s door asking her to join them in their attempt to stop Michelangelo’s David from being borrowed by their local museum. Imagine the giggles and jokes in bad taste their children would suffer coming head to head with David’s stone penis! Marge refuses to help the group, believing that bringing culture to the children would be a healthy kind of nudity, and when asked how she can be all for one form of censorship but not another she concedes, "Well… I guess I can’t." Marge then goes home and lets her kids watch infinite amounts of Itchy and Scratchy.

As with all of our mothers I learned from her example, and then made my own adjustments to fit my own beliefs.

I don’t believe the world has a right to tell me or my children what we can or can’t watch.  Just as I would never tell one mom that if she wants a good relationship with her kids she has to watch Family Guy.  Or how I would never let my own kids watch porn--of course, being all teenagers now I know they do, I just don’t let them! It bothers me that everywhere my nieces look they see half naked skinny girls selling beer or jeans and I worry they’ll think they have to look (and act) that way to be accepted.  But I don’t think a rule or regulation can decide what is or isn’t okay.    

It’s about being responsible for what you do or don’t choose to do or see as a family. Just because Itchy and Scratchy is back on the air doesn’t mean you have to let your kids watch it. If your gut tells you don’t, then don’t.  But explain why to your kids, and know they will probably see it elsewhere (my house?) so keep an open line of communication so they may share with you what they did do or see and how it made them feel.  

An example: My son came home from a friend's house once and seemed a little distant. Eventually he told me that his friend had stabbed a possum to death because that’s just what that family did when they caught one. It had made him uncomfortable and even though he didn’t participate, he had watched and wasn’t brave enough to speak out. This was a big opportunity to talk about the differences in families and beliefs, and how it feels when we don’t step up or walk away from things that make us personally uncomfortable. We also talked about what he could do the next time.

Rather than blame the world for offering these images and shows (which, as I mentioned, may be a gift for another family), talk with your friends and family about what you believe and why you make the choices you make. Have debates and discussions with each other that offer insights, keeping always in mind the truth that what you teach your friends, family, and self with spill out into the world with a similar passion and energy.

Marge seemed to think:  If you can’t beat them, give up.

Others say: If you can’t beat them, join them.

I like: Stop looking at them, have some cheese and crackers and discover yourselves! Together.

Nixon: Lead Singer for Framing Hanley
I took my son to a rock concert with swear words on a school night
 and we were this close to the stage.
Even hung out with the band for a bit afterward.
You might not feel comfortable doing that, so don't.
But I do, and did!
And that's okay!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!