Monday, May 17, 2021

Autism Answer: A Hand Holding Me

Often my partner will place a hand on me, my hip, my shoulder, my thigh, my arm, my chest, and I will feel at once broken apart and held together. The way that hand holds me I feel safe and encouraged to let go, I breathe deep and swim in colors, my energy spreads out and connects with the universe yet I feel we're alone with only our love. Our love. 

It lasts. This unique feeling, this new feeling stays with me while I work, write, skate, read, dance. Oh, how it grows when I dance! I facilitate the growth, encourage it, now that I know this feeling. I close my eyes and feel that hand on me. I feel it hold me with a tenderness that's somehow strong, promising not to let go. That magic hand. And I fall deeper into the music. My body moves and I escape its borders, growing out into the room and imagining scenes I'm every part of and so is the universe; it is not about me yet always me. That hand promises I can go where I will without fear because it will hold me, my partner will hold me, and I won't be lost. 

I look into the eyes that look at me and feel connected, feel supported, feel seen. How had I not noticed this lacking in my life? Or, more honestly, why did I think only I could see me and hoping others would was childish and weak? In fact, with my partner I see more. 

I seek those eyes for stories of their own that might break free when my hand touches the body they belong to. What part of me, or who I am, is like that magic hand for my partner? Love has not made me never worry, I worry that I don't have a magic hand at all. I worry that I am not giving back the intensity I am being given. 

But love has given me the confidence to try, to ask. Because I want this love to continue to grow with our participation, with our desires and hopes gathering sustenance, so the avoidance of asking would take more strength than fear of the answers; fear of failure. 

Being in love, being loved, being touched by a hand that gives me freedom to become, a hand that doesn't try to paint over my scars but instead explores them to understand, is surprising me. It is unexpected and deeply, deeply, wonderful. I want this for me. 

I want this for others. 

It doesn't matter to me if the love is experienced by people of the same or different genders. If the love is experienced by people with the same skin color or spiritual beliefs. If one is more able bodied than the other, or one is much richer, or one is a generation or two older. It doesn't matter if there are more than two people experiencing the love together, I want this for others. 

There is danger in wanting this kind of love so bad we lie to ourselves or justify cruelties (others' and our own) in order to invent it. We might build it out of all the wrong materials on a faulty foundation and simply pretend it is what it isn't. 

But it isn't our place to assume someone else has done this merely because their love looks unlike something we imagine love should look like. 

The hand that holds me, places itself on my skin and cracks open a new world of meaningful memories and safe vulnerability, is magic to me. 

I want this. 
I love this. 
I am better with this. 

I am better with this. 



NOTE: Today, May 17th, is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia. I wrote this love story today because I am an advocate for love, inclusion, and not judging who loves who. My mom is bi-sexual, my son is gay, my other son is bi-sexual, my nibbling is nonbinary, I could go on. I want everyone I love to find healthy love. And that is easier done when the world relaxes it's judgements regarding what love is supposed to look like. 

Hugs, smiles, and love! 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Autism Answer: From Client to Clinician by Louloua Smadi - Book Review

"From Client to Clinician draws readers in with the beautifully told story of a family searching for something. Louloua Smadi shares how her brother's autism triggered a family mission and how that mission led to her own personal fascination with human behavior and neurofeedback. By taking readers along on her journey she offers a compelling case for neurofeedback therapy, specifically when combined with putting the client and their personal goals at the forefront. From Client to Clinician is an important and inspirational book." ~Tsara Shelton, one of Louloua's biggest fans even if she is a bit jealous of Louloua's absolute awesomeness :D 


From Client to Clinician by Louloua Smadi


Traveling with Louloua Smadi From Client to Clinician, from sibling to self, from France to Lebanon to America, feels like journeying with someone who brings out your best self. And on your travels you are often introduced to something new while simultaneously reconnecting with something familiar. The tone throughout From Client to Clinician is one of stimulating discovery, and the mechanism used is a limitless love the author has for humanity in all it's diversity.

Throughout the book Louloua shares with refreshing frankness the obstacles and fears her family faced when trying to love and teach Milo, Louloua's autistic brother. With that same frankness she invites readers to undergo and understand the massive shifts they made as a family - shifts in beliefs, in behaviors, in methods - in order to better understand Milo, each other, and what true healing looks like.

Full Disclosure: I love Louloua. I have not (yet) met her but she is a sister to me. In life, and throughout the book, Louloua shares experiences and conversations she's had with Dr. Lynette Louise ("The Brain Broad") which influence her style and bring success to her own healing; lessons and conversations that reveal why The Brain Broad's holistic methods create such unique results around the world. And Dr. Lynette Louise is not only The Brain Broad but also My Mom. However, my love for Louloua runs deeper than the mere fact she and I share a mentor. While reading From Client to Clinician I felt connected to her as a person. Admittedly, we are not the same (truthfully, she's been a better sister than me) and her interest in neurofeedback is far grander than my own (Read: Louloua is smarter than me and probably my mom's favorite. Giggle!) but the way she learns, the way she chooses to understand what she's learned, the person she wants to be in the world, these things are familiar. And the way she writes, with vulnerability, clarity, and vision, remind me of how I want to write. 

I believe I am not the only reader who will feel similarly connected to Louloua when reading this book. If you are autistic or have an autistic family member, you are going to recognize your own family in these pages. The fears, the hopes, the obstacles, the reactions we receive from the pubic, though your stories won't be the same as the Smadi's they are likely similar. And with these stories weaved in throughout a book that offers realistic hope and answers, the familiarity feels exciting rather than commiserative.  

Also, the author manages to affect readers with her passion and innate interest in neurofeedback (bio-feedback for the brain). Louloua is drawn to neurofeedback therapy first when it helps her brother and then as it helps her. Her curiosity and excitement influence the reader and as we learn about this natural therapy, as we are offered cogent and compelling information about the brain and behavior, we easily understand otherwise challenging concepts. 

Reading this book, infused as it is with empathy, science, personal stories, hope, humanity, and a vision of diversity that includes everyone while raising the bar, is a transformative experience. I highly recommend it to caregivers, parents, educators, disability advocates, and anyone who enjoys spending time in conversations that consider all the people in our world. 

You can purchase the book here: From Client to Clinician: The Transformative Power of Neurofeedback Therapy for Families Living with Autism and Other Special Needs