Monday, November 28, 2022

Autism Answers: Little Shifts

Shifting view of a moment out our front door window

I'm surrounded by little shifts, and I'm shifting in little ways. Each shift, though, brings me to somewhere far enough from the first shift to make all the difference.
Of course, this has been happening throughout my life and will continue to happen. Lately, though, I'm noticing the shifts.
I was living in one country and now I am living in another. It doesn't matter which countries for me to make the point I want to make, and in fact would distract us. Suffice it to say, the countries are not very different from each other and yet, simultaneously, they are. It is all the small shifts in difference that make all the difference.
For me, this country is encouraging more comfort inside and outside myself. It is helping me breathe in and out more easily. 
When we are struggling to breathe easily, when our homes or work places or communities feel suffocating or overwhelming, we can take advantage of little shifts. We can do them purposely, we can ask for them specifically, we can notice over time if they are helping. 
My autistic brothers have always seemed to be more affected by shifts. More influenced, more in need of accommodating them or dealing with them or, when we've shifted well, being freed into a more comfortable state because of them. 
Long ago doctors would prescribe moving to a more appropriate environment when an illness or unwellness plagued someone. This is something we can do, with or without a prescription. Sometimes we'll know what we need, sometimes we won't, always we can notice how we feel living inside of our shifting world. 
I don't think I need to live in this country to be happy and breathe easy. But I do notice it happening and am noticing, best I can, why it's happening. In that way, I can attempt to bring those shifts with me wherever I go, if I go. 
I like noticing that the shifts are little because that feels easier to do on my own. Little shifts. And noticing the big difference small shifts are making reminds me not to throw my hands up in defeat if I can only do small shifts. Instead, I feel powerful shifting a little. 
Each little shift is a thing I did that might make a big difference for me, for someone I love, or for the planet I love. 
We are surrounded by our environment; our home, our thoughts, our world. Each shift shifts us.
Little shifts are what big shifts can be made of.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Autism Answers: Parenting Advice in Articles and Lists


My brother, Dar, and a message he facilitated

I think parents of autistic kids, or kids with any similar type of disorder, too often think parenting tips found in popular articles are only relevant for other parents. But that is not the case. 
This morning I read an article (click this link to see it) urging parents to hover less around their children and to, instead, expect them to do more for themselves. 
My mom, much like the mom who wrote the article, was a big believer in expecting us kids to take on the responsibility of ourselves, and also pitch in as a family. The examples in the article reflect examples from our own home - doing dishes, setting our own alarms, getting ourselves to and from school. Where my brothers were concerned (all four were adopted and had a variety of disorders, including autism) it was the same, learn to do things for yourself and pitch in. The specifics shifted, though, based on who they were. 
She was fierce in her belief that they were capable. She was impressive in her ability to see where and how they could be successful and in helping them prioritize which skills mattered most when stepping back and seeing the big picture: the entirety of their lives. 
It sounds obvious, right? Believe in them! Teach them and encourage them to learn! But I remember mom having to fight other adults and professionals all the time about it. They said she had unrealistic expectations, false hope, or was simply crazy. In their minds, my brothers should simply be fed, housed, and maybe medicated. Probably pitied. 
But my mom parented all eight of us with the same basic belief: that we should and could learn to take responsibility for ourselves. Our health, our happiness, our lives. 
And like the mom who wrote the article I read this morning, my mom was there with us as we learned. I am often afraid that parents who tsk tsk the coddling of children are in favor of pushing them without also getting involved. Without also knowing their children well and being there to teach along the way. Kids do need love and guidance. 
From the article: "To be clear, I’m not saying you should make your kids do things they don’t understand or aren’t capable of, nor am I saying you should let them play in the street if it isn’t safe, or walk to the store if the neighborhood is dangerous. The idea is to teach them how to cope with what life throws at them."
I think also, sometimes, headlines for successful parenting tips are a little clickbait-y and misleading. For example, the one I read this morning was titled: "I Raised Two Successful CEOs and a Doctor. Here's the 'Unpopular' Parenting Rule I Always Used on my Kids." 
"Unpopular" is used to get your hackles up, so you'll click. And "two successful CEOs and a Doctor" is used to prove the parenting rule equals success. 
Some of us (guilty!) might avoid clicking simply because the headline itself represents things you think are wrong with the world. And others simply feel as though parenting suggestions, popular or un, are rarely useful for their unique parenting circumstances. 
We all hope to help our children become successful, there's nothing wrong with headlining it. It's just that "successful" isn't about how impressive your children's work titles are. However, it isn't NOT that, either. The author's three daughters climbed the ladders in male-dominated fields because that's what they wanted and they had the skills and confidence to do so. They are, let's presume for the sake of my point, successful because they are happy in the lives they are living and unafraid of going after what they want.
So, if you are a parent of any type of child, allow parenting tips, ideas, and rules into your space. Don't spend so much time seeking and learning that you aren't parenting or trusting yourself, of course. But allow them in.
Take a look at the article I read (again, here's a link). See how you can shift the specifics but keep the idea: that your kids can and should learn to do a lot for themselves. Have fun with it! 
Oh, and sometimes it might take years for them to learn (like me making professional phone calls - I think that took me fifty years to get comfortable doing? BTW: I will be fifty soon. 😃 ) and there are a few times you might abandon something for the sake of everyone's health, but as long as you are consistently mostly not abandoning (and especially if you are willing to abandon when it is right) everyone will continually learn to do a lot for themselves. 
If you are interested in getting parenting advice for you and your children with cognitive challenges, disorders or dysfunctions, techniques and teachings specifically created with you and your family in mind, I BEG YOU to sign up for my mom and Louloua's parenting course here: All Brains Grow - The Course. It is a phenomenal way to learn about the brain, enjoy their fun teaching style, discover how to play with your family in brain beneficial ways, understand how your behaviors and beliefs are influencing the brains in your home and choose them - your behaviors and beliefs - accordingly.
In the meantime, don't be shy about believing in success for you and your kiddos. Be outspoken and eccentric about it! If you hear a parenting tip that sounds true to you, make it work for you and your kiddos! 
My mom raised eight of us and though we aren't all CEOs or doctors, we are all living our dream lives. Seriously, I'm not even exaggerating. 
We are all the most amazing examples of awesome happy success in the world! (Okay, teeny tiny exaggeration here. tee hee!)