Friday, March 10, 2023

Autism Answer: Fix My Child



When parents want to fix their child, or try to find a professional who can fix their child, they do not really mean they want someone to fix their child. To mend or repair them.
They mean they want things to be less hard for themselves and their child. They mean they want people to stop staring and judging them for behaviors or appearances. They mean they want to know what to do when they see their child hurting, screaming, behaving strangely. They mean they want to know what to do when traditional parenting tips, comments, and expectations seem unreachable or ridiculous.
That's not to say they don't want to help their child solve problems brought on by disability or dysfunction. They do. And they may say they want to fix their child.
I think they mean they want a future for themselves and their child that seems healthy, happy, successful, possible. They mean they want to know what that could look like and what to do to help it happen. 
They mean they want to see their child without the interference of needing to fit that child into expectations that were built before the child was born. They want to see who their child is and who they can be, know they can help them overcome the hard stuff and find what works for them, know the world will have space for them to grow and carve out a life that suites them. 
They mean they want to know what to do to make all of this happen and to not be too lost and overwhelmed and beaten up along the way. 
That, I think, is what they mean when they say they want someone to fix their child. I don't think they are trying to call their child broken, exactly. I think they want to help them be the best version of themselves with the most amount of confidence and the greatest opportunities for independence or growth. And in many cases that means finding uncommon answers that ask for more than we're used to asking for. Answers that bring us to a place where we reevaluate so much we once took for granted. 

When someone says they want to fix their child, I think it is because they want to reconstruct, renovate, and overhaul their situation, their child's situation, and reactions to them and their situation.
Whether or not we have children of our own at the moment, we can help make raising children easier on others. We can reconstruct, renovate, and overhaul the way we react and the expectations we have when spending time in public spaces. 

We can fix the feeling of needing to fix things.
Hugs, smiles, and love!!
NOTE: Those of you raising or helping raise children, those of you hoping to have a little help knowing what to do, please visit the All Brains Grow website for access to that help. It is a beautiful place with beautiful ideas!

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Autism Answer: Where There Is Yelling


Hand on a hip in anger or judgement

Some people remember with a sense of sharpness things they learned while being yelled at. 
For the most part, I shut down when people are yelling. Particularly angry yelling. I am quickly afraid and disappear so deeply into the fear that I can't decipher much of what is being said or remember well what the yelling was specifically about.
However, I can remember with clarity things I choose to learn while my FEELINGS are yelling at me. When I am extremely embarrassed, when I feel horrible for being the cause of a serious problem, when I am extremely afraid.
Sometimes that means I remember things I choose to learn where there is angry yelling because angry yelling  causes me to be afraid, but the things I learn don't come from what is being yelled. Instead they come from me, from the place hidden away in the fog of fear where I am unable to decipher much of what is being said outside of myself. 
Hence, I tend to remember the stuff my mind is saying to me about my reaction to the yelling. Mostly, my mind is mean to me in those moments. I'll remember me putting myself down and using the moment as proof that I'm a pathetic whimpy useless piece of a person who is sitting paralyzed in fear rather than engaging with the person or people who are yelling. 

Sometimes, I will remember what the yelling was about. Never, though, will I remember it in a better way because of the yelling. Though sometimes I will remember bigger because of it. It will be louder in my mind, the memory itself yelling at me. 
I am one person. My response is not necessarily common or uncommon. To be honest, when I watch movies and tv shows I can't help but notice many people yell at each other, and so I assume it's fairly common to yell and that yelling isn't always so hard for folks. 
And don't get me wrong, I have yelled. I have yelled at my kids, I have yelled at my brothers, and I have yelled at my mom. When I have yelled it was never because I had a handle on things, it was never because I knew yelling was the right choice. When I yelled it was because I was overwhelmed and frustrated and screaming to get out from under it all. The people I yelled at were not likely benefited from my yelling. And I definitely wasn't. 
My mom, however, can use yelling well. To break through to one of my brothers before they go too far, to surprise someone into listening, to change a behavior by influencing a brain. She knows how to use yelling. Mostly, by not using it. It is one of the least commonly used tools in her toolbox. (I highly recommend watching her international docu-series Fix it in Five with The Brain Broad, particularity season two where she works with a violent teen struggling through puberty, in order to see how she breaks into behaviors without using yelling, and how she effectively uses yelling.)
Where there is yelling there is response to yelling. Not everyone responds the same and not everyone yells the same. I am not good at yelling. I am not good at being yelled at. 
"Teach, don't hurt. Your child will often remember how you punished them but seldom remember why. Spare the rod and teach the child." ~Dr. Lynette Louise, aka The Brain Broad, aka My Mom
My mom always has her mind on the teaching part. Children, particularly autistic children, are exceptionally influenced by the energy around them. Yelling is a kind of energy that is not easily guided well. 
Be careful with it. Not only around children.
And for those of us who don't handle it well, let's try not to be afraid of it, either. 
(Errrrrr.... great. Now I'm afraid someone will yell because I admitted I'm going to try and not be afraid of yelling. Giggle!)
Hugs, smiles, and love!!!