Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Raising Kids on the Spectrum- Book Review & Giveaway

Several weeks ago I was contacted by a publicist from Chicken Soup for the Soul requesting a book review of one of their latest additions to theChicken Soup series Raising Kids on the Spectrum.  I have never read any of the Chicken Soup books, so I jumped at the opportunity to try something new.  I knew it would be a different experience for me, and I had heard some good things about it.

When I received the book in the mail my first impression was that this was most definitely going to be an in depth read.  It was quite a bit bigger than I had anticipated, which is always a good thing. I love books to take me on a journey lasting more than a few hours, or a weekend.

As a matter of fact, true to the unpredictable fashion of life with autism things popped up, and inconveniences happened.  As I began getting into the stories in the book it seemed that one thing after another kept diverting my attention.  From school issues to unexpected appointments. I just couldn't devote the time I wanted to really get the book read.  Thankfully, the way that the stories in it are set up that was okay.  Though my bookmark moved at a snail's pace day after day I found that Raising Kids on the Spectrum didn't leave me feeling like I had lost my place every time I had to set it down, and pick up later.

Monday, May 27, 2013

How To Make Your Two Cents Valuable- Kindness, #Autism, and Support

I've had it said to me that when offering my opinion I need to work on my delivery. I have worked on that area. I have worked really hard.  If I have something to say that is advice, criticism, or a correction of any kind I am proud to say that I try very hard to stop, and think before letting the words exit my mouth, or fingers as the case may be.  I ask myself if what I need to say is important, true (which for me it always is) helpful, kind, necessary, and maybe the biggest one... being asked for.  Is the person wanting my opinion? Are they in a situation where me offering my 2 cents is going to help their life be better?  Or is it that my life will be better, because I got to get my opinion out, and feel like I'm right.  Usually, I am truly trying to be helpful, though.  The problem is, no one likes to be corrected all the time.  Sometimes, it's helpful to have a mistake corrected, or get advice to guide us in a better direction when we didn't know that direction existed. I think that the way the advice is given is particularly important. Maybe, you know might have been in a situation that seems like it's similar to the one someone else is describing,  You know what worked for you, so you're ready to tell them.  Nothing wrong with that. The only issue is that we need to remember that not every situation is the same.  There may be factors that make other people's situations different than yours.  There may really be no clear right or wrong choice.

When we are talking about parenting, and autism there seldom is.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Deeply Emotional & #Autistic- how my brain processes emotions

The other day when I was in an IEP meeting the assisted communication specialist was describing a new communication book that we would be using for Beans.  She described how we would point at the pictures in it to talk to him, and not just use it for him to request from us. In other words, it wouldn't really be PECs, and it wouldn't just be a one way conversation. Most of the people at the table were confused at what this meant, why it was this way, or how to use it.  The communication specialist was trying to explain it the best she could in her technical language as it was taught to her. She was over complicating it, and missing the mark. That's when I stepped in.

I explained to them that many people on the autism spectrum never think in words, and don't interpret the world in language. Some of us can learn it, and some of us can't.  Sometimes we think in pictures, sensations, or in a way that I can only describe as intuition, because there is no word for that. When we speak to my severely ASD son with words he most likely has to translate this to pictures, or to whatever way his brain interprets things.  On a good day, some of the message might make it through, depending on how familiar he is with those words in that order. On a bad day, or day where he might be low on energy none of the message will make it through.  It will be a garbled mess.  So, when we point at the pictures to speak to him, there is a conversation going on. He is not just using his book to ask for cake, or to go swimming. He is able to 'hear' us. I might tell him that I am wearing green today, and point at the color green. Or maybe, I'd like to tell him that I think it's hot outside. So many choices, but the idea is to build on receptive language in a way that he might grasp it better.

That got me to thinking about the subject of how I interpret the world,

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cupid- The Almost Service Dog

We have a dog named Cupid.  The animal shelter named him that, because he loves everyone. He's a real people kind of dog. We got him as a birthday present for CJ.  However, soon after we got him about 7 months ago he picked another family member to turn his attention to, Beans.

Cupid is a very, very high strung dog. Full of puppy mischief, even though he's getting close to being 2 years old. He is a handful. A noisy handful, which is extremely off putting to Beans, who doesn't like noise, and too much commotion. Beans does not feel the same about the dog, as he does about him.  Beans runs away from him, and his noisy antics all day.  The dog follows him. When Beans has a meltdown Cupid runs around him in circles barking. This obviously makes Beans cry louder, and lash out at the dog. No matter how many times Beans hits Cupid, because he is encroaching on his space during a meltdown, Cupid never stops doing it.  He runs around him pushing away anyone who comes near Beans when he is upset. When a stranger comes in our home, they cannot even look at Beans sideways, or Cupid will start to bark, and push them away from him.It took a few wks before Cupid would allow our respite provider to do anything with Beans. As soon as she's play with him, he'd go nuts.  He would follow them to the bathroom for pants changing time, overlooking everything, making sure it was all cool. He even used to do that to me! If Beans tries to go out the door, Cupid will follow. Beans has never petted the dog, or acknowledged him in any way, except to toss some food his way. If Beans is eating paper, or some other nonfood item, Cupid wants to, too.  Cupid think Beans is the bees knees.  He's like a badly behaved service dog.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Be specific- How my autistic brain thrives on rules.

I used to spend hours arranging my barbies, and stuffed toys in rows.  I would take my line down again, and make a new rule for the order, and begin a new line.  The order might be by animal type, alphabetical, color, or even by most favorite to least.  I LOVED playing 'store' and would spend hours arranging all the 'merchandise' in my store.  I even made little price tags, and and sales receipts. I spent 10 times longer setting up my store, than actually playing with it.  I mostly liked playing with my brother, because he had to play my way.  I didn't have so much control over other children.  I wasn't very nice to my brother, and would often smack (I'm embarrassed to admit that!) him when he didn't obey my rules.

Now, I do this with adult things. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#Autism & Self-Acceptance

I posted a pretty long post on my FB page about how I process emotions after I yet again, took something too seriously that my husband had said, and made a bigger deal out of it, than it really was.  This is something that always happens to me.  When I say always, I mean at least a few times a week.  It doesn't help that I have a hubby that I swear has ADHD, and everything is a joke to him.  My autistic brain is literal, and I often feel like he's making fun of me, when he is just interpreting the world in the way his brain is wired.  Anyway, this is what I wrote:

"Emotional regulation issues, and autism/asperger's. I find that I get irritated, and anxious by minor issues often, only to realize later while looking back that the thing that seemed so upsetting, or anxiety provoking really wasn't that big of a deal in the first place. I sometimes am embarrassed about my overreaction to seemingly insignificant occurrences, and the anxiety about how others might view me in light of my meltdown, or the anxiety about it happening again will keep me from trying new things, and socializing, if I let it.

As I have gotten acquainted with ASD, and what it's all about I have become aware of the reasons behind this phenomenon. One big one is weak central coherence (inability to see the bigger picture) and the other two are executive functioning issues, combined with difficulty in detecting, and describing emotional states. It's hard for me to see the bigger picture when I see something that goes wrong in my mind. I lose sight of how to get it back on track, and struggle with understanding how to deal with mounting emotions.

The last, but least of these triggers is, the deep down fear that I am being judged harshly by others, and won't/don't measure up. I think this reason is one that most, on or off the spectrum can relate to, but for those of us that seem to get things wrong so often, self-doubt is often a big obstacle to overcome when trying to regulate our emotions. I can lash out defensively, as if I deep wound has been ripped open, because in some ways, for me it may feel like it has. Learning mindfulness, and lot, and lots of opportunities to learn self-acceptance has helped a lot."
 
Then someone asked a million dollar question: How do/did you learn self-acceptance?  Can you give some examples of that?