Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …
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about Communication: sharing the diagnosis with your child

  • August 31, 2012 4:42 pm

I went by the library to pickup a few books I had on hold. One for The Younger: How to Talk to an Autistic Kid, and this one for The Elder: The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents).

I thumbed through it and was really excited about it. The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders Then I had the worry…What if he doesn’t want to read it? I mean, I think this is something that he would want, and I think this is something he would need. But he has never asked me anything about autism. And if I approached him he responded with the annoyed tone of a teenager. My best strategies so far have been to set something up and just do it. Find videos, make him watch it. Find books, make him read them. Find games, make him play them. He does that with no issues. But have a conversation about this? Forget about it. How do you communicate about a communication disorder??

This book seems different than the books I’ve seen in the past. It is a survival guide geared for ages 8-13. It’s more like a textbook with real-life stories for examples, instead of social stories of how to act in certain situations – but it also includes solutions such as these. The first 7 chapters cover “What is ASD?” in a very kid-friendly presentation. A whole chapter is dedicated to Sensory issues. If I was THe Elder, I would think it was really cool, thus the reason I checked it out!

After School Convo:
M: Hey E, I wanna show you the book I got for you at the library today.
E: Hold on! (impatient tone – making me nervous) OK, I’m coming (happy bouncy tone – nervousness gone)
M: (Showing him the cover and just letting him read the title) I got this for us to read together.
E: (no response)
M: (Flipping through the pages so he can see all the pretty colors and pictures)  I think it will help answer a lot of the questions you might have about autism (assuming he had them, of course)
E: (no response)
M: (wondering if this was a bust and glad I got it from the library before purchasing) I thought maybe we could go through one chapter at a time.
E: (he gets up quietly and walks back down the hallway as he responds) Well, I have run out of books to read at night.
(Note to self: pick up more chapter books from the library)
M: (yelling after him down the hall) And if you like it and think you can use it for the rest of your life, we can get your very own copy!
E: Sure.

Yes!! My foot is in the door! Now I just need to get to Chapter 6 “Think About it, Talk About it” which clearly states “Ask Questions.” Because you know if it is a rule in the Survival Guide, then he must follow the rules! I think he will thank me for it…

More later as we begin the journey…

How do you communicate with your child about his/her diagnosis?

about Moods (part 2): natural relief is simple

  • August 22, 2012 2:51 pm

Finding relief from my moods naturally has been very simple. However, Simple is hard to do in an overly complex world. Simple is also much slower than I’d like, especially in today’s “microwave” world where we can’t go/do/think/talk/play/eat fast enough. Simple is really more like a crock-pot: Get your stuff together, have Patience, reap your reward with something that brings great Pleasure. I think the difference in the processes is that the former has Pleasure in mind first – before I’ve had time to Get my Stuff Together. And forget about Patience! Make me to wait for my Pleasure and I might have to give you a piece of my mood – despite the fact that “you” might be an inanimate object. Sound familiar? (please say yes.)

In the latter process, the Pleasure or Joy truly is a reward because even though we know how yummy and tender a crock-pot meal will be when we set out to make it, we still beam with Excitement when we cut into the meat and it falls apart, we moan with Joy when that first bite just melts in our mouths. The Patience part can still be hard for some of us who are tempted by the aroma, but we know that it will be worth the wait once it’s ready (plus it’s still uncooked – gross).

Mood relief has definitely been a crock-pot process – much longer for me, so my hope is that I can shorten the process time for others. But it does take time. I was on the “culprit” medication for 3 years. I am giving myself 3 years to be off of it for me to expect to be back to “normal” (after that I just might lose my Patience!). I have about 8 months to go!! But I already feel more and more like my old self every day for the last 6 months! I speak in terms of detoxing off a prescription, but the fact to remember is that my moods began before meds (thus the “need” for meds). But with the research I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had, I’m confident that I’m on the right path to healing and have put The Brothers on the right path to health. I still learn something new everyday, but everything seems to be flowing in the same directions and I can’t wait to slow-cook these bad moods right out of my life!

So let me just tell you the answer first, and then backup and detail the solutions that might also work for you like they have worked for us.

Consider the following cycle:

Mood Cycle

(That’s an original Google Drawing right there, folks. Be impressed. I might copyright it, so don’t go stealing it without sharing my blog with 10 people. Or buying 10 copies of my future book that I promise to write one day.)

This is truly a cycle and it can be either positive or negative. And depending on circumstances can be a downward spiral. Bad Day –> Bad Choices –> Bad Food –> Bad Mood –> Impulsive Choices –> Impulsive Eating –> Impulsive Beliefs (Fear) –> Wimpy Feeling –> keep–> spiraling –> down –> ward –> until –> you –> burn –> out.

It’s hard to pinpoint where on this cycle we enter. The tricky part is that “Choices” can involve both mental AND physical. First you think it, then you do it. But “Choices” can also involve neither. For instance, you don’t have an opinion on a topic, therefore you might be complacent. And “Choices” can also just involve one of the two. Like, you don’t think before you act. Or, you think about it all the time, and never make a move. I believe it really depends on our Habits because our Habits are like our masters that we blindly obey. Mental Habits are automatic thoughts/associations (like I think YUM when I hear the word “chocolate”) while Physical Habits are automatic actions (like I put my keys on my desk when I come home (in theory)).

Instinctively, I want to jump from “Choices” directly to “Mood/Attitudes/Beliefs” (perhaps a bad Habit?). I tell myself, “I just need to get over it. God has given me so many blessings, why can’t I just buck up and appreciate them? From now on, I CHOOSE to be happy/joyful/thankful/fill-in-the-blank. And to celebrate my new great attitude, I think I’ll sit on the couch and eat some of this comfort food over here so it won’t be so painful.”  Sound familiar? (please say yes.) Wrong direction, Jen! Derailing! Back it up!

What doesn’t seem intuitive me, but I’m quickly learning to be true, is that if I direct my Good Choices in the direction of what I do for my Body, my Mind follows suit, naturally. And something about the natural flow of that soothes my Soul. Bottom line, we must take better care to nourish our bodies. Maybe even, I daresay, make it a higher priority than nourishing our minds. Because when we nourish our bodies, we give life to our minds. It’s hard to nourish a dead mind…in my opinion, at least.

The good news is that we can make a U turn at Choices whenever we want (and as often as we need to) and get going in the proper direction. Good Choices –> Good Food –> Good Mood –> Better Choices –> Healthier Body –> Healthier Mind –> Healthier Spirit –> Stronger Person!!

In upcoming posts, while I’m sharing some strategies that are working for us, I’d also like to debunk some myths about nourishment. I know from our experience, nourishment is not hard to find and it doesn’t break our budget – two common concerns I hear from others. I’d like to share how we find our food and how we afford it. What are some other myths or obstacles that hold you back from taking better care of your body? Please share your comments and feedback!

about Moods: finding relief naturally (part 1)

  • August 15, 2012 9:42 am

I’m anti-prescription when it comes to treating mood issues. I’m not against it for other people IF it is working for them. In fact, I wasn’t against taking a prescription myself when I thought it was working for me. The problem was that it was working against me, and I was blinded by the short term relief I felt when I started the regimen. Once I realized I was adversely reacting to my meds, I worked with my doctor to wean me off one, and then a year later said buh-bye cold turkey to the rest of them. It’s been almost 18 months that I have been 100% medication free! Including NO tylenol et al, NO allergy meds, NO vaccines, NO antibiotics – nothing prescribed or over-the-counter. Yay for me!

But…

My moods suffered. Not constantly. But

lots

of

mood

swings.

I do believe that I have earned my moods swings. After all, parenting is tough. Parenting special needs kids is tougher. Plus an Aspergian (a very adorable and loyal and all around great guy, I might add) for The Hub and that’s the tune that gets my moods “just a swangin’!” And when I swing, I take The Hub and The Brothers with me. Unfortunately, a family that swings together does not swing together, if you catch my drift. I’m proud to say, not one of us uses medication on a regular basis. The Hub and I are both 100% med free. The Brothers are 99% med free (allergy season is a bear in our region).

I have been working on my diet for the last 18 months, beginning with a clean slate (literally, I fasted for a few days). It was then I took out red meat and soy and some other things. NOT because I didn’t like eating them. NOT because I had an adverse reaction to them. I only took them out because they are so hard to digest and digestion takes up energy and I wanted my body to use its energy to HEAL, not to digest. I knew it would be temporary when I started but, I got a hold of some resources that made me so glad that I stopped eating them (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, for one). Very good and important information that everyone ought to know, but now I know it’s only part of the story. And to stop there is very dangerous – to me and the victims of my mood.

In the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to share some of the remedies that are so far working for our family. I set out to fix my own ability to cope with my circumstances and discovered many overlaps for each member of our family. If you could use this information, please include comments/feedback for me to address in the sequels of this post.

Now for the rest of our story…