Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

Archive for April, 2012

E is for Environment

E is for ENVIRONMENT

E is for ENVIRONMENT.

Environment is defined as: “Environment (biophysical), the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism…Built environment, constructed surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging from the large-scale civic surroundings to the personal places…Social environment, the culture that an individual lives in, and the people and institutions with whom they interact.” –Wikipedia

So basically environment is everything outside your body, but it can affect what happens inside your body. At least that is what I get out of all the definitions I read.  Kind of makes sense doesn’t it? I personally can think of several environmental factors that affect how I feel and act; such as temperature, sound, light, smell, other people, etc… A person with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder often has a neurological system that cannot interpret all these things in a “typical” manner. For a person with special needs, what is nothing or perhaps annoying to us, can be debilitating to them. Something that may be overwhelming to us may be terrifying to them.

I have always wondered and speculated what the world must look and sound like to my beautiful girl. Here is a video that a very brave Autistic woman (username WeirdGirlCyndi) shared to give all us NT’s a better understanding about how environment affects her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPDTEuotHe0&feature=player_embedded. I cried through this video and had to watch it a few times to actually read some of the words I could not see through my tears.  Here is another video (by username weaveintothewin2), which I also though was quite insightful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plPNhooUUuc&feature=youtu.be

I know that every person is different, whether they are on the spectrum or not, but just knowing that this could be happening to her, has made us reevaluate many areas of our life. We are now trying to take a more sensory-friendly approach to everything, to help her be more comfortable and calm. We cannot control situations, people, places or things. We cannot create the “perfect” environment for our children, because we honestly don’t know what that is. However, we can pay attention and follow their cues to figure out what they enjoy or fear, and what makes them happy or sad. Our children communicate with us every moment, we just have to get better and “hearing” them. Although we cannot control everything, we can make a choice as to how much our children are exposed. Our lives may need to change, but in the end it is worth it because we will have happier, healthier children.

Environment “Our Way” is defined as: “Anything outside our own bodies that can affect us in a negative or positive manner. It cannot be controlled, but may be modified, or even limited,  to be more sensory-friendly.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

More about Me

Although most of my posts will be about life with the big A, if you are truly going to walk with us, you will see the other parts of our life too. Yes Autism lives in our house, but it is not our entire life. As I stumbled down my path and attempted to become the person God intended me to be, I found my way to Al-Anon.  At the Al-Anon meetings, I found another family of choice. I am truly blessed to add my Al-Anon family to my already wonderful support system as I journey through life. The first time I walked into a meeting, I knew I was home. I was overcome with a wonderful feeling of serenity and security. Having been immersed in the world of the “isms” more than once, I have coping mechanisms and behaviors that stem from how I learned, and was taught, to deal with those situations/circumstances. Some of the biggest influences on those behaviors were not even the “qualifier” but my fellow co-dependents/enablers. Although these mindsets, reactions, behaviors, etc… served me well in the past, they no longer have a place in my life. As a matter of fact they keep me from having a serene and happy life that is filled with love, peace, faith and hope. My mind is twisted with my own sickness from the disease; and it affects my self-image, self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence in a very negative and sad way.

My wish for my children is for them to grow-up knowing they are valued for themselves, not what they can do for people, but simply for being in the world. I want them to know it is okay to be different and disagree with people. I want them to respect and always be proud of themselves.  I want them to walk tall and know themselves for the extraordinary people they are. I want them to grow into self-confident women who love themselves, and never let anyone shatter their self-esteem. This is a dream and goal, my husband and I work toward everyday for our girls.

I recently spent a very spiritual weekend with my Al-Anon family. I received two amazing compliments over the weekend. First, a few different ladies told me that I was a very well put together person; that they enjoyed conversing with me and loved me for sharing my story with such honesty. Second, a woman told me that I had one of the most vibrant energies she had ever seen emanate from a person, that I just poured positive light. Through the grace of God, and my program, I was able to accept these wonderful compliments and truly believe them. On other days I have received similar compliments and walked away thinking that I was fraud, or even told people “No I am just a good actress.” The woman people see and compliment is the person I desperately want to be, but most days it is a struggle, and some days I don’t even come close. There are more days than I like to admit, that I look in the mirror and don’t like the woman I see. There are days, that even God himself could not convince me that she is a “good” person. This skewed self-perception is part of my sickness, as are many other character flaws. Some days that girl wouldn’t know a positive thought if it walked up and smacked her.

It is no longer time for me to hide from the truth in the mirror. Although I may not always see that person clearly, it is time to get to know her and love her. The only way I can teach my girls to be all the things I wish for them, is to first learn how to do those things for myself.  So I attend meetings, read, work my program, pray, and call my “family” when I need to talk it out. Little by little, One Day at a Time, I am becoming the person I want to be. I thank God everyday for giving me the support system I need to become a healthier, happier and more peaceful person. I thank you for reading and allowing me to share our story. God Bless and Please Keep Coming Back.

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

D is for Different

D is for DIFFERENT

D is for DIFFERENT.

Different is defined as: “1. not alike in character or quality; differing; dissimilar: The two are different. 2.  Not identical; separate or distinct: three different answers.  3. Various; several: Different people told me the same story.  4. Not ordinary; unusual.” – Dictionary.com

None of these definitions sound like bad traits to me. When did being different become something negative? What happened to the times of encouraging our children to make their mark in the world, stand out and be unique? Our children are unique and different; not more, not less, just different. Our road may not be as smooth as some families, but our road is filled with just as much promise and wonder. Everything depends on your view of the spectrum as the light shines through the diamond.

Instead of viewing our children’s differing abilities as something to overcome, we need to view them as stars that need to shine as brightly as possible. We should help our children embrace their differences so they can build on those strengths. All our children have amazing strengths and abilities; some just need more help showing them to the world. We need to teach our children to embrace their differences and be proud of them, they make us who we are, and who we are is AWESOME and DISTINCT.

One of my favorite movie lines is: Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”  — What a Girl Wants

Different “Our Way” is defined as: “The key to an extraordinary life filled with diversity, love, hope and faith.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

C is for Communication

C is for COMMUNICATION

C is for COMMUNICATION.

 Communication is defined as: “1. the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.  2. The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs…” — Dictionary.com

I feel there are two major things missing from this definition, and that is body language and behaviors. Not all children are verbal, not all children can write, but all children can indicate things with their body movements and/or behaviors. Our children may not be able to tell us what they need/want, but we can see by their eyes what they are fixating on. They may not be able to tell us they are sick or what is bothering them, but we can watch to see where are they touching and/or catering to. They may not be able to tell us the range of emotions and thoughts they have, but if we follow their cues, we just may learn something new about them and our world. They may not be able to tell us they love us, but they show us everyday. A child’s body language and behaviors, (especially changes in them), can be a gateway to a wealth of communication; we just need to get better at understanding and reading the signs of what they are trying to tell us. What can we do to open up new lines of communication with our children?

Communication “Our Way” is defined as: “various methods of interaction between us, our children and the world that help us to “talk” to and learn from, or simply love and enjoy, each other.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

B is for Behavior

B is for BEHAVIOR.

B is for BEHAVIOR.

Behavior is defined as: “refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment. It is the response of the system or organism to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary.” – Wikipedia

Wow! My brain hurts just reading that.  😉

I feel the most important thing to take from that very technical definition is that behavior can be an involuntary response to the environment. As parents of special needs children we have heard all the judgments about our children’s behavior.  Some are favorable and some are down-right atrocious.

When I talk about our Angel’s behavior it encompasses everything they do. A behavior could be a certain way they like to be held. A behavior could be the way they chew/pick at the lip until it bleeds. A behavior could be when they say: “Which One?” letting me know they want to pick something. A behavior could be when they meltdown. A behavior could be the smile they give right before the return to something I have asked them not to do. A behavior could be anything that happens consistently in our day.  I often feel that when I speak about my children’s behaviors people always assume the worst, and can’t see the positives that are being displayed. Even in the worst meltdown, which is far from pleasant, there is a positive; the positive is that they are expelling all the energy and emotion they need to start feeling better. Although they may not have the proper tools to let us know what is upsetting them in a constructive manner, at least they do know how to get it out so they can start getting back to a more calm and happy state. Behaviors do not have to be “good” or “bad”  they can just “be”,  yet again I come back to the belief that the Autistic world is filled with beautiful shades of gray.

Behavior “Our Way” is defined as: “expressions of ones wants/needs, in response to sensory messages being sent/received internally, in reaction to ones environment. Always a learning/teachable opportunity for all involved.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

A is for Acceptance

A is for ACCEPTANCE

A is for ACCEPTANCE.

Acceptance is defined as: “a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit” – Wikipedia.

Seems like such a gloomy word/definition, but it isn’t or at least it doesn’t have to be, it can be a beacon in the darkness for many. We should accept our children for who they are and what they are capable of. We should love them unconditionally and remind them that it is okay to be different. We should always try to view their strengths and weaknesses in a realistic manner. Then we can get to work. Although our children know acceptance, and that they do not need to be fixed or changed, they should also know there is always room for improvement. So we can play, laugh, do “crazy” things, or just relax and cuddle. All the time we are engaging our children in any type of activity, we are teaching them how to build on their strengths. We should recognize their limitations, but give them gentle little pushes outside their comfort zone, so that they may learn and grow. Sometimes these pushes may have positive results, and sometimes they won’t. When they don’t we should try to examine why that particular method didn’t work for us, then we can go back to the drawing board and come up with a new one.  All the while telling and showing our children that we know its hard, frustrating and sometimes just makes us sad.  Although, we all have bad days, and its okay to feel the way you feel, don’t let that emotion takeover for too long, but find a way to help yourself feel better.  Always find a way to help yourself be happy and proud, smile and show the world your pearly whites.

Acceptance “Our Way” is defined as: “Love them for who they are, be proud of them and all their accomplishments, assist them in their learning and growth so they can be the best person they can be.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

ABC’s Autism Style

As a new project, that I pray will help me to start writing on a daily basis, I will be sharing our version of the ABC’s, Autism Style.

I will choose one word for the letter of the day, and provide some thoughts on that word and how we feel it relates to Autism. I am hoping to be able to do the entire alphabet in a fun way, although some days may be more serious than others. You will probably see a lot of  “should,”  “could,”  “can,” and  “try”  as these come out, please know they are not instructions to anyone, just the way we keep ourselves on track, and get back on the horse when we make mistakes/bad choices.

If anyone has a specific word/subject they would like to see or write about, please let me know. I would be happy to share your thoughts as well

Intro to ABC’s Autism Style

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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