Friday, October 7, 2016

It was an...Accident

Occasionally there are 'happy accidents', like bumping into some you haven't seen in a very long time at Disneyland. But more often than not 'accidents' are unfortunate incidents that you rather wish would not have happened. They make us irritated, angry, disappointed or worse.

We can't rid the world of accidents, but what we can do is turn them into teachable moments. A teachable moment is one that requires the "teacher" to offer compassion instead of anger, and be calm rather than be frustrated with the situation. A teachable moment allows the "teacher" the opportunity to illustrate a life lesson that really can best be taught by experience.

So what do we do when our child comes to us and says, "I'm sorry, it was an accident"? No matter whether it was a window, a family heirloom, or a bumper, we must seize the opportunity to help them learn from their mistake. With many people, and that includes those on the autism spectrum, a life experience is often a much better teacher than words alone.

I believe that the more senses and emotions we use during an experience, the greater memory, impact and effect it has on our future. If we experience something through sight, hearing, and touch our understanding is deeper. So when we learn through an experience, like an accident, the chances of us making the same mistake again are significantly less. We call this learning from our mistakes.

What is the lesson to be taught after an accident? Reviewing the moments prior to the event and considering alternative options will help our children make different choices in the future. Maybe we don't play baseball with our friend’s back to the kitchen window, rather we practice a bit further away, or shift the direction that the ball is headed. Maybe we don't play fetch with the dog in the living room; rather we walk in to the backyard where everyone gets fresh air. Maybe we don't touch the radio while driving, rather we pick a station and let it play until we are parked. Hindsight is a great tool. What could we have done differently?

After an accident we “teachers” have the incredible opportunity to offer not one but two lessons. The first thing we teach is that there are options that can help reduce the risk of an accident, and each requires a little prior planning. The second and equally important lesson we teach is that accidents, or problems can be handled with calm tones and clear heads.  We are not only teaching with our words but with our actions as well.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Whose Line is it Anyway?

I was recently binge watching the show 'Glee' on Netflix, and catch the episode where they pay tribute to a cast member that died during their 5th season. As two actors discussed their great loss, the student points out to the teacher that this line between the two dates on the plaque represents his whole life. It was the words that the teacher said in response that lingered with me.

She said, "What are you going to do with your line"?

It got me thinking about what am I doing with my line?

I have many titles in this line; daughter, sister, aunt, wife, friend, boss, donor, author, advocate and volunteer. However, I think that mom is my most important title.  My son has truly blessed me with so much; motherhood of a special child...
Has introduced me to new was of thinking
Has taken me to my deepest sorrow
Has brought me my greatest joy
Has taught me patience
Has given me the opportunity to support others
Has shown me I can do things I never thought possible
Has made me find gratitude in the simplest things
Has made me a teacher
Has taught me how to cook new foods
Has created a writer, presenter and advocate
Has taught me so much about how one human can love another

I'm proud of my line, and I have my son to thank for that.

I will finish this blog with the actor’s final words of the episode "Have a good line"

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pay Attention to the Fuel Gauge

Before we reach the age of 16 we know enough about cars to know that they require gasoline to run.  We all understand that after about 300 miles of driving (less if you are going uphill or sitting in traffic) you have to fill up the tank. The fact is the car, either Kia or Jaguar, needs something as simple as gas to keep it moving forward.

I’d like to apply that same logic to People. A person can go roughly 5 or 6 days with out refueling (less if your family has had a particularly full or challenging week).  Your week may have included; a change in the schedule at work, someone getting sick, an argument with your partner, or a difficult test that made the week more stressful.

However, rather than recognizing that your tank is running low, we tend to ignore the fuel gauge and keep going, sometimes even after the red light goes on. We would never ever think we could magically make the car go another 20 miles without gas, why do we then think that we don’t need to stop for refueling?

Ever find yourself running late for an appointment, only to jump in the car and realize you didn’t have enough gasoline to get you where you needed to go, and you now had to spend extra time and stop for gas? That is what we are doing by not paying attention to the fuel gauge.

This week I spent 2 hours with a glass of wine and a dear friend. We laughed, swapped stories of our children, and made future plans.  I got up from the patio table and felt significantly lighter in my mood, and while I walked to the car I noticed a larger smile on my face. I realized later on that evening, that there was a calm in my voice I hadn’t heard in a couple of days, I was able to tackle a task I had been procrastinating on, and I fell asleep with a clearer, calmer mind.  My tank had been filled.

What would happen if we begin to treat ourselves a bit better than the family car in the driveway? What would happen if we had real expectations for what we can and can’t ask of ourselves? What if we gave ourselves the permission to refuel on a regular basis? 

What fills your tank??

Friday, September 16, 2016

Better Living thru Chemicals?

Better Living thru chemicals?
My 80 something year old mom thinks that all issues can be solved with a pill.  Got a problem, visit a Doctor and get a new prescription.  There is generally not one magic pill to fix all that ails you.  Some medication options are experimental, some are happy side effects from other diagnosis, and some are… well, not legal in all states.

Me, I believe in a multi-faceted approach to problem solving. Therapy, medication, and environmental changes and activities are all part of the process.  However, sometimes after years of trial and error, a new direction and medication is recommended. 

Six weeks ago we embarked on just that path. Being the eternal optimist, I am always open to hear about new and exciting treatment options and consider the possibility of what changes they could bring.  As I have done with all the prior recommendations, I opened my laptop and read many good and bad reviews, possible side effect and potential benefits. I must admit that this approach can be scary, as people who have had bad experiences are often the first to share or complain. After getting overwhelmed by the information, a leap of faith is often in order. So out of equal parts desperation and hope, we tried it.

I am, at this moment, ecstatic with the almost miraculous changes ½ of a teeny tiny pill can create. My son’s ability to stay calm in situations of frustration has been dramatic. His interest in his own success is exciting. His engagement in the world around him, and needs of others has altered significantly.  

Modern medicine continues to find solutions that the natural human body struggles to do itself. I continue in my hopeful belief that there is always the ability to improve oneself.

We are all a work in progress, and my job as mom continues to be helping my son be the best he can be!