Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Holiday Survival

The holiday are the most wonderful time of the year ...right. Except if your darling son or daughter is on the spectrum, then the sights, smells and sounds create anxieties within a person who likes things just the way they know them. To this point I remind you all about the amazing tool of cuing.

“Cuing is the act of front-loading the child with information we assume they know, but have really no clue about. So cuing prior to a social engagement is an exceptional tool. Our pattern (when visiting my my parents) is that on the hour long drive to the grandparents home we chat. We talk about things like who else is going to be at the house, what we will be doing, what we will be eating and how long until we eat. These are important pieces of information to front load.”
Excerpt from Embrace Unique, the power of hope, humor and love on the spectrum

With all the extra things that are happening, remembering  to load the presents, have the family dressed correctly, making sure the dessert is cooked and plated, we often forget to take care of the emotions. Managing the emotional health of your family should be an item on your holiday to do list. If we do not talk the time to explain (possibly more than once) what the day will look like, I would bet there will be drama. It’s a family gathering so I can guarantee there will be drama, but let it come from your sisters family not yours.

Survival Guide:
*Take time to review the day with your whole family; information is power
*Pack a bag of yummy treats you know your child will enjoy; no fun if you can't eat anything
*Make time for a quiet nap or walk, away form the activities of the day or weekend; break time is healthy
*Be mindful that your stress is the guide for how they should act; try to enjoy the special time of Holidays together!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ATYPICAL has a message for all!

True confessions, I am a Netflix binge watcher. There I said it. Sometimes for fun, other times for escape (don’t judge you do it too). This week I saw a new show pop up. It is called ATYPICAL.  The short plot summary says “Sam, an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, decides it's time to find a girlfriend, a journey that sets Sam's mom on her own life-changing path as her son seeks more independence”. I am not sure if this show will help me escape, but I’ll watch the first episode and see what it's all about.

After the first show I was hooked and ready to binge. After viewing the 10 episode series (again don’t judge they are only 30 minute shows), we get to know the fabulous and the crappy behaviors of the mom, the dad, the younger sister, the therapist, and a supporting cast of school mates, support group friends, and coworkers.  Sam narrates much of the show, so we get an insightful look into the black and white thinking, the need for order, and rules that he uses to navigate and try understand this new social territory. As we know each new chapter of life brings with it new rules and guidelines. Sam at the age of 18 has managed with the support of his family, and coworkers to navigate fairly well thus far. He has meltdowns, perseverates, and draws connections to his favorite topic Antarctica, which often help interpret social behavior.

The creator, Robia Rashid and writers do no shy away from sharing the challenges that come from parenting a unique child, nor do they miss the opportunity to show the challenges of being their sibling . I found myself being at times proud, and furious at each of the characters.  Each of the shows main characters are flawed, just as all we humans are.

Sam throughout the season effectively uses the tool of practice to be prepared for future situations. When he is met with the comment “practice makes perfect”, Sam replies “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes better, nobody's perfect”.

And in the end….that is exactly what the show is about….Nobody's Perfect! It turns out to be a great message for all of us as we face the daily adventures of raising a child or adult on the spectrum. I think I have a new mantra.