Throw out the Autism Books. 📚


You’ll probably never read them anyway.

It’s okay.

The truth is, you didn’t buy those books for information.

You bought them for the same reason I spent 💰 attending continuing education courses for BCBAs.

You want to feel some relief from the fear of “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

So you armor yourself with more information in hopes that it will alleviate the cloud of self doubt that has been stalking you since you child’s Autism diagnosis.  

Spoiler alert: it won’t work.

That is because information does not create self-confidence. 

Trust does.

✅ Trust in yourself that you are the expert on your child.

✅ Trust that you will make the next right decision.

✅ Trust that you will listen to your instincts.

✅ Trust that you can course correct at anytime.

✅ Trust that you will have your own back no matter what.

You won’t find any of this in a book. 📚

It is something you create for yourself with your thoughts.

But how???

Start with what you do know.  

You can do this by getting out a pen and paper 📝 and answering a few Powerful Questions, like the ones below.   

Be as specific as possible!

🧐 What evidence do I have of my resourcefulness?
🤔 What do I know about my child?
🤓 What have I already figured out?

Find as many examples as you can to get your brain focused on what you do know.

This is the best book you will ever read about Autism.

Have a wonderful week!


Lisa

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“You are ruining my life!”

“You are ruining my life!”

Have you ever had this thought (or some version of it) about your child with Autism?

Be honest.

Thoughts centered around the belief that if your child was different, then your life would be better.

If they:

  • Talked
  • Slept
  • Didn’t meltdown down in public
  • Behaved in school
  • Used their coping strategies

I sure have.

And one day, in a very heated moment, this thought fired out of my mouth like a missile directed at my son, Ben. 💣

I quickly and profusely apologized, and told him “I didn’t mean it.”

But that was a LIE.

The truth is: in those moments of anger, I believed my son’s disability controlled my life, and I resented him for it.

Cue the avalanche of shame: 

He is Autistic and has severe OCD! 
How can I get angry for him for repeating himself?  
He can’t help it!
I am the worst!

If this sounds familiar, I want to tell you, it is NORMAL to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and yes, even resentful at times in the endless 24-7 marathon of raising a child with special needs. 

But shame will not make you a better parent; it will make parenting harder and rob you of joy.

The good news is that you can avoid the endless shame spiral by stopping it in its tracks.

Here’s how.

1️⃣ Recognize.  The thoughts and emotions that you are shaming yourself about are not rational, they are emotional. Your rational thinking has been hijacked and toddler brain is running the show.

2️⃣ Regulate.  Instead of ruminating on your thoughts, take some simple steps to down-regulate your nervous system from its stress response.  Deep breaths, splashing cold water on your face, holding an ice cube are quick ways to bring some calm into your body.  Have more time? Take a shower, get a big hug from a trusted person, talk to a friend who gets it. 

3️⃣ Reframe.  Once you have calmed your body and your rational thinking is back online, it is time to reframe your thoughts by asking yourself – “what did I really mean?” For me, “You are ruining my life,” really meant: “I wish you would stop interrupting me so that I can finish my work.”

4️⃣ Release.  Now it is time to release the self-judgment.  Instead of indulging in the shame game, it is time to give yourself grace by reminding yourself that emotional reactions are normal and that they do not mean anything about you or your love for your child.  

5️⃣ Rinse & Repeat.  Beware that these thoguths are not going to go away overnight. They will likely pop up again, especially when you are dysregulated.  This means you have to do the work of catching these thoughts, calming your nervous system, and responding to these thoughts in ways serve you.

Quit it, Miss Fix It

Quit it, Miss Fix It

Two months into the COVID shutdown, my son was fighting to read sight words.  Not because he was incapable of reading, but because his OCD had tuned a once enjoyable activity into hell on earth.

As he read, he was insisting on looking up EVERY word and then looping on the multiple definitions of each word and how or whether the various definitions made sense in the context of the sentence he was trying to read.

After two weeks of this (and nothing else, COVID shutdown), I was ready to set the book and myself on fire.

I had tried EVERYTHING:

  • Sitting beside him while he read
  • Looking up definitions 
  • Assuring him that AND and ALSO can sometimes be used interchangeably 

As I recounted all of my efforts to my son’s therapist, he did not mince words with me:

“You are doing too much.  If you want to help Ben you need to do less.”

WTAF?!

“How is me doing LESS the solution?,” I asked. “My job is to fix it . . .”

And as soon as the words left my mouth, I knew he was right.

My son has severe Autism and OCD, and I was believing I could “fix” his preoccupation du jour by catering to it.

And it was backfiring on me, BIG TIME because all of the years of swopping in had given my son the message that I can and should be able to solve for all of his problems.

So, on top of being frustrated by his looping thoughts, he was pissed at me for not making it go away. 

Quit It, Miss FIx It 

While wanting to wave a magic wand a make our kids’ struggles go away is nature, it is not realistic, especially for our kids with ASD and its assortment of co-morbid diagnoses.

That is why it is CRITICAL for you to UNSUBSCRIBE to the mistaken belief that you can or should be able to “fix” whatever ails your child. 

The truth is: You can’t.  And, NO ONE has the magic recipe for solving other people’s neurological, mental and emotional struggles.  Believe me, I’ve looked!

What to do?

STOP focusing on what you CAN’T change, and focus on what you CAN. 

And what you can control is ALWAY you – how you are thinking, feeling and responding to whatever challenges you and your child are facing.

If this is something you are struggling with, I can help you now.

Stop waiting, stop staying in pain, and get yourself the support you need NOW.

You can get started by scheduling a consultation with me for my 1:1 program here.  I’ve helped myself and moms like you with these EXACT struggles, and I can help you, too.

The Autism Genie

The Autism Genie

I recently coached a client who was being schooled by her teenage son. 

 

She had a boundary that he was telling her how to enforce.

 

The boundary was simple: homework before video games. 📚 🎮

 

As teenagers do, each day after school, her son morphed into a criminal defense attorney objecting to the boundary as a form of cruel and unusual punishment.  

 

And 3 days out of 5, she sustained his objection.

When I asked her why, she told me:

‘His life is already so hard, and I hate doing anything to make it harder.”

In other words: She was pitying her child with Autism.

The Problem with Pity Parenting 

 

While feeling sadness about our child’s struggles is normal, it is not an excuse for disabling them. 

 

Yet, this is exactly what happens when you parent from a place of “I feel bad for you.” 

 

First, it reinforces your belief that your child is a victim.  This can lead to over-accommodation and overcompensating, depriving your child of the ability to learn important life skills and navigate situations independently.  

 

Second, it communicates to your child that they are not capable of handling certain expectations or that they should not have to in the first place.  This can have the unintended effect of damaging their self-concept and creating learned helplessness.

 

Finally, if you are constantly bending over backwards to please and appease your child, they will see you less as a parent and more like their own personal Genie 🧞‍♀️, making it all the more difficult for you to create and enforce boundaries necessary for their development and understanding of social norms and expectations.

 

Making the Shift 

Unlike a Genie, you can free yourself from the lamp at any time.  Here is how to do it: 

Recognize: You can’t get out of the lamp unless you know you are in it in the first place. This means you need to have the courage and humility to notice when or how you are parenting your child from a place of “I feel bad for you.”

Resist the Blame Game: you may be tempted to beat yourself up or blame yourself for well, everything, but this is not helpful to you or your child.  In fact, the more you blame yourself, the less able you will be to stand strong in the boundaries you create. Instead, shower yourself with tons of self-compassion, reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can. 

Reframe Your Perspective: Stop viewing boundaries as arbitrary restrictions or punishments.  Boundaries are created out of love to provide structure, predictability, and safety, all of which are particularly beneficial for autistic children.

Redefine, gradually: Don’t try to overhaul your entire parenting style or house rules overnight.  Begin with non-negotiable boundaries, like safety rules. As you and your child adjust, you can incorporate more boundaries aligned with their growth and needs.

Remain Consistent: Your child may hate the boundary, but they love consistency. In fact, they need it.  Therefore, once a boundary is set, maintain consistency. It not only reinforces the boundary but also builds trust.

As always, remember: two things can be true: You can have sadness about your child’s struggles and  powerfully parent them to support their best possible outcomes.

P.S. As a recovering Genie, I know what it is like to parent from pity AND how to stop.  Better yet, I have the tools and strategies to help you escape your lamp in less than a fraction of the time that it took me.  Three months to be exact, which is the time commitment for my 1:1 coaching program and YOUR reinvention.

So, you can spend the next 3 months Googling solutions and guilting yourself, or you can ring in 2024 on the road to your reinvention. To get started, book your complimentary consultation call HERE.

Protecting the Asset

Protecting the Asset

In the last week, I have coached my clients through some heavy topics:

911 calls

ER visits

School reprimands

Neighbor complaints

Expulsions

Elopements

While the coaching for each client was different, the thread that ran through every call was this:

Protect the Asset. 

What is “Protecting the Asset”?

“Protecting the asset” refers to the practice of safeguarding and preserving the valuable resources that are essential to the success and continuity of the mission. 

In the context of Autism Parenting, the mission is to care for our children and advocate for their best possible outcomes.

In this mission, YOU are the asset.

You Are Your Child’s Greatest Asset

As an Autism Mom, there’s no one in the world who understands, tends to, and advocates for your child like you do. 

This makes YOU your child’s greatest asset. 

And as such, YOU need protecting.

Unfortunately, no one is going to step up to ensure that you receive the support and respite that you need.

This is why it is your responsibility to take affirmative steps to protect yourself (mentally, emotionally, and physically).

7 Simple Ways to Protect the Asset

1️⃣ Drop the Constant Activity: Despite what the voice in your head is telling you, you don’t always need to be doing something.  Allow yourself moments of rest and relaxation.

2️⃣ Tune Out the “Shoulds” and the “Coulds”: Avoid being overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations. Focus on what’s essential in the present.

3️⃣ Stay in the Present Moment: Worrying about the past or the future can drain your energy. Practice mindfulness to stay grounded in the here and now.

4️⃣ Learn to Say NO: Flex your ability to decline tasks and responsibilities that overwhelm you, whether it’s to your child, a family member, your spouse, or the school PTO.

5️⃣ Take a Break: Stepping away, even briefly, can provide much-needed relief.  This could mean  walking away from your child during a meltdown and allowing them to self soothe.

6️⃣ Outsource: Don’t hesitate to seek help or delegate tasks when possible. Whether it’s hiring help or asking family and friends for assistance, outsourcing can lighten your load.

7️⃣ Communicate Your Needs: Instead of resenting people in your life for not understanding your struggles, tell them exactly what they can do or not do to support you.  

When you take these affirmative steps to protect the asset (which is YOU), you enhance your capacity to manage the challenges and show up for yourself and your family as a less stressed, more resilient version of yourself.

Have a great week!

Lisa

P.S. If you are struggling to Protect the Asset, this is exactly what I can help you with in my 1:1 coaching program. You can get started by booking a complimentary consultation call HERE

Good Grief, It’s October

Good Grief, It’s October

It’s Fall, Y’all and the means pumpkin patches, fall festivals and, of course, trick or treating.

Sounds like a blast, right? 

It sure does to me, and maybe you, too.

But for your child with Autism — that might be another story. 

I remember how excited I was when my son was old enough to participate in all the fall fun.

I also remember how disappointed I was when my son’s only interest in Halloween was wearing a costume (which he already did most days).

I really believed he was missing out.

But the fact is, I was missing out.  

I was missing out on my expectations of what my parenting experience would be like and what I believed his childhood would be like.

This is a really hard reality to confront, but it is the key to navigating Halloween, holidays, and every day with a child with Autism with more ease. 

Indeed, as my son got older and I got wiser, I learned how to mourn my expectations of what I wanted our experience to be, so that I could create and and enjoy our own brand of fall fun.

This is exactly what I encourage you to do this October, and everyday.  To get you started, I am going to share 3 tips for creating joy this fall:

1️⃣ Be Flexible

Yes, I know.  How ironic that I am advising you to be flexible, but hear me out.  Whether you realize it or not, you have expectations about how you think things should be or go.

Unfortunately, your expectations or wishes of how things should go may conflict with reality.

✓ You think your child should want to pick a pumpkin out of a field, but he would rather play in the dirt. 

✓ You think your child should enjoy the hayride, but she refuses to get in the back of a loud and crowded truck.

✓ You think your child should participate in the school costume parade, but they opted to stay in the sensory room with their 1:1.

Yes, this can all be disappointing and painful, but telling yourself that things should be different than they actually are serves no purpose other that to create more pain for you.

Instead of holding tightly to your expectations of how you want things to go, take this opportunity to flex your own creativity and find ways to enjoy time with your child in a way that makes sense for them.

2️⃣ Pivot

Building on the idea of flexibility, one the most important skills for Autism moms is the ability to PIVOT.  

You know when your child is nearing a meltdown or has hit the point of no return.  Instead of trying to white knuckle them through it, be willing to pivot.

This may look like:

✓ Trick or Treating for three houses and calling it quits

✓ Hanging out in the Bounce House, instead of enjoying other festival attractions like hayrides or pumpkin picking.

 ✓ Skipping the corn maze (seriously, who likes these?)

3️⃣ Seek Out Sensory Friendly Events

There is nothing like being around families who just get it, and that is exactly what you get when you attend Autism friendly events. 

For my Connecticut-based moms, I highly recommend Sun, Moon & Stars, Inc., a Waterown-based non-profit serving families with Autism that holds year round Autism friendly events. 

Not only will your child have an opportunity to participate in Autism Friendly events, you will have the chance to connect and create community with other caregivers.

Here are 3 upcoming events to check out.  Act fast – tickets are going fast!

October: Trunk or Treat 👻

November: Santa Train 🎅🏼

December: Letters to Santa 🎄

Don’t live in Connecticut? Seek out opportunities wherever you live OR create your own. Every Autism friendly event or activity that my son has participated over the years originated with a Mom who saw an unmet need and filled it.  That Mom can be you.

Have a great week!