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  1. I was in Los Angeles last weekend, walking around DTLA and people watching and observed something I had seen thousands of times over the years: Parents telling their kids what to do. Not in the sense of "Throw away your trash" or "Come here", but things like "You need to trust me" and "Calm down". It occurred to me that the most effective parents, the ones that have a deep relationship with their child, and the ones that ultimately raise physically & emotionally healthy children that go on to lead independent, successful & fulfilling lives, all have 1 trait in common. They don't use declarations to shape their relationship with their child. They use demonstrations. It's one thing to constantly declare that you can be trusted, you should be respected, or you are an authority. It's another thing entirely to demonstrate that you can be trusted, you are respectable and you are knowledgeable. The parents that we see in our work that are effective are the ones that take time to say all they need to say through their actions, not their words. It's often the little things that send these messages through demonstrations. When your child wants to share something with you, do you brush it off? Are you genuinely interested? How do you model dealing with your own stress, fear and insecurities? The way you show up in the world demonstrates to your child what is important, and, in turn, how they fit into the world.
  2. I sometimes feel like dealing with people with Asperger's is like playing Dungeons & Dragons as a Gnome Wizard and then stumbling into a non-magic zone. "Haha! Your tricks won't work here!" The "normal" tactics that we reach for as a society tend not to work well with folks on the spectrum. In other words: people with Asperger's tend to not respond well to force. I was on a train last night coming back from Los Angeles and the guy behind me was talking about his experiences in military school, and all I could think of was that if someone came up and started yelling at me and telling me what to do, I'd either just laugh at their attempt to control and intimidate me, or shut down and curl up into a fetal ball (depending on how stressed I am that day). What DOES work is helping them get out of Defense Mode. Validating their emotions, holding space for them, and communicating in a softer, gentler way. It's important to remember that folks on the spectrum are usually REALLY overwhelmed already, and so the best thing you can do is make them less stressed, not more. So ask yourself "What is causing them stress, and whats the best way to remove that stress?" and then start from there. That being said, all humans need some stressors, and having them hide in their room all day and avoid the world isn't product either (and actually causes them more stress). So it's a fine line and a fine balance between the two things. So here's my question to you: What do you to to try to find that balance? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
  3. Here's what to do if your child is isolating in their room, and refusing to participate in life.
  4. Time moved slowly in our house. Everyone else’s children grew up quickly, became dentists and lawyers, and most of all, best friends as siblings often do, later in life. Our lives were different. We moved forward in small increments, too often unnoticed, too often unfelt. And our goals were more simple -- get James through sixth grade, be able to go out to dinner as a family without being asked to leave because the kids had a screaming match at the ice cream bar. . . Once Emma asked me why James was so mean to her. “He is always mad at me,” she complained once, as I was driving her to her Polliwog swim lesson. “I love him, but he doesn’t love me.” I was stunned at how succinctly she had put it. I didn’t think I would have to tell her so soon, when she was only four years old. I thought I would have years before I would break the news to her gently, preferably with a psychologist and her father in the room, with lots of hugs and tears and gentleness. But, I took a deep breath and decided to try to explain Asperger’s Syndrome to her. “James is special, not sick, but special,” I said into the rearview mirror. “It’s not like a cold or the flu. It’s a special feeling in his heart and in his mind. He feels things very deeply, and when he gets mad, he gets really mad. When he get sad, he gets really sad.” “Is that why he yells a lot?” Emma asked. “Cause it is really loud.” “I know it is,” I answered. “He is afraid.” “Of what?” Emma asked. “He is afraid of a lot of things,” I answered. “He is afraid of loud noises, new places, foods that are spicy…” “And slippery,” Emma added. “He hates eggs.” “Yes, he does,” I said with a laugh. “You know that he’s different. He can’t accept things like you can.” “Well, he should at least accept me,” she said in all the beauty of four year old wisdom. “I’m his sister.” “He should,” I agreed. And then the tears came. Not from Emma. From me. I bought her books about Asperger’s Syndrome. I explained that he needed to go to a lot of doctors, and that she could either get mad about all the long trips, or she could look forward to all the cool toys they had in the waiting rooms. For the most part, she adapted beautifully, and when one of her friends asked why he got so angry all the time, Emma just said, “He has Asperger’s. Get used to it.” Still, we didn’t host sleepovers at our house. As soon as I explained to her friends’ parents that he had Asperger’s, most of them would politely invite her to their house instead. Emma also had to endure the fact that he didn’t want to go to most of her birthday parties. “It’s not about you,” I would console her. “He just doesn’t like all the noise and all the people.” Emma would cry, but I heard her tell him, “I will save a piece of cake for you and bring home a goody bag for you.” The note that touched my heart the most though, was one she wrote years later to him in one of his birthday cards. Itsaid, said, “I hope you have some good days.” I loved the evenness of it, the acknowledgement that he probably wouldn’t have ALL good days, but that he could have some good days. The “some” just did me in. She knew him, she loved him, and she accepted him. Perhaps one day they would be close.
  5. Are the holidays something you dread? Maybe it’s too many people, high expectation placed upon you or even worse low expectations? You’re not alone. I can tell you that I approach holidays from a very different place now that I know better. What do I mean by know better? I mean listening to my own body and being honest about the capacity I have for celebrations, as well as listening to my twins Lillian & Chloe. Before I understood what Asperger’s/Autism was, I took my daughters behavior personally. I thought Lillian’s refusal to go to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma & Grandpa’s was a direct defiant behavior. When she had a meltdown at the dinner, I thought she was trying to make the day about her and get her way to make us go home. I was wrong! Lillian’s refusal to go to Thanksgiving dinner was because she knew she would be in a good amount of discomfort. She may not have realized why but she knew it would happen and when it did, she just needed to leave. The noise of everyone socializing, the smells of all the food, and the expectation that she needed to participate in these conversations was too much. So yes, she screamed to make it stop and for me to take her to a safe place. I did not hear or see this at the time and for that I have apologized profusely. Today we talk about the events that are coming up and build a strategy to make it possible for Lillian and Chloe to be there. I am now okay if being there is not an option. Each event is different some examples of what we plan for could be a clear exit strategy. Whether this means I or my husband leaves with them or now that they are old enough to Uber home themselves. We see if there might be a quiet room where they could just chill for a little while if they start to have too much stimuli. We have found sometimes when they just remove themselves from the chaos for a little while they are able to return for a bit more time. Just knowing that there is a plan and that I will listen to Lillian & Chloe has made a world of difference. Lillian & Chloe were not trying to make the holidays about themselves, in fact it is most likely the opposite. They did not want to bring attention to the difficult time they were having. As parents we need to listen to our children. They are telling you what they need even when they don’t have the words. Written by Gail Carrier, Founder of OurTism
  6. until
    Parents of people with Asperger’s & Autism: You are doing an amazing job. Seriously. Simply the fact that you are on this page, considering going to an event to help better the life of yourself & your child means you care, and you are doing the best you can with the capacity and resources you have. That being said, one of our favorite ways to avoid making mistakes in the future (and ultimately have a better life as a result) is to hear from others who’ve lived it, made the mistakes for us, and share their wisdom. So in that spirit, we invite you to join us as we share the mistakes our parents made when raising us, what they did right, and what we wish they did differently. Get Tickets & Details Here.
  7. We're returning to Los Angeles for our flagship workshop, Deep Into Defense Mode Live! We'll be in Pasadena, CA on March 21st & 22nd, 2020 with 40 awesome individuals ready to get out of Defense Mode, gain some clarity & know what to do when it comes to motivation, relationships & more. In this workshop, we focus on 4 major areas: Understanding Defense Mode - What goes on inside the mind & body of someone with Asperger's when they are in Defense Mode? Stop Walking On Eggshells - How to hold boundaries and say no in a way that doesn't put them further into Defense Mode, so you can stop walking on eggshells. Holding Space - How to help someone else get out of Defense Mode, without even talking to them. Motivation Without Coercion - How to motivate someone on the spectrum... without resorting to arguing, manipulation, reward or punishment. Have questions? Comment below or use the chat bubble in the bottom right to get in touch. Want tickets & details? Click here.
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