No More 0 to 60 in Seconds.

Stop watchSummertime is a favorite season for us! It is a time when our family is at it’s happiest! Why?  Because we don’t have the extra task demands and high achieving, perfectionist attitude that the school year brings. The house is abuzz with happy kiddos that enjoy the new schedules that summer brings. With that being said we have come to:

A screeching halt! Hear the brakes? As the summer season sets the clouds begin to roll in. Transitions make things challenging and stressful. Which means that mother and child do not always seem eye to eye. How to combat this? Or at least make it easier? I have found a few things that seem to be working and lessening the stress for all. First praise, ( positive reinforcement). “I love the way you smile when you awake.” “I love the way you help set your clothes out at night.” “I love the way you are taking your time while brushing your teeth.” This seems to set the right mood. However there are those moments when things go sideways. Not always easy to think in the moment. Times when I am not on my game. Creating not so positive parenting moments.

My kiddo is all too keen on detecting voice inflection changes. However processing those tones breaks down. “Why is everyone mad at me?!” “Nobody likes me!” “Everyone hates me!” is how it is heard. So I began to think what could we say as parents and siblings to help our ASD child and sibs communicate. Some catch phrase that would allow better communication before being in an unhappy place. While brainstorming after a chain of a not so great moments I/my little man came up with “T.O.” for a buzz word. Each time there is a moment when I am beginning to have my voice change tone or a sibling starts, my little man calls out “T.O.” aka “Time Out”.

This allows myself, my husband or sibs to take a step back and to re-evaluate the situation and tone. It also gives our frustrated little man a moment for calm breathing and verbal interaction. “Why are you mad at me?” This leads to better communication, better understanding and better feelings. Less moments spent going from 0-60 in seconds… It helps us to all keep “calm engines. So far this is shaping up to be a great school year! True that it is early, but maybe we can keep the summertime sun around a little longer! 

From a Twin’s Perspective

Growing up with a sibling with autism can be challenging and bring up emotions that children don’t yet know how to articulate. A few strategies that helped my family include:

- Communicate and listen frequently: Talking about Autism, and what your child is feeling shouldn’t wait until there’s a problem at hand. Having these conversations and listening intently to the answers during calm times can help everybody feel more comfortable talking about their feelings and being more open to learning.

- Acknowledge the challenges and feelings that having a sibling with autism can bring up: There are many reasons for children with siblings with autism to be upset, ranging from teasing at school to frustration with the family dynamic. By listening to and acknowledging everybody in the family, it’s possible to comfort them in a way that further helps them accept and appreciate their sibling instead of resenting them for being different.

- Find outlets for stress outside of the home: Raising a child with autism can be extremely stressful. Whether it’s yoga, walking, bike riding, arts and crafts, volunteering or anything else, having a stress relieving outlet outside of the home is an easy way to avoid taking stress out on loved ones.

These are just a few techniques that can be used to create a positive environment for the whole family while teaching kids to accept people with differences and their differing needs.

 

You Make my Heart Sing!

Debbie and Her Little SisGrowing up with an older sister with developmental disabilities did not seem unusual. My mother decided early on that we were just a regular family. Not easy for Mom, but as adult children we think of ourselves as equal family members.

My sister recognizes we are different. She still lives at home. Although she works as a grocery store clerk, this is not enough for her to feel independent. As a family, we have developed other ways.Often it might be easier to do something yourself, but I can truly see how important it is for Debbie to do tasks herself.She does her own laundry- taught by breaking the chore into simple routine steps.She is responsible for her room and making her lunch. My mom typically buys the food, but Debbie contributes by listing what she wants to eat.

What seemed to be missing was a social life.After years of going to church, she met a boy.A big life event. He lives in a residential group home, and she says they will marry some day. Not sure what will happen, but having someone special has been great.My mom bought her a pretty wedding dress. It was a message to say we see Debbie as an adult. Although she is not totally independent, we support her dates: Driving them to movies, and taking them to dinner, but sitting at separate tables. I tell her how special that is because even I do not have a boyfriend. My reward? Hearing Debbie say, You make my heart sing. Maybe that is why a sister and I both work in special ed classrooms.These kids remind us what is truly important.