-photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash
I'm a big fan of the author Brené Brown. She talks a lot about how to communicate with anyone and how toxic shame is to our society. She opens herself up, making herself vulnerable, in all of her books and talks, and I love what she teaches about bravery.
In my book, as well as my articles, I talk a lot about how to talk to oneself, and the importance of being a positive self-coach. I hear a lot of judgment from all parts of society these days. It's the human condition. People are saying openly hostile things to each other, sometimes questioning each other's sanity, and the truth is, most of us are also saying incredibly hostile and judgmental things to ourselves as well. Think about how you talk to yourself when you're upset at the end result of your efforts. Would you put up with a friend who treated you that way? Think of the stories you tell yourself when you're afraid. Are you always positive and encouraging, or do you dwell on the negative? Would you treat a small child that way? We carry parts of our childhood selves with us for our entire lives in our unconscious. We have to learn to be careful of how we talk to ourselves.
I think one of the purposes of life is to figure out how to rise above our programming. It helps to realize that everyone's got programming that prevents them from seeing things any differently than how they're currently seeing things. Especially in times of stress, all of us tend to react with our emotional and primitive brain. The trick is to learn to stay aware and present as this is happening so we can avoid it. Tools like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Focusing, and therapy offer us a chance to stay present so that we can be in the executive level thinking offered by our prefrontal cortex. If we feel our anger rising, if we feel our indignation mount, if we sense self-righteousness, if we are aware of fear, jealousy, insecurity, I guarantee that our thought process is being hijacked by the emotional and primitive brain. When we're triggered, it feels so normal, so safe, to indulge in emotional or primitive brain thinking. That's how I spent the first forty years of my life. Learning how to develop and practice tools to stay present is an ongoing challenge, but one I'm so grateful for. I'm happier and calmer than I've ever been.
I talk about how shame helps drive the opioid epidemic in my two part article on Thrive Global. Here's the link to part I. Here's the link to part II. Let me know what you think. And check out Brené Brown. She's awesome.
Hi and welcome to you,
Perhaps it seemed that one day your child's odd behaviors just seemed like quirks, and the next day, they became a problem for his or her kindergarten teacher, and you and your family suddenly found yourselves on a conveyor belt towards diagnosis and intervention.
Ask around; you may find a friend of a friend who knows a neuropsychologist. You'll be basing so many decisions on their findings, so you want to find one with a great reputation whom you click with.
One big thing that often goes missing on a neuropsychologist’s report, something that I think everyone should know about, is the importance of finding a good family therapist. Take a good look at your spouse. One or the other of you, or possibly both of you, could start to struggle with anxiety or depression over your child’s diagnosis. How can you best support your spouse? Yourself? If your spouse’s coping mechanism is denial, insisting on getting services could drive you apart. Having a professional help educate and mediate between the two of you could be helpful, so it’s not all on you.
Your child is still the same wonderful being s/he was before the diagnosis, but dreams and expectations for his/her future are potentially changed. Your relationship with your spouse could be challenged. The workload of taking your child to get treatments is stressful. Trying to stay on top of educating yourself about treatments can be overwhelming. Juggling all of that is very difficult even if one of you is a stay-at-home parent. If you’re both working, it can feel like over-the-top stress.
The expectations placed on autistic spectrum families is high. AS kids don’t always act in ways that make them, or the rest of their stressed-out family members, welcome at family get-togethers or friends’ parties. Maybe individual counseling is necessary to help each parent cope with that stress. There’s nothing like an intact, happy family for providing security and consistency for your autistic spectrum child. Think of therapy like an insurance policy for maintaining an intact family. However expensive therapy seems, it’s nothing compared to the cost of divorce, and the splitting of resources.
The more successful outcomes I'm aware of were in families who saw therapists, so if you have an autistic spectrum child, think about family counseling. One last thing to keep in mind is to be kind to yourself. Life is about trying and learning, so give yourself a big hug for how hard you try and how far you've come. You are the best advocate your child has. Be kind to yourself by pacing yourself. You’ll get where your child needs you to be. One day at a time.