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Click the image to watch the video for a special BONUS TIP!
Today I’m excited about sharing with you some tips on how to get ready for Halloween since it’s right around the corner! As autism parents, this might be a little different for us than it is for neurotypical families.
The first tip is that you need to practice. The first thing I’m doing is showing you how to get ready. You want to do some dress rehearsals. Don’t wait until the actual day of Halloween to put your child in their costume. If they don’t like it, if they don’t like the feel of it – and you know our children are more sensory sensitive – then they are going to have meltdowns during Halloween because they aren’t comfortable. So what I do with Zachary is I always try to get his costume early, and I always try to keep him included in the costume decisions so I have him pick out what costume he’s going to be. We try it on the day before Halloween, or days before Halloween, to get him used to the whole concept on what Halloween is. While you’re trying on costumes, you want to make sure you talk to them about what the rules of Halloween are. You want to make sure you give them a nice social story. Make sure you describe to them what’s going to happen for Halloween: you’re gonna get dressed (if you have pictures use that to help them with the story), you’re gonna go from house to house, you’ll get get candy and you can choose them. Just show them what it will be. During that time some of you may like to practice. Practicing always helps, so as they’re getting dressed act like it’s a costume rehearsal. During that rehearsal, you want to make sure that we try it on early, and we speak about it – what are the do’s and don’ts, it’s okay to go to houses with mom, it’s okay for us to do this house. You can tell them the names of the homes or show them the path.
Then you want make sure it’s not too long, keep it short! Halloween doesn’t have to be long and dragged out. Guess what happens when we drag it out? Us parents are the ones that are having way more fun than our kids when we drag it out. I like to go early in the game. As soon as I pick Zachary up we head straight there. Soon as I pick him up from school that day, I take his costume, sometimes we get dressed in the car, and in the bright and day time we go trick or treating. Don’t wait for the night time y’all, go early!
Then we also want to make sure we talk about what happens with the candy when we come back. Yes, we have to have a candy plan! And we need to discuss that early in the game, because we don’t want to wait until they come back home and they’re having this meltdown because you didn’t explain to them which ones they can have. They can have five, they can have three, they can have none. You can decide.
I have an extra special BONUS TIP that you can only learn by clicking the image above to watch my Facebook live video where I talk to autism parents about these tips for Halloween. Make sure you share this blog post or the video with other autism parents. We want our kids to be included in all the festivities, including Halloween!
Click the image to watch the full video!
Today we’re gonna be talking about BULLYING because October is Bullying Awareness Month. I want to give 3 important things that you must know about bullying – and I’m saying this specifically for my autism moms, my special needs moms, but my regular parents can benefit from it also because I think we all need this information. A study that Autism Speaks did shows that 60% of children are more likely to be bullied when they have special needs as compared to 25% of children without special needs. So that means that there’s an increasing chance that our au-mazing gifts are going to be bullied sometime in their life. So what are three things that you must know?
You have to teach your child what bullying looks like. A lot of our kids don’t know what bullying looks like, they don’t understand the concept. So, you have to demonstrate it to them, you have to be the mean guy. You have to have pretend moments or acting time when you can show them what bullying looks like – it can be someone who wants to take your lunch from you and make you feel really bad. At the beginning of the school year Zachary came to me and said a student in his class told him that he needs to bring $5 to school and give it to him. I was like “What?? What do you mean?” He said yes, one of his friends from elementary school told him that he needs to get $5 tomorrow or else! And I said, “Or else what?” And he takes his hands and shows me that he’s going to take his hand and push him or push his face against something. So I sat down and explained to him that’s bullying, and if he does that you tell him no, that you are not going to bring him $5 tomorrow, and that your mom is going to call his mom. The key of it was letting him know that this isn’t a normal situation – you’re not supposed to bring someone money, and if someone makes you feel unsafe and if you don’t there’s a consequence, that’s a form of bullying. He didn’t know that because he’s never described this behavior before. So I had to sit down with him, and show him, and give him different scenarios.
You want to communicate with your child. You want to keep that communication open. This is the time when you have to communicate with them and make sure they feel very comfortable coming to you to talk about it. You have to create a safe space for them because a lot of our kids aren’t sure how to say anything or what to say. So you’re gonna talk about it more often, you’re gonna show them what it looks like, and create a safe space for them. For my parents with children who are nonverbal, you still want show it to them. You still want to demonstrate that that’s not okay. Look at your child, they will be showing you discomfort with school. It’s going to be something uncomfortable for them. They may protest going to school, they may cry at certain times. They are gonna show you other signs that are saying something is going on. Stay on top of it.
You want to make sure that you create a plan with the school. Sit and talk with the teachers and let them know “hey this is a time where other kids may want them to do something, and I want you guys to take time to either talk about it in class or take time to observe what’s happening with the students in your classroom.” Be aware when people are saying things their tone of voice, the way another child responds to things. When children are being bullied you will always see the response in their face, in their change of mood, in not being happy when it comes to school and it has nothing to do with academics. So this is a time when you have to create a plan with the school so that you can have that on going communication. Check in on them, I can’t say this enough. You gotta check in, you gotta keep communication open, you gotta make sure that you are a safe place they can come to speak to about. The next thing you want to do is make sure that you’re talking to the teachers. If they have a system in place that when bullying is occurring how will they respond to it? Is it a conversation that they’ll have? Are there regulations that they have in the school? Are there consequences that are going to happen as a result of it? Create it, because it differs every place you go. I can’t tell you one thing because every school and every system has different anti-bullying rules. But they key of it all that I’m always going to come back to is: communication. It’s making sure you have a safe space, and of course teaching the children what bullying looks like and doesn’t look like, and emphasizing how it makes a person feel. No one ever wants to feel uncomfortable or like their rights are being violated. The bully doesn’t want to feel it either, so they need to understand more about it. Our schools need to speak about it more so that our children are more comfortable identifying it and knowing what the system is, and what are the things we do when it does occur.
I work to create support groups and coaching for families who have children on the spectrum. Being an Autism parent myself, I understand the struggles, and obstacles that sometimes may come with parenting a child on the spectrum. I have also recently written a book, #1 Best Selling AU-MAZING GIFT: A Journey to Autism Acceptance.
This past month, I have had the pleasure of interviewing some Au-mazing moms from all over the world to get an idea of what their experiences have been like. I find that when we can connect through each other’s experience, we can also find ways we can help each other.
This week, I spoke with Au-mazing Parent Kim Mastrofine . Here is her story:
What were the first signs/symptoms you child has Autism?
Lining up his toys
Tip toe walking
What was your first reaction to your child’s “Autism” diagnosis?
Nervous, overwhelming, scared, confusedValidation of what I already assumed. I recently moved to a new state and felt like a fish out of the water trying to learn where and who to go to for him to receive the necessary services for him to start getting the help he needed.
If you could give one piece of advice to another parent what would it be?
Allow your child to be themselves ?
What is one of the hardest parts about being a parent of an Autistic child?
Feeling helpless when your child is having a hard day!
What is one the most rewarding part about being a parent?
Seeing my child grow at his own pace!
Click the image to watch the full video!
Today I’m bringing you strategies on how to shift out of your funk. First, I just want to let you know that you’re not alone, and that there are other parents who feel it like you. I’m empowering you out there to help each other, to help us. Sometimes I’m the one feeling it, and sometimes I’m the one helping. I never want it to seem like I’m never going through it because I have those days too. Acknowledging the moments when you’re feeling like this is important, it’s critical. So let’s get into some strategies for getting out of our funk.
Identify that funk. When you can just sit down and say, “oh my god that’s me. I’m feeling lost, I’m feeling stuck, I’m feeling completely powerless right now,” it’s part of the way to healing, getting past it, and getting through it. Allow yourself to feel it. Be in it, embrace it. Far too long we’re pretending, far too long we’re walking around with a “face” on and not being able to say openly “this is how I feel, this is the moment I’m having.” Acknowledge it. Say it out loud. Just saying “me!” allows yourself a certain freeness to know that “hey, no I’m not doing fine, I’m freaking out right now. I don’t know the answer. I’m so stressed I feel like I’m walking backwards.” Allow yourself some time to be in it and be okay with it.
Have a positive listener as you’re allowing yourself some time. Make sure that you have some friends or a group of people that are good, positive listeners. The people who you can share info with who don’t always want to give you an answer or solve it, but who are just THERE. Or, you can start writing down what’s going on and speak it or write it. Start writing down the things you’re grateful for. Start writing it down, writing it down, writing it down, and speaking it. I’m saying “I’m grateful for breath, I’m grateful for the fact that I’m alive today, I’m grateful for the energy, I’m grateful for my son, I’m grateful that even though it’s a challenge I know there’s a rainbow at the end of this, I’m grateful for waking up this morning, I’m grateful for these shoes”. I take myself through this gratitude exercise until somehow I feel this shift happening. If you don’t feel the shift happening, keep going. Sometimes it can take a good 10, 15, or 20 minutes of “I’m grateful for___.” Just keep hitting it, and you will start to feel more gratitude. As parents, if we spiral any further we’re no good for our babies, absolutely no good. Because all they get is the energy of our funk. And guess what: even though they’re having rough times, they absolutely do no deserve that. That means we need to get our ish together. It means “hey lady, you with the funk, you, yes you, you need to get it together!”
Create a plan. We gotta create a plan out of it. Some of you that can’t do it alone, of course I’m always gonna offer a 15 minute consult of no charge to you. I’ve sat on many phone calls with many of you guys and just listened to you, and then I say, “ Ok alright. That’s the funk, now lets see how we move past this. How do we create a plan? Let’s get your power back. What action steps can you do now to start moving you towards that?” If you’re stuck at that, that’s where you need a coach – when you need someone that can give you a little bit of clarity. If you can do it by yourself even better, that’s fine. The key about it is creating a plan allows you to move. Even though you might not think it’s the right move, and even though you’re questioning yourself, once you come up with a plan or some kind of action, it will lead you towards the right direction. You don’t have to know all the how’s, you don’t have to know all the details of it. You just have to know that “I can’t stay stuck here. I can’t be at the same space today, tomorrow, and the next day … what else can I do?” And when you run out of answers, stop trying to do it alone and get someone else with expertise that can help you get results.
As you make moves, doors will open. When you put together an action and results based plan with specific things to help make sure it goes through, doors will open. Let’s start moving.