Archives for category: autism friendship

Doesn’t happen easily does it? How much physical pressure do you need? What material do you use? What liquid works best? Are streaks visible in the morning? The evening? Natural light? candlelight? What about when guests come over? Do you leave the streaks and accept the smudges, fingerprints? Do you not turn certain lights on, keep one side of the drapes closed? Do you ask for help? Do you notice other mirrors in other homes that you visit?

car-wax-10-mirrorThis seems like an ongoing process. One with which I am in the middle of. I began this blog before I received a gift from a parent I work with. We are in a family coaching relationship, and she gave me a cloth specifically to clean mirrors THE BEST. She obviously had no idea of my mirror cleaning challenges, yet she showed up with this “random” gift. We never talk cleaning, we never talk about the mundane.

What I realized is that all conversations, and gifts, (and sometimes the conversations are are the gifts) have an option of being purposeful. This special cleaning rag is extremely purposeful and I am grateful.

This makes me open my mind to what is judged as “pointless” conversation. Do you hold certain topics of conversation  for specific people? Do you speak to your child in a way that serves them? Do you speak to children in a way that makes them wrong? Are you fighting to be right in conversations with friends?

My hope is after reading this blog, your take away is to find the purpose in the conversations that you have. To be aware with the words we share makes the sharing more powerful.

A Day of Joy

Who is the number one person that deserves a day of joy?

Mothers. A Day of Joy is an all day event with 4 workshops, lunch, and goody bags. Mothers get to spend a day playing! Dancing! Creating art! And most of all Relaxing. No talk of children, or schedules or what’s for dinner. This day is for Moms to recharge their fuel tanks…

The inspiration for this event came from trading stories with a colleague. While discussing funny things the children we work with do, we got on the topic of Mothers who don’t get to experience the fun. POOF! A DAY OF JOY!

Joy is what rules children. At the core of their existence, children have the capacity to experience joy every single day. As children get older and eventually become adults, they/we can lose our connection to joy, because of responsibilities, fear, judgment, self doubt, guilt, worry, shame etc.

Children experience joy naturally and spontaneously. It can be seen with a sudden skip down the street, a burst of laughter, or seeing a balloon. It’s physiologically healthy to be expressive and clear on what is felt and desired. Adults do not have the space or courage to let all this energy and emotion out, plus the police might be called or we could end up on the front of the local newspaper or for shame: on social media looking crazy.

Mothers’ are overwhelmed. I see the depletion of energy, lack of zest, and low emotional, spiritual, and physical states in Mothers, this is not the most worthy place to parent from, and children are directly impacted by this.

A Day of Joy is a day for Mothers to play and to tune in to their inner and outer Self. There are no expectations other than to show up on time, creating a sacred space. An important agreement we make at the start: “give no advice.”

Mothers attending A Day of Joy experience mind body connections that last in their lives beyond this one day.

I have witnessed women having soul connections, with no words spoken. Spontaneous laughing, hugging and dancing erupt. I have also witnessed Mothers eating lunch alone by choice, and really enjoying not being a caretaker for anyone else, free from any obligations and worries, even if just in the moment.

Mom’s reflect back on the day with peace of mind and disbelief on how good it feels to be free in their bodies and minds.

I know awareness reaches heightened states by having these experiences and opportunities. When some sadness, guilt, worry, bitterness, shame and sorrow get expressed, then real JOY has a place to expand. This kind of joy is the kind that makes life peaceful, makes the skin glow, brings blood pressure down, reduces anxiety and stress, and brings in hope and possibility. This kind of joy elicits the fact that no one is alone in parenting struggles. In place of stress and anxiety are thoughts of humanity, love, trust, compassion, and joy.

Bio: Shane Kulman, MS SpEd is the founder of Your Beautiful Child LLC, private practice. She offers workshops nationwide, as well as local women’s groups. For more information on Shane go to http://www.yourbeautifulchild.comjoy

How One Mother Learned to Find Balance and Joy (NY Metro Parents Magazine).

by Tiffany Caldwell October 16, 2014

One mother of a daughter with autism was going through a lot of changes in life when she found something that seemed empowering, new, and different. Her story, as told to Kaitlin Ahern, shows how a day of joy helped her release negative feelings and embrace the power of self-care.

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My daughter is 7½ years old, and she has autism. She was diagnosed a little over 3 years ago, and caring for and raising her is still a learning process for me. About six months ago, I was told she wasn’t progressing in school. The process of finding her a new school where she could thrive was stressful—it was like a weight, a burden on my shoulders. I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and at about the same time I was having problems with my landlord and saw my rent increase dramatically, so I decided to give up my home.

I was going through a lot of changes in my life at that time, and I was open to something that seemed empowering, new, and different. So when I heard about the A Day of Joy workshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I thought I’d give it a try. The workshop was presented by Shane Kulman, M.S. SpEd, founder of Your Beautiful Child, whom I had met at an Autism Chalk Festival in Prospect Park earlier this year (she is a beam of light!). Shane is a special education therapist and family coach, and the A Day of Joy workshop was meant to empower parents and caregivers of children with special needs, as well as the professionals who work with them, with a sense of self-care, self-love, and a feeling of community.

I woke up the morning of the workshop optimistic and excited to see what it was all about. When I got there, I found a small, intimate group of parents and professionals and noticed the positive vibes. We did some meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling, and we had open conversations. I felt like I really connected with people who I had met for the first time that day.

Afterward, I felt lighter, like I had just released a lot of the negative emotions we all experience—doubt, fear, uncertainty. And I left feeling like a new person with a different view on life. Since then, I’ve had good days and bad days, but I keep telling myself that in due time, everything is going to be alright, and that I just have to stay focused. I keep revisiting that day, and it puts a smile on my face.

I continue to try to find a balance between caring for my daughter and caring for myself. When she was first diagnosed, I was a total wreck and completely overwhelmed. Even sitting down for a few minutes during the day to take a breather made me feel guilty. I’ve learned over time that it’s not a crime to take time for yourself, because you need it—I need time to recharge so I’m able to take care of my daughter to the best of my ability. I know that if my child senses that I’m stressed out, sad, or overwhelmed, those feelings project onto her. Still, it’s hard to find that balance and beat down the guilt and doubt that rise up when I do something for myself. I try to keep in mind that I’m just human, I’m only one person, and as long as I put my best foot forward, that’s all I can do. I know I need to care for myself so I can be around to care for my daughter in the long run.

I’m still learning every day, from workshops and seminars and especially from the amazing people I’ve met along this journey with my daughter. As the parent of a child with special needs, it’s easy to feel lost, alone, afraid, and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s very important to reach out to others. You need people in your life who can relate to what you’re going through, and who can help you along the way. Everyone needs a support system and someone to talk to. It can be a lonely and challenging world, so it’s important to stay connected and know that there’s always someone out there to guide you and give you advice. I feel that the more people you’re connected to, the better off you are, because no one can do it alone. And like the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

Tiffany Caldwell is a Brooklyn mom, a mental health therapy aide, and a passionate advocate for her daughter, who has autism, and for the special needs community at large. She enjoys spending time with her daughter in the plentiful green spaces throughout Brooklyn and watching her child’s imagination blossom through art.

On Your Beautiful Child Radio I have asked many guests “what does autism mean to you,” There were many answers. My answer is FREEDOM. Today the official Autism Awareness Day.  I realize how deeply this answer rings true.    Because of autism, I have a work schedule I create, I have traveled and connected with amazing families, I have purpose and passion in my life, I have permission to create and just be.

My first student (with autism)  was non-verbal and had many “stimming” repetitive behaviors and echolalia.  I began to see a young boy do whatever he needed and wanted to do to make himself happy. He was not offfected by the judgements  of others. He did not follow what was “appropriate.” He was also not impressed with my cool toys, my happy smile or my eagerness to work with him. He could not naturally be re-directed or manipulated to do what “typical” children were doing. He loved Thomas the train DVD boxes.  I’ve worked with many children and I observe their methods of communicating and expressing  themselves. This includes flapping their arms, spinning, continuous jumping, repeating songs, commercials, etc.  I joined them, I observed them, I’ve loved them. They showed me the importance of communication without words, and they showed me how to “be” without judgement. These children do not comment if my hair is not washed, if I have make up on, or if I’m wearing the same jeans twice in a row.  They do not pay attention unless they want to, and my verbal young friends on the spectrum do not speak unless its meaningful. They are distracted by the cool things in life, mostly sensory oriented. Why is it “normal” to ignore these things?  Typical children are taught to compare and compete with each other. They are put under pressure to take tests and be judged on the outcome.

Children on the autism spectrum are given space to grow at their own pace. There is no forcing them to do anything.  I have taken this to heart. I have learned to accept my processes, even if at some point I thought they were wrong or not good enough.  These children have healed me of judging myself, of comparing myself to other women, they have shown me the importance of silence. They have given me space to create. So many children on the autism spectrum have creative gifts, they are amazing artists, singers, and creatives. They have gifts, and they have made me shine the line on my own gifts.

 

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There are many therapies and schools of thought on “what works” to “teach” children on the autism spectrum. What works for one child does not work for all children. Why does the rest of the “typical” world believe it does. Do you like to be cared for exactly like someone else?  Do you work to try to be exactly like anyone else?  Watching women who try to be the same as celebrities is never-ending, and I see it as sad. It’s based on the feeling of not being perfect or enough, or likable.

I am so lucky to have so many individuals with autism in my life. I see them as healers, as the most real down to earth people I know. I know if everyone tuned in to their ways, the world would be a different place.  I am SO GRATEFUL for all the children in my life. I am grateful for all the Mothers who trust me with their children.

Take action this autism awareness month. We make it easy…Here is one way…

https://www.facebook.com/events/615089815246027/

Blessings,

Shane

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