Archives for posts with tag: love

“Care of the Caregiver… YOU!” ~Shane B. Kulman

I remember the first time I heard this. How clear and “right” it sounded.  As the phrase unfolded in my head, I realized that I was a caregiver, and that working in a classroom 5 days a week, 8-3:30 and then coming home to eat a slice of pizza and collapse was not going to work for me anymore. That was NOT caring about the caregiver, and I was caregiving for 25 students and a wacky assistant that year.  No more…

I’ve graduated and will occasionally take a several week or month vacation during the school year, is this extreme caregiving for myself?  I think, no.  Some say extreme, I bet some say spoiled…  I now understand the importance of bookends. When I set out to work, I am aware that before and after I must include time where I do something for myself.  It may be a simple cup of tea, or a massage/spa visit.

I believe everyone is a caregiver in some aspect. Parents, Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, babysitters, teachers, therapists, Nurses, Doctors, dog owners… you get the idea.

The parents I work with that have children with special needs, are constantly caregiving. There have been very few who make the time to withdraw from caring about others and take care of their Self.  So many parents pick food from their children’s plates, or eat standing up, don’t get dressed or spend every last penny on their child. After a while the caregiving well, goes dry. Parents often feel drained, wasted of energy and limited in   options. When I suggest a yoga class, a writing class, or to join in to any group activity that does not revolve around parenting, they look at me like I’m a dreamer, like I’m out of touch with reality, and then I see the guilt forming, “WHAT!?!? spend time on myself?!!?!? When my child is so far behind?”  I even suggested to a Mom to go out to dinner with Dad with a dress on, and I would stay with the children, she laughed at me and said we talk and eat when the kids go to school. Hmmmm, is this the same as wearing a dress at a restaurant?  I think not.

Children learn from watching, this has been researched and proven.  If all the young girls are watching their Mothers caregive and serve constantly, how will they learn to be independent and self expansive?  Special needs children, including non-verbal children see and feel what is going on around them. I see the neediest children become ultra demanding when they are in need of something. What happens after their demand, that may result in a temper tantrum/meltdown?  A Parent is running to serve them. What is the valuable lesson here? Yup, the bigger the meltdown and demand, the faster a parent runs.

Children with or without special needs, even pets, learn how to rule through behavior and reactions. I believe there is always time to be made for caring for the caregiver. Even if its a bath, or journaling time. I would say shopping, but you know who gets shopped for… everyone else.

Dearest friends – No matter who you are caring for. You can serve them on a higher level, if you take time to serve yourself. Your health and those you love will love you for it.

Namaste and love yourself,

Shane

How YOU could help a Special Needs Parent.

As the rates of #Autism continues to skyrocket, the likely hood of you knowing someone that is a special needs parent is growing as well. Maybe you already know someone with a special needs child. Perhaps, a friend or family member.In this article, I hope to give you some simple ways that you can help the special needs parent in your life. Knowing what to say or do can be daunting for someone that doesn’t have experience with special needs parenting. This is probably where many people, with the best of intentions, get scared off. Seeing what a special needs parent goes through can be a very overwhelming experience for anyone.

It may even seem so dire that one might feel that they have nothing to offer, that could possible be of any benefit. I hope to change that by sharing a few very simple, very basic ideas, that can provide much needed relief to a special needs parent and let them know that they aren’t alone.

So, you have a friend or loved one that is a special needs parent. Do you want to offer help or support but don’t know what you could possibly do? First of all, let me thank you for showing compassion, concern and love for the special needs parent in your life. Honestly, to a special needs parent, just knowing that someone cares is really important. In fact, it’s so important, that I don’t think it can be overstated.

Taken from LOST AND TIRED, ROB GORSKI

 

If you have ever wanted to offer help to a special needs parent but maybe don’t know how, this article is for you. Perhaps their situation is so difficult, you don’t know how you could possibly help. There are some things you can do to help even if they don’t seem like much.

One of the toughest parts of being a special needs parent is the feeling of isolation.  Their child requires so much of their time, energy and undivided attention that they often times have little or no adult contact (aside from doctors and therapists). You could make plans to stop by for a visit. Many special needs parents will tell you that they would love to just talk to another adult. Please remember to call first as a surprise visit could just add to the stress by destabilizing or overstimulating their child.

Sometimes, by the end of the day, exhaustion is such that the thought of making dinner is simply to much. Perhaps you could also offer to bring dinner over so they have one less thing to worry about. It would be a very nice gesture and could really help take some of the load off their shoulders.Remember that their child may have special dietary or sensory needs so it would be a good idea to do some research by calling and asking what would be a good meal to prepare for them.

Things as simple as sending a card, email or text message, just to let them know you’re thinking about them could help them to find the strength to keep moving on a really bad day.

If you wanted, you could send them a gift card for groceries or maybe their favorite take-out. There is often times a tremendous financial burden associated with special needs parenting and maybe a gift card will help them provide groceries for their family, if things are tight that week.Think about making arrangements to go over and spend some time with their child (if that’s something that would work). Educating yourself about Autism of whatever else the parent is dealing with is important for something like this. Not only will educating yourself help you relate to their child, but knowing that you took the time to learn about their child’s condition would mean a great deal to any special needs parent.

As their child likely requires all their time and energy, every single day, things around the house and yard tend to take a back burner. You could help with lawn care or repairs to the house. Wash a sink load of dishes or fold the laundry.

The list of possibilities is endless really.

The most critical thing you will be doing, is showing them that they are not alone. Sometimes just knowing that their are people who love and support you, standing in your corner, can mean more then you can possibly imagine.

Please remember that you don’t have to understand anything about Autism in order to show love, compassion and support to those touched by it.

 http://lostandtired.com/2011/04/22/how-you-could-help-a-special-needs-parent/

Ciao!

In college, I was given this book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.  It was my first experience hearing the term “let it go.”

The term has become so popular in every group of people I meet, and has become wonderfully  appropriate for the parents I work with who struggle with their child having a  label/disability.   While I don’t particularly love labels at all, if it’s whats required to get a child the services they need or the classroom that will serve them better, so be it.  Since the child is not aware of the label, why make them aware?  In considering the term “special” education, I think everyone deserves this special-ness.  Don’t you?!

In order for us to understand how to let a child’s disability go, or what I actually mean is – go back to school when everyone was put in a category, pretty, popular, ugly, smart, lonely, athlete etc. When you are put into the “real world” no one tells us- “ok now you can be yourself, change groups if you want, be a part of many groups, hang out alone’  After finishing with organized education, many people follow the crowd. The lucky ones realize they can do what now pleases them!  Then there are the people that get stuck in situations that don’t serve them best.  Not having the place to be “popular and pretty” anymore makes them feel lost.  On the flip side the ones that were “nerdy and unpopular” may begin to thrive, with finding like-minded people.  To realize no one is judging , and no one cares…  By letting these given titles go, the world and life is so much fun!  It allows room to grow to change!

As a therapist working with parents of special needs children I see many parents depressed and anxious about their child.  They can only focus on the future and of the negative.  Will my child ever make friends?  Will he be potty trained?  Will he ever say “I love you” or give a hug?  When I begin to work with a child, I come and play with a child, not an Autistic child, or a Down syndrome child, just a kid who intrinsically wants to be comfortable and learn.

Parents are surprised when I bring out regular toys and sensory items to use with their child. As a therapist they imagine their child’s session will be clinical and different than a “normal” child.  This is the beginning of the impression they will feel, and they will begin to let the label given to their child go…

Who cares if a child has Autism?  If a child can be happy and comfortable and express their needs, it is the first  steps headed in direction of success. If a parent is doing all they can for their child, then it’s all good.  When their child is not in school or having a therapy session, all a parent needs to do is play with their child.   Join the child’s world, do exactly what the child is doing. Let go of what a child is supposed to be doing.  By doing exactly what they are doing, it’s showing them you respect them. Do this every day for 20 minutes. Do not place expectations on the child, no goals.  This is time for loving the child exactly where they are at.

This is the best therapy of all. No therapist or  fancy physician can be with a child and get the same results as a parent can. Lets call it LOVE THERAPY.  You don’t even need to use words, if a child is non-verbal, talking may be overstimulating which can cause repetitive behaviors.  Keep it simple:

 

  • Set aside 20 min(or less) with your child
  • Approach your child
  • Smile
  • Join and copy them
  • Have no distractions, no phone, no computer etc.
  • Let go of your expectations

I know it will help other parents if you have a story to share about “letting go.” Let this be a space of sharing…

Have a wonderful holiday. Practice LOVE THERAPY with your child every day during their break. Write down a short paragraph about the wonderful changes you witness.

Be love,

Shane

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