*From December 2007. This brilliant advertising campaign was supposed to raise the profile of autism or something. Still not sure why so many learned people thought this was an okay way to present autism and the people who live with autism to the world.
This is quite repulsive. In a society that seems to put self esteem above all else for children it seems that it is quite alright to degrade individuals with developmental delays and psychiatric disorders and perpetuate stereotypes about them under the guise of raising awareness.
The kids really did spend Christmas playing with the boxes the toys came in.
*Originally posted on my personal blog.
Mark your calendar for this Friday, December 16, 2016, 9:00am PT (12:00pm ET). I'll be a guest speaker for the free monthly Nurtured Heart Approach podcast. This month's topic is The New Year: Replacing Resolutions with Intentions. The podcast is a great resource for learning about NHA.
When we think of social isolation in the context of autism spectrum disorders as parents we often worry about the social isolation our children may experience. We are concerned about the hurt we assume they will feel as a result of it. This spring I was dismayed when one of my teenagers missed out on a school dance. I was determined that he would not miss another opportunity to socialize with his peers. After all I know how much those opportunities to socialize meant to me when I was his age.
When the next school dance rolled around I made sure to have all my ducks in a row. I started with my husband first. You know that whole united front thing that parenting and relationship experts talk about. My husband’s response was something along the lines of, “Dance? Why would anyone want to waste time on something like that?” He then proceeded to retell the story of his parents writing notes to school to get him out of having to go to school dances. Something about being against their religion or some such. So much for united front.
I was having the conversation about the school dance with my son on my own. It was a very brief conversation.
I offer this as a word of encouragement to anyone who needs. Particularly those of us caring for special needs children. Failure is a necessary part of learning. You aren't going to make the right choice every single time. No one can. Accept that fact.
Some people keep souvenirs of their failures to remind themselves that life is too hard to even try to be successful. They use these souvenirs as evidence to justify their belief in the lie that they should not even try. Don't collect souvenirs of failures. Don't hang them around your neck like millstones to drag you down. Instead lay your failures before like stepping stones. Learn from your mistakes and use them to build yourself a path to where you want to go in life. Choose to build a path for yourself to great places.
Teaching children how to handle failure is a vital life lesson. It is a lesson that children will learn as much from what is said as from what is done. Modeling for them how to learn from failure sets the stage for building a life of success. None of us who now walk would ever have learned to do so if the first time we fell down we stayed down and refused to get back up.
There will be lots of failures in your life. Each and every one of them will be an opportunity to start over and strive for success and mastery in life. So what are you going to do with your failures? Will you collect them as souvenirs or will you build a path to greatness?
Eleven days to go in the funding campaign. Here are some topics to be covered in Parenting Autism: prevalence rates and what they mean for the future; protecting parent and child mental health; dealing with problem behavior; the search for the causes of autism and what that means for the parent-child relationship; the idea of recovery from autism and its influence on the lives of autistic people.
If you've got any thoughts on these issues or have other issues that you think important to parenting autism please share.
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Ellen Galinsky wrote this about parenthood in the 1980s. Do you think it's still true today?
"The studies of life-span psychology, like those of adult development, have also minimized the place of parenthood. Parenthood, when stressed in adult development at all, as in Women of a Certain Age, by Lillian Rubin, and In Her Time, by Iris Sanguiliano, was more likely to be cast as something for women to be freed from in order to search for and find their own sense of identity."
Galinsky writing about how parenthood was treated at the time she began working on her book The Six Stages of Parenthood.
Don't forget to check out Parenting Autism project, donate, facebook or tweet about it, email you friends about it, follow my campaign, leave me a comment.
I've been busy researching and writing my first book about autism, Parenting Autism. Please considering supporting my book by donating and/or spreading the word. Thanks!
Your praise may be the only good thing they hear about themselves all day so make it really count.
Another school year has started and my kids are all getting used to the routine of a new grade and a new set of teachers. I spent this morning meeting with every teacher of my children that I could find. My fifth grader’s teacher and I had a particularly long chat. This teacher also had my seventh grader two years ago when he went through fifth grade. We had a good chuckle about what a challenge that was for him, the teacher. My current fifth grader is one of those challenging kids that may find his way to a self contained classroom if school staff can’t find an effective way to manage his behavior at school.
I’ve introduced the Nurtured Heart Approach® into our conversations about my fifth grader. We’ll see how receptive the school staff are to it. I’ve had a great deal of success with NHA® at home. But that’s not quite what this post is about. While we were chatting I mentioned the fact that my fifth grader is a great student of human behavior. This prompted my son’s teacher to go on and on about how sensitive his autistic students are to the behavior and emotions of the staff and students working with them. He seemed in awe of their abilities to do.
I was pleased to hear him make this observation about his students. He described how it might take a typical student a week to figure out how to push the teacher’s buttons where one of his autistic students could figure it out after just one go. Often times people think that autistic people are not dialed in to what’s going on around them. But the truth that my son’s teacher recognizes is that autistic children and adults are often fully aware of the emotional soup that we are all drifting in. Their social challenges put them in the situation of having to be very creative in how they get their needs met. Often times what gets them the most attention is acting out.
At this point I jumped on my NHA® soapbox and pointed out that NHA® is the perfect way to short circuit the negative attention seeking. By refusing to give energy to the negative and instead giving it to the positive these sensitive students can learn how to interact in a healthy fashion with everyone in the classroom.
But going back to the sensitive nature of autistic people, my son’s teacher commented that while not all of his students have been verbal they have clearly been aware of what was said to them and about them. While the main tendency is to characterize autistics by what they cannot do or by what they have difficulty doing it behooves us to remember what they can do. Sometimes we have to remind them about what they can do. The constant focus on what a person can’t do can leave anyone feeling as if they can do nothing.
So if you are a person of influence in the life of someone with autism, or some other special need, take the time to see what they are good at. See what they are doing right. Then take your sweet time telling them all about how awesome they are. The sad truth is that your praise may be the only good thing they hear about themselves all day so make it really count.
"The Nurtured Heart Approach® is an individualized person centered relational approach to fostering healthy interactions with others. Anyone can use NHA® in professional and personal settings. NHA® digs down to the intrinsic value of the individual to build on a positive foundation to create success." Samantha Pierce Certified NHA® Trainer
I got my first taste of NHA® one wintery Thursday afternoon when the program director of a local agency visited my honors abnormal psychology classroom. I asked the question above and she proceeded to provide a very effective demonstration of how NHA® can have a powerful impact on a person’s life. Her answer grabbed and held my attention. I was hooked in less than five minutes. She mentioned that there would be a workshop on NHA® that very weekend. I wanted to know more.
I wasted no time signing myself and my husband up for that workshop. They were providing childcare so I didn’t have to worry about what we would do with the kids. Sitting on the edge of my seat more often than not I listened as NHA® was explained. Designed to bring out the greatness of the individual it was what I had been struggling to teach my children about themselves for years. I discovered I was already on the NHA® path. It was a gratifying experience as a parent to find such like minded people in the world.
I went home and tried out NHA® on my children. They were as stunned by it as I was. One child declared to himself, in that child’s whisper that has the ability to reach every corner of a room, “Something is wrong with mommy. She’s excited that I’m doing something right!” He was as stunned by the application of NHA® as I was. It makes sad sense if you think about it. How often do we pull out all the stops to celebrate people when they are doing what is right? Unless you are steeped in NHA® you have to admit that that hardly ever happens. NHA® brings to light the power of doing just that. It can transform lives.
In the months following that first workshop I purchased some of the NHA® books and set about dazzling my family with their own greatness. I watched as my children bloomed under the realization that they were indeed formidable human beings. As for myself I was more and more drawn to NHA®. Just to be sure that it was something I really wanted to commit to, I confess to having a reputation for impulsiveness in some quarters, I took another full day workshop. By the end of that workshop NHA® was looking more and more like the way I should go for myself and my family. They were so many tantalizingly wonderful possibilities with NHA®.
To that end I completed the one week NHA® Certified Trainer Intensive in Syracuse, NY. It would have been a grueling week had it not been for the nature of the subject matter presented. Instead it was an intense week spent delving into the foundations and application of NHA®. I came away from the week ready to guide others along in the path to discovering NHA®.
Now I look forward to the daily challenge of helping others discover and nurture what is good within them. Life is a completely different experience when you realize the greatness that you are capable of.
First, the illustrations that accompany the text are great. The illustrator, Jonathan Powell, manages to capture the confusion that comes along with the whirlwind of changes youngsters experience while going through puberty. I had a good chuckle over a few of them because I remember feeling that confused when growing up and I’ve seen those looks on people’s faces in real life.
Attwood presents information for parent and child alike in simple but accurate terms allowing for the straightforward communication of information that helps to minimize anxiety generally associated with these aspects of growing up. Parents and youngsters both get a clear idea of what’s going and with this knowledge both are able to prepare for the changes of growing up.
This next section alone sold me on the book and prompted me to write this review. Attwood’s insight into how the mind of a youngster works is apparent in her discussion of how and why they have to begin bathing daily. She is very clear, you’ve got to bathe every day and it is not enough to get in the shower and stand there getting wet. You have to use soap. How many times have I had this same conversation with my own children! Attwood explains the process of daily bathing, focusing on specific areas of the body and explaining why those areas need special attention with soap. The fact that she recognizes the need to be this explicit about something as seemingly simple as bathing indicates that Attwood knows her audience well.
Finally Attwood addresses issues of sexuality with a neutral tone that allows parents to bring their own values and moral convictions to the conversation without having to work around anyone else’s agenda on the matter. Such sensitivity can be appreciated by a wide range of people making the book a useful tool for pretty much anyone who is looking to prepare themselves and the youngsters in their lives for the rollercoaster ride of puberty into adulthood.