World Autism Day 2016 ~ I Can’t. She Can. I Think I’ll Let Her.

In Al-Anon the first three steps (from the 12 steps) are the foundation of our program. We tend to shorten those steps to: “I can’t. He can. I think I’ll let Him.” The actual steps read as:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I look at it like this… I am powerless over people, places and things. My Higher Power, whom I call God, will help them on their path, just as He is always with me on my journey. The only person I have control over is myself, and I must use that control to always conduct myself like the woman God knows I can be.

Today as I prepare for another April, where I inevitably spend most of my time cringing at many of the posts, I am seeing the world through my program eyes. I understand that I cannot control what other people believe, or what they choose to share. I accept that we are all just trying to do the best we can for our families, and we don’t have to agree to treat each other with respect and kindness. I am praying for Autistics everywhere to know that their value is not tied to the opinions of others, but is rooted in themselves. I am praying for a better world, where everyone treats each other with Love and Respect, while celebrating and embracing diversity.

My “Three Steps” for treating my daughter with the respect she deserves:

  1. I Can’t…

I can’t live life for Beth, because I can never fully understand what occurs in her beautiful mind/body from day to day. I must always respect her boundaries and space, because I do not experience the world in the same way she does. My job as her parent is to support her in any way possible, but I should NEVER try to control her.  I can’t think for her, and therefore should not speak for her either.

      1. She Can…

She can, and does, live a pretty awesome life. As she learns to navigate this overwhelming world, she tries to share her experiences with us. She can tell (or show) us what she feels, and how certain things affect her. All we need to do is “listen” with our ears, eyes and most importantly our hearts. She can speak for herself, and reminds us of that when we forget.

        1. I Think I’ll Let Her…

I think I’ll let her live life on her terms. She is constantly helping us see the world in a different way. She helps us, and people who meet her, see the struggles and blessings of Autism. She has an amazing voice, which she uses to spread love and light everywhere she ventures. By letting her share her message, how she chooses, we are changing the world for the better, one person at a time.

World Autism Day 3 Steps

Today is World Autism Day; this month is Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month. By the end of April, you will see a LOT of information shared in various forms. You may find yourself with more questions than answers. If you have questions about Autism, the best place to go is an Autistic person. As a parent, I cannot express the level of my gratitude for the Autistic Adults, who are willing to share their journey in order to help the next generation. There are many wonderful pages/sites that can address your questions, and help you see Autism for what it is… A neurological difference; It is NOT less, neither is it more, it is simply a different way of processing the world.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Befriending Myself

I was recently talking to someone about who I am now, versus who I was prior to Al-Anon. The truth is, had I met myself back then, I would not have wanted to be my friend. After three years of being committed to my Al-Anon journey, and working the program the way it is meant to be worked, I actually like myself most days.

The problem is there are still a lot of days, when I don’t like myself. There are still far too many days when I cannot be a good friend to myself. How will I ever teach my girls to treat themselves with Respect and Kindness, if I cannot do it for myself? The sad answer is: I won’t. In order to break the cycle, and help them be good friends to themselves, I must start treating myself better, NOW.

My greatest dream for Beth and Anne is for them to LOVE themselves in every way. I pray for them to have self-worth; to be proud of all that they are and have confidence in all that they do. Basically, I pray for them to grow-up feeling the opposite of how I did.

As I work my program, I am slowly beginning to love myself, as completely and unconditionally as I love my children. One day, I will be proud of all that I am, because I will be the person God knows I can be. Some day, I will have confidence in all that I do, because my actions will be based in the serenity of recovery.

I am not perfect, but as long as I am making progress, I am healing. As long as I am healing, I have the opportunity to be the kind of mommy my girls deserve. Personally, I can think of no better friend to have, than the woman they already think I am.  So I am befriending myself, and giving us all a brighter future. ❤

Background image is property of Lindsey Schultz. It is used by Serenity Spectrum with her permission.  Text Reads:

Background image is property of Lindsey Schultz. It is used by Serenity Spectrum with her permission.
Text Reads: “I will spend more time with myself in this lifetime than anyone else. Let me learn to be the kind of person I would like to have as a friend.” ~ Anonymous

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Al-Anon Family Visit

After almost three months of not being able to attend meetings, I was blessed to visit my Al-Anon family this evening. It was WONDERFUL to see them, and drink in their wisdom. Plus, nobody gives hugs like those lovely ladies. ❤

As usual the meeting was not only a great release for me, but I also walked away with much to ponder. One of the women talked about Kahlil Gibran’s words on children, so of course I had to look up the passage when I got home. It reads:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may house their bodies, but not souls. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

She was right about it being a powerful, and humbling message.  I have read it several times since being home, and am filled with a new sense of purpose and hope. The one line that stands out the most is: “You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.” I find that almost everything I do, is to make Beth and Anne better than me. I want them to have a solid foundation, so they can make better choices than I did. I want them to know how special they are, so they do not suffer the low self-esteem, and lack of confidence, I have always (and sometimes still do) struggled with. I often wonder if in my efforts to make them better (or different), am I just repeating the well-meaning (but somewhat damaging) cycle?

Since we started homeschooling, the one message I receive repeatedly is to follow their lead. They are amazing little teachers, each with their own set of strengths. I think as we settle back into school, tonight’s meeting was just what I needed to start us off on the right foot. I realize now, that I must concentrate less on making them better than me; and more on simply helping them to be the best them they can be. Perhaps as I help them navigate their path, I may even become the person that God knows I can be. If at the end of my life, I can say that I was half the woman my girls are, than I will have lived a blessed life. ❤

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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My Yelling Face

I should be sleeping, but my brain will not shut off, so hopefully getting this out will help.

Today was not a horrible day, but we did have some rough patches. Around dinner time, it was as if someone had flipped a switch, and my entire disposition changed. I wish I knew what happened, so I could prevent it from occurring again; however, I am human, and sadly, I am sure this was not the last time.

I was crabby and on edge. Nothing I did made it better. Of course, that seemed to be the exact time the girls (or more specifically Anne) decided it was time to test me. Sometimes I wonder if they can feel me struggling and are struggling too as a result of my energy. I know they feed off my energy, and today I gave them a huge heaping of negativity.

The last few hours of the day seemed like an eternity. I had to yell and threaten loss of items, to get any chores accomplished. I went as far as setting the timer, and informing Anne that whatever was left on her floor when that bell rang, was going in the garbage. She knows I have hit my limit when the timer comes out, because she learned the hard way that I will throw stuff out.

Before bed Anne came to me with her magna-doodle, and told me she had drawn a picture of me. She climbed in my lap and showed me this. I put our conversation on there, so I will always remember my yelling face. Yelling FaceTears sprang to my eyes, and I asked her if I could take a picture, so mommy could remember what I look like when I yell. She said: “Yep!” Then she erased it, made some check marks, and a happy face. She hugged me and said: “Dere mom, now you happy.”

Anne and I seem to be butting heads more than usual lately. Although there are times she exasperates me, I can always count on her to tell it like it is. I swear my great-grandmother is whispering in her ear, because my little girl is a mini version of her. Gram always did keep me in line, perhaps that is Anne’s gift too.

Tomorrow I will do better. If for some reason I don’t, then I will apologize (like I did today) and make sure that my girls know how much I ALWAYS love them.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Six Years, How Did That Happen?

Today, our eldest child turned SIX. How did that happen? I swear we just brought her home from the hospital yesterday. 🙂

Although, her actual birthday party is not for a few weeks, we did have a very eventful, and wonderful, day. We started the day out just the four of us. Henry made us all Mickey Mouse pancakes, after she opened her presents. Anne had a small gift to open too, because we always do something for the sibling as well.

Then we spent 2.5hours at one of her favorite places, Chuck-E-Cheese. When our time was up, we had 625 tickets. The girls each got a slinky and a silly straw, which left 125 tickets. We were going to add money to that, so she could pick out a bear for her birthday. The young man behind the counter, gave her the bear, wished her a Happy Birthday and refused to take our money. ❤ There are still kind and generous people in the world, and it always fills my heart with a happy, when we encounter them.

Once home, we had lunch, then the grandparents descended upon us. The girls always enjoy having both sets of grandparents here, because there is no waiting for attention. We enjoyed a nice afternoon together, and the girls both received great presents. We sang Happy Birthday, and God’s Blessings, before Beth and Anne blew out all the candles in one try. Beth’s favorite part came next, she got to serve people their cupcakes. She is definitely the hostess with the mostess. 😉

God gave us more than a miracle the day Beth was born, he gave us the embodiment of love and hope.  Beth is is an extraordinary child! She teaches us something new, almost daily. We are grateful that He blessed us with an Autistic child, so that we could embrace the truly important things in life. Our girl is going to change the world; between her brilliant mind, unique perspective and huge heart, there is nothing she cannot achieve.  The energy she sends out into the world is nothing short of pure love and light. We are so proud, and thankful, to have been chosen as her parents; being able to help her navigate her path in life is a tremendous honor. ❤

 

ss hearts

Image courtesy of JGutke Photography

 **Begin Edit**

Oh my goodness, I don’t know how I could have forgotten one of THE most important parts of the day! Beth just reminded me, as she was telling me how much she loves her bestie, Mr. O. They have been friends for 3years, ever since she started public school when she was 3. He is a fellow Autistic, and an amazing boy. His mother called today, because he wanted to wish Beth a Happy Birthday. When he got on the phone, he sang her Happy Birthday, and it MADE her day!!! ❤ She has declared several times that Mr. O is her prince and that they will be married one day. 🙂

 **End Edit**

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Test Day

Today was our first test day at Serenity Spectrum School. We are 4 months into our school year, and I thought it was a good time to gauge where the girls are. Since we will be schooling year-round, three assessments per school year seems reasonable to me. What do you think?

I used the Pre-K Assessment forms, for Alphabet and Math, which are generously provided for free by Prekinders.com. I also used the Color Chart and Shapes Mini-Book printables; which are generously provided for free by PreschoolMom.com.

Beth was able to identify all her numbers from 0 to 10 correctly. She was also able to count objects (play rings) up to number 20, with only skipping number 13. Beth really liked counting the rings and putting them in her favorite red bowl, so we did that a few times. 🙂 She was able to identify all the colors on the chart correctly. She also knew all the shapes on the printout.

The assessment was going extremely well until I brought out the Alphabet sheet; at that point she started to shut down. It was almost as if she was having a panic attack, and just could not think straight. I tried several approaches, with no avail; I even had her taking trips to the trampoline, spinning and crazy shaking (Team UmiZoomies) between attempts. In the end, she identified 16 upper case and 12 lower case letters accurately. While, I do not believe this to be an accurate representation of her knowledge, I did learn something very important. I learned that whatever approach they were using in public school was stressful and possibly traumatic for her. I learned that this sheet was too similar to the public school’s version, and would never give me an accurate measure of her knowledge. I learned that I must find another way to assess her abilities, which will allow her to relax and truly show all that is in her beautiful brain.

Anne was able to identify half of her numbers from 0 to 10 correctly. She was also able to count the rings up to number 13.  She knew all her colors, but did have some trouble with yellow. She correctly identified all but 2 of the shapes on the printout. She did awesome with the Alphabet sheet! She accurately identified 17 upper case and 14 lower case letters. The only trouble we had were with “M” and “N” due to her speech issues, but we worked through it just fine.

I am extremely happy with our first assessment. I can see where the girls have grown in many areas. I was also able to identify areas that need extra attention. I was blessed with a little more insight, as  to how stressful public school was for Beth. Witnessing her extreme reaction to the ABC printout, taught me a valuable lesson, and provided an opportunity to help her work through some of that angst. Today, I feel as though I became a better teacher and mom. As usual, my girls make the BEST teachers, I just have to remember to always follow their lead. 🙂

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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We Just Want To Play

This afternoon, our school day started to spiral downward at an alarming rate. I had the girls sit at the table with their heads down, while I took a few deep breaths in the kitchen. Instead of yelling, and assuming they were just being bad, I decided to find out the cause of their behavior. After our break, I asked them why they were fighting instead of doing their yoga. Beth answered: “Because we want to play.”

Well, how can you argue with that? We had finished everything on our schedule except for Art, Games and Chores; therefore I told them to go play. I set the timer, and said when that went off it would be time for school again. They were playing so well together, I extended the timer three times before we started on our art projects.

Yet again my girls reminded me that we don’t need to adhere to such a strict schedule. After all, the whole point of homeschooling is to allow them to learn on their terms. Part of the equation for success is respecting them, their opinions and their needs/wishes. When I force a schedule down their throat we are all cranky, and don’t really accomplish anything. When we slow down and do activities in their time, we have a happy and productive day. So what if my two hours of planned activities takes eight hours to finish? That is eight hours without the TV on, with us mostly playing and learning the best way (together having fun).

On a side-note, we signed up for ABCmouse today. They both loved making their avatars, choosing pets for their classroom, and earning tickets for each activity. Beth is slightly more proficient in using the mouse, but overall, they both need a lot of work on computer skills. This will help them with computer skills and turn taking; it will also be a great supplement to our curriculum. They will each get ten minutes to work, then switch with their sister, for two turns. Once they can work independently on the site, I will do an activity with the one not on the computer; which should avoid fighting over the laptop, and give more one-on-one-time to each girl. If they complete all their school-work and chores, they can earn an extra turn at the end of the day, so they can play with Daddy. Now, I just have t figure out how to stop them from spending all their tickets in the store. 😉

We are only starting our third week of homeschool, but I have to say it is one of the best decisions we ever made.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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