Red-Angry Blue-Sad

We are so honored to have an amazing blogger as our guest blogger this week! She’s an amazing mom… Who openly discusses her life. My hope is that after you read her blog… You come away with the same emotions/thoughts  that I did.. we need more mental health help!!! People need to stop talking and start doing.. this is not a political issue, this is a human issue! Please check out her other blogs here http://thoughtswithn.blogspot.com/

Also, We have her books for sale on our website https://teamawesomism.com/

 

I remember the day that I saw a piece of work completed by my oldest son. He was 6 at the time. His class was learning about emotions, and had them associated with colors. The piece of paper asked them to identify the 2 emotions they most commonly feel, and draw it in the associated color. His was Red – Angry, and Blue- Sad.

 

I remember the tears that sprung to my eyes. The feeling of failure I felt. My little boy was always angry at this point.

 

I had always struggled with him, since the beginning, but now it was at a new high. The Police were now involved, as he had begun threatening his baby sister.

 

Oh, and I was 6 months pregnant. I had high blood pressure, so I was supposed to be relaxing.

 

There, in front of me lay the evidence of the state of my sons mental health. He was so angry, and so sad. He didn`t know what to say, or how to say it, so his anger dragged on, day after day.

 

This was such a hard time for all of us. I have scars on me from his intense temper, and I am pretty sure my daughter is emotionally scarred.

 

Despite struggling for so many years, and trying to get him help, I had failed. The counsellor agreed that this paper was slightly alarming for a little boy, and sent off the papers for a Psychiatric Assessment.

 

We waited.

 

We waited.

 

Months and months went by. While my son struggled.

 

So many days I just wanted to run away and disappear. I questioned my capabilities of being a mother. I questioned how I was going to raise another boy. I have never in my life felt so lost as what I did at this time.

 

To be honest, I am not even sure how we all made it through. Maybe it is just the power of love. I one day told my son very clearly, I know you are angry, and I will be here whenever you are ready to talk, but there is not anything you can do to me to make me stop loving you, or to make me give up on you. You are my son.

 

We got the call for the assessment a year after the referral was placed. A YEAR. A family in a crisis situation, and such a sad and confused little boy.

 

We declined the assessment at this point, because he had already been through three and he was tired of doing it. No one saw what we saw. His intense temper. His neediness for everything to be a very specific way. His amazing abilities with numbers, and recognizing patterns. No one saw it. They always just told us, he is a very bright boy.

 

I decided, rather than trying to change him, I was going to accept him. Accept him exactly how he is.

 

He is almost 8 now. I can`t believe so much time has passed since my feelings of hopelessness. He is in Grade 2 and an intense math whiz. He still struggles with his temper, but he is far less violent.

 

Now he talks to me. He tells me what is wrong. Then we can figure out how to fix it.

 

You may not always be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I sure didn`t when I was locked in my room, trying to protect the baby in my belly, and my 1 year old daughter. I could not see any light in my life what so ever. I wanted to run away.

 

The light is there. It will shine.

 

Love

N 💜

Peyton’s Scrambled Eggs and Fruit Spread

Peyton put this blog out on today….but I wanted to make sure I showed support and added it as my Friday Food Blog as well! please check out his website at https://teamawesomism.com/
I am so Proud of Peyton! he’s even making his own recipes and sharing them! He really is Turning Autism into Awesomism!

I love scrambled eggs in fact they were one of the first things I learned how to make by myself. When I first made them, my Mom taught me how to make scrambled eggs. I make them every once or twice a week.

Scrambled eggs are not the only breakfast food I learned how to cook, I learned how to cook fried eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles and other kinds of breakfast. Scrambled eggs are one of my favorite breakfast food to cook along with pancakes.

Here are 5 steps I take for scrambled eggs:

Crack 2 large eggs in a small bowl, whisk them up until they are fully blended
Add a just a little bit of milk, whisk that into the eggs
Add a tablespoon full of sour cream, blend it all together
Add a 1/4 teaspoon of fresh garlic
Whisk everything together so that its fluffy
Cook them on the pan on the stove on medium heat for 10-12 minutes

The reason why I add sour cream to the eggs is because it makes them taste so good and creamy. Sometimes I add ham, cheese, pepper salt and other vegetables to the eggs as well. Though usually when I add cheese to the scrambled, I make them into an omelette instead.

What makes scrambled and omelette eggs different? At a later date I will share my favorite omelette recipe. I used to be scared of cooking eggs, because I was afraid that I was going to not cook them properly, but now I’m very comfortable with making them. Please make sure you cook eggs all the way through. Always check for food allergies as well.

I love having a piece of toast with my scrambled eggs. I created my own fruit spread” recipe to go on the toast:

Add 1/2 block of cream cheese
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of manuka honey
Add 4 tablespoons of fresh fruit preserves
Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Mix them all together

You can use any kind of fresh fruit preserve that you like, I prefer to use black currant or strawberry. Be sure to mix it all together really well. Put it in a small bowl with a lid, and store in the refrigerator. It should last about a week. It also goes well on bagels, English muffins or even biscuits.

Autism Redefined

We are honored to have an awesome  guest blogger  today! Samuel Moore-Sobel   You can check out his bio at the end of the blog. As always thanks for reading our blog!

 

Autism Redefined

“I want to have a girlfriend, but I don’t know if I can handle it.” 

Stunned, I turn to look at the teenage boy sitting beside me. Even though I have been asking him (let’s call him Dan) all night what was bothering him, he chooses to tell me this bit of news while we are passengers on a bus filled with teenagers, hurtling towards our intended destination. I, acting as one of the chaperones for this summer camp filled with countless adventures, have just spent the last several minutes attempting to ascertain the reason behind Dan’s distressed demeanor. Despite my repeated questions, he refused to utter even one word, choosing instead to continue sulking. His initial refusal to speak gave me cause for concern. Until his unexpected admission left me speechless. 

I have spent much of the past week making feeble attempts to engage Dan in conversation. He remains quiet much of the trip, keeping to himself even when he is standing by my side. I lob dozens of questions his direction throughout the week. Questions about school, his family, even his favorite video games. His response is nearly always the same – typically offering little more than a one-word answer. 

Dan was one of the deciding factors in my decision to spend a week serving as a chaperone for this summer camp. At first, Dan appeared reticent about attending. He acted as if he possessed a strong desire to go, but still retained worries over how the trip might unfold. He never said so, but I suspected his nervousness had something to do with the fact that he had never been away from home. Until he found a way to convince me to come along; which admittedly, didn’t take much convincing. 

“Don’t let him take 45 minute showers,” his mother tells me moments before our trip is to commence. She is nervous, really nervous, the kind of nervous only a mother gets when she fears for her child. Unsure of how he is going to react, she keeps shouting instructions even as we depart to board the bus. Playfully, she promises to send daily texts to check on Dan. Her sense of humor has hardly changed since we first met several years before. She was the first person to ever offer me a job, hiring me as a sixteen-year-old to be a counselor at a camp dedicated to serving children with special needs. My experience in this area allowing me to remain largely undaunted by the trip ahead.

For the most part, Dan loved camp. He spent plenty of time at the beach, his feet causing sand to fly high in the air as he ran towards the water. His tall frame helped him stand firm against the waves. Dan strikes an impressive figure at fifteen – broad-shouldered with dark skin, his athletic build gives off the distinct impression that he is ready to run at a moment’s notice. A young man with a curious nature, one look into his eyes reveals a desire to take on the world.

A random bystander would likely be unable to detect any evidence that Dan has autism, except for the nervousness he displays throughout the day.

“What time is dinner?”

“What time do I take my medication?’

I give the same response calmly each time he asks me these  questions, knowing full well the queries will be repeated within the hour. He keeps asking, as if the answer I just gave might change if the question is posed once again. I do not mind the incessant questions. After all, I like to ask a lot of questions, too.

The week unfolds nearly as designed, although a few speed bumps are encountered along the way. He becomes rather uncomfortable over the level of noise generated during certain activities. He shows me his discomfort by bringing his hands up to his ears while letting out a few loud noises of his own. This sign propels me to formulate an action plan, typically comprised of plotting a joint escape. We learn to adapt quickly to this new environment. For example, when students gather in the large hall each night for instruction, we nearly always sit outside the doors. Others advise me to force him to attend. I resolve to allow Dan some level of control over his surroundings, eager to grant him the space to make his own decisions. 

Hence why I allow him the time and space to process whatever it is that is bothering him during that bus ride which has never left my memory. After asking a few questions, I resolve to let him be. Within the blink of an eye, his mood changes. Finally ready to talk after what seems like an eternity, his thoughts and feelings come gushing out like an unexpected avalanche.

                “I like Judy,” he tells me quietly. “I just found out she has a boyfriend.” He proceeds to tell me how much he likes this girl, diving into a long list comprised of the typical qualities teenage boys find attractive about members of the opposite sex. His eyes light up as he talks, brimming with palpable excitement. 

                “Her boyfriend is better looking than me, though,” he tells me. “And, you know, I have autism.”

               Shocked, I quickly avert my eyes. Within a few seconds, I glance back towards him as casually as possible, making an ill-fated attempt to hide my internal struggle to piece together a suitable response. In the more than seven years I have known Dan, he has never offered any indication that he is aware of his diagnosis.

Before I can say a word, he picks up where he left off, articulating his desire to live a normal life. He expresses concern over whether or not he will be able to do his own laundry, or even one day own a home. He worries greatly over what his future holds. Yet most of all, he worries if he will ever find a girl to love.

                “Do you think I will ever get a girlfriend?”

                I pause for a few seconds, glancing around to see if anyone is listening to our conversation. Is there anyone else who can provide an adequate answer to this nearly impossible question? 

            I ponder the implications of the question at hand. Ultimately, no one is fully able to predict the future. Finding someone to love is far from a guarantee for any of us, no matter our socio-economic background, upbringing, physical or emotional makeup. Besides, does autism automatically preclude someone from building a life with a romantic partner?

           “It’s hard out there, even if you do not have autism,” I tell him.  

He asks if I have a girlfriend. “No,” I say, offering a few words concerning my own experience. How I failed to go on a first date before reaching my early twenties; and, how that one, along with each subsequent relationship, proved to be incredibly painful before reaching a predictable end. I tell him how the past makes me feel as if the prospect of ever finding someone to share my life with seemingly slips through my fingers ever more rapidly with each passing day.

I then revisit a story I assume his mother told him long ago. I point to the red facial scars under my nose, chin and across my neck. I tell him how I suffered second and third degree burns when I was his age, as I helped move boxes and furniture for a nearby resident; and, how ever since, a day has not gone by during which I wonder if I will ever find a girl who loves me – scars and all.

                “Wow! I always wondered about your scars! I just never asked…” he says, his voice trailing off as he turns back towards the window. His eyes remain trained on the landscape as the bus drives on, taking us farther into the night. I smile as I watch him, looking for signs of emotional turmoil. He seems calm now, as if my explanation has eased his mind.

            Years before, his mother had expressed a great deal of empathy after hearing my story. She argued it was easier for her son, since he was “expected” to be different. Yet the reality is that I can no more fully understand what it is like to have autism, just like those lacking personal experience with burn injuries cannot fully understand what it is like to suffer burns. Human nature is to compare suffering; but instead, we can choose to use our scars to empathize with those around us. 

For we all have scars, both physical and emotional. We all have things we would like to change about ourselves, alterations that would seemingly improve our chances of living out the future we envision. We can use our past experiences as a way to connect, through empathy and compassion, with the similarities in the ways our deep-seated worries coalesce with those held by fellow travelers.

I close my eyes to catch a few moments of rest. I immediately question whether I proffered the right response. Should I have assured him everything would be ok? Or made clear that his diagnosis did not preclude him from finding the girl of his dreams? Should I have affirmed his inner strength, the growth he has shown just in going on this trip? While I couldn’t guarantee my young friend that life would work out exactly the way he planned, I knew deep down that he is more than strong enough to handle whatever comes his way.

Before I can offer any of these sentiments, my eyes quickly open the moment another question hits my ear.

“What time will we get back?” 

    Samuel Moore-Sobel serves an internship in a congressional office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Photo by Alexis Glenn/Creative Services/George Mason University

Samuel Moore-Sobel is a security program manager and freelance writer. He is nearing publication of a memoir focusing on his experiences revolving around both trauma and recovery. He writes a column for the Blue Ridge Leader and has written numerous guest blog posts concerning his experience as a burn survivor. His work has been featured in Burn Support MagazineLoudoun NowRoanoke Star, and Mental Health Talk, among several other publications. Visit his website and blog, www.holdingontohopetoday.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram @holdingontohopetoday.

Guest Blog: Autism spectrum disorders 101

This is a repost of guest blog!  We originally posted this blog in September 2017. I thought it was a good blog to revisit. I have deep admiration for Action Behavior Centers… So having them as a guest blogger was a real honor for us. Hope you enjoy this best of blog… Don’t forget to watch for our Friday food blog!

 

 

We are honored to have as our guest blogger this week: Action Behavior Centers. Please check out their website at ActionBehavior.com

Autism Spectrum Disorder 101: 4 Revelations from Autism

 

 

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder 101: 4 Revelations from Autism Research

Just last week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced some exciting news for the autism community – the agency has awarded the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) with nearly $100 million in research grants to fund large projects over the next five years.

These projects, aimed at building a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and developing treatment options, will delve into some specific areas of interest, like how ASD differs in boys and girls, earlier ways to detect ASD, and how to improve interventions based on specific symptoms.

Over the last decade, autism research has come a long way. Action Behavior Centers, an ABA (applied behavior analysis) provider in Texas, created a new infographic highlighting some of the latest insights gained from autism studies. These studies, as well as some interesting outside research, are outlined below.

1. Many nonverbal children overcome severe language delays by age 8

A 2013 study uncovered some reassuring findings for families with nonverbal children on the spectrum. The study included 535 kids who were nonverbal at the age of 4, and found that the majority of these children achieved either phrase speech (70 percent) or fluent speech (47 percent) by age 8.

2. Girls and boys experience autism very differently

It’s well known that ASD is much more common amongst males – in fact, boys are nearly 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Scientists are still trying to figure out the reason for this gender discrepancy, but recent research has shown that girls tend to show less repetitive and restrictive behaviors (RRBs) than boys. RRBs feed into some of the core signs of ASD, like hand flapping, excessively lining up objects, and trouble with transitions.

3. Parent-infant interactions can ease signs of autism later on

In a large study of over 1,400 children and adolescents with ASD, parents were split into one of two groups: one group was trained to interact with their infant’s facial expressions and gestures in a certain way, and the other was the control group. A 2017 follow-up study on these children found that those in the experimental group showed less severe autism signs by toddler age than those in the control group.

4. Technology is creating options for earlier diagnoses

With the rise of technology, researchers are discovering methods that could allow for earlier detection of ASD. Currently, autism can be reliably diagnosed around 18 months to 2 years of age. However, by using brain scans and artificial intelligence, a team of researchers was able to predict which 6-month old infants would be diagnosed with ASD with an impressive 96 percent accuracy. Another innovative option for early autism detection is rapid eye movement tests, according to a team of neuroscientists from New York