Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Circle of Crisis

I talk about the “circle of crisis” in my workshops or here on my blog, but I have not actually sat-down and explained the term. I see the circle of crisis as when a person, a family, an organization, or even a company can’t move forward — even the most simple task as calling a doctor becomes to overwhelming. You are consumed with either the anxiety of the future (how will my child survive without me as an adult) or too focused on the past (what-if my child had more intervention when my child was three) to work in the present.

Emotions get tied around the task at the present moment and become too difficult or too overwhelming to accomplish and the circle of crisis keeps revolving. Often times the task whether it is revising IEP goals for your next meeting or calling about a hearing test takes much less time than we think, if can step-out of the circle of crisis and into a peaceful state that lives in the present.

By jumping off the train of crisis you can deal in the moment and leave the future what-ifs to the future. Some strategies I discuss in my workbook and workshops are writing down steps to the task you wish to accomplish and taking the emotion out of the task-at-hand. Whether you feel sad, happy, guilty, mad, or frustrated, deal with the feeling by acknowledging how you feel and allow yourself to get back to a state of peace. Take a walk, call a friend, sit quietly— whatever it takes to get YOU back then tackle the task.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Live Now

Do you live right, now? I mean— are you present in the moment of now? Present in what is happening at the present — not the future or the past — but the now. Yes, it is a difficult task to not project forward to potential prospects or not dwell on what has occurred in your history. Take a moment — look around — what are you missing? Your children dancing around the living room to the latest tunes from your IPod or your spouse glancing at you with loving eyes or a phone call from a long-lost friend, what is more important — what you need to do to get to the next thing, event, or item on calendar or the now?

I challenged myself to living in the present; to take every opportunity that happens in the moment. The other night I snuggled on the top bunk with Tristan as we looked through one of our Waldo books I thought nothing of the piled-up dishes in the sink or laundry to add to the washer, I stayed focused on finding Waldo and guess what? We had a blast, not only did Tristan and I have fun, but we connected. Tristan knew all my energy and thoughts were on him and the activity, not on the steps of the evening or tomorrow’s phone calls.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring maybe you will win a million dollars or get hit by a car so spending all your reserves on the future or the past robs you of the present. After Tristan was diagnosed with autism I spent hours and perhaps even days at a time, researching and analyzing how Tristan could have gotten autism. I remember sitting in my warm car looking out at the children playing on the beach while Tristan and Dylan sat strapped into their car seats, so I could take a call from a pharmaceutical representative about a vaccine Tristan received two years earlier. Instead I could have been at the beach playing in the sand with my kids and living because whatever was said on the phone did not matter. What happened two years earlier did not help me or Tristan then or even now.

So, go live for the present. Challenge yourself to live an hour or a day or even a week in the now. See what the results are if you shed the baggage of the past and stop analyzing the future. Perhaps you will find what I have found — PEACE.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Was Liam Switched at Birth?

This kid is not mine! I know he looks just like me with his round, blue eyes and fair skin, but he talks. No just two year old babbling, Liam communicates! Even with gestures like finger waving when his brothers have bop him over the head and long sentences about friends at school and what he wants for dinner.

Other people even understand him; I don’t have to interrupt every single word that comes out of his mouth. I have been repeating word for word what Tristan (son #1) and Dylan (son #2) have said for the last six years... now I just stand next Liam as he belts out 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10 and everyone understands him.

Tristan (son #1) has autism and Dylan (son #2) has a speech delay, so getting a kid that was meeting all the developmental milestones was highly unlikely with our gene pool. Oddly enough Liam is text book two year old (over the past seven years I have memorized all the “expert” parenting books), huh… I don’t understand how this happened.

So this is what it is like when your kid is “typical”, you play and talk about school and friends and what to make for dinner. You mean I don’t have to guess what you want for dinner or what clothes you want to wear or try to understand why you are crying. This is a strange world to me— no picture boards are needed and Liam tells me what he wants, no guessing.

Last weekend I dragged out the seven year old flash cards that I bought for Tristan (before diagnosis) because that was what “good” parents do, right?...quiz your eighteen month old about what they see on the card. Well, I have had years of failed attempts which ended ninety percent of the time with Tristan or Dylan eating the flash cards.

So, the flash card have been on the shelf with all the craft supplies (another lost cause) and I thought why not, Liam is clearly beyond eating them so why not try to expand his mind. Guess what? Liam loved them and carried them around saying what was on the card. For years I had listened to my friends discuss the development of their children and Tristan and Dylan never fit their descriptions.

It also seemed like my friends (no offense) would worry about the smallest things like whether or not to give their precious two year old Tylenol when they were teething or what kind of bathing products to use. But I guess when you are not anxious that your two or even three year old has no functioning communication those are the things to fret over.

This parenting thing is easy (I mean for the typically developing kiddos)— no speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, play therapists, special educators, and psychologists daily, tramping through my house. I say a new word and Liam repeats it and seems to understand it. Wow, this is like having a first born child again… I mean totally different from the last two. I wonder, am I qualified to raise a child with no developmental delay? Well, I guess we will find out; what a great adventure I am on.