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Don’t Label Your Child Just Let Them Survive

Don't label your child just let them surviveDon’t label your child just let them survive!  How ridiculous is that!!!!!!!!!!!! Just writing that made me tear up.

Today I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page the following picture and thought I might look at the comments.  I knew I was setting myself up for some angry feelings.

There were individuals who suggested that we all should stop analysing out children, not get them labelled and just let them survive.  I see that as emotion dismissing parenting and picture how many children who have not received enough help.

We should be thankful that our children are not dying (which I am every single day) but let our children survive in their misery.

Their answer was that kids who were “naughty” were belted by their parents, teachers, Principals.  But did anyone ask why it was the same kids receiving this punishment?  They then put them into institutions never to be seen.

But what they failed to comprehend is that it was caring people who looked at all of these individuals and found the reason for their behaviour and found ways to help them.  How is helping our children limiting them?

They believed that all of us should just survive and work and contribute what they could in society.  What they failed to realise that the help that I continually give my children are not going just to let them survive.  They are going to thrive.  They are going to thrive in what job they want to do and they will contribute more than anyone who is just going to survive.

Our children are receiving a lot more help than those sadly did in the previous generations which is really sad.  But getting your child the help will not just let them survive but to let them thrive.

I remember when I had to fight for months to get my children trauma insurance.  They were denying the girls cover because they have Autism.  Believe me they received it double barrel with questions like:

  • Where is the research that ASD children are more prone to cancer?
  • Where is the research that ASD children get sick more than any other child?
  • What is the difference between a girl with ASD and a boy with ASD?

I remember I had the list of what they covered and they did not enjoy me asking for research for each statement.  In the end they were too scared to call me back lol but they all children were labelled severe and ones who got lost etc.  I had to send in my girls reports for them to cover the girls.  They limited my girls and their future but in the end the company started working on changing their policies.

There needs to be more awareness but there needs to be more work done on helping businesses, schools, university etc to help break down the limits that they perceive that everyone can thrive.

 

 

 

For Teachers Who Do Not Believe In Autism

For teachers who do not believe in AutismIt breaks my heart when I hear parent’s say that their child’s teacher does not believe in Autism.  This article is for teachers who do not believe in Autism because they have failed to learn something about something they do not know.

What made you want to become a teacher in the first place?

You have spent numerous years studying to be a teacher and I am sure you participated in lots of placements in schools.   What did you enjoy about these experiences?

What made you take a teaching position in the first place?

Most teachers who take a role in schools want to teach children and help them in some way.  There are definitely some who I wonder why they bother which is a shame.  You must have a passion for teaching because it is definitely not about the money.  I bet you had a dream about what kind of teacher you would like to be and I am sure there is a teacher who inspired you.

However, how can you possibly help students if you refuse to deepen your education into the disability area.  I completed a Bachelor of Early Childhood and it was not until I met a child with Autism in my care did I realise I was not going to be the teacher that I wanted to be if I did not take further steps in understanding disabilities and especially Autism.

Parent’s expect teachers to have knowledge about everything and courses do not put a lot of emphasis on disability knowledge.  I remember my course was based on child development, the curriculum, literacy and numeracy.  I knew for the well being of this student, I had to complete more study in the disability field so that I can provide the best environment for this child.

Each of your student’s comes with their own interests and needs.  There is no child sitting in front of you has the same needs as another.  It is daunting to figure out how to meet each child’s need in a class of 30.  It is even harder when there is a massive focus on literacy and numeracy.  Teachers also do a lot of extra hours.  Believe me I get it as I was faced with the same situation.  However it does not take a lot of time to read up the vast amount of information on the web for ideas.  The parent is full of information on the strengths, interests of the child and ways you can put simple strategies in place so that the child can be successful and for you to reach a whole new level as a teacher.

By failing to gain further information and education about Autism and simply keeping the belief that Autism is due to bad parenting etc etc etc, I would encourage you to find another job.  I had a boy with severe Autism in my class and there were many days when I went home with bite marks.  Teachers should definitely not be made to deal with bite marks and violence from students.  Nevertheless do you know how we stopped the biting? No we didn’t put him in a cage, tie him up or even expel him.  We tapped into his interests, strengths and his personality.  Once we got to that stage we did not receive a single bite mark and we put in strategies to help him before he got to that stage.

It is not easy being a teacher but don’t stop yourself from learning more and more for your students because one day YOU will be the teacher who inspires a child to become a teacher.  It is hard to change your beliefs but don’t let your false beliefs stop you.

There are many ways to gain knowledge to become the teacher you wanted to be at the start.  If anyone wants any help, please feel free to email me at info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au as I can point you in the right direction to amazing resources or even offer some suggestions.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up!

One message I have constantly for parent’s is “Don’t beat yourself up!”  Parenting has its ups and downs for everyone. No parent is perfect no matter what they put up on social media.   There will be days where you have it all going perfectly.  There will be other days where everything is going wrong.  Who hasn’t had those days.

I had one of those days the other day.  I was not connecting with the children.  I was not looking at their triggers and focused on their behaviours.  By the end of the day, I just wanted to crawl into bed.  We all have those days.

Don’t beat yourself up!

Principles such as validating feelings first before correcting their behaviours, focusing on the positive while minimizing attention to the negative, and staying calm and collected in the heat of the moment are all what we strive for, not what we can expect all the time.

I have parents who feel guilty, even horrible, when they lose their cool, yell, threaten, or react before thinking.  These moments will happen occasionally.  If your goals are to focus on the positive, understand and validate, set clear boundaries, and minimize emotional responses to negative behaviour, then this is what you need to keep focused on.

Don’t beat yourself up!

Relax, take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back for what you are doing right. Nevertheless, always remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

Can Children Set Their Own Goals?

Setting Goals for your childCan children set their own goals?  The answer is of course YES!

Parent’s around Australia would be receiving their child’s school reports. However, what surprised me was the comments parent’s were making in regards to areas that needed improvement.  I heard parent’s say “of course my child isn’t organised…….doesn’t the teacher know my child has Autism” and lots of other comments.

 

Do parent’s not see these areas for our children to grow?  If parent’s see them as negative are we giving our children the message that they can not grow?

When I spoke with my daughter’s Grade 1 teacher, she showed us a notice board full of posted notes.   The teacher helps each child to set their own goals to work on for the term.  One of the main goals that Emma recognised within herself is that she needed to put up her hand more.  Therefore, Emma had to not only overcome her anxiety but have self confidence within herself that she did have an answer.

How to set up goals with your child?

Each term we sit with the girls and talk about what they want to work on each term.  We do not make suggestions as we want them to come up with the ideas.  We find that the smaller the goal is the better.  By having it small, they can achieve it simply and lots of times.  Having your child feel a sense of achievement improves their success rate in life and improves their self esteem.

Goals are important for adults as well as children and you will be amazed on what children can come up with.  As parent’s we just need to guide them to make sure they are positive goals.

 

 

Blaming Parents’ with Challenging Children.

Blaming parents' with challenging childrenSimply blaming parents’ with challenging children is not the answer to help solve the problems that these children are having.  There are no parents’ that are 100% consistent in their behaviour management and families are suffering.

When looking at research, the majority of research comes from unidirectional theories which blames the inept parenting practices as the primary factor influencing the development of explosive behaviour in children. Unidirectional theory is based on the emphasis that ‘a child’s outcome is the product of either characteristics of the child or the characteristics of the adults.  For instance, he’s explosive and non compliant because of his parent’s are inept disciplinarians or he is explosive and non complaint because he has Autism.  Because it focuses on only one element of the adult – child equation, the intervention options are usually a)fix the parent  b)fix the child.

The other issue is conventional wisdom.  Conventional wisdom means  “the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conventional%20wisdom).  Parent’s are often told that they need to be firmer, less permissive, reward or punish.  A typical type intervention is a coercive method which focuses primarily on patterns of parental discipline that contribute to the development of coercive parent-child exchanges.

In the coercive model, there are 4 sub-types of parent inadequate discipline

  1. Inconsistent discipline
  2. Irritable explosive discipline
  3. Low supervision and involvement
  4. Inflexible rigid discipline.

Parent’s are encouraged to:

  • Establish a list of target behaviours with compliance with adult directives as the primary objective.
  • Establish a menu of rewards and punishments so as to give the child the incentive to comply with adult directives.
  • Develop a currency system for example points, stickers, token to track the child’s performances and trigger the reward and punishment system. (Dr Ross Greene, The Explosive Child).

The majority of our parenting skills come from how we were raised as children and it goes from generation to generation.  A lot of parent’s reflect on how they were raised and make decisions in regards to which parts they would continue as parent’s and which parts that you do not want to continue. Have you ever thought to yourself “I sound like my mum or dad?”  For a new parent to really reflect about how they were raised brings up a lot of emotions and if you are stuck at the cross road of how you want to raise your child it is extremely challenging to do by yourself.  Blaming parents' with challenging children

Nevertheless, if the above interventions worked then why are there still challenging children?  The simple answer is there is no one fits all method for all children.  Some children are able to adapt successfully to the above method but there are so many children where this method does not work and we need to change our own thinking and approach.  Behaviourally challenging children need us to take a closer look at our beliefs about challenging behaviours and apply strategies that are often a far cry from ways in which most adults interact with and discipline children who are not behaviourally challenging.

Throughout my study in Applied Behaviour Analysis, I have always used the idea that there is always a reason for a child’s behaviour.  Behaviour simply does not happen out of thin air.  There is always a reason for it and it needs to be uncovered to reduce the behaviour.  When integrating a child with severe Autism and non verbal into a mainstream outside school hours care, we were faced with a child who continually bit the adults caring for him.  Instead of looking simply at the behaviours and giving consequences to him, we looked at all the situations that occurred before the biting happened to understand the problem.  Once we started uncovering the causes of the behaviour and started implementing strategies to solve the problems, the behaviour naturally reduced in time.  Before I left on maternity leave, we did not have any more situations where he bit staff and we had tapped into his personality.

Ross Greene in his book The Explosive Child he states “Behaviourally challenging kids are challenging because they’re lacking the skills to not be challenging.”  I do not know how many times I have pondered this thought but when I look at my experience with children with Autism and raising our own girls with Autism, a lot of it does come down not having certain skills and it creates the behaviour.

The majority of challenging children lack the skills of flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving.  By looking deeply into these areas will help you to uncover the problems that have not been solved which will reduce the behaviour.

With my own children I have been applying these strategies when they have their meltdowns.  With my youngest daughter, she has a lot of trouble with flexibility and adapting to changes.  When she needs to adapt, her current response is screaming at me, hitting me and hiding under the table.  By understanding that transition to different activities (especially before school) is a skill that she needs help to develop, together we have come up with solutions which reduces the behaviour.  The best thing I have found for the transitioning problem is purchasing a timer with the red circle that is a visual prompt to how long she has got before she needs to do something else.

If what you are doing is currently not working, then I would encourage you to stop and reflect on what your beliefs to parenting is and realise the importance in changing your approach.  You will have people judging you and telling you all the methods through conventional methods but the difference is usually they do not have a child with challenging behaviours.  Blaming parent’s with challenging children is not the answer.

We run a Challenging Behaviour Busting program that helps you uncover all of these areas and if you want to know more simply email me at info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au or look under Services for more information.  Blaming parents' with challenging children

Don’t Give Up On Your Partner

This post has taken me a while to write because it has brought up past emotions but also a sense of strength of how far our family has come. So please if this triggers any emotions for you,  remember how far you have also come or will go by showing yourself love.

After the birth of our first daughter Grace, I was diagnosed with major depression.  Parenthood was far from what I expected and I was not prepared for emotions from past events to surface the way they did.  I was sinking quickly into a black hole whilst struggling to be a mum to Grace.  However with the help of professionals I started to recover and find the real me.

Then Emma came along and I became unwell once again whilst I was still in hospital and I was sent to a mother/baby unit.  I spent 3 months in there trying to form a relationship with Emma and get through each day without self harming.  I kidded myself thinking I could go home and within a couple of months, my psychiatrist put me into a psychiatric ward in the hope that spending time with myself will help me to get on the road to recovery.  I have had treatment that I wouldn’t want anyone to go through but it all saved my life.  I spent 7 months in Emma’s first year of life in hospital trying desperately to get better.

I could never thank my husband Steve enough for what he did for me.  He was my rock the entire time.  He was devastated watching me go through what I did and it was tough looking after two children.  This was definitely far from what he expected parenthood to be like. Nevertheless it was the best thing for me as I came out a better person than ever and I could let go of the past demons.

Then our children were diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder and we did not know where to go from there.  Every dream that we had were shattered from our hard journey into parenthood.  Steve has also gone through a bout of depression.  There have been times where we spoke little and I was expecting him to one day come home and say the marriage is over.  It may have helped that I knew how he was feeling but I knew I would never give up on him.  It has been tough but now we are a lot closer.

Within families with autism and sensory processing disorder we find that some partners really struggle and it does cause separation.  A lot of families do not receive enough support to move through the grief cycle and it ends in depression.   It is hard when everything is being completed by one member of the partnership.  Your partner may not seek help but they need a place to be listened to without judgement.

Are You OK?

Are You Ok?

ARE YOU OK?

Today I was walking back to my car from an appointment.  I noticed that a car had it’s windows down and a mum was sitting in the car bawling her eyes out and there was a child in the back.  I could have kept walking past but in my head I kept thinking that we need to check if people are ok.  It also reminded me plenty of times, I was like her sitting in my car crying my eyes out suffering with depression and postnatal depression.  I was also concerned about her getting home safely in that state.

So I took the courage to ask her if she was ok?  She responded that she had to make some major decisions and that she had extreme anxiety.  The PANDA training kicked in and I asked her how big were the decision.  I shared with her that I also suffered depression and postnatal depression with my girls.  She then shared with me that her doctor said she might have to spend some time in the psych ward.  I remember having to make that decision and I said I spent 6 months in between the psych ward and the mother baby unit.

Although it was a 5 minute conversation, I gave her the courage to take the steps to get onto the road to recovery.  For me this time was hell but I came out an even better person.  I reminded her that her child needs a well mum and she deserved to take the time to get on the top of the postnatal depression.

I walked away feeling a bit nosy but knowing that I could have helped her get on the road to recovery and making the decision easier to make.

We need to take even a few minutes to ask a stranger Are You Ok?

Stress Affects All Members of the Family

Stress affects all members of the family and it is important to take time out to recharge the batteries.  Emma is suffering through severe anxiety at present and it has been tough on everyone.  The last term of school was far from easy and then of course we had to help her through the demands of Christmas.

I purchased tickets to see Star Wars VII at Imax at the start of January.  It was wonderful just to have a few hours to ourselves as a couple.  It gave us the chance to talk about some strategies that we can use to help Emma.  We could talk about how Grace was travelling.  Plus we had the chance to talk about how we both were handling things.

Taking time out especially during stressful periods is a MUST to reduce the amount of stress levels which will improve everyone’s well being.

Divorce Your Partner!

grief

Divorce your partner seems to be a popular suggestions amongst social media sites.  I am a member of a few social media groups and I am left astounded by people simply suggesting to divorce their partner if they are not on board with Autism.  You rarely if ever hear someone suggest some counselling.  The answer is simply divorce.

It breaks my heart to hear that marriage vows seem so unimportant these days.  Now I am not saying to stay in a marriage if there is violence, abuse but the saddest part is that there are so many posts about partners being unsupportive, not helping, denying there is anything wrong with their child and there is no real question about why is that?

After a child is diagnosed one of the first questions that parents think about is where did the ASD come from?  Most of the research would point to the father.  What help does the husband have to deal with these thoughts?  Not a lot especially if the husband does not talk about his emotions.  Dads also go through the thoughts about what the future hold but if they are constantly working (businesses need to give time off to get to appointments so that they can also be involved).  I know for my husband he felt the extra pressure of working more to help pay for therapy appointments.

There is also the issue of how parents handle emotions in the first place and unless parents receive help with handling their emotions then there is very little chance that these emotions will be resolved for the benefit for the family.

There needs to be more help for dads.  They need support just like mums.

We focus on the family unit throughout all of our programs.  In early 2016, we will be offering emotion coaching as you will be amazed at how strong your connection will become with all members of the family.

All marriages need work, even my marriage needs constant work.  I just wish people would stop suggesting divorce when really no on in these groups know the full picture what is happening within other families.

What Do You Do For Your Child With Autism?

Mother Holding Child's Hand

What do you do for your child with autism?

When times are tough with all the challenges with our children with autism, you may sit there wondering what you are doing to help your child and that you are not a good mum or dad.

You do more than what you realise and all of it is good?

A great strategy to help you get through those moments is write down all of the you do for your child in a day.  Not just all the big things but also those small things.  These include smiling, touching, wiping their face.  I mean everything you do.

Feel free to write these lists down in the comment section below.

 

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