Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Explaining Autism for understanding

My son was diagnosed with Aspergers, on the autism spectrum at the age of 3. 
Up until this point we had assumed the responsibility for his behavior and actions, Although we didn't fully understand them ourselves. 

We didn't hit the ground running in therapies and services, because we weren't aware. We did what was recommended but most of it honestly dissipated because of the amount of information being pushed at us. We couldn't absorb it all and a lot of it slipped away. 

It wasn't until we moved to Iowa, where My sons kindergarten teacher made a comment that at the time, frustrated me. She said I should take him to the local mental health clinic and have him evaluated. My respect for her disappeared that very second, and I instantly decided to dislike her. 

It was no secret, he was struggling in school, but I made excuses. His classroom was too stimulating. It was overwhelming even for me, I can't imagine how it must be for a 6 year old, for 6 hours a day, Autism Spectrum or not! 

Several months later, my sons pediatrician who specialized with Autism, recommended a Child Psychiatrist. His recommendation was valid and I accepted it because of his degree. It turned out to be the best thing we ever did. It also turned out to be at the same mental health clinic the kindergarten teacher not so delicately told me I should take him to months before. 

Reality is this- while I was the parent directly affected by the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder child; I knew less than I needed to. I needed to be educated. I needed to be his advocate, and an intelligent one at that. I needed to be proactive, and I needed to be able to accept advice, constructive criticism, and I needed to be able to help others understand his disorder. No more excuses. 

When there is a conflict or misunderstanding that involves my child, it generally ends up being the best time to educate the child or adult. Yes, my son is different, but he doesn't look different. He doesn't look special needs. 
He thinks differently. This can be very hard for NT (Neuro-Typical) people to understand. 
I have been told by several people, especially parents that my sons autism shouldn't be an excuse. I always tell them that their ignorance shouldn't be theirs. It is possible, that the lack of understanding is the biggest gap between Autism and the rest of the NT world. 

When explaining that my son thinks differently, I use an example that has worked best. I ask a simple question to help them understand his thinking. 

"when I say the word Saturday, what do you think of?" 

the response is almost always the usual common thoughts of - no school. A day off. We get to sleep in, etc.. 
Once I have given them the time to answer my question, I respond by saying "when CM hears the word Saturday, he sees a picture in his mind.
 It is a picture of Tall Buildings." 

We get the immediate reaction of "Oooooh" every time. 
It begins a conversation that then helps them understand that even though, they may have said something very clearly, that everyone else understood, to CM.. It didn't make sense. The pictures in his mind, didn't line up and make a perfectly formed sentence that was clear as day. It was a garbled, random and out of place thought. And often it is this that is the root of his conflicts. A misunderstanding. 

CM has developed a funny guy label with his peers. This is merely his coping device. We talk a lot about his different ability. We want him to be aware that it's perfectly fine to be different, and it's perfectly ok to not be like everyone else. When he is in a situation he feels uncomfortable, or simply doesn't understand... The funny guy makes an appearance. I am sure this was created out of accident. His mind showing him pictures that didn't fit the conversation. He says out loud what his brain is telling him, and quickly learned that instead of being made fun of, they laughed. So he laughed with them. 

We have eliminated a lot of misunderstandings by helping others understand. My son now has a group of kids in the neighborhood, that are willing to defend him. They accept him, just the way he is. 

So what is Autism? 
Autism is different. But it can be awesome. Often grouped together under one term, it is the umbrella over all the spectrum disorders and easier to explain to others to help them understand. 
Rally your support, share with others how it's not contagious, it's not wrong. It's just a different way of thinking. 
Sure my son doesn't "play" with his toys. He collects them and thinks about how he is going to collect more. It's different, but it's not wrong. 


This is how you build awareness. 

And as for the Essential oils... In Tune is a great one for creating focus, and Balance to help keep them relaxed and grounded, especially in social situations. 

It's not going to be perfect. But you can always make progress. 
But we don't want perfection. 
Just progress. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Differently Abled

What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another. 

The autism spectrum is a wide measurement for the even wider group of differently abled. 

My 11 year old brought home a girl yesterday. A GiRL!! And an older one at that.  He justified it by saying she's a Tom boy. Oh and she is also high functioning. 
They get along wonderfully. It made my heart smile. They spent the afternoon making a video for YouTube.  They plan on using neuro typical kids as Zombies in their Zombie Apocalypse film. Ironic? 
 They want to create their own channel, specifically for kids on the spectrum to use. "no normal kids allowed" I was told. To say I wasn't beaming with enthusiasm for their desire to include all the other kids in the world like them, would simply be a lie. 
His friend told me that it would be a good forum for all the kids that were disabled like them. I corrected her. "not, disabled... Differently Abled" they are so talented, and I admire their drive and force and convictions. You can't try to be and think like they do. It's a gift. And one that requires a special name. It might be a label to some. To them, I make sure they know it's a super power. 

Every child on the Spectrum is still VERY different. There truly are no two alike. 
So often, what works for one.... Won't necessarily work for another. 

When I am asked what kind of oils someone should use on their child, or friends child, I ask questions first. 
I start with asking you to name three things you love about the child. I need to know where their super power shines through. What is their favorite past time?  What is their strength? What do you perceive as their weakness? How do they do in school? In public, or other social settings? How well do they sleep? 
This then gives me a better idea of understanding their view. 

Both of my sons are on the spectrum. Yet very different from each other. While my younger one (6yrs) has had more therapies starting at the tender age of 2, I believe his early intervention has made his social abilities close to that of a typical 6year old. 

My 11 year old (not diagnosed until 3 and no therapies until he was 6) is probably at the same social level as his little brother. So while they are socially the same age, my older son is expected by parents of normal developing kids and the normal developing kids themselves, to act socially like an 11 year old. A completely different topic for another day :). 
This of course, you would think would make sense for me to use the same oils for both boys. 
Not so. 
In fact, the oils I use on my oldest, only exasperate the behavior of my 6 year old. 
It has taken me a good couple of months to realize, I needed to change his oils and cater them to his specific needs, and not the basic general need. 
I played With a few different combinations for a week or so, closely watching him each day. The beautiful thing about the oils is that they are immediate. No need to let them settle in his system like some mood enhancing pharmaceutical drug. Once these are applied, they get to work. 
Now, I'm not sure if there is a link to this or not, but the oils I primarily use on my oldest tend to have a woodsy, earthy smell to them. The oils that seem to be a good fit for my younger son, have more of a citrus, splashy smell to them. Probably nothing coincidental, they seem to fit their personalities perfectly!! 

We now are beginning to have less emotional days. Not so much drama, and a lot less over-reaction. For everybody :) and thank goodness too! Summer Break has officially started, and in an effort to keep my own sanity, we will be keeping our routines in tact. 

My Older sons oils:

Uplifting blend
Focus blend
Lavendar as needed

My youngest sons oils: 

Uplifting blend
Wild Orange
Citrus blend

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Three "Must-Try" Ideas

It's no secret our kids struggle. Pharmaceutical companies are making bank from our children. 

We do our best to advocate, teach, and support our kids and sometimes that means prescription medications. 

My oldest (diagnosed with PDD-NOS, ODD, Anxiety, ADHD, Depression and Sensory Processing Disorder) is currently being followed by a Psychiatrist for medication management because while we want him to be all naturally served.... We want him to be happy with life. So reality, is you do the best you can. 

We use essential oils for Everything we can and supplement them with his prescription medications when necessary. We hope that once we manage his disabilities, we can slowly fade from them again. To be fair, he is probably the best he has ever been. EVER! And we have him on the lowest doses of his medications. (that in itself makes me feel better. We must be doing something right! ) My sons behavioral therapist has asked for samples of some of the oils we use, because to be honest- my sons need for a behavior therapist is far and few between, but his "official diagnosis" has him labeled worse than many of the docs other patients. 

Where am I going with all this? 

I wanted to share with you some great ideas that you can create by yourself with essential oils that will enhance your user experience and that go beyond some "traditional" uses of essential oils. 
We had wondered at one point if our use of the oils and the prescriptions was really making a difference, but I will tell you, if you ever question this same thought. Go ONE day without oils. Prescription meds only. You will see a difference. We no longer miss days with out oils. (although, we have missed days with out the prescriptions, and had no effects of behavior or otherwise while still using the oils)
We have noticed that most Prescriptions simply treat the symptoms; Essential oils treat the core problem.
So in addition to our morning routine oils, I've incorporated these 3 do it yourself ideas. 

Easy and safe home remedies

First idea: sweet dreams bedtime spray. 

In a small spray bottle
Mix the following: 5 drops Lavendar
5 drops Wild Orange 
3 drops Roman Chamomile 
With 4 ounces water

Spray pillows, bed, sheets, curtains, stuffed animals, pajama's... And anything else that might surround your child at night. Along with a drop of Lavendar on the bottom of feet and one drop swiped across the forehead, your little sweetie pie, will be in sweet dreams in no time. 

Second do it yourself idea: Anti- Anxiety liquid (aka liquid Xanax) {but obviously safer, and without the zombie feeling.}

- 3 drops Grounding blend  mixed with 5 drops of Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO) 
- 3 drops Calming blend mixed with 5 drops FCO

I have even used Wild Orange or joyful blend and placed 2 drops each over my heart. It takes the uneasy, impending doom feeling away within a minute. So Awesome!! 

You can Apply the Anti- Anxiety liquid on the bottom of the feet, back of neck and behind ears. 
Prepare to watch the anxiety leave. No racing thoughts, no jitters, no more tears or fears. And best of all. Natural and safe. 

Third idea: warming essential oils for a smell that is comforting. 

My personality is to be soft. Peaceful. And in tune. I feel connected to music and my mood is heavily affected by smells. I am constantly seeking smells that are entertaining and delightful. So in keeping with my own personality, this one is a PERFECT fit. 

In your old candle warmer (you know, the kind that use lightbulbs) 
Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil 
With 6 - 8 drops of your favorite oil 
And wait for a great calming smell. 

I am currently using Balance and  Elevation in my warmer. It's a mood enhancer, and smells sweet. You could try using Lavendar in a warmer at bedtime, or Lavendar and lemon for a clean fresh scent. 

Or Balance and Lavendar 
Or Wild Orange - YUM! 

 The sky seems to be the limit with this one. Here's to better days!!