Autism parents should brag, too!

I'm a member of a special needs parenting group on Facebook, and last week another parent posted something that was so relatable. 

She wrote that while she normally just scrolls past and ignores posts by parents of neurotypical kids, bragging about their achievements, there seem to be more of them lately. All the dance recitals, awards and other accomplishments and milestones made her want to scream for them to shut up already, and appreciate how lucky they are. 

The response from the group was overwhelmingly supportive because we've all been there, right? Especially in the beginning. I remember back when Tosh was a toddler, and I'd see all the cute little Facebook videos of first words, the happy birthday song, preschool holiday programs and the comedy of three-year-olds playing soccer.

Tosh couldn't do any of that then, and still can't do most of it now.

Back it what I call my dark days, when he was about four years old, just one video of a toddler saying something cute was...

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Rewire your mental immune system

I don’t know about your family, but this has been a tough year for us so far when it comes to health. Both Tosh and I rarely get sick, but so far this year we’ve had a hard time shaking a flu bug that gave us bad coughs plus some stomach cramps and vomiting. As they say, it’s going around.

We know a lot about the immune system when it comes to fighting colds and flu, but did you know scientists believe our brains have an immune defense system that fights our attempts to make positive changes in our lives?

According to Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, our mental immune system fights to maintain our status quo. Like everything else that holds us back, the push for consistent behavior is a key part of our evolution. Our daily routines keep us fed, sheltered and safe.

However, even when patients suffer a heart attack and are told that if they don’t quit smoking or lose weight, they’re going to die, they struggle to make those changes....

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I told him to F off. Then I realized he was right.

About three years ago I was in a pretty dark place.

I was feeling down and defeated. Autism was kicking my ass. Being a single mom was kicking my ass. My job was kicking my ass. Life was kicking my ass.

So naturally, I turned to my boyfriend for support and encouragement.

He did not respond as I had hoped.

"You know what your real problem is? You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it," he said.

Wrong answer. His insensitive reply prompted me to unleash a tirade of f-bombs so brutal that we didn't speak for a couple of days.

But during that time, I thought long and hard about what happened, because he wasn't your average dude who didn't have a clue about what it's like to raise a special needs child.

He had his own special needs child with spectrum issues, an intellectual disability and health issues. His son is verbal, but overall, he probably has more challenges than Tosh does. Yet at the time, his son was attending college - COLLEGE! - at a school across...

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Dave Ramsey's Snowball Method can help you with autism

Parenting a child with autism comes with the longest to-do list in the history of forever. There are IEPs and educational issues, behavioral issues, health issues, diet, sleep and it goes on and on and on and on (and on).

I've spent almost my entire career in credit unions, most recently producing financial education content. One day, while reviewing an article about strategies to get out of debt, it hit me: autism is kind of like being buried in debt.

It's overwhelming, exhausting, depressing and you don't even know where to begin.

Which is why financial management guru Dave Ramsey can offer the perfect advice to autism parents. When it comes to tackling your child's laundry list of challenges, treat it like debt and use Dave's Snowball Method.

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey, here's how it works: tackle the easiest thing first, so you gain a feeling of accomplishment. Plus, with every problem solved you gain more time and energy.

Without realizing it, I've applied the Snowball...

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3 reasons to stop worrying about the future

positive mindset Jan 15, 2019

If you're like most parents of autistic children, you've spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about your child's future. I know I have.

There's the obvious worry: what will happen to them when you're gone?

And then there are the myriad other worries. Will my nonverbal child ever communicate? Will they ever learn how to drive? Will they ever have a job? What happens when they age out of the educational system? 

These are all legit concerns. However, you are probably worrying far more than you should. Here are three reasons why.

There will be more services in the future.

Ask any parent of an autistic adult - these days, there are sooooo many more services for autistic children and their families than 20 years ago. Why is that? Because these families blazed the trail for everyone else, raising awareness of the need. I know it may seem like our country is becoming less empathetic, but if you don't allow yourself to get caught up in the political drama du jour, and look at the...

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Elopers need more freedom

Uncategorized Dec 11, 2018

I've been working on a course to help parents teach their autistic kids how to go out in public successfully, and researched one of the main reasons families stay home: eloping.

If you don't know what eloping is as it pertains to autism, consider yourself very lucky. Like the traditional definition of eloping, in which people run away to get married, eloping in autism means a child or adult runs away from school, home or elsewhere without a caregiver. It happens every damn day and it's rarely the fault of teachers, aides, parents or caregivers being careless or inattentive. Oftentimes, the child is very clever and sneaky about it, and disappear in a matter of seconds.

Because people with autism have an impaired sense of danger, elopement is dangerous and sometimes even fatal. Because people with autism may not respond to commands from law enforcement, they're even at risk of being killed by police. If they're nonverbal, they may not be able to communicate who they are if...

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Healthy chicken nuggets

autism diet Nov 27, 2018

If your kid is like Tosh, he eats the same 10 things over and over again. And chances are, one of those things is chicken nuggets.

The problem is, very few processed chicken nuggets are safe for any kid to eat, much less kids with autism. And they're gross. Not surprisingly, McDonalds chicken McNuggets are among the worst. They contain MSG, which will keep your child up at night, and TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) which is a petroleum-based food preservative that is a cause of ADHD and neurological damage. Plus, the dipping sauces also contain MSG and food dyes, which also cause neurological damage.

I don't know about you, but Tosh doesn't need any more neurological damage. We've had our quota for a lifetime, thank you.

McDonalds is easy to pick on, but chicken nuggets from Jack in the Box, Burger King, Wendy's, Popeyes and the popular Chick-fil-A aren't good options, either. Chick-fil-A removed TBHQ but still uses a lot of MSG (which is probably why their sauce is so amazing and...

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Autism and air travel: know your rights

Flying with an autistic family member can be stressful enough. But these days, it seems like every week there’s a news story about an airline that kicked a passenger off an airplane for no good reason. Too often, it seems like a case of discrimination.

As the parent of a child who screeches, kicks seats and has meltdowns, you can’t help but wonder if you might be the next national headline, like the Beegle family after they were escorted off a United flight by police in 2015.

You shouldn’t let this fear stop you from traveling. But it’s important to know your rights.

The Department of Transportation has specific regulations governing air travelers with developmental disabilities. The DOT defines an individual with a disability as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life acitvities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

The regulation also specifically...

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Eat this, not that: Pepperoni

autism diet Oct 12, 2017

It’s hard enough to feed children with autism a healthy diet because they’re picky eaters, but many of their favorite foods are among the most toxic and unhealthy for anyone to eat. This double whammy can make the effort to clean up your family’s diet very difficult, but the silver lining is that your child’s potential for improvement is very promising!

I swear, so many autistic kids love pepperoni, it should be included on the list of behaviors used to diagnose it. However, brands like Hormel are extremely harmful for children with autism.

Here’s why.

Sodium Nitrite
This compound “cures” pork products like ham, bacon and pepperoni, and is also added to hot dogs and cold cuts, because it extends their shelf lives and protects consumers from all sorts of terrible bacteria like listeria, E. coli, Salmonella and more.

However, sodium nitrite is one of the most dangerous carcinogens allowed in food products, and for decades, it has...

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