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4 ways to keep your head up when you're feeling down

Parenting a child with autism is hard.

I know we're not supposed to say that for a lot of reasons: we might attract angry social media trolls, we might manifest more difficulties, and nobody wants to hear somebody complaining about their troubles.

But it's true. This shit is hard.

I mean, parenting a neurotypical kid is hard. Parenting a special needs child is much harder. If you share some of your child's autism genetics, you may struggle with a combination of sensory issues, executive function skills, anxiety and auto immune disorders, which makes parenting much, much harder.

Figuring in the sky high divorce rate among special needs parents, there's a good chance you're doing this alone some or most or all of the time.

It can be overwhelming. Believe me, I know, because all of the above applies to me.

Thankfully, these days I'm in a much better place than I used to be. Life was much harder when Tosh 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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