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Monday, March 8, 2010
We use many different wonderful ways of looking after ourselves, especially when it comes to ensuring that we stay emotionally feeling good. One particular way that I want to share with you is what I call the Unhappiness Compensation Approach. It goes something like this:
I feel uncomfortable in one area of my life, which I don't want to look at or pay attention to because if I do I will feel even more uncomfortable. (I'm discomfort-phobic!!)
I can't totally shake this uncomfortable feeling (it keeps following me around – even though I do my best to ignore it!!).
I go in search of something that I know will result in me giving myself a good feeling (i.e. eating, drinking, shopping, particular actions that will get me praise and love from others, etc.) - I go into unhappiness compensation mode!
The drawback of compensating in this way for an uncomfortable feeling is that after I have done any of these "feel good things" I am still left with my unhappiness. Most people do more and more of the "feel good things" to the point of personal detriment (i.e. over eating, over drinking, etc.) They then get into a cycle of compensating for this nagging, won't-go-away unhappy feeling by doing these "feel good things" over and over again - and in the end they end up harming themselves.
So, what's the solution? The solution is to look directly at what you are feeling unhappy about - to understand it - and then change the belief that fuels it.
This is exactly what a mother did recently during the Son-Rise Program Intensive. She was working with her child - but she pushed him to play her game, needing it to happen, and did not see that he was not connected or interested. She needed the interaction so that she would get praised and loved for making it happen. She needed the love because she was feeling upset in another area of her family life. She was trying to feel good in the only way she knew how - to do something else to compensate for not feeling good in that other area of her life.
After, during our feedback session, she chose to work out the underlying unhappiness in her family life that fueled her need and pushiness. As I dialogued her, she cried and talked about the situation and eventually came to a place of insight and then a place of peace. It was wonderful to see the change in her expression as she gave herself this feeling. She was brave to have looked at herself so honestly with a willingness to know who she was.
One of the beauties of the Son-Rise Program is that we come to understand how we can be happier through changing our beliefs (using the Option Process Dialogue) versus ignoring and avoiding our discomfort and creating a harmful compensation cycle!
Today - dare to look at a discomfort. Ask yourself a question or two (i.e. How do I feel? Why am I feeling this way? etc.) Dare to understand yourself a little more and learn to enjoy your life without having to compensate.
Love and smiles,
Just click on the video below. If you are on Facebook right now - click on the title of this blog, then on "View original blog" which will take you to where the video is stored.
Enjoy being silly and playful with your children.
With much love to all,
Sunday, March 7, 2010
All the same techniques from this series of blogs apply to older children too. Experiment with modifying your explanations and celebrations in an age appropriate way.
If your child is into science, show them a diagram of the human body and how it works, how our bodies break down food and what happens to it. If they like music, make up a rap about the toilet. Talk to them about what it feels like to know when you have to go and how you can relax and focus so much more once you have been.
Give your child privacy to check out the toilet on their own and spend time getting used to being in the bathroom.
I once worked with a 15 year old boy who did his first pee in the toilet ever while at our Intensive Program here at The Autism Treatment Center of America
Thursday, March 4, 2010
- Blowing Contest! Work on physical participation and flexibility with your child by having a competition to see who can blow the handkerchief up in the air the longest! You could add an extra element by taking turns and asking your child to count the seconds and keeping score!
- Who's behind the Handkerchief? Hide your face behind the handkerchief and help your child with their eye contact by popping out from behind it as a different animal each time. Make big, funny sounds and animated facial expressions to inspire them to look at you.
- Silly Noise Machine - half stuff the handkerchief down your sleeve. Invite your child to physically participate to pull on the handkerchief. Them pulling on it causes you to make silly sounds.
- Find the Tickle! If your chld likes tickles, initiate a fun tickle game when they are available. Then hide your hand under the handkerchief and request them to pull it off so you can give them more tickles.
- Where's the Treasure? Hide some "treasure" (e.g. a picture of a character they like) somewhere in the playroom. You are the pirate sent to find the treasure but your map (the handkerchief) has had the ink washed off! Encourage your chld to help you make a new map, working on their verbal participation. Give them fun prompts such as "I remember there was a scary forest somewhere on this map" then once the new map is made, go on an adventure to find the treasure!
- What does my voice tell you? To help a child understand intonation, use the handkerchief to blindfold each other (if your child will let you). Your child's role, once blindfolded, is to guess how you are feeling from the sound of your voice. Really exaggerate the emotion in your voice to help them along. Encourage them to blindfold you and then THEY can play with communicating emotion through the tone of their voice.
- Blow blow blow! A simple game for children working on clear single words - once your child is engaged with you, lie on the floor and, in an animated way, blow the handkerchief as far as you can across the playroom, modeling the word "blow". Be really fun and silly as you do this - many children love to see things blown around the room. Once they are motivated, help them say "blow".
- Sticking spot! Use some artist's tape and stick the handkerchief to the floor of your playroom. When your child is available, initiate a fun chase game. But, when you tread on the handkerchief, you suddenly become stuck! Help your child say the word "move" to free you and continue the chase game.
Feel free to post any of your own ideas or modifications to any of these games, and have a wonderful time trying them out!
With laughs and smiles
The first step to toilet training your child is to get them used to what you are working on. It's rare that we as people immediately start performing a new skill perfectly, we need warm up time to study and familiarize oursleves with the material before we get it right.
Let's make the first focus be promoting how fun the toilet is, talking about the toilet, celebrating all of our child's interest in toileting and modelling how to use and why to use the toilet to them before we actually ask them to put their pee and poop in it.
Our children like things to be familiar and predictable. By making the toilet a focus without actually inviting them onto it first, our children get to grow accustomed to what we are introducing to them, therefore when it comes to using the toilet, they already know and trust what it's all about.
It can be tempting to "Push" the challenge with our children when we are hungry for them to develop new skills. If you take your time and have fun along the way, both you and your child will be more motivated to keep trying.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
- The Magic Cauldron - You are the bubble/squeeze/tickle (or whatever your child loves) witch and your child has to stir your magic bucket-cauldron to help you make the bubble/squeeze/tickle spell and then they get the thing they are motivated for! Encourage their flexibility through physical participation! Expand this fun game by adding a list of ingredients that need to be added before the spell will work (e.g. two scarves, a toy car and a blue marker).
- A rock-star drum! Turn the bucket upside-down and drum on it! Sing your child's favorite songs and rock out together! You can work on different challenges depending on where your child is: clear words (e.g. "music"), verbal participation (e.g. your child sings while you drum), physical participation (e.g. your child drums while you sing).
- Help your friend around the playroom - put the bucket on your head and have a fun, silly time wobbling around the playroom, bumping into things. Your child's role is to verbally guide you safely around the playroom. You could even take turns!
- The tickle bucket! There's a tickle monster hiding in the bucket - any part of your child's body (e.g. legs, arms) that they put in the bucket will get tickled! Encourage their physical participation in this fun, simple game.
- Hiding animals - turn the bucket upside down. Tell your child there is something hiding under the bucket, but you don't know what it is! Slowly lift up one side and make a crazy animal sound! Your child's role is to guess which animal is under the bucket. Once they have done so, either swap and encourage your child to make the animal sounds, or come up with a different animal for your child to guess.
- Fly to the moon - if your child is small and light enough, invite them to stand in the bucket and fly them around the playroom. Once they are motivated you could help them to say the word "fly".
- Spin the bucket! Stick different motivating activities in a large circle on your playroom floor (e.g. tickle, squeeze, sing, ride). Place your amazing bucket in the middle of the circle and spin it. Whichever activity it ends up pointing towards will be what you do with your child! Take turns spinning your bucket and helping lengthen your child's attention span with all these different games!
- Guess what's in the bucket! To help your child ask questions, place one of their favorite things in the bucket and put it on the top shelf so your child can't see what is in it. Tell them that one of your child's favorite things is in there and your child has to guess what it is. Model questions they could ask (e.g. "Is it something you wear?" "Is it red?") and celebrate in a huge, fun way when they guess!
- Dodge the bucket! Have a fun time with your child rolling the bucket at each other, while the other one tries to dodge out of the way! Once one of you gets "hit" then swap over who is rolling and who is running.
- Playroom firemen - encourage imaginative and symbolic play by pretending that there is a fire in the corner of the playroom and you have to rescue your child's favorite character (Bob the Builder, Barney, The Wiggles). You could fill the bucket with scarves or paper and pretend that it's water as your playfully splash it around to put out the fire!
See how something as simple as a bucket can be the source of SO much fun and silliness!
Have a wonderful time playing
When we as parents are rested then everything we do during the day will be easier Like most of you I have experienced long stretches of days with "sleep deprivation" and even with a great attitude it can be challenging. For new born babies - this is unavoidable, but once our children no longer need to be fed at night, you can do things that will help your children sleep through the night for 10-12 hours!
Which means in turn that YOU can sleep.
Oftentimes we are taking care of what our children are eating putting them on great diets for Autistic children, giving them healthy vitamins and supplements, carefully measuring out the timing and the amount of food and supplements we give our children, but don't give the same about of care and structure to the sleeping routine of our children.
Sleep routines are formed by habit, I wake up at 6am each morning even if I do not have to get our of bed at that time, or no matter what time I went to sleep the night before, simply because my body has created this habit. We as the adults can help our children stick to a bedtime routine to help their bodies remember a pattern of sleep that is useful for them.
How to create a sleep routine for our children on the Autism Spectrum, or their typical siblings.
1. Believe that it is possible.
2. Do not start a routine unless you believe that you can follow through with it. Your children will know if you do not intend to keep to the routine.
3. Believe that if you and your child sleeps, then everything else you do for your child during their waking hours will be so much more effective.
4. Pick one and stick to it, do not vary it. This is not about helping your child interact with you, it is about helping your child understand that it is time for bed, that they can put themselves to sleep and sleep through the night.
5. The routine can be anything you want it to be, its up to you, just stick to it.
A sample routine.
1.At 6.30pm the house becomes very calm, the lights are dimmed, click on the link below for the C D "Sleepy Baby" a great CD to play when you want your child to become sleepy. No rough and tumble games are played anymore.
2. 6.45-7.15pm - bath time and PJ's.
3. 7-7.15-7.30 - two stories, one song, and a kiss on the head - then Mom and Dad always leave.
Remember this is just a sample - you can create one with different time lines, and different steps according to what will work for you and your child, the trick is YOU keeping to it.
Blogs to come, "What to do when your child gets up during the night."
"What to do when your child keeps leaving his room and won't stay in his bed."
Here's to a good night sleep for all.
Love to you and your lovely children
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