Autism has so much vengeance to it; it has so much force. I went to battle with it because that’s my personality. I’ll take a bull by the horns and I’ll wrestle it down to the ground. That’s what I tried to do with Autism, and it about killed me.
I learned that if I was going to sustain this journey if I was going to SURVIVE this journey then I couldn’t fight Autism. It was bigger than me.
I decided I had to stop reading about Autism. I had to stop hyper-focusing on the underlying causes, stop focusing and talking about the underlying medical problems or about his behaviors. I was working with healthcare professionals who were constantly giving me papers to read. I was trying to learn all these complicated medical concepts and jargon. I was going mad. I already was angry and depressed. I was managing suicidal thoughts daily. I realized if I’m going to make it through this I have to love my son, not fight the Autism.
This is the paradox, this is the game-changer that is going to shift the reality for more families coming behind me of how they too will save their families. Are you ready?
It is when you start parenting and loving the child rather than the Autism and you start listening and learning from their behaviors is when you will find a connection. Next, you can begin partnering with them rather than trying to change them or manage them or try to get their behaviors to stop.
So when my son would be screaming and tantruming, I would just observe him. I would clear the space around him like a seizure. There would be breaks in his outbursts. During these temper tantrum pauses, I would say, “Does your head hurt? Does your stomach hurt?” and he would start to look at me and eventually he started to nod. He started to kinda communicate with me. He was a child that wouldn’t look at me, couldn’t talk, couldn’t connect.
The more I just was present with him and the more I talked to him and the more I let him know, “Okay, I see you. You’re hurting. I began to use these tantrums to my benefit and to teach him why we’re choosing these supplements and why we’re choosing the food that we’re eating. That’s why we’re doing all of this, we are healing what is causing the Autism. This pain is the autism. This is not who you are.”
It changed everything. I started talking to my child-like he understood everything even though he looked like he was in a far, far distant galaxy. I started speaking words of healing in our home, talking about all the great things we are doing and the blessings we have and that we are going to be ok-we know what’s going on-we’ve got this. We know the tremendous fear we feel as parents when Autism is present in our home. I tried to imagine the fear my son must feel for feeling so much pain, for only having his behaviors as communication, and then those around him get mad at the behaviors and try to make them stop or silence them with pharmaceuticals. This helped me to stop resenting him. Yes, I resented my child and was mad at him for ruining my life. Man. Thank God I woke up. Fear, Regret, Resentment-they rob us blind.
I started putting more emphasis on being his mom and working to connect with joy, a happiness that was not affected by external circumstances. I had to learn how to affect my circumstances rather than the other way around. I began placing priority and focus on creating a healing atmosphere in my home.
“We have to feel well to have fun. And we want to have way more fun.“ Kara Ware
Every nutrition, lifestyle change I implemented, every medical intervention was associated to feeling well so we could have way more fun.
I then soon realized my kids were growing up without ever hearing their mom laugh. So I started practicing laughing. I remember the first time I practiced laughing, the boys and I were on the trampoline. I started to laugh and my youngest started to cry. I must have sounded pretty psychotic. I then started talking about all the great things that we’re doing. Looking back, this was me talking myself into believing we would be ok. I was really lonely, too. So just keep that in mind. I had to become my best companion. I had to bring laughter back into our home. Our home’s atmosphere was so serious and so very depressing.
This taught me that I was not healing my child with Autism. I was healing and loving my entire family. I was creating and living a family care plan. This was not something I was doing to my child but rather with him. I had to become an expert at living the low inflammatory nutrition and a clean lifestyle rather than learn to be a medical expert. I had to find the medical provider I trusted and then work with that provider to create a reasonable plan. What are the priorities I would ask? A lot of times the recommendations felt way over my head and fortunately I had the confidence to say so.
I watch this happen to a lot of families that start this Functional Medicine process and then they never come back to the medical provider. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life’s career to facilitating Equal, Therapeutic Partnerships.
My goal was to become an expert at living our family care plan to lead by example. I became an expert at fine-tuning our nutrition and lifestyle. I became an expert at creating an atmosphere of healing. By removing the force of trying to change my child, it removed so much tension and resistance. I’m not saying it was easy, but I could tell this was my only chance to survive.
The more I focused on implementing what I believed in, what made sense to me, what I felt good about than the more things I found I could do. When I started feeling frustrated I learned I was trying to do more than I was ready for and I had to cut myself some slack.
I started practicing doing the smallest, most mundane tasks with love and kindness. I believed if I can, right now, weave love into this task, then over time all of these little moments will accumulate to make big change. And it did. 14-years later, I still can’t believe it worked.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become your words. Watch your words, for they become your habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”M. Gandhi
This became my guiding force. I added an element to Gandhi’s wisdom. My feelings. I realized to watch my thoughts and observe the feelings that followed and then the words I spoke. I had to practice reaching for better feeling thoughts to speak words of healing over my children and throughout our home. My actions followed. The lifestyle changes were much easier because I wasn’t forcing myself to change MY behaviors to lead by example. Instead, I was focused on my thoughts and feelings first then I naturally was more open to the next lifestyle change because I felt good about it.
I used this Emotional Scale every day to find better feeling thoughts. I learned I couldn’t get to joy from depression. I had to work my way there incrementally. Just like I couldn’t place his symptoms entirely into remission overnight, I had to work my way there.
I would work my way up the Emotional Scale by writing thoughts associated with each feeling. It a feeling didn’t resonate with me I would skip it. This is how I developed my Key Concepts. My Key Concepts became a shelf to direct my thoughts when the suicidal, nothing is working, self-sabotaging thoughts returned.