7 Emotional Secrets- Segment 7 -I am afraid of what will happen to my child when I am gone…

April 7, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the last of this 7-part series we discuss the fear of the future that parents experience, how to have hope, and how to build resilience with Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT., expert on grief, loss, trauma and difficult conversations. This is a very broad topic. In general, we are moving away from the notion of the stress management paradigm and changing it to resilience building. The notion that we can manage stress so we don’t feel it, is not a reality. We know this from research. Even the term “stress management” has a lot of judgement to it. Human beings experience stress when they are put under conditions that activate stress responses in the brain.

7 Emotional Secrets Segment 6- I feel unloved and unlovable…

April 6, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the sixth of this 7-part series, we discuss our hidden sense of feeling unloved and unlovable, and what do to about it with Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT., expert on grief, loss/trauma and difficult conversations. Being in a close relationship where you are on the receiving end of emotional unavailability is very real, you are not imagining it, and extremely painful – to the very core.  Emotional unavailability is not a rare occurrence. If you are living with a narcissist, you are living with someone who is going to be emotionally unavailable, and that’s a personality thing. If you are living with someone who is autistic, you are living with someone who may be emotionally unavailable, but it’s a different kind of source or genesis.

7 Emotional Secrets Segment 5- I feel like I am failing as a parent…

April 5, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the fifth of this 7-part series, we discuss the sense of failure that many parents experience during difficult times with their child on the autism spectrum, and what do to about it. Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT, expert on grief, loss and trauma and difficult conversations shares her expertise. Many parents experience a feeling that they are failing at parenting their child, especially when they need to hold difficult boundaries, and just don’t feel like they have enough strength to hold the line and push through the day. Lisa tells us that feelings of failure relate directly to our expectations and assumptions about our child and our parenting.

7 Emotional Secrets Segment 4- I am so mad at the school system…

April 4, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the fourth of this 7-part series, we discuss with difficult-conversation expert Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT the topic of parent’s anger with the school system and give valuable tips about how we can approach the school to get the best results in an IEP meeting, as well as how to be the best advocate possible for your child. Lisa recommends that to communicate most effectively with the school, that we start with ourselves. While we may have a good reason to be angry, our anger can easily derail these important conversations. So, she suggests that we do whatever we need to do to diffuse the anger before the conversation so that we are not leading with anger in the meeting. Ask yourself, “…do I want to be right or do I want to be effective?”

7 Emotional Secrets Segment 3- People just don’t understand…

April 3, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the third of this 7-part series we talk with Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT., expert on grief, loss and trauma about the topic of loss and the cultural expectations that parents with children on the autism spectrum experience, and why they feel guilty about this pain. People often don’t recognize the on-going difficulty that parents with children on the autism spectrum face. Lisa points out that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about grief – what it was and what it isn’t. Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s work on grief is consistently misappropriated; Ross’s work specifically related to terminally ill patients who were facing their own death and was not meant to be a general statement about bereavement after the death of someone else.

7 Emotional Secrets Segment 2- I feel discouraged and sad all the time…

April 2, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the second of this 7-part series, we discuss the on-going grief that parents with children on the autism spectrum experience with Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT., expert on grief, loss and trauma. As parents of children on the autism spectrum, we face grief as part of adjusting to the new normal after diagnosis. Lisa defines grief as the emotional response to a loss, which in our cultural is typically associated only with death, but we also grieve non-death losses such as a job, a relationship, a promotion, or the loss of the dreams we have for the future.

7 Emotional Secrets Segment 1- I feel exhausted, burned out, and hopeless…

April 1, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

In the first of this 7-part series, we discuss the difference between compassion fatigue and burnout (which very often co-express) and what to do about it, with grief and loss and trauma expert Lisa Dinhofer, M.A., CT. The constant emotional demands of parenting a special needs child can result in compassion fatigue and burnout, two very normal, but different, human responses to chronic or prolonged stressors. Lisa shares that compassion fatigue is akin to feeling as though we just don’t have “enough in our gas tank” in order to continue being in service to another person. It is a sense of depletion which requires appropriate and healthy self-care measures for restoration.

Learning to Be Flexible

February 23, 2018/ by Jeanne Beard

Learning to be flexible is essential in creating a successful life with someone on the autism spectrum. If we are too rigid, demanding and insistent on having things a certain way, it will really complicate our life and create stress for everyone. It is very likely that our loved one on the spectrum is unable to be flexible. This is not an attitude or willingness problem, it is a function of the neurology of autism. In other words, it’s not that they WON’T be flexible, it’s more like they CAN’T be flexible.

Social Conformity

December 20, 2017/ by Jeanne Beard

Much of the social conformity that comes naturally to the rest of us originates from innately knowing and following the social rules without thought. We act, think and do things the way we do because that is just how they are done in our world, no questions asked. We have assimilated the expected behavior through our psychological WIFI.

Do you think people with autism can lie?

November 29, 2017/ by Jeanne Beard

While being a “rule-follower” is often part of the personality and character make up of an individual on the spectrum, sometimes to the extreme that we might feel like they are policing a situation, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to always telling the truth. I regularly get asked the question “do you think people with autism can lie?” My answer to that is yes, but with a caveat. My experience is that my loved ones on the spectrum are not untruthful people. To the contrary, they are often very straightforward and honest about things that other people might address with a white lie or with an answer with a response that avoids the truth to some degree. Their tendency to see life in black and white rather than in shades of gray may cause them to create a hard line between their idea of the truth and a lie. That makes the subtler form of a white lie impossible (even the kind we might tell to spare someone’s feelings if they ask if we like their new haircut and it looks like it was done by Edward Scissorhands).

Meet Them Where They Are

October 30, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

Trying to force someone with autism to do it “right,” or like the rest of us, is like trying to force a left-handed person to function in a right-handed way. It can be done, and some people with autism can learn to look very “right handed,” very socially acceptable, but at what cost?

The Times 10 Intensity Rule of Thumb – Jeanne Beard- Founder, National Autism Academy

October 11, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

People with a social disability deserve a deep respect and compassion because living in their world requires a great deal of effort—constant and concerted effort. On a regular basis, they must force themselves to participate in painful social contact to survive in our culture. That is like the rest of us asking ourselves to willingly work in an office where the fire alarm sounds every day, all day long. If our world is not easy, their world is not easy by a factor of 10. 

Suit Up and Show Up

September 15, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, was “Suit up and show up.” Woody Allen once said “80 percent of success is showing up.” And so it is… Certainly, if you don’t show up, your likelihood of success in any endeavor is hugely diminished. You can’t win a game you won’t play. But showing up is more than just physically being present. It’s also about arriving mentally ready for an opportunity and suiting up speaks to much more than just the physical clothes you wear. It also speaks to the positive mental attitude that you are on the bench, ready and eager to get into the game with the expectation of a positive outcome.

One Day at a Time

August 11, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

I remember years ago, in the final week of school before Christmas, when my son with ASD was failing several classes in middle school, I couldn’t get him interested in anything but video games, and his favorite pastime was kicking his brother down the stairs, I hit overwhelm!

Do you have a PhD in Autism?

June 13, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

I don’t have a university issued PhD, although I often wish I did; sometimes I even beat myself up for not knowing more. Yet in many ways, I know so much more than those educated PhD’s, who have no idea (ok maybe they have theoretical knowledge, but no personally invested emotional experience) about what it feels like to live in the shoes of a parent with a child on the autism spectrum. On some level, they just can’t relate, no matter how much they want to, or how hard they try.

Coming to Terms with Life with Autism (Part 2)

June 1, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

As our understanding of autism grows, we adapt our methods of relating and communicating to better suit our autistic loved one’s understanding of the world. Because those individuals with autism are not receiving and integrating social information like the rest of us, their motivation and social frame of reference is very different. As a result, their behavior can appear offensive to the uninformed bystander.

Coming to Terms with Life with Autism (Part 1)

May 23, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

Autism takes many forms, and is very misunderstood in the general population. The old stereotype of a child, rocking in a corner, unable to speak or function still comes to mind for many. I see this in the faces of people when I tell them that my son is autistic. People don’t know what to expect.

One of the Biggest Mistakes We Make As Parents is to Cling to Unrealistic Beliefs About Our Child’s Future

May 12, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

It is such a tightrope walk! On the one hand, lowering our expectations (along with revising our hopes and dreams for our child) feels a bit like we are betraying our kids, giving up, criticizing them, or branding them as different in a negative way.

As a Parent, Finding Our Way to Acceptance of This Invader in Our Life, Autism

April 3, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

As a parent, finding our way to acceptance of this invader in our life, autism, is a tricky path to walk. We tend to hold out hope that things will be better once… (fill in the blank with “…he gets through special kindergarten and can go to regular first grade…” or “…he finishes high school and can go to college like other kids his age…” or “…she gets out of school and gets a job supporting herself…”).

Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum is Emotional

March 24, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

Being a parent of a child on the spectrum is a very emotional experience for most of us. Before the autism is diagnosed, we frantically try to make life work, and often find that we aggravated the pain and frustration more than calm it. None of us wants to push our child to the point of seeing them suffer.

Life Before Diagnosis

March 17, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

Like most of you who have had a child diagnosed with ASD, our journey was a struggle. Before the diagnosis, I felt desperate and confused. One minute my son seemed so “normal” and the next minute he was melting down because he could not tie his shoes!

What are Limitations Anyway?

February 3, 2017 / by Jeanne Beard

On the one hand, there is nothing more compassionate we can do than to understand our loved ones with autism and be compassionate about their struggles. If you are a parent and trying to “therapize” a child into being non-autistic, or into acting like someone who is not on the spectrum, you are probably going to run into their “limitations.”

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