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How 2 Moms Experience Their Autistic Kids` Frustration

Autistic kids can explode with frustration. Those with hyperlexia or aspergers want life to be, "just right." In the amazing book by Priscilla Gilman, The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, Ms. Gilman describes one of those days:

Anti-Romantic jpg Priscilla Gilman
First Mom, Priscilla Gilman:

"On summer day when Benj (her son) was five, he was having one of those 'terrible horrible no-good very bad days.' He'd woken up that morning with a wet bed, lost his favorite marble under the fridge, and at lunch he spilled his yogurt on his feet, lap, and chair.

As the cold yogurt splattered everywhere, he yelped in frustration and screwed up his face as if he were about to break down. "Mommy, can you make life just right?'" he implored. p. 258

The Anti-romantic Child is a page turner as Priscilla Gilman experiences what she learns about her hyperlexic son. Her willingness to understand and love him deeply for who he is, not what he "should be," touched me.

Second Mom, Tara Kenedy-Cline:

Anti-Romantic 1 Child Eliz. Singer jpg
Our second mom, Tara Kennedy-Cline reveals how she dealt with her 10-year-old son when he didn't want to leave his computer so the family could go out to dinner.

"Recently, I have begun a new process of "avoiding the layers" when I am making a request. Instead of going into a whole story of why he should and how he could comply with my request, I simply do not comment on anything he says or does other than "Alex, I have asked you to turn off the computer." If he doesn't do it, I do it for him...but we don't get into a big discussion about it. And if he goes into the worst mom ever mode, I simply say, "Thank you for doing what I asked. I know that was hard for you and I am very proud of you." (or whatever the case may be...but always staying positive)

After several weeks of learning to control MYSELF by staying on task and not giving in to those talking sessions, while at the same time recognizing and rewarding him for doing what I asked and staying calm, we have developed a relationship of mutual understanding. I understand his triggers and that he has a difficult time honoring my requests, and he understands that I will reward him for desirable behavior and doing what I ask.

By catching him "being good" and rewarding him for that behavior, I am able to keep MY cool because I am focused entirely on the good stuff. And in turn, when I stay cool, he stays cool. When I notice the good, he wants to repeat the good.

It's not easy...but it's so worth it! I can actually say I not only LOVE my son, but I LOVE spending time with him too :o)

Tara Kennedy-Kline, Author  of Stop Raising Einstein; Discover the Unique Brilliance in Your Child...and You!

Director of Field Services at Learning is an Art

http://tarakennedykline.com/

Jean's Response:

Raising kids isn't easy but imagine what it takes for parents to raise, love, and understand their precious special needs kids. They deserve our respect and our praise.

 What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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Helping Autistic Kids Become More Flexible

It's difficult for for kids with autism to be flexible. They make up rigid rules and get upset when they aren't followed. My colleague, Tara Kennedy-Kline, said:

Anti-Romantic 1 Child Eliz. Singer jpg
"I am the mom of a 10 year old with Asperger's Syndrome ( a form of autism). I am also a coach, author, and business owner...so when my son engages me in conversations, (even if the conversation is simply a creative avoidance tactic) I take the bait!

What I have found is that when I make requests of my son that are out of his comfort zone (ie: asking him to get off the computer so we can go to dinner) he begins a process of escalation which includes rude comments and behaviors that require me to try to "talk him down"...this talking down sequence typically results in me either forgetting my original request or me lessening my original request thereby giving in to his tantrum.

Our next blog will deal with Tara Kennedy-Kline's solution. Stay tuned.

She is Director of Field Services at Learning is an Art http://tarakennedykline.com/

The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy

Since I've been reading The Anti-Romantic Child, an extraordinary book by Priscilla Gilman, I remembered her son's difficulty with flexibility. He was diagnosed with a form of autism called hyperlexia. Ms. Gilman noted: Anti-Romantic jpg Priscilla Gilman

"His biggest challenges remained difficulties  with cognitive flexibility - accepting changes in routine, performing novel tasks, handling open-ended situations where there wasn't a clear right or wrong answer..."

"The teachers emphasized flexibility as a personal goal for Benj, and they'd notice that when he started to get anxious, he would say to himself or to them: 'Okay, I will try to be flexible now.'"

Ms Gilman went on to show how he used these words to deal to with his computer breakdown. He started to get all worked up and began to cry. Then he took and deep breath and said: "Okay, Mommy, okay, I will try to be flexible." Then he came up with lots of solutions. p. 235

Helping kids let go of rigid rules and teaching them to practice flexibility is an important goal for these kids.

What Do You Think?

Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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Pros and Cons ~ Should You Scare Your Child Straight?

If your child is getting in trouble with the law, what can you do? Find out from my guest blogger, Marie Owens, some of the pros and cons of the Scared Straight Programs.

There comes a time for most parents when their children will act out and become completely unmanageable. This is a phase most kids grow out of, but for others it can be the start of long-term antisocial behaviors that can eventually lead to criminal activity and even jail time. Of the parents suffering through this, many consider enrolling their child in a scared straight program.

However, a lot controversy surrounds these programs: government programs and child advocacy groups discourage others from using them, while parent and police groups swear by them. With different voices tugging the issue this way and that, it's difficult to get a clear idea as to what will be best for your child.

What Exactly are Scared Straight Programs?

If you don’t have a criminal justice degree, you may not be clear on exactly what these programs entail. Yet as their title suggests, scared straight programs attempt to get delinquent juveniles to change their behavior through shock and immersion.

Children who get enrolled in these programs are taken by the police to spend some time in jail with volunteer inmates (usually lifers) and experience the life of a prisoner. The idea behind it is that by hearing the stories of convicted criminals, spending some time in their shoes and confronting the true, unglamorous nature of prison life a child headed down a self-destructive path can be convinced to abandon it.

These programs appeal to parents because, unlike psychoanalysis, the approach is straightforward and exude an air of common sense: show kids the consequences of their actions and they'll change their tune.

Do They Work?

It's difficult to make a clear judgment as to whether the programs help the kids enrolled in them. Statistically, the programs don't look very good. The Surgeon General has advised all parents to stay clear of them based on a number of studies that show the programs have little-to-no effect.

Likewise the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention does not provide funding to scared straight programs because they provide few measurable results and rarely provide data on their success rates.

Nearly all sociological research has shown that the programs either have the same effect on participants as those in non-participant control groups, or cause their participants to grow worse after completion.

However, statistics rarely translate well to the personal level. There are scores of parents who swear by scared straight programs citing their child's successful rehabilitation.

Those who have completed the program and gone on to abandon lives of delinquency often cite it as their primary motivator, and there's no limit to the variation between programs.

The documentation itself can be quite persuasive on its own: The Good Project Magazine recently ran a story on the effectiveness of watching the original scared straight documentary in turning around the lives of hundreds of former delinquents. You can find it here: http://goodmenproject.com/families/boys/doc-talks-scared-straight/  For more information go to:  http://www.criminaljusticedegree.net 

So What Should I Do?

When it comes to these programs, it really has everything to do with your child. The reason it works for some kids and not others is because some are more susceptible to this sort of message.

The convicts involved in these programs can only help kids in whom they can inspire respect, but not the kind of respect that encourages emulation. As with any decision about your kids, if you want it to be successful you need to evaluate it based on your own experience with them.

My thanks to Marie Owens, who works in security logistics for this important information. In her spare time she teaches a female self-defense course and studies law in Washington State. For more information go to  http://www.criminaljusticedegree.net 

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

One More Thing:

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9 Expert Parenting Tips for Parents of Autistic Kids

Anti-Romantic jpg Priscilla Gilman
  Parents of autistic kids need help coping. Priscilla Gilman, author of The Anti-Romantic Child, gives that help in her awesome book. It took some time for Ms. Gilman to realize her Benj was hyperlexic, a form of autism. Listen to what she wrote in her journal soon afterwards:

"Can Benj ever be a real kid? Will he ever have a friend? I can't imagine him acting in a little play or wanting ice cream or looking forward to Halloween. I can't imagine him having a sleepover or camping out under the stars or sharing a conspiratorial laugh with a buddy. I can't imagine him saying "I love you" in a spontaneous, heartfelt way."p. 131

Ms. Gilman takes us on a journey filled with sorrows and successes. We feel for her and applaud her love, effort and parenting tips in helping Benj be his best self.

Anti-Romantic 1 Child Eliz. Singer LP, MFA
  I asked parenting expert and colleague, Elizabeth Singer, LP, MFA for her advise to parents of autistic kids. She gave these tips:

1. Go where your child is happy. If it's the park go there.

2. Come to the experience of the pointy finger digging in your shoulder when you're on the computer as love because it is.

3. Don't get on yourself for calling other kids "real" kids. It's shorter than neurotypical.

4. Find a way to get some sleep.

5. Get your child occupational therapy.

6. Get your child speech therapy.

7. Take floortime. It helps.

8. Use the Federal Government. It funds autism therapy from 0-5. After that, it's your local school board. If you think there is something going on, don't wait.

9. Get all this help for your child, then get some help for yourself.

Licensed Psychoanalyst at University Place in Greenwich Village

www.elizabethsingerlp.com

I liked Elizabeth Singer's tips. They make sense, especially number 9. It takes a lot of effort, worry, and love to raise a special needs child. Such parents need coping power. A knowledgeable counselor can help.

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

One More Thing:

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How Parents Can Deal with the Media's Influence on Daughters

If your girl is pulling away from you and following peers who are following the media glitz, what can you do?

Because of Peggy Orenstein's book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I began asking parents for their advice on helping their daughters choose healthy values over the glitzy media values about girls and women.

Cinderella Paggy Orenstein
Peggy Orenstein

Here's Clare O'Reilly's Advice on Values Parents Need to Teach Girls:

Thanks Jean, well we cannot underestimate the values provided by parents and family. While teenagers will follow and focus on peers, the values they obtain from parents hold strong in the long run.

Cinderella Clare O'Reilly
Clare O'Reilly

Parents need to ~

1. Build confidence in kids.

2. Teach them to believe in themselves. 

3. Discuss good and not so good role models openly, rather than just "telling" our children that particular people aren't good role models.

4. Give a clear explanation of the role of the media.

5. Show how the media often blows things out of proportion rather than the truth about the actual person they focus on.

You can contact Clare O'Reilly at: http://dollarsenergise.com/

Jean's Response:

I like Clare's advice because discussing openly with kids is the best way to influence them. Arguing, telling, and yelling makes kids stubborn. Listening, asking, and getting them to think about the media and values are better ways to influence them. Why? because they work.

Contact Clare O'Reilly at http://dollarsenergise.com/ 

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

One More Thing:

Sign up for this Parenting Skills Blog at http://www.ParentingSkillsBlog.com  and receive this FREE Gift - 33 Expert Ways to Motivate Your Kids


How This Parenting Expert Turned Her Eye-Rolling Tween into a Loving Daughter

Has your daughter changed from a cool kid into a difficult tween? Let's find out how this mother turned her child into a loving girl again.

I ask Debbie Pokornik, a parenting expert, how she's helping her daughter become a genuine woman instead of a media princess. This question evolved from the excellent book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.

Cinderella Paggy Orenstein

Peggy Orenstein


Debbie's 3 Suggestions for Dealing with Difficult Daughters: 

Cinderella Debbie P.
Debbie Pokornik

Raising girls who feel valued as genuine women in a society that tends to portray the feminine in less than desirable terms can be a real challenge. Some things I believe can help us to avoid raising media princesses are:

1. Talking openly about how females are portrayed in movies, magazines, on billboards, etc. in such a way that it opens the door to a good discussion without turning it into a lecture.

2. One of the activities we do in Mother’s & Daughters is to have our Mother/Daughter teams look through magazines and talk about who looks happy, speculate on why they are not happy etc. For my daughter and me these conversations carried on to her Bratz dolls, teenagers in shows and of course to Barbie.

3. We also watched some of the Dove pieces on how they change images in media to lengthen necks, remove blemishes, etc. and create a very unrealistic expectation of what can be physically achieved.

How Debbie Turned Her Eye-Rolling Daughter Around:

Communication is such an important piece of building relationship with our kids and I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to keep the information flowing. Despite this, when my daughter was in that pre-teen stage she started pulling away and turning into someone I really didn’t like. I really believed she was the problem and a piece of me even bought into the idea that this stage was unavoidable. As we drifted further and further apart I realized that I was giving in to a societal belief about tweens and not following my heart.

1.  I scheduled an appointment with my eye-rolling daughter and sat down and had a very open heart to heart. I told her I’d never been a mother of a tween girl before and that I really didn’t know what I was doing much of the time.

2. I found out I was at least half of the problem (correcting her, giving her tasks when she entered the room…) and that what she really needed from me was acceptance, information and honest communication. I shifted on that day from mother to mentor and what a difference it has made.

3. To help with these kinds of open-discussion moments it can be helpful to set up a Girl’s Club with our daughters where no topic is off limits and no repercussions from what is shared will be experienced. This gives them the opportunity to verify what their friends are saying, have access to your wealth of knowledge (careful not to lecture) and find out that you really don’t know all the answers.

4. Finally (although there is definitely more that could be said on this topic), my biggest tip is for each of us to love and accept our daughters AND our responses to our daughters as they go through their stages. Remember our journeys are different – unique to each of us and in the end we cannot live that journey for her.

5. Be open, honest and (appropriately) involved in her life and try really hard to refrain from judging or labeling. Our girls are smart, resilient and beautiful. With the right guidance and compassion they will grow up to be every bit as genuine a woman as we are and perhaps even more-so.

Debbie Pokornik is the owner of: Empowering NRG. You can contact her at: http://debbiepokornik.com/

Jean's response:

I found Debbie's advice wise and extremely helpful. She knows through experience what works.

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

One More Thing:

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The Best Ways to Tell Your Daughter She's Beautiful

Is it OK to remind your daughter of her beauty? If so, what's the best way to tell your daughter she's beautiful?

Cinderella Paggy Orenstein

Peggy Orenstein

I've been reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein and wondered how to help girls avoid believing in the shallow media hype how girls and women should be.

My psychiatrist friend and colleague, Dr. Rozina Lakhani, answered me with ease.

Rozina L. picture

"1. Every time I  tell my daughter that she is beautiful, I  add the phrase - your inner beauty.

2. When watching movies or reading books together, I  talk about how the girl is beautiful because of her character and not just the external beauty or clothing.

3. The small messages make big difference."

Jean's Response:

Dr. Rozina touched on three major points.

1. Inner beauty trumps outer beauty.

2. A beautiful character is what's most valuable.

3. Small messages make a big difference.

I like how Rozina sends these three messages. By adding "your inner beauty" it  helps her daughter relect on what's truly important. When reading books and watching movies, Rozina reinforces her message that it's the character of the girl that counts. All these "little messages" over time become her child's thoughts and influence her to be beautiful from the inside out.

You can contact: Rozina Lakhani MD MPH, Managing Director, Shifa Health PLLC drl@shifahealth.org

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

One More Thing:

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How This Counselor Helps Girls Deal with Media Glitz

How do you raise your daughter to become a genuine woman rather than a media princess? Becoming a genuine woman is a beautiful goal to strive for. Many parents fall into the media glitz when raising daughters and fail to see it.

In Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein quotes from The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg in describing a contemporary girl's New Years Resolution:

"I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can...I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes, and accessories." p. 140

My colleague, Linda Appleman Shapiro responds,

...the media is the culprit that creates the images which can --all too easily -- turn our daughters into believing they should aim to be treated as though they are princesses.

When we, as parents, buy into that same media, we stunt their development and limit the possibilities for their becoming fully actualized, real women who live lives that are purpose driven and meaningful ~ to say nothing of having the capacity to love, be compassionate and enter into healthy relationships.

To be genuine and not to emulate values that we do not wish our daughters to emulate we have to find ways to create a family environment that's open and trusting - one where they feel free to ask questions, share their thoughts, feelings, and problems ... and, yes, to know that they are loved unconditionally.

The warmth and safety within a family then translates into the world outside, where opting not to be a part of a media driven world is then much more attractive.

I believe that our goal as mothers is to allow our daughters the freedom to discover who they are and what they feel passionate about. Such freedom will then inspire them to focus not merely on WHO they are but WHAT talents they wish to cultivate and HOW they feel they might best contribute to the world in positive ways as opposed to falling prey to the temptation of what the media extols -- the externals such as clothes and make-up and a world of HOW they look and how they think others will view them and value them.

Promoting the false media-hyped vision of feminine perfection is promoting anything but perfection and that is what leads impressionable young girls to believe in what is nothing more than glitz and depravity ... a quick fix way to becoming a "media princess."

To contact Linda Appleman Shapiro go to  Shapiro@www.applemanshapiro.com .
Psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor/Author/Blogger

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

Two More Things:

Sign up for this Parenting Skills Blog at http://www.ParentingSkillsBlog.com  and receive this FREE Gift - 33 Expert Ways to Motivate Your Kids

Here's a link to how little girls look in beauty pageants:   http://bit.ly/e9fGwM


Interview ~ Child Counselor Discusses the Princess Hype for Girls

Is your daughter's self-esteem healthy? Or is she always comparing herself to other girls and feeling depressed?

 Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, says:

"...from the get-go everything else in our culture tells girls that their weight and looks matter-a lot...by middle school, how a girls feels about her appearance-particularly whether she is thin enough, pretty enough, and hot enough-has become the single most important determinant of her self-esteem...pp. 137-138

I asked my friend and colleague, Christa Adams, who is a child therapist and a brand new mother of a baby girl, what she thought about the princess hype and beauty pageants. I especially wanted her professional opinion of what girls might take inside themselves from the media and the princess culture.

Christa Adams on the 'Princess Hype' and Beauty Pageants for Little Girls:

" I  worry about girls. Let's put the problem on a 10 point scale. At zero are moms who do not encourage princess thinking in their little girls. They don't fight it or promote it either.

At 5 are moms who buy their girls princess dresses, pink and purple colors, and read princess books to their daughters. All this could turn out fine as their daughters grow out of it and become more realistic.

At 10 are moms who put their daughters in beauty pageants."

  Pre-school Beauty Pageant Contestant  ~

Girl Pageant preschool

Jean: What are you worried about?

Christa: The girls with number 5 moms (on the scale) may struggle with their self-image. They may judge themselves, especially if they want to look like the "Disney Princess." They may even internalize the 'princess hype' for awhile. It could go either way.

Jean: What about girls with number 10 moms who put their daughters in beauty pageants at an early age? 

Christa: I fear these girls may not stretch their values beyond how they and other females  look.  They may stress over their hair, teeth, nails. They may become sexualized. This view may get stuck inside of them. They are being trained to measure up, to perform, to win. They judge themselves and they judge other girls. This is not a healthy environment for raising little girls.    

Jean: Where does all this start?

Christa: The media and the entertainment world have a big impact on influencing moms and their daughters. Their girls must be thinner, prettier, and be the princess. It affects  their daughter's self respect. Eating disorders could result.

It affects relationships too. A prince is supposed to save and rescue them when they grow up. Of course they'll marry a normal man. Based on what they've been taught he can't possibly measure up. They're both bound to be disappointed.  

Jean: What do you suggest to help moms who want to do their best for their daughters but don't know how?

Christa: Don't be fooled by media expectations. Stay out of pageants. Promote healthy self-esteem. Help them choose well rounded activities like sports, music, dance, and promote a healthy attitude toward doing their best in school.

We need to teach kids how to lose. To not feel terrible if they don't win. Instead of saying, 'You're great because you won,' we should say, 'I saw how you put your whole self out there.'   Or, 'You gave 100% and did your best.' In my field call it's called prizing versus praising. 

To contact Christa Adams go to http://www.Christaframe.com

Jean's Response:

I left the interview knowing that Christa's little girl has a wise mom.  Christa will certainly have to deal with the 'princess hype,' and she will give 100% of herself to guide her daughter. I know her child will be raised with solid values. 

What Do You Think?

 Please comment in the comment link below. Don't forget to add your email so I can separately email you 10 Beautifully Crafted Love Notes for Your Kids.

With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

Two More Things:

Sign up for this Parenting Skills Blog at http://www.ParentingSkillsBlog.com  and receive this FREE Gift - 33 Expert Ways to Motivate Your Kids

Here's a link to how little girls look in beauty pageants. http://bit.ly/e9fGwM