I know that all of us reach a point where we just can't take it anymore! I know that you want to scream!

The point of today's post is to keep you from going to a dark place in your head where you begin to question your whole life.

Going to this dark place is like walking through a scary funhouse. Which by the way, I do not see anything "Fun" about!

My point is that all of that negative thinking is a big mirror of illusion and nothing is true! Yet, it feels so true!

I felt as though I was going over the edge yesterday because my husband was working and my daughter screamed for her father for FOUR HOURS!  

Since I like to  'Walk my Talk' I ran my BUFFERS checklist as much as I needed to keep from entering the fun house of no fun i.e. the runaway train of bad thoughts. The BUFFERS checklist is when you use the acronym BUFFERS as a quick check in tool to try to quickly turn a situation around and stay away from the smoke and mirrors of negativity.

Quickly ask yourself the following:

B- BREAKS BOUNDARIES BALANCE

Do I need a break right now? How can I make that happen?

Are my boundaries so out of whack that I am over the edge?

Am I so out of balance that I am tipping over?

How can I fix them to get through this?

U-UNEARTH NEW TERRITORY

What new thing can I do right now that I have not yet tried to fix this moment?

F- FIND SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF

Would a quick prayer help?  Just a little help to get you through the moment! What else can I change my focus? Maybe a list what I am grateful for?

F-FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Can I call for some help? A little support? A hug?

E-EVOLVE

If I were to see one gift in this situation what would it be?

R-REMEMBER THEM

Is my child in pain? Is my child frightened? Is my child just being themselves and I am having an issue? How can I make THEM feel better?

S-SENSE OF HUMOR

What is funny or fascinating about this situation?

With some practice you will learn to do this in your head in about 30 seconds. So many times I am able to make the situation better so fast it was amazing! You will know instantly which BUFFER will help solve the problem and you can always use more than one!

Best of all, it definitely keeps me from going down the wrong road! Yesterday I ran my checklist several times and used a few of the BUFFERS to help me get through those four hours until my husband came home.  For example, I use U to make up silly songs about Daddy that made her laugh! I used R to remember that she is suffering from missing him.  I had sympathy and patience for her knowing that she was not trying to drive me crazy!

I can't say that I was "tip toeing through the tulips", but who walks on their toes through tulips anyway? It gave me a tool to use to make the situation more manageable.

That is the point! Stay positive! Stay strong! Break through to the life you want! You CAN do it!

Try the BUFFERS checklist and let me know if it works for you!

 
 
Victoria Osteen, wife of the famous orator Joel Osteen wrote that you have to let go of one thing to grab onto to something better.   My first suggestion is to be willing to let go of the ‘status quo’ to be able to be free to grab something better.  Living better is living more consciously! Ask any expert and they will tell you must have a plan.   Put yourself on your to do list and make a plan of what is working and discard what is not! It is the ‘B’ in my BUFFERS program, which stands for Boundaries, Breaks and Balance.   Know what your boundaries are and make sure you keep yourself on your to-do list.  Take self-care seriously to master balance. Remember, taking breaks is not a luxury but a necessity!

Start your roadmap at the end and work backward. Where do I want to end up? How did I get there? What was the step before that? Keep asking yourself these questions until you arrive where you are right now.   

Remember you are the parent of a child with ASD so in my opinion you are a high performer! Start thinking of yourself as one!  What do high performers do?

Besides having a plan and a roadmap they have a toolbox to go to pull out the right “Tool” at the right moment.   They know how to manage a crisis and put out fires.

A toolbox means everything from ensuring a successful outing to getting through a crisis to looking at the glass half full! For example going to a restaurant? What do I need to have a great meal? What reinforcing items could I take?  Ipad, ipod, and headphones check!  Favorite toy check!

If an unexpected crisis arises no worries! I have a plan for that too! I am prepared to handle it and keep moving.

I have a BUFFERS checklist that I run in a crisis situation.   The checklist is part of the program I created.  I run the steps to the acronym BUFFERS to keep myself calm and engaged in making the situation better and keep moving on.  Keeping a bad moment in check maintains the positive healthy environment you need to move forward. A bad moment  is just what is a bad MOMENT it does not signify a bad life!  Having a go-to tool will keep you on task and not let the situation get the best of you!

I mostly use the first  ‘F’  in my program which stands for ‘Find Something Bigger than Yourself ‘ for example a prayer to please help me get through this moment or asking for strength in the moment.  I find ‘U’ ‘Unearth New Territory’ to help me ask myself what new idea can I bring to this moment?

Once I am focused on something new, not how sorry I feel for myself is when things start to change!  You are the only one who has the power to give you a new life. That is what high performers do they adapt and overcome by thinking out of the box!

Next time you are having a raw moment take a breath and think of one new thing to gain back control and get things going in your favor. You will be amazed as to what you come up with!  You may think that have a hard life because you live with Autism.   Autism never takes the day off and is always around yelling and screaming and making its presence know like an uninvited relative that won’t go away!

  It can be a feeling of heaviness like dragging a hundred pound weight everywhere you go! Well, it is a 100 pounds of coal or 100 pounds of gold?  What is unique about your circumstances that makes you valuable or marketable to others?  First of all you are an expert!  You are an expert in Autism and for sure an expert in your own child! You understand on an intimate level what loving someone with a chronic illness is like!   You have compassion and empathy! What other unique skills do you bring to the table? For Instance I am a counselor.  Autism and counseling were two of the strongest forces in my life.  I used them as assets that lead me to the creation of my program and here I am today!  Ready and willing to use my unique gifts to help others! I invite you to do the same and join me!  How can you use your unique gifts to serve another in some way. There is nothing like seeing feeling good because you helped someone else. That will make you feel great and realize that you just found something bigger than yourself. In this author’s opinion something that Autism can’t take away because it is much bigger!  I hope that this post has helped and motivated you to action!  Please respond I love feedback!  Visit me  at

www.buffersandbreakthroughs.com

  

 
 
Like most kids with ASD, my daughter rides the school bus for which our district provides and pays. How this works is that the district bids the run for the new school year and the lowest, most cost effective bid wins. We have a new bus company every year. Every year I call the district, or the state Education Commission, to complain. My complaint is that the staff has had the usual amount of training, which is of course ‘zero’! These companies are usually understaffed, unsupportive and disorganized!  The aides that are assigned the job to watch an entire bus of special needs, non-verbal, and often aggressive children are basically thrown to the wolves! Most of the time these are nice people who need to make a buck but have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Sometimes they are not physically able to handle our kids! Honestly I would not feel comfortable leaving these people to care for my pet goldfish, let alone my child with ASD! Yet, every year it is the same story... I am supposed to watch my daughter climb on to the bus, smile and wave good-bye.  

One year, I had a terrible fight with the driver who was uncaring and had a nasty attitude. The aide was not much better!  Once again, I had to call the district whereupon many phone calls ensued.  Result: No Changes. This particular incident ended unfortunately when this same team left a child on the bus by accident in the middle of summer. Thank goodness the child was verbal enough to recount this horror to his mother.  Instead of admitting what they had done this pair of geniuses tried to tell him not to tell his mother! They did not even give him water, or admit anything when the mom questioned why he was so sweaty! Yes! This really happened!

Last year, I witnessed a terrible incident with a very aggressive child who could not be appropriately controlled by the aide. As a result another student got hurt in the crossfire. This happened  in front of me! One more time I had to call the district!  Since I refuse to stand for this less than appropriate standard of care we finally have a school bus with a video camera.   Of course, yet another incident of inappropriate behavior occurred in front of me last week!  I immediately called my old friends from the district and demanded the footage pulled. The irony is when this happens, the bus company has to review the footage first, and then we have to hope that the footage they are sending is uncut and that it won't disappear in transport. We also take the chance that this footage won't get lost, erased or just not sent... by accident of course!  If the footage is actually sent to the district we parents are not allowed to view it!  All the while, we are just expected to load our precious cargo on the bus and hope for the best!

Well I have had enough! Please comment on this and let me know if you agree! I say it is time that we, the parents of our children take matters into our own hands!  What if we say “No!” to this ridiculous policy of choosing the lowest bidder? How about we hire our own transportation, train our own staff and run the show ourselves! We can band together and have our own carpool vans!  Then we can we can request the transportation costs be refunded by the district and the Education Commission!

The state and district know that the current system does not work, they know that change is not good for our kids, and they know we will not just sit by and watch our kids ride off into the sunset basically unsupervised for almost two hours a day! Some of us wouldn't have our backs turned for 10 minutes!

To put this in terms of my BUFFERS program let's go with F- Find Something Bigger Than Yourself!  Remember the deal that surviving Autism is NOT to fight it but to embrace it! This is not about MY child but OUR children! There is a need to be filled!  A need that is bigger than any one of us! Can you imagine a transportation company that actually caters to people with ASD???

That would be one busy bus company! They could get business from school districts and community organizations! It would have well- trained friendly staff and be especially equipped for ASD individuals!   We as parents could actually exhale, if only just for a minute!

Well I am in! Who's with me?

 
 
Today's blog post is about how to have a sense of humor when things don't really seem all that funny.   Here is an example of what happened to me yesterday.  Yesterday was finally the first day back to school for my daughter who had spent the last 11 days 6 hours and 13 min asking when she was finally going back to school, but who is counting.  I was very excited to finally grant her request.  About 10 minutes before the bus is about to come I notice that she was anxious. One of the things that makes my daughter super anxious is loud noises such as lawn mowers and hedge clippers. It is a high-pitched sound that can be mildly annoying to those of us without Autism.  However, to a child with Autism this sound is off the charts! I am now convinced that she hears things that I don't. Her hearing is more keen period!  Expecting that a landscaping company is trying to get a hard days work in by starting early I go out to investigate. Oh no! My neighbors adjacent to me are HAVING TREES CUT DOWN!!!

A lawn mower is nothing compared to this noise. Comparing a lawn mower and tree surgery is like bringing a pillow to whack someone with to a gun fight. It's a whole other level of stress!  UGH! How I am going to get her onto the bus?

So I decided that the bus driver and I needed a plan. I waited a few minutes for the bus.  The bus driver and I decided on plans A, B, and C. I went running back towards the door to implement plan A and boom! I almost crash into the door because why? In her panic SHE LOCKED ME OUT! Great! I am out here, she is in there she won't open the door. By the way, did I mention she has noise canceling headphones on? Even if I banged she might not hear me! To add ‘insult to injury’ I was expecting someone to meet me at my house in about 10 minutes. Oh yes! The bus is still waiting.  I told myself not to panic. I remembered that I had a key to my deck hidden. She has locked me out before and I learned this lesson the hard way. I got my key and went around to the back of the house, got caught in a spider's web along the way and finally attempted to open the door.  Yesterday was such a very hot, sticky, and wet day in NJ and everything seemed to be stuck in its place especially my deck door. Now most people would think that the adjectives hot, sticky and wet would be a good thing. I assure you that even though I was slightly humored at this point by the irony of all of this, It was not a good thing! The bus was still waiting!

I ran back around to the front careful of the spider web just in time for the bus driver to inform me that she is leaving.  Now, my ‘prize’ if I ever get back in the house will be driving my daughter 30 min to school and back.

I saw my neighbor across the street and she also tried to open the back door with no luck.  At this point, at least I got to feel less like a weakling because she can't open the door either.  I went around to the front of the house and rang the door bell and pounded on the door. Low and behold, somehow my daughter hears me through the noise canceling headphones and looks at me out the window as if to say "Mom what are you doing out there?".  She went back to playing on the computer.  I began to realize that I am in a time crunch now because someone is coming to my house, I am going to now spend an hour driving my daughter to school and back and I have an appointment later that morning so I need to get back in the house NOW!

Luckily I remembered that I had taken a picture of my other daughter for her first day of school with my cell phone and it was still in my pocket. I reached into my pocket for my cell phone. What choice did I have? I would have to call my husband to come home from his office to let me in! What approach should I take? Should I sound calm cool and collected? Should I be the hysterical spouse? I decided a sense of humor always calms down a tense situation.  My sense of humor and joke telling about having coffee "Al fresco" that morning made him less anxious and actually quite tickled to see me waiting for him in the driveway. He laughed when he saw my daughter walk up upon opening the door and said to her "Hey buddy what are you doing in here?"

 How fascinating is it that on the day my daughter is about to go back to school, just before the bus comes my neighbor decides to have a tree cut down? Not only that, but the tree company actually shows up on time and she gets so panicked that she actually locks me out in the 2 minutes I was waiting for the bus?  When you look at the situation that way what are the chances that it could happen again just the same way?

Fascination with tense situations can lead to finding your sense of humor. One thing you need in dealing with Autism is a sense of humor! Ironically, all parents of children with Autism have stories like these. The question is do we see this bits or irony as funny or frustrating?

If this story gave you a chuckle mission complete! Please comment and let me know!

 
 
I am listening to a great book by Arthur Fleischmann and Carly Fleischmann called Carly's Voice.

Carly is a young lady with ASD who finds her voice through typing. She has given valuable insight to what living with ASD is like for her. Thank you Carly! Arthur does a great job of accurately depicting what life with ASD is like for the caregiver.  As I listen to the rich detail that Carly is able to use to describe her environment, I can't help but wonder a few things. Does my daughter see the world in a similar way? What lurks beneath the heavy shield of Autism for my daughter? What is she keenly aware of that she can't express? Like Carly, my daughter practices typing and emailing everyday.  Unlike Carly, so far, her typing has not opened the world of her inner psyche, to me. I was hoping it would when I insisted she give up handwriting for typing a few years ago. When she emails me, I get emails that may be typed by her but the thinking was done for her. When she types on her own I get a laundry list of things that she likes. For example she types her favorite video and list some relatives at random.  I have been hoping to get emails that are a little more thought provoking. I still remain faithful that she is in there. Until then I continue to find new ways for both her and I to survive Autism.

The U in 'BUFFERS' stands for 'Unearth New Territory  i.e.  keep digging. Sometimes I feel that I am digging to China with a spoon! This can be very frustrating, exhausting, depressing and can bring on a whole new wave of grieving for one's loss.

How do we continue to ‘Unearth New Territory’ and trade our spoon in for a bigger shovel or even a bulldozer? I think the answer to this lies in the power of numbers. You can't just throw one piece of pasta to the ceiling and hope it sticks, sometimes  you have to throw the whole pot! When you are dealing with Autism you may need to throw more then one pot, perhaps then, something will stick!  To support this effort I find it helpful to ask myself the following questions: What is working?  What else could I be doing to support what is already working? Who can support me with this effort? What are my resources? What resources aren't I using?

My goal for the next few weeks is to think of three new things that I am going to try. I will try them one at a time and rule each ‘in’ or ‘out’ before I go on to the next one.  I invite you to join me!  Let's 'Unearth New Territory' together! Let's try something new to get our kids from underneath Autism!  Please comment and let me know what new things you have tried and whether or not they worked. I am looking forward to hearing from you! Do I smell pasta cooking?

 

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