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 the bull by the horns and wrestle it down to the ground. That’s what I tried to do with Autism, which killed me.
I learned that if I was going to sustain this journey and 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 and stop focusing and talking about the underlying medical problems or his behaviors. I was working with healthcare professionals who constantly gave me papers to read. I was trying to learn all these complicated medical concepts and jargon. I was going mad. I was already angry and depressed. I was managing suicidal thoughts daily. I realized if I was going to make it through this, I had to love my son, not fight the Autism.
This is the paradox; this is the game-changer that will shift the reality for more families coming behind me of how they will save their families. Are you ready?
It is when you start parenting and loving the child rather than fixing or fearing 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, manage them, or try to get their behaviors to stop.
So when my son would scream and tantrum, I would 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?” He would start to look at me, and eventually, he started to nod. He started to communicate with me. He was a child who wouldn’t look at me, talk, or connect.
The more I was present with him, 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 Autism. This pain is 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. 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 emphasizing being his mom and working to connect with joy and happiness not affected by my external circumstances. I had to learn how to affect my circumstances rather than the other way around. I began prioritizing and focusing on creating a healing atmosphere in my home.
With this shift in mindset, I realized my kids were growing up without 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 were doing. Looking back, I talked myself into believing we would be ok. I was really lonely, too. So 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. He was teaching me. And I was grateful. I thanked him for the lessons he came to teach. I believe our children are incredibly sensitive and in tune with energy. And the more we make everything about Autism, the more they shrink back and believe they are the problem. Our children are not the problem. Our environment has become too toxic for all species to live and thrive.
“We have to feel well to have fun. And we want to have way more fun.“ Kara Ware
Every nutrition and lifestyle change I implemented and every medical intervention was associated with my values of fun, connection, and empowerment.
I chose to become an expert at living low inflammatory nutrition and a clean lifestyle rather than learn to be a medical expert. I had to find a medical provider I trusted and then work with that provider to create a reasonable plan. I stayed with providers for at least a year! When working with providers, I would ask what are the priorities. The recommendations often felt way over my head, and fortunately, I had the confidence to say so.
I watch this happen to many families that start this Functional Medicine process and then never return to the medical provider. Families jump from one provider to the next, meaning one protocol after the next. This sabatoges healing. I coach parents to find a partner and stay with them for at least a year to experience optimized clinical outcomes. I’ve dedicated my life’s career to facilitating Equal Therapeutic Partnerships. With so much information available, I can see the traps families fall into now.
My goal was to become an expert at living our family care plan to lead by example. I became an expert at continuously fine-tuning our nutrition and lifestyle. I became an expert at creating an atmosphere of healing. Removing the force of trying to change my child, removing the focus on Autism, and shifting the emphasis on the love of my children removed so much tension and resistance. I’m not saying it was easy, but I could tell this was my only chance to survive. I stopped making everything about the pathology and started making it about our values and strengths.
The more I focused on implementing what I believed in, what made sense to me, and what I felt good about, 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 also learned that periods of stabilization, times when I wasn’t adding in any new protocol or change, were equally as important as the changes we were making.
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. 17 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.” Lao Tsu
We can’t wait until our children are better to begin imprinting joy, laughter, and satisfaction into our beings and homes. The practice is to embed these feelings amid the chaos to affect the chaos. I had to learn to affect my circumstances rather than reacting to or falling victim to my circumstances.
My Guiding Force
I added an element to Lao Tsu’s wisdom—my feelings. I realized to watch my thoughts, observe the feelings that followed, and then mindfully choose the words I spoke. I had to practice reaching elevating my mood, deepening my spiritual faith, and training my 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. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., refers to this as Broaden and Build Theory.