Our Personal Autism Awareness Journey

 

 

Every April 2, the world celebrates International Autism Awareness Day. Before I had a child with autism, I used to think it was an over-diagnosed disorder caused by immunizations. However, once our youngest son, who we never immunized, was diagnosed with autism, I began to walk in a different pair of shoes.

In the years since my son’s diagnosis, I’ve done a lot of research. And while I do think immunizations can exacerbate autistic symptoms in children, I now know some more facts about the prevalence of this little-understood condition:

  • Autism affects 1 in 68 children.
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing, becoming one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the US.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to be on the autistic spectrum.
  • There is no medical detection or cure.  Research by Autism Speaks

Since we discovered our now thirteen-year-old son’s autism, our family has worked hard to manage and improve the various impacts that autism has. Our son has been in some form of therapy since he was three to four years old. We’ve had some extremely grueling years of day to day therapy at home, including vision therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and vestibular therapy. We have worked a lot on large and small motor skills through the years. Doing “simple” things like tying shoes or using scissors are not easy for him, but he can do it. He gets overwhelmed very quickly, and moving from one activity to another is extremely hard for him.

All of our children have had food allergies and sensitivities and with the research that has been done in relationship to gluten intolerance and Autism,  we just felt it was wise to keep him on a gluten-free diet. We have had extensive tests done through the years regarding the vitamins and minerals he needs as well as pre- and probiotics to keep his system regular. We also found that a very low dose of a stimulant medication helps to support his ADHD. All of these interventions, along with physical activity and heavy structure, have proved to support all over well being and reduce self-injurious behavior.

Behavioral therapy has been an ongoing challenge for all of us. Tools that my husband and I use as parents have to change several times in a course of a day or a week. What worked last week like a charm will not necessarily work today. Obviously, this can lead to strain in our own relationship as we work to adequately parent this child. Nothing has been more difficult in our marriage. We have also attended family therapy, as the tension on the typical siblings have proved to be extremely stressful as well. We have learned ways to communicate better, using common terminology and allowing everyone to share their feelings during meals or family meeting times.

According to Dr. Robert Naseef, Autism in itself doesn’t necessarily cause divorce, but living with a child who has challenges brings out all the weakness in your marriage. We have both wanted to leave the situation out of sheer frustration and exhaustion, and there was a time in our marriage when we were ready to call it quits. In our effort to rebuild our relationship, we knew our number one objective had to be parenting this child with as much unity as humanly possible. We also realize that we hyper focus on the autistic child, by shear virtue of his particular issues. We work very hard at trying to have a positive, strengths oriented atmosphere. We have a black board in our dining room and we will often write positive quotes, mantras or scriptures to encourage and inspire each other.

Socially, our son has a great desire to have friendships, which can be unusual for someone on the autistic spectrum. Unfortunately, his desire for companionship is not often reciprocated by his peers. Because he has remained socially immature, the friends he had when he was younger have moved on to other friendships. We have, however, found a few families who invite our son for play dates or sleepovers, and it is much-needed respite for all of us, including him—he gets tired of us too!

Our son is very bright and extremely creative. He likes to write movie scripts and draw cartoons. He likes gaming, Minecraft and Legos, riding his bike with us on the bike trails, taking hikes and visiting the lakes and creeks in our area.

We have tried our hand at homeschooling and private school, but we have landed at our local public school that has more access to learning supports and accommodations. When we first attended the orientation for high school, we sat down and created a short biography with our son with his picture on it. It reminded teachers that our son did have an IEP and included information about his likes, interests, strengths and vulnerabilities. We gave one to each teacher as we entered the class and they all said that really helped them get to know our son much faster than they would have with out it. We have contacted every teacher through email and keep in touch asking them to notify us as soon as something transpires in their class as opposed to waiting for a slip from the school, which can take up to a few weeks. The opportunity for bullying at school is always present and our son has had his run-ins with it. We call his school case worker and principal right away at the first sign.  Our son has not always acted in sound judgement in his behavior and it is met with swift removal of gaming that must be earned back. Teachers, counselors and administrators appreciate our communication and participation in our son’s education and we all have the sense that we are supporting each other to meet the goal of success for our son.

Through the years, we have tried several group sports, some successful and some not such a great idea. He had the most success with flag football this last fall and he just started our school’s track program a few weeks ago! It is his first ever group sport where he has had a strenuous practice every day after school! It is a personal best sport as well as team effort, and he definitely has exceeded his ability since last year at this time, just by showing up for practice. Our son also likes to wrestle and roughhouse with us. I started doing yoga three years ago and working out at the YMCA just so I could be strong enough to handle my fast-growing son. Every day takes an immense amount of mental and physical stamina, and it is all beyond our human capacity.

When I gave birth, we found out that I had a ruptured uterus and that it had been so for some time. He and I really should have died. His name means “gift,” and on our hardest days we choose to remember that. We have spent the last thirteen years trying to readjust and relearn everything we did with our first three, “typical” children. All the while, we keep in mind that this child is exactly who he was meant to be, and as messy as it can be some days, we are all learning and growing together.

Every day is like the movie Groundhog Day here; we get up each morning and start the process all over again. I would like to say that we have no doubt he will grow up to be a self-sufficient human being doing amazing things in the world, but I would be lying to say I was confident. I know he is capable of greatness and deep down that is who he is, but we have so many days that we struggle and feel inadequate.

As parents, we give all the tools, love, and encouragement to our children we can give, and they make their own choices. So we continue to pray,  move forward, try new things, grow one minute and one day at a time, and celebrate all the little victories along the way<3

Do Not Worry

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I was having a conversation with our oldest daughter last evening. She was telling me that it is accepted as normal for Millennials to be stressed and anxious! She was sharing some realizations with me about who she is and what she has learned about her self and I was relating things I have learned about my self and how we have some similarities.

I am so happy for her that she is learning not to be stressed and anxious at a young age and she is accepting of her self in areas that she feels the culture saying; “press through, try harder, suck it up”! She is learning where to let go and accept her limitations and seek peace in stead of striving in her life.

I have been re reading Dale Carnegie’s book; How to Stop Worrying and Start Living! A co worker gave me this book to read when I was 18 years old and working in a dead end job. I didn’t have a relationship with The Lord the first time I read it, but the bits of scripture that were peppered through the book made me curious enough to read The Bible.

Carnegie gives three steps for eradicating worry that were devised by Willis H. Carrier, the engineer who launched the air-conditioning industry, through his own journey with anxiety. He gave multiple examples of business people who have used these steps with life altering success. Even those who were on their death beds with stomach ulcers and other health concerns.

Carrier hailed  this as the Magic Formula for Solving Worry Situations: 

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
  2.  Prepare to accept it if you have to.
  3.  Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

I was presented with the opportunity to use these steps this past weekend! There were some relationship issues that were troubling me and I used this method to help myself deal with the situation. I also had to agree, that in the past when I was in a huge trial, that this is exactly what I had to do to move through it!

Jesus said: (Matthew 6:26) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

There have been times when Jesus Spoke clearly and directly to me regarding turbulent times and told me to look straight at Him and not the waves that were crashing all around me.  I know He doesn’t  want us to worry and be stressed. He wants us to trust Him.  I find, like Willis Carrier, that acceptance of the situation is a must if we want to move forward in peace. And acceptance requires thinking about the situating, counting the cost, and accepting my part or failure in any given situation.

Back to the conversation I had with my daughter, I was so grieved that so many young people feel hopeless and helpless, paralyzed by stress. Of course in my Aromatherapy business, I have designed my Calm Down and Lighten Up roller bottle for just that sort of support. I am also aware that there is an anxiety epidemic in the world that play out in many  mental health and behavioral problems. Debilitating diagnosis like,  Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, is not just reserved for those who have been in war like situations. So, I felt so inspired to write and bring a glimmer of hope and help to some one else who may be struggling with this 21st Century “disease”.

Get knowledge! And in all your getting, get Understanding! I pray for each of you as I pray for myself, that we would not worry and we would have The Peace that surpasses all understanding to guard our hearts and minds. Happy Monday, have a peace filled week<3

 

Sweet Marjoram!

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This little sweetie is a new favorite of mine!! It is relaxing and it is great for sore muscles. Of course it has tons of therapeutic value, here are few of the properties listed on Pompeii’s site;

*At a Glance Sweet Marjoram gives us stress relief (calming), loosens tight muscles and cramps (think restless legs), and helps turn down the mind (for insomnia blends), and is warming.

I have been receiving some great recipes from Aromahead’s Andrea Butje and here is what she has to say about this  little bottle of marvelous!

Sweet Marjoram loves to experience the world through its sense of touch.

It likes to wear organic clothing that feels soft on its skin. Its sheets are 600 thread count. It gives itself face mask treatments twice a week, and once a week it either soaks in mineral-rich warm water or does a full-body mud wrap. Sweet Marjoram also loves to feel the weather on its skin—the soft touch of the wind, rain, and sun make Sweet Marjoram happy to be alive.

So Sweet Marjoram goes out of its way to take care of its skin. Its favorite thing about that? Blends that take care of its skin, feel good on its skin!

Here’s a body butter that Sweet Marjoram makes by hand and uses daily to moisturize and protect its precious skin.

Sweet Marjoram’s Sweet n’ Soft Skin Butter

  • 1 oz (28 g) beeswax (Cera alba)
  • 2 oz (60 ml) jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 2 oz (56 g) cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao)
  • 2 oz (56 g) coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)
  • 26 drops Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • 16 drops Geranium (Pelargonium × asperum)
  • 32 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

You’ll need four 2 oz (60 ml) glass jars for this blend. It makes 7 oz (210 ml) of body butter, and I find it’s helpful to break it up into smaller jars (the smaller jars are easier to find).

Start by setting up the Stovetop Melting Method. Put a Pyrex measuring cup in a soup pot that’s ¼ full of gently simmering water. Then follow these directions in order:

  1. Melt the beeswax in the Pyrex.
  2. Add the jojoba and remelt. You can stir gently with a glass stirring rod or the handle of a stainless steel spoon.
  3. Add the cocoa butter and melt.
  4. Add the coconut oil and melt.
  5. When all of the ingredients are melted together, remove the blend from heat and add the essential oils, stirring gently.
  6. Pour the blend into the jars.

I hope you love this body butter blend! The base—just the carriers without the essential oils—is the same recipe I use for most of the body butter blends in my book, The Heart of Aromatherapy. (I am so excited, the book has surpassed 100 reviews on Amazon!) You can find the book at Aromatics International.

We are happy to carry Sweet Marjoram at Honest Aromas and we have been experimenting with new custom blends utilizing it’s amazingness! Give us a call we would love to get some into your hands today!

Refocusing

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What do you do when you run into someone you would really rather not see?

We all find ourselves in situations where we would rather not run into that person. Maybe it’s just because we’re having an off day and would honestly prefer not to run into any person! Or maybe an unfortunate circumstance happened, and there is still some friction in the relationship. Or perhaps, the problem is within yourself, and you haven’t made amends in your heart toward that person.

I’ve had many such opportunities in the past year, and like it or not, I’ve had to face the music more than once. In my   situation, I caused harm. I asked for forgiveness and some of the people I hurt have extended it to me. Others are on their own journey with it, and I respect that. But what do you do if you come face to face with someone and you would prefer not to?

Here are some of the things I have put into practice when met with these uncomfortable situations:

  • I breathe deeply through my nose and out through my mouth.
  • I release endorphins and serotonin by giving a big, beautiful smile! ( Or in some cases; gently smile, nod and in both cases, keep walking.)
  • I lift my thoughts to God and choose to love Him most.
  • I turn my thoughts to my husband and the journey we have invested a lot of time and energy into.
  • I turn my thoughts to my children and how I want to support them and be the best Julia I can be for them.
  • I realize if I always avoid awkward situations, I make a practice of hiding, and I do not want to hide.
  • I feel the pain. I acknowledge that this is reality, and it hurts!
  • I realize the next time I see this person it will not hurt me as much as it does today. Every day I am getting stronger.
  • I choose to be love, be grace, and be beautiful.
  • I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and use me right where I am.
  • I remind myself that I am forgiven, accepted, and pleasing to God, and that this is the basis of my self-worth, no matter what others may choose to think about me.

 

There are times when you run into someone you would rather not see, and it’s really hard to recover from it, even if you’ve taken some steps ahead of time to prepare. If this happens, you may need to take several days to recover, and that’s OK. Some difficult situations are, well, difficult. Maybe they simply overwhelm your mind. Don’t beat yourself up. And if complete downtime is required, find ways to find times for yourself where nothing is expected of you so you can refresh.

Facing a situation is refocusing your thoughts.

I have followed these steps over and over in my mind when I run into a difficult situation with a person I would rather not see. I realize that in the long run, going through the situation is better than avoiding the situation. Then I give God what I can’t control, knowing He can work all things for good, and what’s more, He wants to!

I hope these ideas are helpful to you, as well. Sometimes being healthy means knowing yourself and your limits, and it means being thoughtful enough to plan ahead for your own mental and emotional well-being. Life is a journey, and it’s okay to make little maps to help yourself navigate it. 🙂

What are some ways you refocus your thoughts in a difficult situation? I want to hear from you today!

Traumatic Stress

Lavandula-angustifolia-or-common-lavender We can all have stress. Just living in this modern world can produce a stress like humans have not experienced thus far. Cell Phones, Computers,  TV’s and News, jobs, terror…….all in our face 24/7.

But there are some situations in your life that can produce such a level of stress that you can not easily “file” and sort out in your brain. You may try, but find you have reoccurring dreams, flash backs or un explained panic. It is possible you are experiencing a form of Post Traumatic Stress.

I know I have tended to think of that only in terms of the military. But there have been 2 times in my life that I have been diagnosed with it and I have had a “seemingly” normal- non military life!

You may have witnessed/ or have been involved in a bad accident. You may have been a care giver for a sick child or elderly person for an extended period of time. You may have gone through a significant relationship issue- separation, divorce, addiction, etc. Or maybe have been the victim of some kind of abuse.

nourishingroots.com  describes Post Traumatic  symptoms like this;

PTSD Symptoms

There are three main classes of PTSD symptoms (source):

  1. Re-experiencing: intrusive memories, sleep disturbance, dissociation, intense anger or anxiety at memory
  2. Avoidance: avoidance, detachment, estrangement, numbing, “shutting down”
  3. Hyperarousal: nightmares, irritability, sleep disturbance, anger, aggression, impulsivity, panic attacks, exaggerated startle response

If you experience these symptoms you should take some care and time to think about where they may have originated. Definitely pray! “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 And seek out the help of a Licensed Therapist. Not all counselors are created equal! So get some feedback from others who have been there, and have received help and are able to move on with their lives.

I am currently using a blend to help with traumatic stress in my life. Lemon (uplifting) with Lavender (calming). I blend it into an inhaler and use as needed. You can apply this combination into a diffuser. You can also blend 3 drops of each into a carrier oil and apply…but do not do it on skin exposed to sun as lemon is photo toxic.

Let me know your thoughts on stress! Remember I do consultations and would be happy to make YOU a personal blend! Click on “Consultation” on our On-Line Store! We want to hear from you today:-)

 

 

Healthy!

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Healthy living in every way-Spiritually, physically, in our minds!

I am so thankful today. I am thankful that God has given me wisdom to change un healthy habits to healthy ones. I am thankful I can continue to morph in my mind…to exchange stinking thinkin’- for life, hope, and healthy thoughts.I am thankful that I can yield more and more to God to hear His voice and not have to strive and be as stressed. I am thankful that I can get up and take a long walk, or do a yoga routine every day. And all of those things, in synergy, open our hearts and minds to be able to embrace the day and face struggles with more courage.

Add some essential oils to your day! Inhale some citrus to lift your mood. Take a walk today instead of having that caffeine- even if it is to the mail box ! Pray! Are you doing the same thing every day and expecting a different result? I am here to encourage you to take a step in a different (but healthy) direction!

I want to hear from you today!