Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

To the Young Girl with Aspergers Syndrome

Just yesterday morning, a dear friend of mine reached out to me.  Her oldest daughter is an 18 year-old college student.  She is also an amazing young lady on Autism Spectrum .  Having grown so much in these past 4 years as a girl with Aspergers Syndrome she wrote a letter to her 14 year-old self.

She has allowed me to share it here for any young girl who feels different and needs this encouragement.  What an honor and my privilege.

For the mom raising a neurodiverse young girl… please share this with your precious creative.  Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of all of our children and allow our girls to thrive as the people God intends them to be.

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Dear 14-year-old me,

Well. Four years can certainly make a difference, now can’t it? Seeing your face again brings back a lot of memories, y’know. Makes me realize just how much both the world and I have changed. Time is more of a kiln than a river, in all honesty. Life can and will hurt, yes, but as I look back, I know that I wouldn’t change anything.
Hmm? Advice, you say? Well…let me see. What advice could I give you?
Y’know, in all honesty, I’d say that the best advice I could give you is that you’re not alone.
You’re not broken, or defective, or glitched.

Popping Balloons

You’re not the only one who’s scared by the sound of balloons popping and gets extremely uncomfortable at parties.
Fortunately, plenty of other girls out there have that same wild fuel for the imagination.  They too navigate those same issues with feeling as if you need to perform in order to be accepted.
In fact, there is a shockingly high amount of people who will completely understand when you try to scurry off to another room to escape the hubbub. There are so many other girls and boys who get this pacifying and focusing effect that music has on you.
There are countless other Aspies who know what it’s like to be drifting off to sleep and suddenly be murmuring out dialogues, solidifying plots and characters before slumber overtakes you.
They too understand what it is like to be trying to do school and suddenly it’s half an hour later, and you have a doodled battle scene and no progress on school whatsoever.
You’re not a weird outcast.

One-of-a-kind Rare

You are one-of-a-kind rare, but not in your troubles. There will always be someone out there who’s gone through the exact same issues with anxiety and feeling as uncontrolled as you, and they understand what it’s like.
Keep going.
Keep imagining.
Keep writing.
Keep drawing, even though you think you’re no good.
You’ll get to a point one day where you step back, take a good look at your rough draft for a novel and the art you’ve done so far, and you say,
“This is something that could change someone’s life. There are people out there who need this message, and I have the God-given ability to give it to them. To have a character say something that will stick with a complete stranger and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

God has a Vital Purpose for You

You are FAR from unimportant, younger me. God has put you here for a vital, vital purpose. There will be perfect strangers who will decide to give life another chance because you spoke the Gospel to them, people you have never seen in person and probably never will who will know you as a beacon of light and hope…if only you keep pushing on. Fight past your own fears and hatred, and fight past the bullies you’ll run into. Neither of them have any right to have any power over you.

Healing & Inspiration for the Aspergers Girl

You are a juggernaut of healing and inspiration: you can’t and won’t be stopped after you get unleashed on this broken world.
You have God with you for every step of the way no matter what.  His opinion – not any bully’s, not any critic’s, not even your own – is what matters.
You have so, so much power for good in you because God is your king. Use it. Ignore the voices and fears saying you can’t.

Break Down the Walls of Despair

You have been given a gift like no other: so by golly, go be a juggernaut, and break down those walls of despair and darkness threatening people’s souls. You are a healer and a warrior so powerful that this broken world tried to weaken you with Aspergers…but it messed up and just made you even stronger.

Find Your Aspie Army

So find your army to remind you that you’re not alone, and then draw your bow in a world that only knows how to fire slingshots. You are unique, even when you don’t think so. You are talented, even when you don’t think so. You are never walking your path by yourself, even when you think you are. You are strong, even when you don’t think so.
You are a young girl with Aspergers Syndrome, and you are amazing.
Fight on, young warrior.

Your Older & More Confident Self,

Leigh 

Leigh is an 18 year-old Aspie warrior who’s also learning how ADHD, SPD, and anxiety can all be gifts.  As a college freshman, she is preparing to accomplish her dream of publishing her first self-illustrated novel.  She loves nothing more than helping others see how God celebrates their uniqueness.  

PANS/PANDAS: Symptoms

PANS/PANDAS: Symptoms

PANS/PANDAS Symptoms in My Family

If you have a child and haven’t heard of PANS/PANDAS and the symptoms associated with this devastating syndrome, it is very important that you do.  Last week, I shared the story of my then 12 year-old daughter’s battle with PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndromes).  Her sudden-onset panic, fear, terror and severe separation anxiety stopped our family’s life that summer.  We felt as though we had lost our daughter.  The joyful, fun-loving, social butterfly that we knew had been kidnapped by what we soon learned was a very common bacterial infection.  Mycoplasma or in layman’s terms, pneumonia.  You can read more about our daughter’s story here.  

Bacteria Playing Hide & Seek

Here is my attempt to explain how a bacteria such as mycoplasma, which causes pneumonia, can cause PANS/PANDAS.  The symptoms that this bacteria and others cause includes drastic emotional or behavioral changes.

Basically, these bacteria (STREP or mycoplasma, for example), play Hide & Seek within the body.   These bacteria can actually imitate or mimic the healthy cells within the body.  They “hide” while pretending to be healthy body cells.  In the time that these bacteria are hiding, they multiply in secret.  The invaders grow and grow until they are finally found once their presence can no longer be hidden from the body’s immune system.   Our immune system actually attacks the healthy cells that the infections have been mimicking in secret.

Devastatingly, at that point, the child’s behaviors and emotions take a drastic turn for the worst causing frightening emotional and behavioral symptoms:

  • OCD (this can present as repetitive distressing thoughts)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Severe opposition
  • Aggression
  • Handwriting deterioration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Obsessions about food
  • Hyperactivity and sudden ADHD-like symptoms
  • and more…

 

Adults Forced to Play

This forces parents and doctors to begin the game of Hide & Seek that they did not know they were supposed to be playing.

Adults finally seek out the cause of these severe changes in the child and then often find the bacterial culprit if the proper blood workups are performed.    Click here to access diagnostic workup information.  Please bring this with you to your doctor if you notice symptoms of PANS/PANDAS in your child.  Very often, doctors are not well-versed in the diagnostic criteria for PANS/PANDAS.  

Specifically referring to the STREP bacteria, WebMD describes it this way:

An infection causes your immune system to attack your body’s healthy cells, in this case, cells in the brain. The strep bacteria disguise themselves to look like normal cells. When the immune system eventually finds and fights them, it sometimes also fights the cells that the strep is imitating.

Journey from PANS/PANDAS Symptoms to Diagnosis

Today, I would like to share the story of a sweet friend of mine.   She has and is currently navigating this incredibly rocky road with her own son, who has the trifecta diagnosis of PANS/PANDAS and AE.

According to  Epidemicanswers.org, AE, Autoimmune encephalitis is:

Autoimmune Encephalitis

Another way to think of PANS PANDAS, as well as any neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism, ADD/ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and even learning disabilities, is that these disorders may fall under the larger umbrella of autoimmune encephalitis (AE).

Autoimmune encephalitis is a disorder in which the immune system attacks the brain, impairing function.

I am honored to have Heather share her story with you in the hopes that more moms are able to access the appropriate diagnosis for their children who are suffering at the hands of this life-altering and debilitating illness.

When the diagnosis doesn’t fit

Heather’s Story

It was about 3 years ago when my then 4 year old started changing. We were getting calls from preschool about behavior challenges they were having with him and thought it was best he be evaluated for social/emotional and academic delays. This came as a bit of a punch in the gut as I knew my child had been ahead before this and we always watched him so closely as we have another child on the spectrum.

So why now?

What changed?

Had I missed something?

Could I have been in denial for 4 years?

So we navigated through this new journey of many evaluations, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, specialty Doctor appointments and many diagnoses……. Many!

We would enter one of our toughest seasons yet in parenting. I mean parenting has never been easy and fun for us with our other children, but this season we were entering was the biggest heartache of them all.

As we navigated our way through a very dark valley of medical appointments, wrong diagnosis, the school system, our home life and watching him deteriorate rapidly… I found myself doubting everything especially the vision I knew God had shown me. I was questioning everything I once knew to be true!  

Wrong Diagnosis

You see there was a stirring in my gut as I continued to watch my child decline. As I continued to watch him slip away into a darkness I can’t put into words. Our lives forever changed.

So we continued with doctor appointments while searching for answers…….. But not satisfied.

Then there it was one night, almost 2 years later. It was staring back at me on a screen.

All my child’s symptoms listed. Everything…..

Our nightmare described in 1 word… PANDAS. PANS.

How had we missed this?

Why was this not discussed, mentioned?

Why am I the one figuring this out?

I’m just a mom and I am discovering what this is……

THIS IS PANDAS/PANS

This was not:

  • ADHD / ODD
  • Regressive Autism / PDD-NOS
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Severe Anxiety with OCD – RAGE
  • Bi polar disorder With hallucinations
  • Anorexia Nervosa

This is PANDA’s… PANS… Our HELL in 1 word, all of our symptoms…

And this is our HOPE! This is our journey to healing!

If you have child with multiple diagnoses please take some time to research PANS/ PANDAS

To learn more about Heather’s story as she navigates her son’s continuing battle with PANS/PANDAS/AE, check out her Facebook page.  Trust in the Journey.  

Diagnosis: PANS/PANDAS

Diagnosis: PANS/PANDAS

Diagnosis: PANS/PANDAS

When a child experiences a sudden and drastic change in behavior and emotions, many parents are at a loss.  Understandably, they most often seek medical intervention to find healing and at a minimum, a diagnosis.

It is not uncommon for a child to be misdiagnosed over and over again with no improvement in these symptoms.  Even worse, the correct diagnosis of PANS/PANDAS is discovered when it is too late.

What are PANS & PANDAS?

According to the Childmind Institute, PANS and PANDAS (two separate but related conditions) are:

PANS and PANDAS are severe forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that appear suddenly (acute onset) in young children, accompanied by other confusing and distressing symptoms. 

If the onset of these symptoms is linked to a strep infection, it’s called PANDAS — pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections — which is a subgroup of PANS. Some 86 percent of acute onset OCD cases are linked to strep. Children especially at risk are those who have what doctors call “occult” or hidden strep infections — that is, children who can be “carriers” of the infection but don’t get symptoms themselves, and hence don’t get treatment.

PANS cases have also been linked to other infections, including Lyme disease, mononucleosis, mycoplasma (walking pneumonia) and the flu (such as H1N1). 

PANS Hits Home

Two summers ago, my family was thrust in one of the most frightening experience of our life.

Overnight, we lost our 12 year-old daughter.  She lost her joy.

The word horrifying does not do justice for the drastic emotional spiral that my daughter experienced that summer.

Consequently, we were trapped and paralyzed by my daughter’s terror…  wait… what?  Terror?  Yes.  Terror.

Before the Diagnosis

Many of my dear friends and community know that my oldest daughter is one of the happiest and most loving people ever.  Really and truly.  She was born with a smile on her face and has always been known for her empathy, kindness and heart for others.  Her zeal for life and hunger for adventure and thrills made her the perfect roller-coaster date for her daredevil daddy.

So when my oldest woke up one morning in a state of frozen terror at the thought of leaving me, we knew something was up.  The severity of her separation anxiety and her sudden fear that I was going to die demobilized her.   She could not even be in a separate room from me.   Without a doubt, we were rocked that summer.

Desperate Search for Answers

After months of searching for answers, by God’s mercy and intervention, a neighbor reached out to me and told me to get a Strep test for my daughter.  (Yes.  As in Strep throat.)

She told me that her son had gone through the same thing a year prior.  She ended up begging for a Strep test and full workup for her son as she had heard of this illness striking children left and right.  Apparently, it had something to do with the Strep bacteria…

Because she couldn’t find any other logical answers for the fact that her son suddenly couldn’t function away from her, she figured she had to try.   At that point, she brought her son to the pediatrician and it was then that her doctor confirmed it.  Her son was infested with the Strep bacteria (with no symptoms apart from sudden onset of severe anxiety and OCD-like behaviors).

In a similar fashion, this mom like so many others had to FIGHT to get a proper diagnosis for her son’s PANS/PANDAS.

Her son has made a full recovery.   Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

My Daughter’s PANS/PANDAS Diagnosis

Sadly, the two months of PANS in my home is exactly how so many other moms describe it.  It was HELL.

My daughter was tormented every day by fears and thoughts that she couldn’t stop… fears and images of losing me.

That summer, she did not go to one sleepover.   My precious girl spent the entire two months clinging to me and sobbing in fear.  She was so confused about what was happening to her as were her father and I.  No one understood.

My martial art-loving, friend-seeking, fun-loving daughter did not leave my side that entire summer because of debilitating fear.  It was hell.

Watching her suffer in such emotional turmoil and agony was heartbreaking.

But God…

By His grace that neighbor stoppped by my house that Sunday afternoon.

And because I had nothing to lose, I opened up to her about this summer from you-know-where.

Of course, in His infinite mercy, He led me to the knowledge I needed to get my child diagnosed by an amazing Nurse Practitioner.

 

PANS/PANDAS: Professional Ignorance

Many doctors try to “poo-poo” the idea of PANS/PANDAS because they don’t know enough about it.

Sadly, we have all heard stories about doctors who dismiss a mom’s cry for help as dramatic and emotionally-charged

However, I am so grateful that our story did not lead us to a dismissive doctor.   Kim Bivens, RN, CPNC, MS and the team of doctors at  Arboretum Pediatrics in Charlotte, NC were amazing and took this emotional momma seriously.

After hearing my daughter’s symptoms, Kim immediately grabbed the other doctor still in the office and debriefed him.  They both agreed that a full blood work-up was warranted based on my daughter’s sudden onset of severe separation anxiety.

Within two days, we had the first of 5 vials of blood back… my daughter’s blook was flooded with pneumonia (mycoplasma) bacteria.

The pneumonia bacteria displayed itself only through my daughter’s sudden OCD-like behaviors and fears.  We had zero indication that she had pneumonia.

My daughter was immediately treated with low-dose anti-biotics for 30 days and is back to her old self.

Diagnosis PANS/PANDAS Came Soon Enough… for us….

This is rarely the case.  Here is the story of another mother fighting for her son finally diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS after 7 misdiagnoses.

Don’t do this mom thing alone, Friend

Moms, we have got to be willing to do this parenting thing differently and fight for our children regardless of what others think of us.

God chose you on purpose to parent your child.  You can do this!!!

Join an amazing community of moms fighting to equip outside-the-box high-needs kids for a life of confidence & purpose.   Join my private Facebook Group today.   I’d be honored to walk alongside you, Friend.   #momsequippingmoms

Outside-the-Box Kids Can Thrive

Outside-the-Box Kids Can Thrive

Outside-the-Box Kids Made to Thrive

Too many children are daily being forced to meet expectations that they were never meant to fulfill.  These outside-the-box kids were made differently and distinctly with gifts, talents and purposes that cannot be met by others.  These outside-the-box kids must be equipped to thrive in this world.

Adoption of an Outside-the-Box, High-Needs Child

My hubby and I adopted a baby boy almost 6 years ago.  When our son hit 18 months, he began to destroy our home and our family.    His horrific and uncontrollable behaviors included aggression, destruction, and dangerous thrill-seeking behaviors. He screamed ALL.DAY.LONG. for about 3 years straight. Did not sleep more than two hours a time for almost a year and a half… that, of course, made things astronomically worse.

However, God used this 4 year experience of HELL in our desperate fight for answers.  He worked through relationships with amazing pediatric specialists.  God forced me into my own season of Christian counseling as I faced my own internal junk. tHe allowed this all to completely transform me as a Christian mother, wife, friend and educator.

And that transformation completely SAVED my relationship with my biological daughter.  Honestly, I believe it has saved her life.

Saved My Daughter

At the time that we adopted my son, we had no idea that our daughter was an outside-the-box kid longing to thrive.  We didn’t know that she was an Aspie girl.

For years, I tried to make her into a social butterfly like her older sister and me.  I didn’t understand why she way so “shy.”  I worried about her heightened-sensitivity level.  Her tears, her emotions… I wanted to “fix” her.
When she would not do what I wanted when I wanted it, I would become frustrated with her…

And she felt it… she felt my disappointment and the disappointment of others when she could not be who the world says a young girl should be.  It kills me to think about what she must have felt about herself knowing that she was different from her sister and a lot of the children we were surrounded by on a daily basis.

It is not the being different that likely made her feel less-than.  Nope, it was the messages she was receiving from the world around her, most importantly, in her own home.   The messages that told her she needed to be someone who God never intended for her to be that could have destroyed her life.

Circling back to 4 years of hell with my adopted son.  The education and humbling that I experienced, radically has changed me as a human being.

And, by God’s mercy, I am convinced that it saved my daughter!!

I fight the tears right now as I think about what she would have felt and believed about herself if I had continued parenting her with the idea that she needed to be someone different.  Someone who the world wants to be.

An Overlooked & Suffering Population

Aspie girls are suffering so much… for so many reasons.  One of the most crucial reasons that these girls are suffering is because they are being misdiagnosed.  They are being completely overlooked because Aspie girls present so differently than boys and the criteria has been based upon boys.  The mental health implications of being missed are astronomical.

Anxiety
Anorexia
Depression
Suicide
Trauma
etc…

But they do not have to!

Our outside-the-box girls are EVERYWHERE!

Except that so many have been told their entire formative years that they are not enough… they are inherently defective.  They have been told that they should not be who they have been created to be.

That their interests are “weird”… that they must change to be accepted.

That they must shove their outside-the-box selves into the one-size-fits-all facade that we have believed is the “right” way to live.

These outside-the-box kids do not thrive like this.  They often don’t even survive.

Can you imagine living your life like this?

So what do these outside-the-box girls do?  What do so many of our outside-the-box kids do?

They hide. At home. Alone.

There are likely millions of outside-the-box kids out there who are not thriving.

Kids with ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Learning Differences, Aspies, introverts… whatever.  It doesn’t matter if they have a diagnosis or not.  Who cares?!!!

These outside-the-box kids and outside-the-box adults are EVERYWHERE!

Mental Health Crisis Hamster Wheel

Why are we forcing  so many gifted, loving, talented and brilliant people onto the hamster wheel of mental illness?!

‘I’m not good enough.’

‘I always screw up.’

‘The teacher is mad at me again.’

‘I said the wrong thing.’

‘The noise was just too much and I couldn’t handle it.’

‘I cannot focus in a room full of other kids.’

‘What is wrong with me?’

The messages that our children consistently receive from the world are most often the ones that plague them for the rest of their lives.

How many more kids have to scream for help through drug-abuse, cutting, suicide, etc before we take a good look at this one-size-fits all system that is FAILING so many children?

Value Neurodiversity

We say that we value diversity in this country and yet we have a system set up for one type of child.

Our kids have gifts and talents and hearts that just want to love and be loved.

Often times, we try to raise our unique kids using the “world’s” expectations as our goal…

When our young kids cannot take it any longer, they explode… often times behaviorally.

I have learned, by God’s grace, that our children are gifts to this world and need to be raised in a way that allows them to thrive and shine.

Community of Moms Willing to Do it Differently

We must do this in community. We need one another to be brave for our girls… for all of the outside-the-box kids who are wired-differently than the world wants them to be. But again, what in the world is “different” when there are millions and millions of them in this world?!

I just want you all to know that there is a different way and I am rallying moms of outside-the-box kids to be BRAVE and do this parenting thing differently. 

Parenting Peanut-Gallery

We must stop being afraid of what the parenting commentary peanut-gallery people think of us as parents. We have to not care what the “experts” say if it is going to destroy the adulthood of our children.

These girls will spend roughly 75-80% of their lives as adults. These years matter. What they believe about themselves matters! They will carry this childhood with them into adulthood. We all do.

Let’s do this differently, Friends.

Rallying a Community of Moms

Please join me in this. I recently laid aside my side-business as a private tutor for kids with varying learning disabilities (again… they just learn differently that the system tells them they should…).

I did this to start an organization to equip moms to confidently parent their outside-the-box kids for a life of confidence and purpose.

I am rallying moms all over the country and the world to learn how to see Behind the Behaviors so they can “see” the true needs for their children. Then I equip them with tools, strategies and steps so that they can equip their outside-the-box children well.

Let’s equip these precious kids (our girls, in this instance) with what she needs to take the next step towards her amazing future.

I believe we must do this in community, Moms.   Join the private Facebook group, a community of moms partnering together to raise THRIVING outside-the-box kids.  

I cringe when I think of what could have been with my daughter if I had continued following on the path of traditional discipline and parenting with her.

She is thriving!!!

My son is thriving.

My almost 14 year old NT daughter is thriving…

Not because of me… but because of God and  how He has taken the lies I have believed for so many years.

The lies that told me that my value came from my children’s behaviors.  The lie that told me that if my child wasn’t behaving according to the culture’s expectations at one given moment-in-time, that I was a failure and that they would end up a mess.

Fear is a LIAR

I am a Christian.  I put my faith in Christ.  As such, I know that we have an enemy who would love nothing more than for me to look to the benchmarks and expectations of the world to dictate who my children “should be.”  The reality is though, that our children are each “wonderfully and fearfully made” and that God has a plan for each one of them.

Why can’t we trust that God has a plan for our children that may not look like every one else’s plan?  Why does every child have to be and act in the same manner in order to have value and develop confidence?

Let’s not fall into FEAR-based parenting… for the sake of our children.

Clearly with the mental health stats for kids off the charts, it makes perfect sense that we as moms should feel pretty confident that there MUST be a different and more effective way to equip our children.

Imagine a happy, thriving Aspie daughter who knows her worth… who finds her people… who knows that mom is in her corner and believes in her fully.

Imagine that same scenario for thousands and thousands of children throughout the country.  Imagine what they could do if they were encouraged to be who they have been created to be and equipped accordingly?

Oh my word… I cannot wait to see what God does with these amazing children He has so uniquely made.

 

What about you, Friend?  Does this idea of parenting our more outside-the-box kids differently resonate with you?  Would love to know more about you and your family.  Comment below.  Grateful for you.

Grab the Free Behind the Behaviors Bundle!

special needs moms, parenting, temper tantrums, meltdowns, emotions, mental health, self-regulation, ADHD, autism

Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation & Childhood Anxiety

We mommas love our kids fiercely, but can become overwhelmed when our children struggle daily with tantrums, meltdowns as a result of stress and anxiety.  A simple tool such as the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for the entire family.

End of the Day Exhaustion

As moms we often long to crawl into bed at the end of the night.  Sadly though, when we finally climb into our cozy sanctuary filled with fluffy pillows and blankets, we spend way too much time anxiously trying to fall asleep.   

That is often because we mommas have lots of trouble settling our minds.  The reality is that we are simply so preoccupied with the demands of our day that we access that first “quiet” moment when we lie in bed.  

To settle your mind when you are in the thick of a tough parenting season is like trying to staple Jello to a wall.  It’s just not gonna happen.   

Meltdowns & Emotions

More and more I am being connected with moms who have children who are struggling in so many ways.  Meltdowns after school, anxiety and stress trying to get them to school, sibling rivalry, volatile behaviors, impulsiveness… whatever it is… moms and kids alike are being hit with layer upon layer of stress.

Several months ago I did a Facebook Live in my Private Facebook Group where I discussed a simple tool that can be used TODAY by any and all parents.  Moms, I would venture to guess that whatever the situation may be with your child, that this tool will be able to bring about some major peace and stress relief for your entire family.

Throughout life, we have all at one time or another experienced some form of anxiety.   Often, we do not respond to our anxiety in the healthiest and most appropriate ways. We snap at our hubbies.  Yell too loudly at our kids. However we release it, if we don’t identify the emotion and the cause of the emotion we are experiencing, we frequently end up in trouble relationally.  

What seems like the tiniest thing can get you or your child amped up.   However, it doesn’t really matter what the trigger is. I would argue that unidentified emotions is most often at the root of all childhood meltdowns or tantrums.   

ACCESS ZONES OF REGULATION CHART

The Zones of Regulation

This tool was originally created by an awesome lady and teacher named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  Leah has created an entire program often used in school settings and at home.  I was originally introduced to this tool by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias. This is resource is phenomenal for children and families alike and has proven to be a lifesaver for my family.

When we notice our children struggling with certain behaviors, it is crucial that we as parents or teachers start challenging ourselves to shift our perspective about how to respond.   

If we only look at outward behavior at face value, we will likely not solve the actual problem.  We need to look behind the behaviors and help children identify triggers. Not only do we want them to know “what sets them off” but also how to process those events and resulting emotions.   The Zones of Regulation chart will help you equip your child to understand these concepts in a practical way.

Willful Disobedience or Not Yet Equipped

When a child behaves in a way that may initially appear as disrespectful, for example, the adult needs to pause.    If we take a moment to really think about what is happening, we will likely be able to propel the “behavioral” needle forward if we approach the behaviors differently.

 

Behavior is Information

I am constantly telling those in my sphere of influence that Behavior is Information.  Behavior is a form of communication.

When children “act out,” they are actually trying to tell the adults around them something that they can’t easily vocalize.   Let’s call this “mind-mouth disconnect.”  Children often do not have the vocabulary to communicate effectively and appropriately, and therefore, they respond through frustrated behaviors.

The child typically has thought that they can’t put into words.  There’s someone or something that is stuck running around in their heads.  Because they don’t have the language and awareness to know that the sensations they feel can be named with a word, they become frustrated and confused. They don’t know exactly what or why they feel the way they do, but they recognize that they’re “off.”.  

The Zones of Regulation chart is a tool that can be used by parents and teachers to provide children with a visual representation of a variety of emotions and mental states.  These zones are identified and broken down by colors to use in everyday situations.   

Simple Yet Highly Effective 

It’s so simple to use.  Print it out and post onto your refrigerator for easy access throughout the day.   Talk with your child about the various zones.  Give your child examples of when you have been in the “red” zone or the “yellow” zone.  Use stories to further clarify.  At bedtime, ask your child what “zone” the character is in and why.  Make the “zones” a part of your family’s language.

By providing kids with the language and tools to verbalize what they experience internally, your child is set up for a life of social-emotional success.  

Think about this:  How many adults do you know that don’t know how to handle their emotions? 

 

I would venture to say that we all know someone in this category.  Let’s set up our kids for life-long success by equipping them with the emotional tools that they need to promote healthy sense of self, which will only enhance interpersonal relationships now and in the future.  

The reality is that we can fill our kids heads with a ton of information about math and science, but if they cannot handle tough situations, they will likely be useless as adults.  

Check out this video teaching where I explain more about how to use this simple and yet effective teaching tool with your family.  The chart shown here was modified by me.  You can access all of Leah Kuyper’s resources and materials here.   

Video where I explain the Zones of Regulation Chart

Moms, Let’s Be Brave

Moms, Let’s Be Brave

To my momma friends and fellow educators who love and are invested in outside-the-box children, let’s be brave for our kids. ❤️ 

The children who are constantly hearing that they are not enough. 

The ones who will never live up the expectations of the adults around them. 

Like the kid back in school who was considered a troublemaker and ended up exactly as expected by the adults around him… 

The “loser” with a life that went nowhere. 

There is an underlying belief in our homes, schools, churches and our culture as a whole that there is a one-size-fits all approach to “unacceptable” behavior. We may try to deny this in the name of political correctness, but we must be honest about this reality for the sake of our outside the box kids. 

 

When we cannot control 

When adults cannot “control” the “challenging” behavior of children, the perception is that there is something wrong with the child. 

The idea that perhaps we are using the wrong approach with the more “challenging” kids rarely comes to mind. 

Again, the adults blame the child and continue with the same ineffective, life-sucking discipline strategies… and the behaviors increase as the child’s sense of self-worth decreases. 

 

Set Up to Fail

So many of our kids are placed in no-win situations as they continuously fail to live up to the accepted expectations of the world around them.

These expectations are often based upon benchmarks of development academically and behaviorally… Except these kids don’t meet the benchmarks and are always behind. 

They are repeatedly corrected, punished, and shamed. 😔 These kids spend their formative years hearing about their faults, and their inability to please the adults and even other kids around them.

 

 

 

 

Mental Illness Hamster Wheel 

These misunderstood children frequently end up trapped in a cycle of mental health issues that plague them for life. Rates of childhood anxiety, depression, cutting, and suicide are growing. 

We need to wake up to the fact that there are so many kids out there suffering under the pressure of inappropriate adult expectations. 

We are raising children to one day be adults. These formative years are crucial.

 

Mom Friends, it’s time to be BRAVE for our children.

 It’s time to be BRAVE for our outside-the-box children. 

Let’s stop approaching those who don’t fit the mold, who don’t respond to traditional discipline, with the belief that these kids are WILLFULLY making a choice to disobey. 

It is time for us to be our child’s cheerleader and coach. Let us coach them well while we encourage them on to be the best outside-the-box kid they can be. 

 

God Intentionally Chose You 

Moms, you know in your gut there must be another way for your “outside-the-box” kid.

You know that God has created your child uniquely and that He must have a plan for your child. You KNOW IT!! 

Yet, fear takes over. However, you don’t know what to do, but you know your child cannot thrive knowing that he is a constant disappointment.

We must be brave for our children who have been created differently. We must be willing to think outside-the-box with our outside-the-box kids. 

Let’s equip our children with tools and strategies so that they can live a life of confidence and purpose. 

Or we can continue to listen to the world and it’s rewards and punishment mentality. How is that working for your child? 

Every child needs an adult who believes in them… let’s be that for our kids.

  

Wisdom of Moms Raising Outside-the-Box Kids

 Mom Friends, it’s time to be BRAVE for our children. 

It’s time to be BRAVE for our unique outside-the-box children. We must be brave for our children who dare to be “DIFFERENT.” 

 

The Irony of “Different” 

Interestingly, referring to our outside-the-box kids as “different” is insanely ironic. Why? 

Hello?!! There are hundreds of thousands of them in our country. However, many of them are hiding out at home suffering alone because the culture’s expectations have destroyed any shred of their confidence. 

These kiddos need to be raised, educated, disciplined, and loved in a way that best equips them to flourish into healthy adults. God has equipped our children to be “salt and light.” 🥰 

Many of our kids display behaviors that are perceived as pure willful disobedience… Adults mistakenly believe that these kids are choosing to behave poorly. 

Further, we adults reek of hypocrisy and confuse our children. When we lose it, fly off the handle or meltdown in some way, we justify it by listing all the stress in our lives.

  

“It all just built up and I lost it.”

 

We give ourselves and other adults grace, but rarely our children. 

On the other hand, when children dare to meltdown in the grocery store after a long and exhausting day at school, we shame them. Onlookers often pass judgment and whisper, “He just needs a good spanking.” The self-righteous mom with her “perfectly” obedient, shakes her head a the mom wrestling her son into the cart. 

Unfortunately, I’m ashamed to say that prior to the adoption of my son with “hidden” cognitive special needs, I was incredibly oblivious to the severity of my pride and self-righteousness. 

The reality is that as a culture, we act as though we are surprised when a young, immature and growing child has a meltdown. 

 

Fear Leads to Meltdowns in Adults Too 

More importantly, when we as adults feel out of control, it scares us… 

Adults often respond to socially unacceptable behaviors from a place of fear and insecurity.. Because we believe we should be able to control children, we feel like failures and become increasingly frustrated.

Think about it. When we feel fear and insecurity how do we most often respond? punishment, aggression, anger. 

Let me repeat that: Adults respond to internal fear and insecurity very often through behaviors that look like anger and aggression. 

Could it be that children who behave through anger and aggression are actually struggling with fear?  This is a rhetorical question. 

Unfortunately, mom friends, if we really allow ourselves to go there, we will likely recognize that we often parent out of fear. 

We fear for the child’s future. ‘What will happen to him if I don’t stop behavior X, Y, or Z?’ 

Because we don’t know what else to do, we often fall back on the influence of a culture that is not invested in the heart, mind, soul and spirit of our “outside-the-box” child. The culture and traditional approaches often just want the inconvenient behaviors to stop. But at what cost?

 

Who cares most about your child’s future? 

The culture tells you that it is your kid that is the problem. You had better find a way to mold your child to fit in the box.  Discipline harder. Be more consistent.  Ignore him.   Your outside-the-box kiddo is expected to ‘suck it up’ and behave regardless of his capability to do so.  Parents are told that there is only one way. You are told to force your child to fit the mold. If you can’t change your child, people perceive you as a poor parent. 

Momma Friend, I hear it every day. 

  • The school called. My kid flipped out and hit a little boy in class. Now he is suspended.
  • My daughter clings to me at church because it is so loud and crazy in there. She started melting down in the middle of the foyer last Sunday.
  • The teacher said that my child is off in lala land and that’s why she can’t learn to read.
  • My son comes home from school every day and screams and has meltdowns. No one believes me.
  • My child begs me not to send him to school (church, sports, etc) each day.
  • Getting to get my child to do her homework always ends up in tears and stress. She just screams that it’s too much to do.
  • I just found out that my daughter is cutting. She is under so much pressure. How do I help her?
  • My child can’t sit for circle time. She is going to get kicked out of preschool.
  • My son came home sobbing because he was back on red today. He told me that he tried so hard to sit still but when he did that, he couldn’t focus on what the teacher said. The teacher then moved his card down because he wasn’t paying attention. He can’t win.
  • The mom down the street won’t let my child play with hers because he had a full-blown meltdown when it was time for him to share.
  • The counselor says I shouldn’t coddle him…
  • The list goes on.

 

We Know God Does Not Make Mistakes 

We know deep down inside of us that there must be a better and different approach in order to thrive. 

And yet, out of FEAR of the culture (the schools, the teachers, the church, our friends, the lady in the grocery store…), we mommas cave and anxiously try to force our child to meet the world’s expectations.

We don’t know what else to do so we then push harder, yell louder, punish longer…  Sometimes our kids acquiesce out of fear or exhaustion… having learned nothing about how to handle tough situations in the future. 

 

Immediate Obedience at What Cost? 

The cost of quick obedience through shame and punishment is HIGH... broken parent-child relationships, depression, anxiety, low self-worth, cutting, increased suicide rates… 

The price is exponentially higher for children with cognitive differences or delays. So many of these kids do not have the capability to comply appropriately through rewards and punishments because they are stuck in fight-or-flight. 

As a culture we say celebrate diversity and yet we have virtually no tolerance for children who are “different.” 

For the child who doesn’t fit inside the cultural box… the ones who are “different.” 

Let’s be brave together, Moms.

  

Let’s Equip Our Kids 

Our children need to be equipped with the skills, direction, tools, LOVE and support of adults so that they can learn to appropriately handle big emotions, thoughts, etc… 

When children are not taught these crucial life skills in a way in which they can receive and process, they fail and disappoint the world around them… over and over again. 

My heart aches for the children whose sense of self-worth and ability to function in this world are often dictated by a perspective of children that assumes the worst of them. 

No more sending our kids to their rooms yelling, “Go to your room until you can behave!!!” 

Let’s actually look behind the behavior FIRST. 

Let’s teach them to behave appropriately by equipping them with lifelong emotional regulation skills and tools. Momma, we must give them the education they need. Our children need to understand the LARGE sensations they experience inside their bodies… (aka feelings). We need to engage them in conversations about how their thoughts impact their feelings and behaviors. 

What if we rally together to equip them instead of shame them?

  

God Chose You to Parent Your Child 

Every adult remembers that kid from school who couldn’t get it together and behave in class… The troublemaker…  Maybe you were that kid.  Maybe you beat the odds… but most don’t. 

Eventually after never being able to please and “obey right away,” that childhood “troublemaker” believed that he could not ever do it right.  He was forced into the cycle of “I suck and I can’t do anything right.” 

These are the ones who will never know real relationship and love because they were never taught how to appropriately handle their thoughts, emotions and such…. 

These are the kids from school who never succeeded. 

 Is that what we want for our children?

 

Fight for God’s Gifts to Shine Through Your Child

 Let us parent our children from the perspective of the gospel. God loved us before we loved him. God sought relationship with us while we were still sinners. He looked beyond our behaviors and showed us love through his Son. 

When our children mess up, let’s pour out the grace that God has gifted to us. Let us pour into our relationship with our child and show them that they are valuable even when they mess up… even when they struggle to focus, are impulsive, can’t learn math, struggle with social awkwardness.  

God has a plan for each of these children.  

Let’s be brave, Friends, and do something different for our kids.  

Imagine fearlessly raising our “different” kids into confident, healthy and productive adults…🥳

God has made us all unique!!   We say we believe in individuality and diversity yet we expect all kids to be the same in development, wiring, behaviorally and we shame them when they don’t comply!!!

 

 Children are adults in the making…

Is it possible that perhaps there is a different, more peaceful, relational way to raise our children so that they can be “wired differently” and that be seen as a blessing?  

It is time that we rally together to love, relate to, teach and ultimately influence these more “challenging” kids in a way that equips them for their best.  

Every child can succeed.  I firmly believe that God has blessed us with so many amazing and UNIQUE children with strengths that may currently be perceived as weaknesses… 🥰 

What happens when we look behind the behaviors and see the strengths of these kids?  What happens if we choose to love them well even when they are behaving in ways that make us uncomfortable? 

Imagine what would happen if we as adults allowed ourselves to focus on what our child needs in this season in order to later be able to function and love others well in the future. 

One step at a time, let’s connect with our kids and equip them with a vision of who they CAN be…. ❤️

 

outside-the-box kids, adhd, autism, aspergers, aspie, asd, sensory, moms, parenting, homeschool, christian parenting, aspie girls, aspergers, autism, adhd, aspie girl

Let’s be ok with parenting naysayers’ judgement and focus our attention on what our hild needs to grow into the person God has equipped him or her to be… 

Moms, let’s be brave and rally together to fight for the different and outside-the-box kids… 🥳

 

Let’s be Brave for Our Kids Together.

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