Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Homeopathy for Easier Dentist Visits

Many children — and adults — dread visiting the dentist. For autistic and ultra-sensitive children, such a trip may be distressing on many levels: 1.       Anticipation of pain or the unknown. 2.       Smells of antiseptics, pastes, and polishes assault the nose. 3.       Bright lights are directed onto faces. 4.       Strange sensations and sounds of drilling. Homeopathic remedies can alleviate fears and support dental health and related physical and emotional symptoms.

Top Two Remedies for Fear of Going to the Dentist

Argentum Nitricum:

A child who needs Argentums Nitricum will be very anxious about visiting the dentist. This child probably dreads other ordeals: exams in school or performing on the athletic field or on stage. Their anxiety makes them fidgety.  They make walk around quickly in an attempt to calm themselves. They feel better with someone around to support them.

Gelsemium:  Paralyzed with Fear

Children who need Gelsemium prefer to be left alone in a quiet place. Unlike the active fear of Argentum Nitricum, Gelsemium children seize up mentally and physically before dreaded events. They become dull, apathetic, weak and weary.

When and How to Give These Remedies

If your child begins to feel anxious about visiting the dentist, give one dose of the remedy that best matches his or her symptoms. He or she should feel calmer within 15 minutes. If you do not observe any change in anxiety level, give another dose of the remedy. If still no changes, try the other remedy.

Minimizing or eliminating pain associated with dental procedures and complications from dental work.

Immediately after Dental Procedures

After Surgery

It is useful to take a dose of Arnica 30 and Calendula 30 immediately after dental surgery.  If your child is is bleeding, also give Phosphorus 30.

After a Filling

If your child feels sore and bruised after a filling, give her Arnica 30. The pain may feel like pulling in the teeth while eating, be worse from chewing, and feel worse when touched. If arnica does not help and your child experiences tearing nerve pain that is worse at night and when he  moves, give Hypericum 30.

Cell salts to keep teeth healthy.

If you child’s teeth have caries or other signs of decay or deterioration, it is important to improve her diet.  This may be very challenging for some children who may have multiple food sensitivities or allergies or who strenuously refuse to eat a varied diet. For some ideas on expanding diet, see When Your Child Won’t Eat. The cell salts calc phos, calc fluor, mag phos, and silica will significantly improve tooth health. Give your child three tablets of each applicable cell salt three to five times per day. To treat enamel deficiencies, give Calc Fluor and Calc Phos. Mag Phos helps to harden enamel. Silica aids in the assimilation of nutrients. In matters of health and healing, be fanatical about self-responsibility. Cell Salts and homeopathic remedies enable you to participate actively in your own healing. At the same time, you should continue to see your doctor for examinations, advice and treatment. Nothing on this site is intended as a substitute for medical advice.

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Stop Combating People

Photo 26Before I had children and early in the parenting journey, I thought it was my job to mold my children into kind, intelligent, and self-sufficient beings. That they would speak properly, have good table manners, be polite, and do well at school was presumed, a baseline. These were my assumptions before autism rocked my world, before one child was diagnosed autistic, before I realized the other two were anything by typical. Diagnosis and confusing-to-me behaviors did not immediately change my perception. I simply resolved to work harder to mold my children into the kind, polite, intelligent, and self-sufficient beings they were supposed to be.

I ALWAYS loved my children. I always strove to be the mother they needed. I did my best to be patient and supportive. But I did believe that it was my job to make them be/act/appear as normal as possible. For me, normal meant following the rules of society, exercising self-control, learning, and growing. I did not believe my goals for them were harmful. I believed it was my mother-duty to raise children who fit in, because that’s what my life experiences had taught me was correct.

As time went on, my understanding shifted. I watched my children. I embraced what made them smile and rejected that which caused them pain. I read amazing books that revealed a new way to look beyond the face value of “behaviors” and “traits.” I discovered something wonderful where others saw misbehavior and dysfunction.

Finally, c. 2008, I wrote this in my journal:

Last week I had an Ah-ha! moment. I realized I need to stop trying to fix my children. I love them with all of their sometimes challenging traits — but I have, for a long time, been on a mission to minimize those quirks. For now, I need to let them be — as important for me as for them.

A short while later, I picked up a book in which the first chapter was titled “The World Needs Autism.” Reading these words was affirmation of my realization.

A later journal entry: I have long known that there is a purpose for autism. I am slowly muddling through what that purpose is. I believe that everything is evolving perfectly and the purpose is being served — even if I don’t understand it.

It took me a long time to get here. (I tell the story of my parenting journey, and those of many other mothers, in Swan Mothers.) I still get plenty of opportunity to practice. Many resources that are available today, specifically, blogs written by autistic adults, were not available when I started this journey, so I continue to uncover new layers of understanding. I still want my children to be kind, polite, intelligent, and self-sufficiency beings, but I want them to be these things while being fully themselves.

Don’t go changing, to try & please me
You never let me down…
I couldn’t love you any better
I love you just the way you are
(with apologies to Billy Joel)

stopcombatingme8This post is my contribution to the #StopCombatingMe Flashblog

What is it?

A flashblog is a day when a group of people share their thoughts about a single topic.

Why?

To tell Congress to reform the Combating Autism Act or to let it expire.  Sign the petition and learn more here: http://action.autisticadvocacy.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10412

Why Reform the Act?

My friend S.R. Salas explains that here.

 

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Beyond Labels: Lessons from Autism and Parenting

When I started blogging, I thought my topic would be autistic and neurodivergent children and their mothers.  The more I wrote, the more challenging it became to work the words autism and autistic into the text. Writing “autistic child” felt forced.  Why? I wondered.

I realized that I don’t relate to the term “autism mother” and everything I write applies to all of my children – not just to my autistic son. It is not because he is not special, but because they all are. We all are.

I could write about IEPs and the gluten free diet and innovative therapies for autistic children.  But there are already many blogs, newsletters, books and magazines on these topics.  They are being done well by other people.

I find myself sharing wisdom imbued in me by my children.  I write about what I’ve learned along the way that has made our lives healthier, easier and happier in the hope that you will benefit.

The word autism turned my world upside down and inside out.  I would not be who I am without it. I am also ready to move beyond the label. What do you think?  I’d really love to hear your thoughts on labels in the comment boxes below.

Beyond the Label:  Lessons from Autism

Only one of my children is diagnosable and sports a recognizable label:  autism. When I think about him, I do not think, “My autistic child.”  I think of him as Daniel. I think of my quirky daughter as Ellana and my intensely principled son as Jonathon. I see each as a uniquely magnificent individual.  All three are beyond labeling or categorizing.  There is no normal in my house.

What is normal?

Synonyms for normal include:

·         typical

·         average

·         unsurprising

·         ordinary

·         common

Would you like to eat a common chocolate, drink an unremarkable wine, drive an average car, or take an ordinary vacation? Might you prefer chocolate that is uncommonly delicious, a wine that is remarkably silky, a car that offers a surprisingly refined ride, and an extraordinary vacation?

Why then are typical, ordinary, normal children seen as ideal? We don’t hunger for mediocrity in other aspects of life, yet we yearn for uneventful meals, ordinary nights and unremarkable parent-teacher conferences.

We are burdened by the notion that children should be a certain way.  That life should be a certain way.

How They Should Be, How They Are

Most people, either consciously or unconsciously, expect their children will be like them.  Fathers place tiny, spongy footballs in the cribs of their infant sons in loving anticipation of lives of athletic stardom.  Mothers play classical music for babies and take toddlers to Kindermusik to develop well-rounded, cultured children.  Grandmothers study little faces to see who the which family members the babies look like.

All of this usually comes from a place of love for the child and delight at the prospect of another chance at life.
But then something happens.  The future athlete can’t learn to ride a bike or pay attention to directions.  He certainly can’t throw or catch the ball.  The upcoming Miss Charming throws spectacular tantrums and refuses to listen to music.
Teachers and doctors and specialists say its autism or some other dis-order and the parents’ world turns upside down.

What’s in a name?

. . . language is entirely symbolic.  Words aren’t real.  They’re simply scribbles, doodles and sounds to which we assign meanings stored in the brain as images, feelings, and sounds:  mental constructs only vaguely approximating the objects they represent.   We use words to manipulate the mental representations, rarely scrutinizing our constructs under the light of physical reality.

–From Mark Rostenko’s article The Unnamed in Obscurious Moo
At first, the label is a lifeline.  It explains why our children are the way they are.  The words give us something to research:  autism, PDD-NOS, ADHD, sensory integration disorder, reactive detachment disorder.  The words connect us to others like us and are a way to find information.

Eventually though, we realize that our child’s -ism or disorder is not exactly like that of other children.  His or her most triggering behaviors and traits AND most endearing ones are quite unique.

Some suggestions about his or her condition are right on.  Others don’t work at all.

None of us fits neatly into a box.
We are all alike.  We are also all different.

Play a Game

When looking at your child’s differences or noticing people who seem entirely unlike you, play a game.  Say,“Just like me, this person….”

Notice the ways we are all connected. Notice  the ways we are uniquely magnificent.

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Work in Progress

Thirteen years ago, my mother-hero’s journey began. My almost-three-year old’s teacher stopped me at the door. “We’d like to have someone from special ed come in and observe Ellana. She’s not like the other children.” My heart raced. My world whirled. Hours passed and I began to assemble the teacher’s words into meaning. She thought something was wrong with Ellana. I wept. I raged. I decided that Mrs. Francis was wrong. I refused the call to adventure. I rejected the labels the teacher and observer wanted to associate with my beautiful, brilliant girl.

Twelve years ago, I acknowledged that my child was very different from the other preschoolers and accepted the challenge to be the kind of parent (I thought) she needed. I decided to overcome the autism spectrumy thing. I donned my battle gear. I read, researched, and planned. I drove my daughter to therapy appointments and sampled treatments and therapies of many flavors. I had a goal. I would help her to modulate odd behaviors and acclimate to the ordinary world. I would fix the glitches in her system. I would make my child normal.

Eleven years ago, when my second child was two, he was evaluated and given an autism diagnosis. While Ellana’s way of being defied labeling, Daniel had never spoken a word. He pressed the buttons on his toys repeatedly. He flicked his hands in front of his face. He was happy, affectionate, intelligent, and obviously autistic.

Nine years ago, my first grader was in her fifth school in five years, and we were asked to withdraw midyear.  I plunged into the abyss. Amidst deep, dark despair, I experienced moment of insight: I would teach my daughter at home.

After five years of homeschooling, after much yelling, crying, and foot stomping from mother and child, revelation dawned: I did not need to fix my daughter or her brothers. They were not, and never had been, broken. None of them resembled the children I had envisioned, but they were perfectly themselves, and I loved them, no changing required.

Four years ago, my three children went to school. For the first time in eleven years, I was home alone during the day, so I decided to write a book. I interviewed mothers of autistic children and wrote about the transformative power of our parenting journeys. I was healed and enlightened. I recognized my children’s inherent awesomeness. Life was easy and good. And we lived happily ever after.

~ The End ~

Cue the laugh track. While the above is an accurate, though drastically abbreviated, telling of my parenting experience (the whole is here), and though I did feel as if my mother-hero’s journey had come to a natural conclusion, I relaxed on my (virtual) lounge chair on the beach, margarita in hand, rather briefly. The end was not The End, but a curve in the spiral of life, circling into another loop of The Journey. I had arrived . . . somewhere, yet felt more unmoored than ever.

 

Mother,
      a small BIG word, 
       gave my life purpose and meaning.

It was I,
         who knew what my children required.
It was I,
         who fed and healed.
It was I,
         who soothed and strengthened.

I was
     needed,
     heeded,
     indispensable.

Until I was not,
             not needed to fix, for they were not broken,
             not heeded, for they invoked their own wisdom,
             not indispensable, for they were competent and complete.

Mother,
      a BIG small role,
      forged the woman I am today.

It is I,
       who practice non-interference.
It is I,
       who aim to advise less and listen more.
It is I,
       who teach and support.

I was
     heated,
      hammered,
        beaten into shape.

Until I became,
               cool and unrestricted, flowing like water,
               expansive and pliable, open to constant change,
               sovereign and free.

Thirteen years into the journey, I am trying to not try to figure out a new purpose for being, striving to adjust to the flow of life’s currents, and learning to thrive in this uncertain space. I do not remember what I know every day. I relearn lessons I previously mastered. I slip, stumble, and fall. I notice twists, hills, and valleys on own journey honor the journeys of those around me.

I know that in every moment, we are all flawed, and we are all stunningly beautiful. All is perfect, even when it does not seem that way. Everything is in creation. I am a work in progress.

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A New Kind of Time Out

Most of us are rather enlightened parents these days.  When our children hit or scream or take another child’s toy, we don’t spank them.  We put them in time out.

There they sit, one minute for every year old, contemplating their transgressions and regrouping.  They take a break from out-of-control emotions and behaviors and call on inner resources and external support systems to return to a harmonious state.

As I walk through our modern world, watching adults running like hamsters on treadmills and children getting exercise from wii and x-box games, I wonder:

If children had more time out(side) and time off, would they still need time outs?

We live in an age of over-stimulation and overwhelm.  For all of our time-saving devices, we work more and sleep and relax less than humans of times past.

Children need time off from school and from schedules. They need to have time to do nothing and time to do whatever they want.

There are studies that validate the importance of play in the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills.  But we don’t need studies.  Be observing our children at play, we can see this natural development in action.

IMG_20110808_111243When my children were 13, 11 and 8, they often played in our yard with the neighbors (12 and 10). They figured out how to play kick-ball and other games in a way that was fair. They made adjustments for ages, special needs or extra skills (my middle child is autistic), number of children out playing that day.

“Sarah and I get only two outs and the boys get three,” my daughter informed me one day.  The next day, if three or four of them wanted to play, they found another solution.  No adults mediated or suggested anything.  When they are red-cheeked and sweaty, they reach for water and flop on the grass to rest.

Implementing the New Time Out

Amidst school or homeschool activities, sports, music, and dance schedules, and work obligations of parents, it can be challenging to find a way to, as my children say, chillax.  Here are some ideas to get started:

1.      Take a Mental Health Day away from school.

Let the kids stay home and do nothing once in a while.  This may keep them balanced and healthy so they don’t have to get sick to get a break.

2.      Schedule at least one day per week with no planned activities.

For us, this is Sunday.  We all look forward to it.

3.      Encourage free play.

Let the children fill their own time.  Save your boxes and paper towel rolls and see what happens, even if your children are in middle school or high school.

4.      Spend time outdoors that is not in organized sports.

Children love to make up their own games or explore.  You don’t have to do anything (beyond ensuring safety).  They will create worlds, climb trees, and make their own fun.

2805_70655739737_5197931_n5.      Be Silly.

I’m not good at silly, but the children love it.  So Daddy takes over and they giggle and scare each other and tell jokes.  If you need help, share your children with an adult who knows how to have fun.

6.      Go All the Way:  Take a Year Off

Consider how you can take a Really Big Time Out.  Take a vacation.  Homeschool.  Travel.  Enjoy.

Check out these families who did it.

One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children by David Elliot Cohen

The Family Sabbatical Handbook: The Budget Guide To Living Abroad With Your Family by Elisa Bernick

Benefits of the New Time Out

There is a Sufi tale that tells of a scholar being ferried by Nasrudin across a body of water.

“Have you learned mathematics?” he asks the ferry-man.

“No,” Nasrudin replies.

“Do you understand the sciences?” he continued.

“No,” Nasrudin answered.

Next, the scholar chided Nasrudin for his ungrammatical language, and, hearing that the boat-man never went to school exclaimed, “Half of your life has been wasted!”

Shortly afterwards, Nasrudin asked him: “Did you learn to swim?”

“No, I did not,” replied the scholar.

“Well, in this case it seems all your life has been wasted.  We are sinking,” said Nasrudin.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are useful skills.  Proficiency in sports, music, and arts can bring much enjoyment.  But over-planning and over-scheduling may produce an ignorance of how to live.

After I post this, I will go and enjoy my own time out(side).  I hope that after your read, you will too.

Want to believe this is possible but don’t?  Join me starting January 2014 and shift to joyful thinking and easier living. More information coming soon.

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Tools and Words for Reducing Anxiety in Children (Part 2: Verbal First Aid)

In the Part 1:  Changing Old Stories, I wrote about using Matrix Reimprinting to change how your child sees old events.   When old traumas continue to affect our children, Matrix Reimprinting is the tool to use.

In this post, I offer suggestions for speaking gently and minimizing the effects of trauma on the scene and in the moment.

When our children get hurt, the words we say can initiate healing or exacerbate the trauma.

Consider these three possible responses when a child falls and scrapes a knee.  (The examples for this article are taken from the outstanding book, Verbal First Aid by Judith Simon Prager, PhD and Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT.)

Response 1

“Oh, no! Look at you! You’re bleeding, oh, my poor, poor baby! Are you okay? Does it hurt a lot?”

Response 2

“You’re all right. Buck up, buddy. It’s not that bad.”

Response 3

“Oh, you’ve fallen and your knee is bleeding.  See what a good job your blood is doing cleaning out that cut.  Now you can even use your mind to stop your bleeding.  We’ll wash it off and put a bandage on, and you’ll be surprised at how fast it will start to feel better.”

What are your words teaching your child?

We cannot know definitively what a particular child will learn from each of those responses since each child is different.  Each already has a bank of experiences and his own temperament.    Here are some possible learnings:

  • Response 1 teaches the child that seeing blood is cause for alarm. His body will respond by creating chemicals that impede healing.

  • Response 2 teaches the child that his feelings are not valid and that he should not cry or express pain.

  • Response 3 teaches self-confidence and initiates the healing process.

The words we say in those first moments can set the course for both physical and emotional recovery.

When children are injured, they are particulariy susceptible to influence.

What We Think = How We Feel = How We Heal

Science has demonstrated that words, thoughts, images and memories generate an instantaneous cascade of chemicals, causing a physiological reaction within us.  This reaction is most pronounced when we are scared or in pain.  Our breathing gets faster, our hearts race, we sweat or freeze or run.

What we think can throw us into this flight-flight-freeze response – or initiate healing.  Since we cannot hold two thoughts simultaneously, presenting our children with a positive scenario can pull them out of the panic place to a place of peace.

Building Rapport:  Believability and Credibility

Using words that are honest and authentic will build credibility with our children.  We want our children to recognize the truth.

Saying, “Everything is fine” when neither you nor your child believe it can be damaging.  Instead, state what you see and use the knowledge and wisdom you possess to uplift and support your child.

For example, if your child is seriously injured and you don’t know what to do, try this:

Take a deep breath to calm yourself.  Use a gentle tone and say, “I’m right here.  You can relax now.  Let’s figure out what we need to do next . . .”

For extensive scripts and protocols for burns, cuts, bruises, getting stitches and much more please read the book, “Verbal First Aid.”

Verbal First Aid for Non-Verbal Children

Even if your child is non-verbal, using words in the way described in this article will be helpful.  By changing how we speak, we shift our feelings.  Children will respond to our tone and energy and gain confidence.

Super-Easy Homeopathic First Aid

Like Verbal First Aid, homeopathic remedies support the body in healing itself emotionally and physically.  I always carry the remedies described in this article.  Having homeopathic remedies with me has saved the day for my family many times.  If you don’t want to buy them all, buy arnica and prepare to be amazed at the rate of healing.

Reference

Highly recommended!

Verbal First Aid: Help Your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain–and Come Out Strong

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