You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All…

You have probably dealt with a stubborn or aggressive friend, co-worker or family member.  A person that, in the midst of a fight or heated debate, always has to have the last word.  The person that it is best to step down or walk away from:  Words will get you nowhere, SILENCE will.

Watch an individual with strong parenting skills.  They are not screaming and yelling at their child in the grocery store.  Instead, there is usually a moment of intense silence combined with “a look” (and often a few calm words) resulting in a now obedient child (usually).  The only thing you will get by joining your child in their screaming fest is many entertained onlookers.

Girls love to talk!  We are known for it.  We want to talk through and analyze every little thing (yes, i’m generalizing), but it is a huge difference between most females and males that often leads to further misunderstanding and arguments because “he doesn’t listen” or  “just doesn’t seem to care.”  Where do those endless conversations round and round in circles get you?  How about a quick, to the point conversation?

Talking too much is probably the number one mistake people make when working with individuals with Autism.  Too many words will result in an over-stimulated individual (if that wasn’t already the problem) paired with a very frustrated caregiver.  “Why aren’t they listening or responding to me!??”  Stop talking and see what happens.

A few comparisons (and a different perspective) that may help with those special people and special situations:  Examples when less words may equate to a better response:

An aggressive friend or co-worker = a child with autism who is over-stimulated

Your words will often only escalate their behaviors.  If they feel threatened by others or their surroundings (often the unknown), their negatives behaviors will increase.

A screaming child in the grocery store = a screaming child w/ autism in a grocery store

There are many similarities in parenting a child with Autism and a “typical” child (when it comes to breakdowns and tantrums).  You may have to use a little more force for a child with Autism (if they are a runner, etc) but in general, do not mimic their behaviors:  do not scream if they are screaming.  Restrain if you have to from dangerous situations but refrain from using too many words to re-direct.

The attention span of a guy dealing with a girl who wants to talk = the attention span of individual with Autism (yes, I just compared your boyfriend or spouse to an individual with Autism:)

You have 30 seconds to give your pitch.  Whether you are instructing, disciplining or just trying to carry on a conversation or activity, on average you have 30 seconds to a minute before all they hear is “blah, blah, blah.”  When working with individuals with Autism, be concise and move on or don’t be surprised when they have moved on to something else (usually a negative behavior).

In summary, it is important to know when to confront a situation with a conversation and when silence is your best option or tool.  Often times, you say it best when you say nothing at all, and it is extremely important when working with individuals with Autism to limit words spoken.

Buddies In ACTION is about creating AWARENESS.  Are you AWARE of the importance of silence in working with individuals with Autism?


Pick Your Battle…

-A breakdown or an unhealthy snack

-A full-blown tantrum in a restaurant or french fries, milkshakes, etc. etc.

-A quiet family dinner turned upside down or enough food consumed in one sitting to last for a week.

The food battle is a battle almost every parent has to tackle at some point along the line but for a parent of individuals with intellectual disabilities it can be a HUGE battle; a battle much bigger than just “you’re not leaving the table until you finish your green beans!”  Or for some parents of both special and ‘typical’ children, it’s not a battle at all because the parents choose not to pick that battle.

Working in the homes of individuals with Autism, I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve seen some very messy situations: houses torn upside down, sibling fights that no one would want to witness and parents breaking down after a feeling of complete helplessness. Would you really care who ate what at that point?  I doubt it.

It’s a vicious cycle.  It’s a cycle we can all relate to to some extent.  You get used to eating cookies, pastries, ice cream and donuts and you’re body begins to tell you that you NEED those items.  You begin to have craving after craving that you can’t seem to control.  The foods that cause us to feel the worst are usually the foods we crave the most…that is, until we stop eating them for a prolonged period of time.  Now try to communicate that concept to a child, a child who does not verbally communicate.

The battles then become vicious cycles.  You don’t get to pick anymore.  You WILL have a tantrum until the snickers is handed over.  The snickers (or whatever the food of choice may be) becomes a daily battle.

It’s not easy.  In fact, it’s very difficult.  Over the course of the next few weeks when I talk about NUTRITION, I’ll explain how a few of our Buddies have made changes.  It was a process.  It took time (a LONG time) but it’s possible.

I hope to help others tackle the NUTRITION battle because it is one well worth fighting and one that may change some of your other other battles and child’s behaviors permanently.

Buddies In ACTION wants to help improve the NUTRITION battle.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name…

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

~Cheers Theme Song

For those who know me, you know I’m a walking juke box.  I have a song for everything.  For me, the theme song from cheers doesn’t describe a bar, it describes a gym, specifically FIT in Los Altos.  It’s a gym where at 6am you may have a handful of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, VC partners and associates, working Moms and Crossfitters.  At 9am, you’ll see a wide variety of carpool moms, grandmas and grandpas.  At 12, look for a handful of trainers working out and a few of our favorite senior citizens in for their afternoon appointment.  At 3:30 the kids start flowing in along with FITBuddies and followed by the afterwork crowd and Barbell Club.

When you walk through the doors, you will be greeted with a smile (okay sometimes at 6am, the smile is forced:) but the trainers are always glad you came.

We may or may not know your job/status.  You can leave that and all your stresses and problems at the door if you choose.  It’s a place where you can come when you’d like to get away.

Tennis shoes.  Gym Shorts.  T-shirts.  Lulu’s.  You don’t have to dress to impress but we do ask that you do at least come dressed!  Gym attire has a way of making us all feel similar and that all our troubles are the same.

It’s a high-end facility, a large family, a community, a place where everybody knows your name and if they don’t, they’ll learn it soon.

It’s a place where confidence is fostered in everybody, especially FITBuddies members who are constantly looked at for their differences.  It’s a place where individuals with intellectual disabilities can leave all their disabilities at the door and simply focus on their abilities.  It’s a place where they feel accepted, equal and a part of something that’s not an isolated “special needs” program but a program that’s “just like everyone else.”

WE do pull ups just like everyone else…

WE workout with our parents…

WE do BURPEES too!!  And we are probably the only members of FIT who absolutely LOVE them:)

WE are part of a team…

WE are part of a Family…

WE are confident members of FIT and FITBuddies.

We all deserve to belong to a place where we can get away, where all our troubles are the same, where everyone knows our name.

FIT is exactly that for many people.  It’s a community that has done nothing but accept the FITBuddies’ program and participants.  It’s a large, inclusive family that I can confidently say I am proud to be a part of.

Take ACTION and CONFIDENTLY accept those of all abilities around you.