Monday, February 6, 2012

Nuture Thyself part 3

Mental Health: This always has a stigma attached to it, but really there is no reason for that.  What's the old saying?  If Momma isn't happy no one is happy?  (Dad too)  The fact is, the adult care givers in the home will be much better equipped to handle all the needs of their special needs child if they are on an even emotional keel.  This may require seeking help from a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and/or support group for Special Needs Parents.  Let's look at that even further.  Seek out any and all mental health support you feel that you would need so that you can bring 100% to the table in order to help your child.  If that requires AA, Al-Anon, Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse, etc. do it!  No shame.  If cost is a concern, Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social services offers a variety of mental health services for sliding fees.  Often times your special needs child is sensitive to your emotions.  Do what you can to seek healing and wholeness in this area. 

Social Health: Don't isolate yourself.  Many times it is hard for special needs parents to find friends who understand the struggles you and your child are facing. If you have relationships that are toxic to you and your child, cut them off.  That being said, not all of your relationships need center around your special needs child. While a ground rule to mutual respect needs to be maintained, don't isolate yourself from relationships that can be just "social", like the occasional coffee buddy, or mall friend, maybe a ladies Bunco group.  Light hearted social interation that isn't always about your struggles with your child is healthy. 
On the other end of the spectrum, you do need close, personal relationships with those you feel you can truly trust and share your struggles with.  If you don't currently have any such person, consider joining a local support group for Special Needs Parents.  No one else knows what you are going through other than a fellow parent with a special needs child.  Those relationships with get you through the incredibly tough times and validate you like none other can.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nuture Thyself part 2

Exercise  I know! Everyone hates it, but everyone feels good after they do it.  Most importantly in terms of taking care of yourself so you can properly care for your special needs child, it is a wonderful stress reliever.  If you haven't exercised in a long time, talk to your Dr.  Start of small and increase slowly.  Walk outside, maybe purchase exercise tapes.  Leslie Sansone has wonderful walking DVDs for beginners.  While sometimes it is difficult to leave your special needs child, there is something to be said for getting out of the house to move your body.  Your local YMCA can be a wonderful resource.  Before I hear the complaints about money, they offer sliding fees based on income that there is no shame in applying for.  Child care is available while you workout, or sign your special needs child up for a class for themselves and you can exercise while they attend.  The YMCA is notorious for their sensitivity to special needs and will be willing to accommodate your son or daughter. I personally look forward to my water aerobics class as the best time of my day.  I love the gentle feel of the water and the intensity of the workout.  Love it!

Nutrition:  I will get more into Nutrition later when discussing it in relation to your special needs child, however in general if everyone in your family adopts a "whole food" eating approach, you will be much better off. By whole foods I mean, if it didn't come directly from the ground and doesn't have a mother, or wasn't once alive, breathing or otherwise, don't eat it :-)  I  realize that is HARD to do in our culture. The best advice I heard a nutritionist say is strive for 80/20.  Eat good 80% of the time but allow for real birthday cake on your birthday etc., (not all your co-worker's birthday's)  For now, this is what the basics of a good eating plan should look like:

Breakfast: Grain, Dairy or Protien, Fruit

Lunch: Lean protein, Grain, Dairy, 2 vegetables (one green leaf, i.e. salad)

Snack:  Dairy or protien, fruit

Dinner: Lean Protein, Gain, Fruit, 2 Vegetables (one green leaf, i.e. salad)

Dessert: Low fat frozen yogurt, or low cal option

Drink at least 8 glasses of water, consume 2tsp of healthy oil a day, olive, canola or safflower.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nuture Thyself part 1

The first post, and the most important information I can give to any parent dealing with a child with special needs is:  take care of yourself first.  Most essential.  For years I ignored that.  That means get yourself proper medial care, dental care, rest/sleep, exercise, nutrition, mental health care, get your social needs meet, marital needs, intellectual needs, etc.  Don't worry, I hear the big question out there reverberating.....

Isn't that selfish??? How can I do that when my child needs 10,000 different things to get through his or her day?

Simple answer:  What do they tell you on the air plane?  In case of an emergency oxygen masks will descend, please  secure your own mask and make sure it is functioning before attempting to place a mask on anyone else.  

Same is true in life.  You can't give to the sometimes herculean demands that these children place on us from a dry well.  So let's break this down:

Proper medical care:  You should be going in at least once a year for a check up with an internist/family Dr. If you are female you need to see an Ob/Gyn once a year.  This may seem completely elementary, but I have watched special needs parents take their children to Mayo Clinic and demand the best and ignore these basic essentials for themselves.   Go in with a list of questions written down and hand them immediately to your Dr.  If he/she won't take the time to answer those questions, find someone else.  Plain and simple.  You aren't difficult.  You aren't a bitch.  If your Dr. agrees to a plan of treatment and then changes treatment for no reason or for a reason that doesn't sit well with you, find a different Dr.  Again, you aren't difficult, you aren't a bitch. You are entitled to decent health care and to be treated with dignity and respect and as that Dr. would treat themselves or a member of their family. 

Proper Dental Care:  You need a cleaning and exam every six months.  You should have a whole mouth x-ray every 5 years.  That is of each tooth and root.  Not just two bite wings.  I had a dentist who didn't do that for me.  Dentistry has unfortunately become a very profit driven industry in recent years.  If you have a dentist who seems to be offering you expensive cosmetic treatments that you cannot afford at the determent of basic good dental care, leave.  Oftentimes root canals need to be done by an Periodontist and not a Family dentist.  A general dentist won't always tell you that because they would like your money, and failed root canal, and subsequent extraction, implant or bridge.  If you have access to a dental college, they may be a better bet.  Yes, they are students, however they are overseen by highly experienced faculty and the drive for money is not there.  Only good dental care.  Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.  Invest in a good tooth brush like a Sonic Care or Oral B.  Floss and use mouth wash like Crest Pro Health.  Consider a mouth wash with fluoride if you seem prone to cavities.

Sleep:  Did you know that normal state our brain is designed to function in is sleep?  The general consensus is that adults are wired for 8 hours+ of sleep but most are functioning on less than 7.  I would find that to be the number one reason for burnout and stress among adults.  That is starting out the day in the red, so to speak, before anything occurs.  If you are having trouble sleeping, try a Melatonin supplement before turning to harsh sleep aid. Also be sure to turn down all bright lights before bed.  That includes TV and computer.  Ouch!!! That's hard for me too.  Reading a good book with soft light or prayer in dimmed light about 1 hour before bed releases our bodies own natural melatonin.

to be cont.....

Extreme Blog Makeover!

Well, after many years of having this blog I think I've found it's purpose.

I have a daughter, my first born, who is diagnosed with ADHD, Aspergers, and generalized anxiety. I have  resisted taking up the special needs banner for many years for several reasons.  The main one would be that my daughter and I are more than these labels and our lives encompass far more than just the management and knowledge that goes with dealing with these conditions.

That being said, it's come to my attention that I have amassed a wealth of knowledge over the years that I am just, for lack of a better word, sitting on.  I've run across people who are happy and thrilled to encounter my information and those who are resistant to it. The purpose of sharing it here isn't to convince anyone or offer definite concrete answers but just to simply share a journey, what has worked for us, what has not worked the ups the downs the things I have seen in others along the way and hopefully provide a network and support for others and vehicle of release for myself.  I hope it appeals :-)