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Autism and Adrenal Stress
An autism spectrum disorder (ASD) places the individual, the parents, and siblings under enormous adrenal stress. Prolonged periods of stress can fatigue your adrenal glands, resulting in biochemical and cellular changes which can affect many body systems, including immune function, blood sugar balance, energy production, thyroid function and hormone balance. The main purpose of the adrenal glands is to respond to stress and is known as the “fight or flight” response. These glands react to every kind of stress whether physical, emotional, psychological, hormonal, thermal, or biochemical. The function of every tissue, organ and gland in our body is affected by adrenal hormones.
The adrenals are two small glands, each weighing 3 to 5 grams, located above the kidneys, and are composed of two separate functional entities, each responsible for producing and releasing specific stress hormones. The outer…
If you have been following this blog, you know that living authentically and realistically is my goal. As I ponder on that today, I am reminded of the awesome responsibility I have as a mother to create an atmosphere in my home that reflects my beliefs. In my home resides an environment that focuses on the social and academic strengthening of a very special person, my son.
As I strive to renew and recreate who I am as an individual, I also understand the importance of providing a solid foundation for my son to realize his strengths, gifts and talents. At the same time, I must stay informed and research the world my son lives in. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder. On the spectrum he has Asperger’s syndrome which is most prevalent in boys. If you are not familiar with this disease, the following article http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/tc/aspergers-syndrome-topic-overview, is very informative.
My son is in the fourth grade which means I am as well. In order to provide a home that supports him, I must also advocate for an educational environment that supports him as well. As parents we must be active and present at the table of academia especially when our children have special needs. I admit it can be overwhelming at times, however, when I consider my son’s future and my desire for him to live independently and confident in whom he is I regain my focus and strength.
When you are suffering from a bad cough or back pains you seek out a doctor’s opinion in order to regain your strength, lower your temperature, or stop coughing. If you are like some people I know, you will go to the pharmacy and purchase an over-the-counter medication to feel comfortable. Just as we take the time to tend to our physical health, we must also invest the time it takes to ensure our mental health is functioning at its best.
Imagine a child who depends on you for their mental health. Although somewhat dated, the 1999 Mental Health Report from the Surgeon General indicates that “Four million children and adolescents in this country suffer from a serious mental disorder that causes significant functional impairments at home, at school and with peers. Of children ages 9 to 17, 21 percent have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment” (Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1999).
In this wonderful journey of life, eight years ago I was blessed to care for a child that has developmental disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His mental health is a priority every day. The latest research from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network finds that “1 in every 110 eight-year old children were diagnosable for an ASD” (Autism, 2012). If he had a cold, I would make sure to serve him orange juice, hot soup and other remedies to comfort and restore his health. In a week, life would go back to its usual routine.
Not so with his mental health. I cannot take anything for granted. If you are a parent of a child who looks normal and most times acts normal except for the occasional head banging, refusal to use the toilet and is content in his own fictional world, then I have a few tips to make your life easier.
TIP1: Make sure your child’s teacher, principal, social worker, and special education team are on your team. You are your child’s number one advocate and he or she needs you to reflect that when you communicate with the team.
TIP2: Educate your family about your child’s diagnosis. Sometimes an unformed family member’s perspective of the actions of your child can create the wrong idea about your child’s behavior.
TIP3: Be prepared for what you will need to say when there is a public outburst. Choose the words you use with your child and any adults who will have a comment or two.
TIP4: Remember you are not alone. Use the resources available to you and your child. In the state of Michigan, contact your local county mental health agency. In Oakland County a good resource is the Community Living Services (http://www.comlivserv.com/oaklandcty.htm). Mental Health America( http://www.nmha.org/) is a national organization with valuable information as well.
The terms journaling, writing to heal and memoire writing are really buzzing these days. Or could it be in this stage of my life, my priorities are changing. My outlook on life and what brings me joy are taking on a new and different form. For me, life has flown by in the sense that there are so many adventures I let pass by with the thought of getting to them later. As I think back, my mind picks and chooses which pictures and stories to focus on. As a mother and grandmother (yes, I know) the history to my life, events, and stories of family members who are resting in peace becomes a larger priority with each passing day. I invite you to ponder with me as I consider how I want to be remembered.
How do you want to be remembered? Who will write your story? Here is a concept, why not you. Each of us has a unique story to tell; a tragedy or obstacle we have overcome. Not only will you bless someone with your victory, you will tell your story the way you want it told. Our family and friends only know so much about us. They only know what we feel comfortable revealing or talking about. This is the reason I’ve decided to embark on my writing expedition.
There are so many untold stories floating around in my consciousness. I am embarking on a journey to write creative narratives about pain and loss to heal. According to Louise DeSalvo author of Writing as a Way of Healing, “by writing, we celebrate, too, our courage and survival. Engaging in writing, in creative work, then, permits us to pass from numbness to feeling, from denial to acceptance, from conflict and chaos to order and resolution, from rage and loss to profound growth, from grief to joy.” Who doesn’t want joy?
I encourage you to purchase a couple of journals and special pens, find some time alone with your favorite cup of tea, smooth jazz or classical and watch your pages begin to fill up.