Social Media Assistant, Therell, shares his song, “Alone”, which is about how he feels alone in the world.
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Social Media Assistant, Therell, shares his song, “Alone”, which is about how he feels alone in the world.
There are many therapeutic services that benefit those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Each form of therapy is different and made to fit the needs of those using them. I will be sharing a few of my favorite forms of therapy which include music therapy, art therapy and even equine therapy!
Music therapy is the use of music to accomplish individual goals. These goals can include improving mood and self-expression. This includes listening, singing, and composing music as well as playing instruments! Music therapy can help those with ASD properly identify and express how they’re feeling as well as stimulate their cognitive function. This form of therapy can also help improve speech and language skills. We have a music therapist come in for my students once a week and it really improves all of their moods and encourages them to express themselves. They love it!
Another great form of therapy is art therapy! It is fun and can be very helpful for individuals who have ASD. This form promotes self-expression through various forms of art. These forms include drawing, painting, pottery and everything in between. Personally, art therapy is my favorite form of therapy. It can build improved visual and spatial skills while also promoting sensory integration. While promoting sensory integration, art therapy also encourages emotional and sensory control. Better control of these factors can lead to an increase in positive behaviors!
And finally, equine therapy. This type of therapy involves horses which is really great for some people. Horseback riding can soothe individuals with autism which allows them to focus better, think and participate in training. Their desire to ride horses will also allow us to encourage positive behaviors while also gently discouraging negative behaviors. A few of my students utilize equine therapy and it does make a huge difference for them.
I’ve included articles, or posts about the therapies I’ve shared with you! Check them out below:
Please read my post Autism Awareness: Inclusion Matters! right here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂
Music has been something I have always used as a way to cope when I’m struggling. There’s just something about music that helps me release the weight on my shoulders. Listening to music is great, but being able to play an instrument and sing is another level. It’s something that I have been doing since I was in middle school and while there are times I don’t do it for months are years, I can always sit down at the piano or pick up my guitar and play like no time has passed.
Last night, I put my puppy into the crate for a nap and I sat down and played my guitar and sang some of my favorite songs. I’ve been really struggling with adjusting to having a young puppy and I knew playing would probably help relive some of the stress. My grandfather taught me how to play guitar when I was younger and he even gave me one of his guitars when I was in middle school. He is a big reason why I feel so connected to music, so naturally, whenever I play, I send him some videos.
I used to be really conscious of hearing myself sing in recordings. My grandfather always recorded me singing and playing, but it always made me cringe. Videos of me just playing guitar or piano I loved, but I couldn’t stand to listen to my voice. Now at 24 years old, I am somehow now at a point where I have more confidence in myself and I’m comfortable sharing my voice with the world.
I recorded myself last night singing “Wide Open Spaces” by The Chicks because it’s a song that my mom always listened to while I was growing up and it was also a song that always had a lot of meaning to me. The lyrics have always spoken to me, but they speak to me more now that I’m older. I decided to post that video to share with everyone who seems to love to hear me play, but it was also something I did for myself. You can watch my video below:
@ohbabyitskailey picked up the guitar for the first time in months, a bit rusty #guitar #thechicks #wideopenspaces #singing #music #countrycovers #fyp ♬ original sound – Kailey
I am lucky to have playing music to help me cope. How does music help you cope?
I had a session yesterday… Under the pretense I was going in there to re-explain 15 years of trauma, 15 years of abuse, 15. Years. Of ugly, undermining, unrecoverable years. I was under the impression this was going to be like ANY OTHER appointment I’ve ever encountered with a therapist. Especially since I’ve been doing it for years I thought, “Yup, gonna go in there and rehash all my crap. AGAIN.”
But it wasn’t.
I went in there and we explored the bad, sure, but at the end of the road, she stopped me and turned me down a different fork than the one I normally went. She asked, “And did you forgive your mother after she died?” I have been asked this before so automatically I replied, “For several years I couldn’t. I didn’t know how–” To which she nodded and said, “Did you feel guilty for not forgiving her?” I’d also encountered this, and like a victim I merely told her I always felt guilty. I felt guilty I couldn’t save her. I felt guilty I couldn’t forgive her. I felt guilty I hated her for what she’d done. I felt ashamed. I felt it everyday for over 6 years until one day, I sat down in my discomfort and I told myself to stop.
“Did it stop?”
“You don’t have a reason to forgive her for what she did. It’s okay to be angry with her. Your emotions are completely valid. And always will be.”
This was new. Never once, in all the time in and out of grief counseling with my grandmother, had someone ever VALIDATED my emotions. All they’d ever said to me was to LET IT GO. Forgive her, because you’ll never find peace otherwise. But never actually told me how to do this. And thus, since 2011, I was internally destroying myself over the prospect of not letting her be forgiven, of not letting my wounds heal. Until just yesterday, this one woman said to me that everything up to this point was normal. And it was fine. And I can continue to be upset over what happened on the bad days, and I’m allowed to hold back forgiveness for what my mother put me through. I don’t have to forgive anyone who wrongs me. And neither does anyone else.
I just thought I’d share this. Because it was an eye-opener to hear that it was fine to feel the way I feel after so LONG. And it was fine to let go of the fact I’ll never actually forgive and forget. 🙂
Last night, as I was just about to fall asleep, an anxious thought invaded my mind. Then several others came flooding in right after. I tried to ignore them, but they were so strong. Mainly, they were specific memories of times during my active addiction that I completely broke my morals; all for drugs.
I kept reassuring myself by saying, “No, Ally, you weren’t in your right state of mind. You were in a bad place. You aren’t there now. You don’t do that now. Focus on now.”
But depression and anxiety (and for my faith followers: the enemy) doesn’t want you to be reassured. It doesn’t want you to be calm, to let go, to focus on the positive. Instead, more invasive thoughts came in to add onto the pain of the already existing thoughts. Did they keep coming because I was fighting them?
So here’s a breakdown of the thoughts in a dialogue form:
Starter thought: “Do you remember the time you (insert memory of the time I degraded myself)?”
My fighting thought: “No, Ally, you weren’t in your right state of mind. You were in a bad place. You aren’t there now. You don’t do that now. Focus on now.”
Invasive thought #2: “But you still did it. (insert degrading name-calling: whore, stupid) You can’t take that back.”
My fighting thought: *deep breaths* “I did it, I’m not proud of it, I’m still in the dark with that time and I’m not like that anymore.”
Invasive thought #3: “But does your boyfriend know about it? What do you think he would think? Does your mother know about it? What do you think she will think? I’m sure this will come to light eventually and you know everyone will judge you and definitely leave you.”
My fighting thought: *trying to ignore the lump in my throat* “I don’t think he cares much about my past. I think I’ve told him about this time, but now, come to think of it, I don’t know if I have told him. Am I being dishonest? My mom would be disappointed, but she has my back. Jen. Must text my best friend Jen. She will reassure me and comfort me and not judge me.”
Notice how I already started to entertain these invasive thoughts?
Shortly after texting my best friend, the tears came, the guilt came, the shame came. Stupid thoughts, stupid anxiety, and stupid depression had me all in my feelings. The enemy is pretty smart; he knows exactly how to trip me up.
That one dark memory reminder caused me to remember and think about several others. I started beating myself up and feeling awful for things I had done.
And then I realized: I need to forgive that younger me.
So Dear Younger Me,
It’s not your fault. I’m sorry I didn’t protect you better. All of this will be for a reason one day, you’ll see.
A Much Wiser You
So although I may be a little uneasy still about the choices I made when I was younger; under the influence or not, I can’t let them destroy the current choices I have. I can’t change the past. I repeat, I cannot change the past. But I can do something today. I can do something in the future. I can protect that inner child of mine. My guard might be up a little extra until these emotions relax a bit, but that is ok. It is ok for me to have to do some extra breathing. It is ok for me to write out my feelings. It is ok for me to lean onto my best friend. It is ok to remind myself that God has forgiven me.
Is there something you need to forgive your younger self for today?
When I was a little girl, I had so many ideas about what my life was supposed to be like. I thought everything had to be perfect; especially me. I had a carefully arranged and thoroughly thought out plan of what perfect was. When things deviated from that, I fell apart.
As I got older, it became harder and harder to live up to the expectations I had created for myself. People rarely lived up to my ideals. Slowly, this began to break me.
It was strange, the way I fell apart; in many ways, my demise was self-created. Yet, even with a sense of recognition, I could not stop myself. It was a cycle that I had made with my own two hands, stepped in willingly, but could not find the strength to jump out of. My brain had begun to betray me at a young age and has not stopped since.
I had to get good grades, which meant I had to get all A’s because being good enough wasn’t good enough and in order to succeed, I had to be the best. When I graduated High School with my perfect grades, I had to go to college. But not just college; I had to go to Harvard. I had to follow the expectations I had set, and thrive within the pressure cooker I had built around myself. If I faltered in even small ways, it was a massive, unforgivable failure on my part. And worse than failure was being a disappointment, which was, by all means, the absolute worst thing I could do.
Unfortunately, the world did not follow the standards I expected it to, and I felt powerless to change it. I could not stop my mom from dropping me off to school late every single day, yet I still cried like a baby and yelled that I would never go to college if I couldn’t get to second grade on time. People would put things back in the ‘wrong’ place, and I would crumble. I, like everyone in the world, would lose control constantly. Yet, unlike the rest of my peers, I seemed unable to swallow this and move forward without first falling to the floor in a puddle of tears, or hitting my head against a wall, or screaming and screaming until my little lungs cracked and burned.
As I got older, I began to reason that if things were imperfect, out of my control, or lower than my standards, that rather than accepting the loss of control and disappointment, I would willingly fail. Willingly handing over my power was easier than having it fall from my grip, despite my efforts.
I still struggle with the expectation of perfection I unconsciously set for myself. Yet, consciously I fight the notion and try to set new standards.
If I ever spoke to Willow the way I used to speak to myself, my heart would shatter into a million pieces. If she ever spoke to or thought of herself in the way I used to think of myself, I don’t believe I could carry the sadness that would veil my heart. So instead of teaching her to love herself, I will learn how to love myself. She will watch her mom be kind and forgiving to herself, see how she accepts the ebbs and flows of life, and witness her open her palms to the universe to receive what is handed to her. And with time, she too will do the same.
My mom and me in my Great Aunts’ house in Jacksonville, FL.
Me, in my favorite hat
My anxiety due to the high standards I constantly set for myself peaked in my freshman year of High School
My beautiful daughter, who is and will always be perfect simply for being herself
Hi everybody- I hope you’re all having a good week! Willow and I have been really busy- I’ve started leaving her in daycare a few days a week to work a few hours at turning point, and life is continuing to race past me at an extraordinary rate! Thankfully, Willow seems to be enjoying daycare a lot more than she did a few months ago. She’s also starting to move a lot! She’s pulling herself up really well, taking small steps while I hold her hands, and looking like she might crawl after all! I also attended a meeting on ending youth homelessness yesterday, and told my story.
So, it’s safe to say I’ve been really busy, but doing well!
So why do I feel so anxious?
Before I became a mother, I felt anxious constantly. It was like a dull hum in the back of my mind that followed me everywhere. Some days I was better at ignoring it than others. I couldn’t always pinpoint what my anxiety was about, and when people would ask,
a wave a nausea would come over me- because I often had no clue what I was anxious about. This would set off an avalanche of thoughts.
“Why am I anxious? I must be anxious for a reason… if I forget what I’m anxious about I’m forgetting something important! Am I anxious about nothing? Why would I be anxious about nothing? What’s wrong with me? Will this go away- will I feel like this forever? *Cue panic about feeling uncomfortable for the rest of my life and never being able to escape my thoughts…”
I used to tell people I could feel anxious over a doorknob or lightbulb.
Now, my anxiety feels different. It feels more important, heavier. At times I think maybe it’s not really anxiety, because I’m worrying about something that matters; I’m worrying about my daughter. Many times I can reach out and grab my thoughts and identify what it is I’m worrying about. Although sometimes it feels stupid when I think about it, or I’ll try to put it into words and get confused. But is it really anxiety if I know what I’m worried about and it really matters? These are rhetorical questions. I know it’s really anxiety. I know it’s really not very different than the anxiety I felt as a teenager. The difference is, now I worry for two (kind of like when I was pregnant I ate for two).
I constantly question if I’m being a good mother, am I screwing Willow up? Wasting her potential or brain by using my cell phone in front of her or not having enough toys for her? Am I allowing her to be free? What am I modeling for her? What is she watching that she will pick up on- are these good things? I have a constant barrage of thoughts overwhelming me throughout the day- the dull hum is more like a headache that never goes away.
But then I see my daughter fake laugh to get a reaction, or pull herself up on a toy, I hear her get into a screaming match with someone, or lay with her on my chest and close my eyes. I see her funny, beautiful personality, or look into her kind eyes. I watch her play with another baby at the shelter. She does something independent, but looks back at me for approval. A swell of hot, red love fills my heart and overflows into my chest. I feel like I’m floating, I’m so happy that I’m sad (if that makes sense). I love this beautiful girl so much it hurts. And she loves me. I feel happy and at peace in these moments. I see the beautiful life I created- this beautiful little girl that is becoming an amazing little person. I created her, carried her, I gave birth to her, and now I feed her- my body is so powerful and strong- I am powerful and strong. And I give myself the credit I deserve. I feel happy.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that people weren’t kidding when they warned me how fast time goes by; how quickly babies grow into toddlers and continue from there. Although I can allow myself to panic, trying to beat a clock I will always be running behind, I instead try to be still and watch.
I know several years from now, I will look back and hoped I had soaked this time in more, enjoyed it more and worried less. So when I catch myself ruminating about my baby’s growth spurts, development, or well being, I try to encourage myself to give my brain a warm hug. Remind myself that this time is so special, and give myself permission to enjoy it.
So today, as I lay in bed with my 7 month old sleeping on my chest, writing this post on my iPhone and thinking about how busy I will be in an hour, I instead chose to close my eyes for a moment, hug my daughter, and set my intention for the day.
Today I will catch myself in worry, I will take time to watch my daughter play, and join in with her. I will enjoy these small moments, and free my mind of the expectations I place upon it. Today I will be still. I will be a mom, and if that’s all I’m able to do, it will be a good day and I will have succeeded. If at the end of the day I still have bags of laundry to fold in my closet, a to-do list to complete, and phone calls to make- I will forgive myself. Because one day, my daughter will need to forgive herself, and I hope to be the person who teaches her how.
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