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Autism: Music, Art & Equine Therapy

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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:

Sounds and the Spectrum: The Benefits of Music for People with Autism

The Value Of Art Therapy For Those On The Autism Spectrum

Something about a Horse: Finding Benefits for Autism in Therapeutic Riding

Please read my post Autism Awareness: Inclusion Matters! right here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

Why Having A Good Therapist Is Important

TW: self-harm, suicide. I’ve seen a counselor or therapist for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I saw a plethora of school counselors until I was finally able to get my own outside therapist. I love my current therapist but without these counselors, I honestly don’t think I would have survived. These counselors went the extra mile for me and made sure that I was always taken care of in terms of my mental health.

At only 12 years old, I was really starting to struggle after my parents separated. I wasn’t eating very much, I couldn’t sleep and I was self-harming almost every day. I felt like I wanted to die. My whole world was falling apart and it felt like there was nothing I could do to fix it. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to open up to about what I was struggling with until I finally decided to open up to my cousin about what was going on. She didn’t say much about it or even make me feel better but she told my mom and that’s when everything changed for me.

I came home from school one afternoon and when I walked in my mom looked so broken. Like someone had just ripped her heart out. My heart started to race and I became incredibly anxious and panicked about what was about to happen. I couldn’t even get any words to come out of my mouth. After a long silence, she finally said “Why couldn’t you tell me?”. This hurt a lot because I had already told her so many times before that I was having a hard time and she just didn’t believe me. It took someone else telling her about what was going on to finally get her to realize that I needed help. Help that she couldn’t give me. This is when she decided to contact the school about me seeing someone.

When I was in sixth grade, I started seeing Mr. Guarino, the counselor at school. I was still in middle school at the time but I can honestly tell you that this man changed my life. I saw Mr. Guarino once a week for pretty much the rest of my middle school career. He was awesome. For the first time in my life, I felt heard and acknowledged. Like someone actually wanted to know how I was feeling and make sure that I was going to be okay. I saw him every week until eighth grade when I was finally feeling okay again. He helped me with so much. We talked about how I felt about my dad leaving and how I felt abandoned by everyone else, including my mom. He talked to me about whatever I wanted and that alone meant so much to me.

While things might have been okay by the end of eighth grade, I was beginning to feel myself going into that dark hole again. Things were really hard. With graduation and a transition to high school, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I felt like I was drowning again. But the thing that hurt me most was my dad. I invited him to my eighth-grade graduation and he didn’t even show up. I looked for his face in the crowd, only to find that he was nowhere to be found in the crowd. Instead, he taped a graduation card to the front door of our apartment. I was devastated.

At this point, I knew counseling was my only option but I couldn’t see anyone until I went back to school in the Fall because my mom wouldn’t get me a therapist, nor was there anyone to take me to and from it. It was a long summer and we had also just moved back to my hometown but I was able to see the counselor at the high school. This is where Mr. Auriantal came in. My freshman year of high school was difficult. Not only was I at a new school, struggling internally with my own trauma but my dad worked at my school.

There were so many bottled-up feelings about my parents’ divorce. I was really struggling but Mr. Auriantal certainly saved me from myself. I saw him twice a week during my freshman year. My freshman year was one of my hardest school years. I was having an anxiety attack almost every day. My palms would start to sweat, my throat would get tight and I felt like I was being suffocated. The anxiety attacks began to fade after I started seeing Mr. Auriantal. I looked forward to these days the most because this was my chance to unload everything that was bothering me. We talked a lot about my dad and how that entire situation affected me. It felt good to tell someone how I was feeling. This man has always been my savior and even to this day, he continues to check on me.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the counselors that helped, I’d love to tell you about my therapist, Jessie. This woman has done more for me than she’ll ever know. I’ve been seeing Jessie since 2017, that’s 4 years total so far. Can you believe that? She was the first therapist that I ever reached out to on my own. I’m so thankful that I chose her and never once second-guessed it. I knew she was the right choice for me from the first email she ever sent me.

Jessie has gone to great lengths to help me address my trauma, emotions and so much more. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. She makes sure that I hold myself accountable for the things that I can control and not to beat myself up for what I can’t. Jessie has allowed me to view my mental health in a completely different light. My mental health should be a priority, not something I’m constantly sticking on the back burner. She has allowed me to discuss things that I never knew I’d be able to fully heal from. While I may be in a good place now, Jessie and I still have plenty of work to do.

A good therapist is an important part of the healing process. Without them, I feel like there’s nobody holding you accountable for anything. They’re also a really great support system when you are lacking that with friends and family. They will always be there for you when you need them, and they’ll always be honest with you. Honestly, I have no idea what I would have done without the counselors or my therapist. They’ve all been such a great support system for me. This is exactly why I’ll always say that when you are struggling with your mental health, having a good therapist is important.

Want to know if you have a good therapist? Read this article about the signs of a good therapist!

You can also check out TurningPointCT’s resources here! 🙂

What to Expect at Your First Therapy Session

Getting Started, Part 2: Tips on First Therapy Session

In this animation, our website, TurningPointCT.org explains how to set up and attend your first therapy session. Furthermore, we talk about what you should bring to your therapy session. You can visit this website here for more information on your first therapy session and how to get the most out of it. Remember to be open and completely honest so your doctor can do the best with what they are given.

Getting Started, Part 1: Find a Therapist

It’s Been A While

Great song by “Staind” by the way, “It’s Been A While” I believe they actually just started going back on tour, anyway I’ll drop the lyrics below:

It’s been awhile
Since I couldn’t
Hold my head up high
And it’s been awhile
Since I first saw you
And it’s been awhile
Since I could stand
On my own two feet again
And it’s been awhile
Since I could call you
And all the things I can’t remember
As fucked up as it all may seem
The consequences that are rendered
I stretch myself beyond my means
And it’s been awhile
Since I could say
That I wasn’t addicted
It’s been awhile
Since I could say
I loved myself as well
And it’s been awhile
Since I’ve gone and
Fucked things up
Just like I always do
And it’s been awhile
But all that shit
Seems to disappear
When I’m with you
And everything I can remember
As fucked up as it all may seem
The consequences that I’ve rendered
Have gone and fucked things up again
Why must I feel this way?
Just make this go away
Just one more peaceful day
It’s been awhile
Since I couldn’t
Look at myself straight
And it’s been awhile
Since I said, “I’m sorry”
And it’s been awhile
Since I’ve seen the way
The candles light your face
And it’s been awhile
But I can still remember
Just the way you taste
And everything I can remember
As fucked up
As it all may seem to be
I know it’s me
I cannot blame this on my father
He did the best he could for me
It’s been awhile
Since I couldn’t
Hold my head up high
And it’s been awhile
Since I said, “I’m sorry”

Here’s the link to the music video on YT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=araU0fZj6oQ

I like to give this song a listen when I’m feeling alright, because it really has been a while since last I’ve really f*cked things up in my life. It serves as a reminder to me, to make sure I keep on top of my stuff, gives me a little taste of what things used to be like. Just enough however that it doesnt send me into a dark place for the rest of the day. As I’ve mentioned many times before, music has such an interesting impact on the human brain. If you want to learn a little more about how music can be a wonderful tool in your journey through life, check out my earlier blog post on it -> here <-

New Story: Marco’s story

We have a new story on our stories page!

“I became aware of my possible depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder in high school…Once I allowed myself to be vulnerable with the universe, and more specifically my therapist, I noticed gradual changes in my psyche…”

Click this link to read more of Marco’s story

Mental Health video by young adults!

Guys, check out this awesome video!

“From award-winning documentary filmmaker Arthur Cauty, comes Faces of Mental Health, a short film which challenges stigma and encourages open conversation around mental illness and suicide in young people.

Students in Bristol were offered a space to open up and share their thoughts and personal experiences of mental illness and suicide, with a view to encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds across the country and around the World to step forward and speak out.”

It’s on vimeo, and definitely worth a watch and a share!!

Check out the video here on vimeo

If only

If only…
If only I knew where help was
Where a warm place I could be held, was
Where someone who knew what I felt, was
Where someone who could change the cards I’d been dealt was…

What are you proud of from 2018?

Hey guys! It’s 2019!
Pretty cool, kinda.

Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!

However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made.
My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,

“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”

We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.

This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.

So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.

Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.

21 day anxiety challenge

anxiety

Check out this 21 day anxiety challenge from popsugar! What better time to practice new ways to cope? With school starting, lets commit to our self care! Whos going to take the challenge with me?

Plans for the Fall

August is almost over… HOW?!

summer

It’s almost time to kiss Summer goodbye, and say hello to wonderful, amazing Fall!
I love the Summer, but I love the Fall so much.
Still, even though I love the Fall, and I’m no longer in High School, the end of Summer gives me a knot in my stomach… I get so nervous and anxious, no doubt because school was so anxiety provoking for me as a child and teenager, and Fall often meant depression, anxiety, hospitals… a lot of pain.
With time, my love for Fall is beginning to come back into the forefront when I realize Summer is nearly over- but I still cannot escape the dull lull of anxiety that sits within my and grows bigger as leaves begin to change and nights become long.
It’s also kind of sad!

fall

So, how do you guys feel? Are you happy/sad/nervous/etc? What does Fall mean to you and what are your plans this Fall?
If you struggle with this time of year, what specifically do you struggle with? What makes it better?

We are here for you all during this seasonal transition and transition back to school!

Newport Academy Adventure Camp

Newport Academy is having a experiential therapy summer camp for teens!

This is the part of the Summer that can start to drag a little, when the lack of structure gets “boring” and perhaps can lead to slips in recovery.

Well the good news is that there are two summer camp sessions for teens to engage in therapeutic and recreational activities for 2 weeks!

Activities such as paddle-boarding, hiking, volunteering, and more will make up your days if you are interested!

If you would like a safe haven for the remainder of your summer, then contact Newport Academy
Or you can register with Robin Seymour at 203-644-4605.

The camp runs Monday through Thursday from 9:30 am- 3:00 pm
The first session is from July 23- August 2. The second session is from August 13-23

This is a great way to have a safe, fun, and structured remainder of your Summer!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Hi everybody! It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!


So lets have an important conversation about a Eating disorders, which affects at least 30 million people in the United States. Yeah, 30 million men, women, boys, and girls. You don’t have to look or act a certain way to have an eating disorder, you don’t have to be a teenager, a girl, or look “sick”. Many people suffer silently with eating disorders; and I’m not just talking about anorexia and bulimia. Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Night-Eating Syndrome, Diabulimia, Orthorexia, Purging Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), PICA, Eating Disorders Not otherwise specified (EDNOS), and Rumination Disorder are some of the types of eating disorders. And they’re all serious. Every 62 minutes someone with an eating disorder dies, that’s one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, and ANYONE with an eating disorder can die.

But, help is out there. And people just like you get better. Every day, people  chose life, and begin their lifelong journey to recovery. Some days are hard, and some are great. But recovery is always worth it.

When I found out I was pregnant, I began my journey to recovery. Some days its a fight, but I know that I will never let my daughter see or hear me be hateful towards my body or anybody elses.

If you or anyone you know needs help with their eating disorder, click here to check out the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) website.

Keeping the Rhythm You Gave Me

One of the most magical things about dancing is getting to feel the music in your body- truly feeling each note vibrating through your soul. I know that you don’t have to be a dancer to feel that way about music. Some of the Earth’s inhabitants can simply listen to a song and empathize with the emotion that the artist was feeling when they wrote it.

Those kinds of people are special.

Music has shaped and created my world in so many unique and wonderful ways. Sometimes, simply hearing the first few notes of a song allows me to travel through time and space and take on the emotions I was feeling the very first time that song resonated with me. My favorite memories are associated with music.

At 7-years-old, I was given the gift of the album that changed my life. M!zundaztood is the second studio album that P!nk released, and it’s the first studio album that made me feel. At 7, I was able to identify with things that P!nk, a 22-year old, was singing about. Not fitting in. Being misunderstood. Hating yourself. A broken family.

These incredibly heavy and heart-wrenching topics that an adult was singing about, I understood. I identified with. I finally felt like there was someone in the world who knew exactly how I felt in my most depressive state. M!zundaztood got me through my darkest hours. The more I learned about P!nk, the more understood and important I felt. At 27, she was writing things that made people listen. She didn’t care who she was pissing off. If she had something to say, she was going to say it. I needed someone to show me that speaking your mind is GOING to make you stand out, it’s GOING to piss people off, and it’s GOING to make a difference in this world. P!nk was (and still is) that someone.
For the next 7 years, I survived my darkest days by listening to M!sundaztood and I’m Not Dead tracks on repeat for 24 hours straight.

Her words made me trick myself into believing I was strong, until I actually became that strong person I was imagining. She was putting words out into the world that were encouraging girls (just like me) to embrace their differences and to stand up for what they believe in. I was so proud to sing at the top of my lungs,

“I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in. That will never be me. Outcasts and girls with ambition- that’s what I want to see.”

And then, in August of 2008, my beautiful idol gave me another gift.

She gave me So What?

“So What? What do I have to say about So What? Sooooo what??” she says about the track.
Insert image of a 14-year-old high school freshman just trying to survive. Oh, wait. I have that exact photograph. 

There I am. Age 14. Trying to fit into a world in which I was meant to stand out. I spent many of my 14-year-old days alone, in my room, imagining a version of myself that was impossible to maintain. I was angry. Sad. Alone. Scared of what I was going to become as I entered (and lived through) the high school phase of my life. I was intimidated by everything and everyone. I was bullied by kids I thought were my closest friends. It was hard to get out of bed most of my high school days.
But I always had P!nk with me.

If there were ever a time in my life when I needed to pick a theme song for myself, it would be So What?
14-year-old me lived and breathed So What? (In her defense, 23-year-old me still lives and breathes So What?)
I am eternally grateful that P!nk gave me (the whole world really, but I know it was just meant for me specifically) that song and the attitude that so fittingly goes along with it. There’s just something about So What? that can cure any kind of bad day/ailment/chronic pain that I will ever suffer. So What? is exactly that. So what your day sucked? So what someone was mean to you? So what you didn’t finish your to-do list? So what that mean girl in your class made a nasty comment towards you?

SO WHAT.

For Alecia Moore, more affectionately known as P!nk,
thank you for encouraging me to find the strength I had so deeply hidden inside of me. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to, someone who doesn’t care what the press or the rest of the world thinks of her. Thank you for explaining how terrified you were to be a mother, since your mother always wished you a daughter just like you. Thank you for teaching your daughter, “We don’t say mean things and we don’t say things we don’t mean”. Thank you for all of the good you have done for this world. Thank you for putting into words the thoughts that I couldn’t. Thank you for understanding.

Meet Carl….

Have you ever had a time in your life when you needed help with something you couldn’t handle alone? Take minute to visit Carl’s story of asking for help. Leave a comment here to tell us about how you ask for help in your life!

Sex addiction – Need advice!

Hey!! I desperately need help. Please don’t judge me wrong.

I have been hooked to chatting with men online. I started it when I was lonely but later on, I found it very much interesting. I have been in 3 or 4 online relationships. We used to call at night and ends up with sex. I have found myself addicted to sex and I think I should undergo sex addiction treatment.

I have a boyfriend and he doesn’t know about my online relationships. I feel guilt over the situation but I’m not so happy with the sex life of my boyfriend and me. He tries his best to satisfy me in bed but is unable to do so. I can’t let him know that I’m addicted to sex. So I’m looking for sex addiction help from a clinic in Vancouver. Is anyone here with a similar situation? How did you overcome your addiction?

Warning Signs on Social Media

Although it can be used for good, social media has had it’s run with sadness and negativity. Lately, I’ve heard a lot about people using social media and the option to go live, to broadcast their suicides. It is so unfortunate to hear this and I wish that they had just a bit more hope or an opportunity to hear that suicide is never the solution; help is always available. I’m not sure what made them go to social media to show everyone their last moments but I do hope and pray that those effected find peace and are speaking to professionals about what they witnessed. Suicide is never the answer.

From what I’ve seen and learned, individuals who attempt suicide show signs of wanting to harm themselves, especially on social media. I think that we, as a community, need to look out for one another more and pay attention to the things people say both in person and online. Take everything seriously! I really encourage all of you to think about specific steps that can be taken when and if you ever do encounter warning signs online. Some examples include:
· Reach out to their friend directly and ACT

· Use the suicide prevention features on common social media sites (like FB and Instagram) to reach out

· Seek help from their own parents or contact the friend’s parents

· Seek help from adults at school

· Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

No matter the cause or the situation, there is someone who cares. <3

Suicide Prevention Mental Health FIlms! "Breaking Taboo"

We are a non profit working hard on our film series “Breaking Taboo” to break the taboo against Mental Health & Suicide Prevention. We are trying to reach as many people and get as much support as possible in our mission to Save as many lives as possible! Please like* our facebook: www.facebook.com/BreakingTaboo and support us if you can: www.breakingtaboofilm.com and indiegogo campaign: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/breaking-taboo/x/12237851

Thank you!!!

Starting over

I would love to hear stories about how you learned to manage your mental illness and what life was like when you started over.