Sunday, December 28, 2014

It IS ok to leave your church

I struggled with whether or not to write about this, but I think that I should.  My husband and I recently made the decision to leave our church.  This was an extremely difficult decision.  We have been heavily involved in our church for 5 years.

No church is ever perfect.  No person is ever perfect.  I will not go into details about why we left, that isn't what is important here.  What is important is the way we left.

When we left we made sure that we left under good terms.  These are our Christian brothers and sisters; our friends.  We don't always agree with them, but they are family.  We will see these people again.  What does it say about us and the work that God is doing in our lives if we cause strife within the God's family?

After I talked with our pastors wife about leaving the church, even though I was bawling like a baby, I felt peace to my inner core.  A weight was lifted that I didn't even know I carried.  If it wasn't God's direction, I would have felt worse, not better, after we spoke.  I had no idea that I was even carrying that heaviness.

A church as a whole isn't supposed to make you wish it weren't Sunday...again.  Church is a place to fuel your connection with God.  It is a place to praise Him and learn more about Him.  It it stops being that for you, then I would encourage you to look at what is taking away from that.  If you believe that God wants you elsewhere, consider moving on.  If there is a stumbling block for you, whether it is a person, or a prevalent belief in the church, move on.

We are currently looking for a new church.  And if you are considering changing your church, evaluate what is driving you to that decision.  If God is the reason, then go.  Don't abandon church though.  God is faithful, he will lead you to where you need to be.  It may not be as quickly as we want, but His timing is perfect.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tips for Traveling with an Aspergers Child

Traveling for an ASD child can be difficult; but it doesn’t have to be.  I just returned from a month long trip.  Two weeks I traveled with all of my children and two weeks without.  While am not an expert on traveling with ASD children, I do make at least 3, 1 week+ trips per year with one.  My sons travel needs are different than my other children.  These are some tried and true tips that I’ve used over the years:

Traveling TOGETHER:

1.       Don’t talk about the trip until 2-3 days before leaving.  If you start talking about it earlier, anxiety and worry has time to build.
2.      Let him help in planning.  This means to let him pack some of his favorite things (books, mind games, lovie, ect.) or letting him suggest activities when you arrive (make sure to follow through).  This will give him a sense of control and gives something to look forward to.
3.      Make a daily plan, and STICK with it.  It can be tough to do this.  I’m actually terrible about it.  This doesn’t mean to plan out every hour of every day.  This means that you TELL your child “we will do X, Y and Z today”.  Tell him how long you plan to stay at each thing, or what time you need to arrive/leave.  
4.      Pack things for mental retreats.  It is likely that your child will have times that he needs to retreat from the activities and simply exist quietly for a time.  Buy a new fact book, coloring book, or a maze book.  Whatever makes your child feel rested and at peace, even if it’s a blanket he can hide under. 
5.      Remember to plan ‘down time’.  This really goes along with #3, but it’s extremely important.  No child can go all day without becoming tired, and being tired and in a strange place is a recipe for disaster for an ASD child. 
6.      Know your child.  If your child can’t take loud noises, don’t take him to a drag race.  If you think he would enjoy it, make sure to take the strongest ear protection you can find.  You might have to miss things you would enjoy, but really, how much will you enjoy it if your child is miserable and crying/screaming.

Leaving you child with a CAREGIVER:

1.       Don’t leave them with just anyone.  Your child has special needs.  Not everyone will understand this.  Make sure the person that you are leaving your child with understands his differences and is willing to be patient.  Outline the things he needs to feel safe and happy.
2.      Make it close to home.  This isn’t always possible.  The more familiar the location, the more relaxed he’ll be.
3.      Help him settle.  Try and stay with him at the new location for at least 2 days before you leave.  Trust me it helps.
4.      Take plenty of familiar activities.  This is not the time to learn new skills.  Take things that you know he’s comfortable with.
5.      Take a lovie or blanket.  Even if your child isn’t attached to something, chances are he will be when you return (it happened to me).
6.      Explain.  You know that things aren’t going to go like they do at home, but does your child?  Make sure he understands that different homes mean different rules and that is ok.  He might be allowed more of a certain type of food, or activity, this is no cause for alarm.  If you know something specific that will be different, make sure you tell your child.

7.      Relax.  The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be.  Prepare as much as you can and expect the best outcome.  You and your child will be much happier.