Saving my son from himself for a second time

My 19-year-old son Zach attempted suicide for the second time yesterday. Why am I posting about this? Because I know many parents have experienced this and feel ashamed as though it's a reflection of their failure as a parent and a person.
 
Something like this is horrible to try and go through alone and my support system has been AMAZING in the past 24 hours.
 
Those familiar with the situation know Zach lives with Asperger's, ADHD, Dyslexia and severe depression. His thinking is very rigid which has made tradition therapy ineffective as he refuses to budge from his negative beliefs.
 
We've done all we can on an outpatient basis and even inpatient. It's clear now something more long-term is needed and things are in motion to make it happen.
 
One thing I've learned through raising Zach and his brothers (all with Asperger's and ADHD) is our kids seem to experience more anxiety than we did as children. The onslaught of information and the bombardment of 24 hour video entertainment overloads their nervous system and they have a hard time learning how to calm down. That's a conversation in itself.
 
It's sad to say that we saw this second attempt coming and tried to prevent it. I won't go into the specifics but fortunately, his mother discovered him yesterday morning and called 911.
 
He's unresponsive to all but pain and shouting his name in response to which he opens his eyes. They're monitoring his breathing and giving him what he needs to clear out his system.
 
Zach is a wonderful, loving young man who is suffering deeply and we will continue to work until we find the tools to help him find his happy again.
 
We're doing well here. Unfortunately, we've done this once before and as I said, we felt this coming. We don't need anything at this point but should that change I'll be sure to ask.
 
I share this primarily for you. Help your child without embarrassment or shame. We don't don't have crystal balls or magic wands as parents, but we do have each other. Reach out, let us in and we'll get through this together.

My kid won’t clean up their messes! What do I do?

I was asked, "My son with Asperger's has an extremely hard time staying on task. To the point where he thinks we are trying to be mean to him by telling him to do the same thing over and over again. When really we just want his help around the house and to teach him responsibility. So when it comes to cleaning up his own messes, his toys all over the house, what is a tool I could implement to help bring his attention back?"

Below is my response to help point things in a better direction. 

EPISODE 10: How to champion your strengths with ADHD or Asperger’s – an interview with Benjamin Bodnar

To truly champion the strengths that will allow you to succeed while living with an LD diagnosis, you must first free yourself of all resistance to the diagnosis. 

Facing the diagnosis of a learning disability such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and many other conditions, can be one of the most harrowing events of parenthood. Parents who must endure this difficult revelation must, therefore, be treated with the utmost compassion and patience as they process the information and begin to plan for the lifelong ramifications of their child's condition. However, even parents who have the full support and empathy of their immediate families, as well as the guidance of the social and educational communities, sometimes struggle to cope effectively with their child's reality and engage in recalcitrant behavior with respect to the diagnosis.

This parental resistance can emanate from multiple sources, but the principal influences causing parents' discomfort with active management and intervention are:

1) fear of social isolation of both the LD individual,

2) fear of stigmatization of the LD individual's family in their social and professional communities,

3) pride in the parents' own academic achievements and abilities and resulting disbelief in the birth of a child unlikely to replicate those feats,

4) financial implications of addressing a learning disability, and

5) unwillingness to devote the additional time required to cooperate with the external sources of support. In these unfortunate scenarios, the learning disabled child or young adult is greatly imperiled as he or she is endangered of progressing through education and life without the single most crucial support structure necessary to develop into a functional adult.

Learning disabled individuals who do not have the backing of their own homes are very unlikely to compensate even with expert support from his or her social and school environments, rendering these other secondary support structures largely ineffectual.

It is therefore of great importance that learning disabled individuals and the community of stakeholders around them develop methods and protocols to engage recalcitrant parents in addressing special educational needs in non-stigmatizing ways that reassure the parents that LD management techniques are trustworthy and beneficial to the child or young adult's long-term prosperity.

Topics we cover in this episode include: 

1) How LD individuals, especially those of adult or near adult age, can be effective self-advocates in the face of denial, gaslighting, and invalidation relating to the diagnosis and its implications, and how we can instill a sense of pride in these individuals,

2) How recalcitrant parents can be taught the numerous upsides not only of effective intervention but of the disability itself, namely, that attending their child's learning differences are highly useful attributes in school and business (which are also highly regarded in the social circles that may be the chief factor fueling their resistance to acknowledgement) and that the differences are things of which the parents themselves can be proud,

3) How we can impress upon parents the benefits of proper management, up to and including financial and social benefits resulting from greater prospects for the child with intervention as proactive as possible, and

4) How we need a compassionate but firm approach that teaches parents and other caregivers that being true to oneself and to their loved one with an LD is a path to prosperity while playing a contrived role is one destined for frustration for both them and the LD individual.

Contact Benjamin Bodner through 

jobsfordyslexics.org

You MUST be motivated to read this

I'm just not motivated enough?

I've lost my motivation?

What the hell is motivation anyway?

One definition of motivation refers to factors that activate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behavior.

Motivation is a drive to act in a focused way until you achieve a desired result.

  • Avoid hitting a pedestrian.
  • To make a specific amount of money each month.
  • To win the attention of a certain someone.
  • To change your feelings from helpless to hero. 

But before you can act you must first believe that YOUR actions can influence the outcome you want.

It begins with the realization or decision that NOT having what you want is so unacceptable that the mere idea of not taking action is unacceptable to you.

Next, you must believe that your present situation CAN change, that YOU can change it and that you MUST change it.

With those beliefs in place, your next step is to take your first, focused, goal-directed action. Then keep doing it until you get what you want.

But what do you do when you, "Just aren't motivated enough" or "Have lost your motivation?"

Neither of those problems really exist. What they mean is, you don't believe things MUST change. Your current situation isn't uncomfortable enough for you to act.

Secondly, a loss of motivation is the result of a shitty feedback loop. You've lost touch with the belief that you CAN change it. Likely because you're beginning to lose patience, become discouraged and have allowed doubt to set in.

How do you get your motivation mojo back?

Review your motivation recipe to see what's out of place:

  1. Do I know (clearly) what I want?
  2. Have I decided my present situation is unacceptable, MUST change and that what I want is the remedy?
  3. Do I believe my present situation CAN change, that I can change it, that I MUST change it?
  4. Have I chosen my first action?
  5. Upon taking my first action, what results did I get?
  6. What did I learn to ensure my next action will move me forward, etc, etc.
  7. Do I have an accountability partner to help me remain focused and prevent me from giving in to doubt? Have I utilized this person?

Pretty straightforward huh? Pretty basic, right? Right, because you have to start somewhere, get the ball rolling. 

Begin with this, ask me questions. Tomorrow will keep moving forward.

Thanks for being you,

Brian

P.S. I'll be adding this series of articles and videos (from Facebook) to the FREE section of http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions for your convenience. It will save you a lot of time when reviewing this information. 

Do you know a Gladys?

A reason, a season or a lifetime, the length of time a person who impacts your life stays until their purpose is fulfilled.

Today I met Gladys. She’s a volunteer at the hospital I'll be going to for surgery this Friday to repair a double hernia. 

I had a pre op Doctor visit this morning and it was the responsibility of Gladys to escort me to the Doctor's office.

She must be in her 80’s and from my height looked to be about 3 ft tall. But she was larger than life.

She was feisty as hell and talked smack to the other volunteers who got a kick out of her.

She had to slow down to keep up with me as I hobbled alongside her with my cane.

She kept offering to get me a wheelchair cause of the distance we’d be walking. She probably could’ve just slung me over her shoulders and done a fireman’s carry.

It’s easy to forget your worries when in the presence of someone like Gladys.

The reason I met Gladys? To remind me it isn't your age, nor your height, nor your stature that makes you stand out. It is your spirit.
 
Thanks for being you,
 
Brian

When your best parenting fails

Yesterday was a very emotional day, which culminated in sending my oldest Zach to live with his mother.

Zach will always be my hero. I’ve watched him struggle and grow through years of public school missteps and outright failures at the hands of willfully ignorant administrators who ignored or minimized his Asperger’s and ADHD.

Zach soared in high school and it looked like the sky was the limit after graduation. That was until depression took hold. My caring, optimistic son became distant and mentally self-destructive.

As a young man with Asperger’s, he’s subject to black and white thinking, inflexibility and social anxiety.

After his mother left us when he was 11, I became a single parent to he and his brothers for a time. Unbeknownst to me, and possibly him. He developed a belief that no one had the right to parent him but me. He also decided he had no mother, couldn’t trust a woman to be his mother because his own mother left. Beliefs he holds to this day.

Because of this, he began lashing out at every woman who tried to guide him. This brings us to today some 8 years later.

I’ve used my best tools to help Zach let go of these toxic beliefs. As much suffering as they cause him, he believes they protect him from even greater suffering.

Unfortunately, these beliefs result in such abusive behavior toward others, women, that want nothing more than to guide him and see him do well. That having him in our home on a daily basis was no longer a healthy arrangement.

As of yesterday Zach now lives with his mother. There are still many hard feeling there but he and I both see this as an opportunity for the two of them to explore and heal their relationship.

One thing I learned long ago, that in order to replace a toxic pattern with a healthier one, you need to change people, places, and things. We couldn’t do that here. Zach needed a new environment to work on himself and he agreed.

Fortunately, this doesn’t change anything between he and I. I’m still his biggest supporter, and a very proud Dad.

I hope to talk with him daily and guide him as he makes peace with and eventually changes the beliefs that have protected him emotionally all these years but have done so at a high price.

Along with his therapist and his mother, we’ll support Zach in becoming the best adult he can be.

What’s this mean for you? If you find yourself in a similar situation with a child and are struggling to make a similar decision. It may be helpful for you to remember, that as hard as it is to do. It isn’t a rejection, it isn’t a punishment to entrust your child to others in their time of need.

It’s an opportunity to introduce some fresh eyes, in the hope of fostering new growth. Its an act of faith, unlike anything you’ve likely done before. Let me tell you, it makes for one hell of a long night.

No matter how knowledgeable you believe yourself to be. You’re still biased toward your own perspective. When it comes to your own child, sometimes the greatest act of love is to ask for help when you run out of answers.

I miss him already, but I know where to find him. He knows that as long as I’m breathing, I’ll always be there for him. 

Thanks for being you,

Brian

P.S. I've added a lot of FREE Resources to http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions so you can get support without having to invest in anything. Remember, I'm here to help. 

Please see me and not my wheelchair

When I was a child, I felt invisible. To this day its one of my greatest fears. 
 
But I found a solution in a quote from Steve Martin, who when asked what advice he’d give to someone who wants to be successful replied, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” 
 
In whatever field you endeavor, if you want to be noticed you have to be so outstanding that others can’t help BUT notice you. That’s something that drives me to become better each day, especially when it comes to being a better person. 
 
Yesterday I posted a few graphics on Facebook I wanted feedback on. They were designed by my friend Shawna Barnes who is also disabled and a gifted artist. We loved the graphics (which included me in my wheelchair) and I allowed my ego to get too invested before the feedback started coming in.
 
I read a few comments which “I INTERPRETED” as criticism. 
 
Comments like, “A wheelchair doesn’t convey resilience” and “Do you want people to see you or the wheelchair”?
 
The subsequent conversation between my ears led to feelings of hurt, sadness, and anger. 
 
I responded to them with what I’d heard and they graciously clarified their statements. They didn’t mean it as I’d interpreted it. 
 
They expressed concern there was insufficient information on the graphics to explain what I do and it could leave a consumer mind prone to stereotyping to miss the message.
 
An excellent point, but my audience is the folks who live in a wheelchair and know someone who does and gets it all ready. 
 
The point is, I reacted to what I HEARD and not to what was MEANT! But there’s more. It was late at night, I was tired and had a lot of pain in my legs. Why? Because I’d been walking a lot that day instead of using my wheelchair. 
 
When you feel like crap your ability to be resilient can take a hit. 
 
I usually let statements like these roll off my back, immediately clarify and move forward. Now that things were clear and I was feeling calmer I reflected on why I’d become so upset. 
 
Coupled with the fear I was being judged for being in a wheelchair with the pain from a day declining to use my wheelchair led me to a very honest conclusion. 
 
The issue wasn’t how they saw me in a wheelchair, it was how I see myself in a wheelchair. The truth is I’m frightened about what my future will look like because of all the uncertainties. I still resist using the wheelchair in favor of a cane and I pay for it. 
 
This is a problem of my own ego, my own level of acceptance and not about how others see me. 
 
There’s a continuum of acceptance and I’m much further along than I was, with a lot of room to grow. 
 
This acceptance is critical, more than convincing those who stereotype why they MUST see me and not the chair.
 
I need to be able (easier said than done) to look at that person and see that person. To make sure they don’t feel invisible. You can’t wait for other people to change. But you can create an experience for them so powerful, so good they can’t ignore you.
 
Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 
If you don’t want them to see the chair, give them an experience that leaves them feeling good about themselves. Where they remember you as a great listener, a kind person who cared for them. 
 
When they see who you are and feel how you see them, the differences can disappear.
 
Find a way, deep within yourself, to show up so present, compassionate and focused that the experience you give someone else is exceptional. Then they can see you for your humanity. 
 
Wouldn’t it be great if you could model a way of being that becomes the new stereotype for people in wheelchairs? Don’t sell yourself short. 
 
I remember an episode of Different Strokes in which Arnold had a friend in a wheelchair over. At one point he started up the stairs saying, “Come on I want to show you something.” He caught himself and went back to his friend apologetically saying, “I’m sorry, I forgot you were in a wheelchair.” 
 
“Arnold, that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.” That’s the point. 
 
Remember that ideas like this, healing like this, discovering like this are things we do every single day in my group coaching program, http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions
 
Join us, so your life can change too.  
 
Thanks for being you,
 
Brian