SEARCH: Making a Gratitude Journal

Making a Gratitude Journal

by Lillian Csernica

Keeping a gratitude journal can become a powerful tool for promoting and protecting mental health. Now, more than ever, we need a simple, effective way to stay positive. A gratitude journal is both simple and effective.

According to Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D., “Using randomized controlled trial designs, researchers in two different groups found that people who kept gratitude journals or wrote gratitude letters to people they had never properly thanked, reported feeling happier and had significantly better health than those in the other treatment groups.”

The phrase “gratitude journal” might conjure up intimidating images of a tooled leather cover, gold-embossed lettering, fine parchment, and perfect calligraphy…

Read more in SEARCH Magazine‘s Fall 2022 #Homemade issue.

And see SEARCH Magazine’s last issue, in Summer 2022, where Lillian discusses the need for a gratitude journal.

SEARCH: Mindfulness and Gratitude

Mindfulness and Gratitude

by Lillian Csernica

In the movie Kung Fu Panda, Master Shifu, the world’s greatest kung fu teacher, refuses to believe when his own teacher, Master Oogway, declares Po—a cuddly giant panda—will become the legendary Dragon Warrior.

Master Shifu is a control freak. This attitude problem stems from a serious lack of inner peace. He made one big mistake twenty years ago and now he cannot get past it. Even though Master Shifu trained the Furious Five—heroes who protect ordinary people from bad guys—Master Shifu cannot forgive himself. His life is all about righting his big mistake. That prevents him from believing Master Oogway’s plan and finding inner peace.

Living in the moment is difficult for many people. All too often we’re dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. “Making memories” is a phrase I hear quite often in advertising. It strikes me as odd. Are we supposed to go on a trip to some resort and…

Read more in SEARCH Magazine‘s Summer 2022 #SeaSaltSand issue.

SEARCH: The Spectrum Entrepreneur

The Spectrum Entrepreneur

by Lillian Csernica

“National data shows that nearly half of young adults with autism do not work for pay upon leaving school, and those who do, tend to have part-time, low-wage jobs. Work experience is consistently identified as the most important predictor of post-school employment success for students with disabilities.”
~Catalyst eNews Issue: April, 2018, Cleveland Clinic

Getting a job is one of the biggest transitions into adulthood. People on the spectrum often have difficulty with transitions. “The neuropsychological process known as the ‘Executive Function’ is heavily involved in making transitions,” says Christopher Lynch Ph.D in his article, “Smoother Transitions For Children On The Autism Spectrum.” “This function helps the brain to shift and reallocate attention and other brain resources when required. In autism, there are often gaps in this system. Because of these gaps, the brain may struggle with stopping one task and transferring attention and other thought processes onto another.”

How do we help our ASD kids enter the job market? They need experience, and that experience can be gained through…

Read more in SEARCH Magazine‘s Spring 2022 #Entrepreneurs issue.

SEARCH: Getting into the Spirit

Getting into the Spirit

by Lillian Csernica

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Although practical matters of everyday life often get in the way, spirituality is yet another component that should also be considered when it comes to quality of life for people who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and may be key in handling stress and increasing neuroplasticity.

In 1943, American psychologist Abraham Maslow published A Theory of Human Motivation. Known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which are often depicted as a pyramid, the five categories of human needs include physiological (food, clothing, and shelter), safety (such as financial security), love and belonging, esteem (personal and career achievement), and self[1]actualization. The highest level of self-actualization is…

Read more in our Winter 2021 #Wellness issue.

SEARCH: They Can Do It!

They Can Do It!
by Lillian Csernica

One of the most serious concerns parents of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children face is how their children will make the transition out of the educational system and into the workforce.

Breakthroughs in research about ASD provide more and more support for school-age children. Unfortunately, autistic teens and young adults looking for work experience find themselves with far fewer options. ASD still carries a stigma among people familiar only with the more dramatic portrayals of ASD in the movies and on social media. This can lead to assumptions about ASD people that are not only factually incorrect, they spread a pre-emptive anxiety that robs ASD people of potential opportunities…

Read more in our Fall 2021 You Can Do It! issue.

SEARCH: Secret Identities

Secret Identities

by Lillian Csernica

Doctors, scientists, and parents are devoting much time and energy to finding out what causes autism. One fascinating aspect of the search is how closely some contributing factors resemble the sources of amazing superheroes’ powers.

Such powers arise from three conditions:

*Artificial, external sources like Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit or the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker.
*Exceptional human abilities such as genius-level IQ like Lex Luthor or having superior physical abilities like Daredevil and Green Arrow.
*Superhuman abilities characteristic of being…

Read more in our Summer 2021 issue on Superheroes.

SEARCH: Chasing the Horizon

Chasing the Horizon by Lillian Csernica

In this new world where many families are sheltering in place, parents must find creative solutions when it comes to keeping our kids happy, healthy, and moving forward. A predictable, consistent home life with a regular routine is a key element of good mental health. This provides a safe space for the exploration of something new.

From Why is Routine so Important to People with ASD? “Though it might seem counterintuitive, reinforcing routines can actually help those with ASD to stop relying on them so much as a crutch. Routine can be powerful in reinforcing a feeling of well-being and stability for autistic individuals. When that sense of stability and wellness is fulfilled, then it can actually be easier for them to handle other changes.”

Read more in SEARCH Magazine‘s Enhancing Your Horizon issue.

SEARCH: Autism, Food For Thought

Autism, Food For Thought by Lillian Csernica.

Why people give advice:
They need emotional validation, which means helping someone feel heard and understood. On the positive end of this spectrum we find the people who really do just want to help. They feel anxious when they see our kids struggling. On the negative end dwell people determined to control everyone and everything around them. Susan Saint-Welch, LMFT, explains why these people need so much control. “Sometimes they just wear ‘good people’ down. They are not bad people usually. They have learned or believe that the only way to get what they want is to ‘corner’ someone and pressure them to do what they want. Sometimes they will adopt another tactic and become emotionally upset, there-by making you feel guilty and responsible for their upset feelings. However, no one is ever ‘responsible’ for how someone else feels. How we feel is our own response.” To read more, click on the Winter Issue here.

SEARCH: Flexible Family Festivals

Flexible Family Festivals

by Lillian Csernica

The pandemic has turned life upside down. All over the world, people must now shelter in place, wear a mask, and endure being cut off from family and friends. The future continues to be uncertain.

What’s more, winter will bring another big challenge with the holiday seasons full of family gatherings, exchanging gifts, lots of noise, lights, and color, and special traditions. During an ordinary year people on the spectrum shy away from such benevolent disruptions. This year has been anything but ordinary with the annual holiday difficulties further complicated by the toll the pandemic is taking on all of us. How much more difficult must it be for the neurodiverse, especially adults and children on the spectrum who might not be able to understand why their personal worlds have changed so drastically.

Holiday Traditions
One of the most important aspects of the holiday season is family tradition. Many cherished traditions may be impossible this year after Public health officials have identified private parties as one of the most dangerous environments for spreading the coronavirus. How can we create alternatives that will become just as meaningful?

Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Fall 2020 issue.

SEARCH: Your New Adventure

As part of our Blast from the Past issue, we’re revisiting useful articles from past issues. This article first appeared in our Summer 2017 issue:

Your New Adventure

by Ashley Vrublevskiy

This is for all the parents just starting out in their journey through an autism or a similar diagnosis for their child. It’s what I wish I would have known before diving in head first into the journey of a lifetime. It’s scary and unknown. There’s no map, but I do know this. You can do it. So, here’s to your new adventure.

There are moments in your life that can immediately change who you are and who you will become. Mine came with that first person who said she was concerned that Zander had autism. Even though it was over four years ago, thinking back on it, I immediately begin to feel the sinking pit grow in my stomach and fill with anxiety. On that day, I honestly felt like I was unable to swallow, choking in a way on the words she spoke.

“Zander shows signs of autism, and I think we should get him evaluated.” My whole body felt instantly heavier as a thousand pounds of worry settled on my chest. I felt so many things in that moment: scared, angry, worried, sad, but oddly, and quite surprisingly to myself, I felt betrayed. I felt betrayed by all the mystical stories of motherhood and the “normal” I would have with my son. It felt like that beautiful dream had been snatched from my grasp by the word “autism” like a selfish thief of joy…. Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Summer 2020 issue.