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: 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.

SEARCH: Be Prepared for School

Be Prepared for School

by Sumiko Saulson

IdeaBePrepared.jpegSchool can be particularly challenging for neurodivergent people who have autism, anxiety disorders, and other problems that can lead to sensory overload. How do you keep yourself from being overwhelmed?

Time Management

Having a binder with a daily, weekly, and monthly planner or a calendar on your wall, or even both can help you with doing your best in school. Most schools offer a free one at registration if you start early enough. The Dollar Tree and 99 Cent Stores have them, and you can get 18 or 12-month calendars. There are also online calendars such as Google Calendar or iCalendar. Many phones have a calendar and an alarm you can set to help you get up on time and remember classes. Get to class early rather than late to avoid anxiety. That way you can get a seat while there are fewer people and have time for a video game or meditation to relax before class.

Brain Food

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for students, your first meal should be filled with protein. Sugars and caffeine give a short term burst of energy but may leave you lagging around 3pm when the effect wears off. Avoid carbo-loading, because that cereal turns into sugar later in the day. Instead, try eggs or…

Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Winter 2019 issue.

SEARCH: Happy Milestones

Happy Milestones: an interview with Emerian Rich

by Michele Roger

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. I often hear parents wonder aloud if they should have their children tested. What was your experience when your son was diagnosed with autism?
We had our son tested because he wasn’t talking. We didn’t know what the reason was. When he was six months old, he said “Momma” and then never spoke again. When he hit one year old, we thought we better have him checked out. He was diagnosed with just a “delay”. They couldn’t give a full Autism diagnosis until he was five. At the time, we wondered if he was just behind because he was super premature. As a result, it was a lot of years waiting to see what was wrong. However, I am glad he got tested at one. He was immediately enrolled in speech delay programs and with therapists who taught him sign language first and then got him speaking. If we had waited, there’s no telling how long it would have taken him to talk.

2. What is a typical morning (or evening, whichever you prefer) like at home together?
Autism can mean so many different things to different families. My son is fairly high-functioning and is very independent. He has his own schedule, which sometimes drives us up the wall, but it’s very important to him. In the evening, he has dinner at a certain time, brushes his teeth, takes a shower, game time, and then bed on a strict regime. If he has to miss it or things are later/earlier, he gets very upset. In public and school, you could think … Read more in the Spring 2019 issue.

SEARCH: Cafe with Soul

Cafe with Soul

by Michele Roger

soul cafe 2In 1994, The Friendship Circle was founded in West Bloomfield, Michigan. It paired teen volunteers with special needs teens, including those on the autism spectrum. The primary goal was to establish a support system for the young adults and develop friendships. The program, supported by the local community, grew into what is currently over 700 teens and adult volunteers serving the community and children with special needs. With all of their success, another issue became evident: Employment.

Soul Cafe and Soul Studio became the answer. In partnership with the Epicurean Group of Detroit, Soul Cafe serves up gourmet, Kosher, vegetarian breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Sundays, the Cafe offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with highlights and specials from the chef. While many vegetarian and vegan restaurants have arrived on the Detroit food scene lately, Soul Cafe has been named number one for 2018. It also offers professional kitchen training for special needs adults. Trainees from the Soul Cafe work side by side with chefs and managers to learn the art of cooking and preparing food at the fine dining level. Trainees learn valuable skills otherwise taught in culinary school, from baking to sauces and plating to catering while earning their Serv Safe certificates … Read more in the Spring 2019 issue.

SEARCH: Qualified to Serve

Qualified to Serve
by Lillian Csernica

AutismMy grandfather, uncles, and father served in the U.S. Navy. I asked my son John if he wanted to join the military. Although, he doesn’t like guns or barracks life, he does believe people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder shouldn’t categorically be denied the opportunity.

However, if he had been interested, he would not have qualified. Any diagnosis of ASD disqualifies you for appointment, enlistment, or induction into the United States Armed Forces. Like most neurotypical people, the military mistakenly believe people with ASD all have identical symptoms. Military.com provides these specifics:

CANNOT JOIN IF YOU HAVE

  • Permanent motor or sensory deficits.
  • Care by a physician or other mental health professional for more than 6 months.
  • Symptoms or behavior of a repeated nature that impaired social, school, or work efficiency.
  • Specific academic skills defects, chronic history of academic skills or perceptual defects, secondary to organic or functional mental disorders that interfere with work or school after age 12.
  • Current use of medication to improve or maintain academic skills.

When it comes to determining fitness for service in the armed forces, the data available now shows .… Continue reading in the Winter 2018 issue of SEARCH magazine.

SEARCH: Just Keep Swimming

Just Keep Swimming
by Lillian Csernica

AUTISMTo many people, summer means the beach with hot sand, cool water, sunshine, cold drinks, carnival rides, and all that glorious junk food. I remember the day my husband and I took our son, John, to the beach for the first time. John wasn’t even in kindergarten yet, but he already showed a fondness for water.

In early spring, the weather was still cold, the water even colder. John stood there holding his father’s hand, staring out at the Pacific Ocean with his eyes wide. The sight of it blew his mind.

Later, once the weather warmed up, we took John to the beach for the usual fun. That’s when we discovered the sensation of cold means … continue reading the Summer 2018 issue of SEARCH Magazine.

SEARCH: Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous Loss
by Emerian Rich

AMBIGIOUSLOSSAUTIS,

When you have a baby, your whole world changes. Everyone tells you this will happen when you’re pregnant and it’s one of life’s solid truths along with death and taxes. Still, no matter how you prepare for it, or think you’re ready, it always seems to catch you off guard.

My son was born happy and healthy, if a bit early, twelve years ago. Despite complications during and after pregnancy, we were pretty happy for about a year. We reveled in the new baby smell. We giggled at his baby bandito burrito shape. We even smiled when he pooed. Every parent on the planet can recount these cute stories, whether you want them to or not.

At about a year old we realized we needed to get our son checked out. Even though he was a happy, energy-filled cutie, with the exception of…continue reading the Spring 2018 issue of SEARCH Magazine.

SEARCH: Our Food Story

Our Food Story
By Ashley Vrublevskiy

ASHLEYIn my early twenties, I ventured into the world of organic foods and slowly started making healthier choices for myself. I read book after book, loving all the information.

When I became pregnant with Zander, my first son, I vowed to only feed him organic, nutrient dense foods that nourished his body. When he got old enough to start expanding his food options beyond the mashed variety, we realized he was not on board with my food revolution ideas. I became desperate to get him to try new foods. This was the beginning of our long road of food battles. “He won’t even eat cookies! COOKIES!”

I remember saying to a friend to emphasize the severity of my then three-year-old’s eating restrictions. He truly only ate a handful of foods: pretzel sticks, squeezable baby food packs, raisins, and a few fruits, namely raspberries. My only saving grace was he absolutely loved soup. I made the most vegetable filled soups I could think of to be sure he would be getting some key nutrients in his diet. He would gag and refuse anything else. He wouldn’t touch a cookie, pizza, or pasta like most kids his age. I thought he was just picky, and if I kept trying, he would eventually eat more variety.

Around this time…read more in the Fall 2017 issue of SEARCH Magazine.