Archive | April, 2013

Navigating surgery when your child has autism – Pointers from a mom

30 Apr


AutismSurgeryThe prospect of your child going into surgery is daunting for all of us, but what if your child struggles to integrate stimuli from the surrounding world? What if the simple and act of a new nurse coming in and putting a new notification bracelet on your child’s wrist without warning is enough to send your child under the table for half an hour? What if your child going in for surgery also has autism?

Mac is a sweet, creative and observant 9-year-old. He is in a regular third grade class, where he participates, plays and learns right alongside his classmates, but in preschool it became clear that Mac had some sensory processing issues. In Kindergarten he was officially diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Autism is often a hidden disability; there is no wheelchair or cane that indicates disability, but the reality is that autism can provide significant challenges to everyday…

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“The Notebook” .. Because Let’s Face it … We All Need to Vent!

28 Apr

I have trust issues. I readily admit that. In the sphere of my life, of the tons of people I know as acquaintances, I have very few that I open up to fully. I’m like a labyrinth of emotional gates, each person with their own respective levels of access to my core, my feelings, my heart. I feel-out and analyze every person with which I may have to have repeated encounters. Quick snapshots of conversations, the way someone carries themselves, pointed observations on the way that person engages others, contradictions, etc .. all factors which I deem pertinent in deciding how open I choose to be. Most people (save for family and childhood friends) don’t make it past the friendly superficial, knowing little about me beyond inconsequential things like my favorite snack or the environmental dynamic (work, school, the supermarket, and so on) in which we engage. Summary? YES, I’m guarded … very, lol! I have a soft / trusting heart and I hate being vulnerable with people who don’t’ deserve it I’m unsure of. Besides, who likes having their feelings hurt? Hence the walls, either you’re in or you’re out. Everyone has their “thing” in relationships, both personal and social. This just happens to be mine.  And like many others, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s rooted from some deep seeded event(s) of my childhood, events that I won’t go into here, but were poignant enough that they played a part in the kind of adult I am today. So … what’s a person to do if they, like me, are leery of most people initially? How do you vent, process emotions, or find a sounding board when, the circle of people you trust enough to let your guard down with happens to be so small? What if you hate burdening loved ones, especially if the situation is particularly stressful?  Cue, the notebook.

Last summer, I came upon an empty, small, brown notebook at work. Being the dork that I am, I thought it would be a cute place to record fun, new summer adventures in the city. A nice little addition to the growing time capsule I keep at my mother’s house. Very soon however, it developed into something more. After a recent emotional setback, it became the place where I shared my anger, disappointments, fears, realizations, and thoughts. A vent book. It became a private place where I could pour out the entirety of my feelings without hesitation or reservations. No tapering or sugar-coating of the wording. No half-truths.  No biased opinions from others. No judgments. This notebook was 100% from my heart and allowed me to say all of the things I wanted regarding this issue, while also helping me face and process some hard realizations about myself and others in a brutally honest way. The peace I felt after each entry was amazing; my mind clear from the overwhelming and sometimes confusing journey of trying to “figure it out.” The puzzle pieces slowly clicked together. I had my answers. True catharsis in action. Take away lesson? Everyone needs a safe place to vent, particularly the sad moments in our lives. Whether it be confiding in a parent, friend, therapist, or even a notebook … please be sure you have a healthy avenue to release. No good ever comes from bottling up your emotions. Moving forward mentally becomes increasingly difficult if you remain mired in stressful, circulatory thinking. Find your positive outlet. Then? Let it go at a rate that feels good to you.

Today, the contents of my notebook have transformed once again. From hurt and disappointment, the pages have returned to its original purpose and is filled with exciting plans for the future, recent discoveries, personal musings, new goals, and thoughts of self-exploration. Personally, I feel my notebook works so well, because it’s written as an unedited thought stream. To heck, with punctuation and grammatical rules. I write it down immediately as I feel / think it. No revisions or rewording. It is 100% raw emotion of the moment. I haven’t gone back to re-read any of my entries yet. I’m still choosing to keep it as a time capsule of sorts. Someday perhaps, years from now, I’ll take a look back … and laugh possibly at how crucial / monumental everything seem to be at that time .. LOL .. Perspective, it can be such a funny thing : ]

In Support of National Denim Day …

24 Apr


… Because there is NO excuse for rape

Preparing Your Child for Surgery

8 Apr

UP Health System - Marquette

Watch our new video “Preparing Your Child for Surgery” here →

Child Life 3

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Words to live by ..

5 Apr

“Don’t waste your talent …” ~ Sunny, from “A Bronx Tale”

One of my favorite personal mottos … from one of my favorite movies ever. A mom leisurely stopped by my office today. After a few laughs, she we went on to talk about the advocacy work she does with Autistic children and families in the academic setting, specifically working to help parents obtain the correct IEP for their child. She said to me

.. that is my gift, fighting for others. I didn’t go to school for it .. don’t have any degrees .. but I know, it’s a gift God gave to me and I’m gonna use it! We all have special gifts, and honey, patience and working with kids? .. Now that’s yours!

I laugh because while it isn’t the 1st time I’ve heard I have a knack for working with kids, it is the 1st time that someone has called my level of patience a gift .. LOL! .. I personally feel I’m still working on that aspect of myself. I guess sometimes, we may not always recognize the gifts we possess … sometimes it takes a kind heart to point it out : ])


Monday Morning Surprises: My Hospital-wide Child Life Feature

1 Apr


Evening everyone!

Quick update. So I come into work today after a long Easter weekend with a typical case of “the Mondays.”  I finally make my way to my office and begin to check emails when I discover the media department for my hospital has featured me in their staff recognition project! .. *gasps!!*  .. A hospital-wide email had gone out featuring both my work and growing Child Life program .. How awesome is that? .. Working with children and families to close ongoing health disparities within urban communities remains my ultimate goal. The use of  holistic health interventions remains my passion. It really feels great to be recognized for what you do.

Yay for surprises … especially on a monday! I’m so appreciative!