Having been a Caregiver for my parents and currently for members of my own family, I am very sensitive to the stress of other caregivers. I started a Meetup called Mama Needs A Nap for parents of special needs students. There are about 20 members but we are all too busy to meet!
Until we do meet, I wanted to share this post to them and to those who may read my blogs.
This is my To Do list to screen for depression. It's my own invention and I pass it along to all who need it. Keep it by your side of the bed. If this list seems really silly, you don't help need to remember to do these things everyday, then you are coping well. If this list seems like it's asking too much of you or makes you cry at the thought of, for example, getting out of bed....get support and help right away!
When my husband and I were first married we had dinner with a friend who had two ADORABLE little kids. The younger of the two was a boy who was about 1-1/2 to 2 years old. He had devised a game of basketball that he taught me. He stood in front of a toy bucket "the basket". Told me where to stand which was about six feet away and with a ball, he told me "make a basket" and he would celebrate my successes by yelling with his arms up, "Yay, you win!" Then he would bend over to pick up the ball, drop it into the basket, lift up his arms and say, "I win." We thought it was pretty clever of him to find a way to win the game all the time.
My husband and I still say, "I win!" when something nice happens or works out. As my kids grew and my mom got more ill my successes changed. When my kids were little and they wore clothes, I won. When the teacher didn't call about my older son for a week, another win. Later, if I could get my mother to the doctor's office without incident, that was a big win!
I got to a point in my life when I didn't want to do anything for myself. I wanted someone to cook for me, to take the older kid to school, to home-school my younger kid for me, to take my mother to the doctor for me. At a psychiatry appointment I was told it was time for Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP). On the first day I realized I was expected to TAKE CARE OF MYSELF! Of all things! I decided to "play" along since it meant 6 hours out of the house three times a week for three weeks.
I distinctly remember two group therapy sessions. In the first one, I was asked to tell my story. My mom had Alzheimer's and I had to put her in a Board and Care, then I was responsible for her care because my Dad didn't understand the medications. At the same time I took my younger son out of public school because he stopped participating in school, he wouldn't do anything for his teacher and had never learned to read. He was identified with a learning disorder, dyslexia, and they could never teach to him. I started homeschooling him. My older son was developing chronic migraines and we couldn't help him find relief. He missed a lot of school.
Then I listened to their stories. I felt so much better because overall my family was doing better than some of the others. I wasn't under as much stress as the others. There was no addiction, homelessness, homicidal tendencies in my family! What a relief!
In the next session, I was very surprised when the people with those huge problems said things like, "If Elizabeth can do it, so can I." WHAT? I had the worst story!? No one wanted to be me? My story inspired them? I guess I really am going through a lot. I won and I didn't even know there was a contest.
No one wanted to be me. I win!
One of the best suggestions from the IOP was to make a small list of things to do. That plus knowing that if I went back into that depressed state I would be asked start taking care of myself I made this "To Do" list. Instead of check marks I put my arms up in the air and say, "I win." After #2 there is no particular order and feel free to add or remove what works for you.
To Restate How to use this list:
If this list seems overwhelmingly hard or impossible to do or makes you cry, you need to get help. Go to your doctor or ask someone to help you get the help you need.
If all you can do is one or two of these things, then you win once or twice.
If this list seems too silly to follow, YOU WIN!!
If you missed it, something extremely exciting happed this year. Scott Cronan from Upworthy.org asked if I would be part of his documentary. What could I say? I knew of Upworthy and because I like their mission, of course, I said yes!
Overall comments were positive and I learned about Andrew Palermo, the professor from UCI, who appeared in the documentary.
What I didn't expect is that some would be offended by the title. I only see the title on the Upworthy Presents page on Facebook. It's called "Dance Therapy".
I want to explain why some therapists would be upset. There is a psychological therapeutic specialty called Dance Therapy, the Trademark is Dance/Movement Therapy™ or DMT™. The American of Dance/Movement Therapy Association can be found via Facebook, and searches online.
My background is in dance. I am a dancer and dance instructor with a BA in Dance from UCLA, I have been teaching for more years than I want to admit and for the past 5 years I have been a Certified Autism Movement Therapy® Provider Level II. Autism Movement Therapy® or AMT is a program using dance, behavior analysis techniques, and theory of the brain and creating new pathways in the brain created by Joanne Lara.
Far from psychological therapy or "talk" therapy this is a movement class with a goal. To help students on the Autism Spectrum create speech and improve communication. Along the way, confidence builds, behaviors to settle themselves may go away, unwanted behaviors like hitting can be stopped, social skills like taking turns with others and greeting one another improves. I cannot make the world change. But I can create a safe space for my students to be themselves, enjoy only praise, no criticism, and they are never asked to leave.
I call my program, copyrighted, A Dance Class For Me!© It's not your typical dance class. We tap in class now and at the end we have a tap jam. I love what I do. If people get upset because of the title of a documentary, well, I can't help that. But the concept is out there! People are talking about therapies they didn't know about before. Let's keep talking about Autism.
In 2014, I attended the Advance LA, Resilience Conference. The topic was Resilience but the conversation often went to higher education for young adults on the spectrum and then to jobs or careers. With improved therapies, earlier diagnosis, and better outcomes the teens and young adults of today can contribute to society. Helping your son or daughter look for a job, position, or even career may seem daunting but there are resources and ideas to start with.
To help think of the best type of job for your son or daughter, ask yourself, what does your child love, what is of greatest interest. You can use that information to think of places to work. Attention to detail or extreme attention to detail may be a problem to parents when they are raising their child, but there could be a company or need somewhere that embraces that abilty.
There are resources such as Autism Works Now! Temple Grandin and Joanne Lara have put together Autism Works Now! to train interested individuals on the spectrum for work in offices, community, etc.
Erica Francis at ReadyJob.org wrote an article, Starting A New Business When You Have A Disability
for me to share resources on this website. Readyjob.org helps guide teens. Erica Francis has resources to help train teens and a list of companies who hire teens.
Elizabeth Rose Chacon
Starting A New Business When You Have A Disability BY eRICA Francis
Starting your own business is a huge part of the American dream. Everyone hopes to one day get out from the corporate rat race and be their own boss. It’s a challenge, and not everyone succeeds, many do.
But when you have a disability, you might feel a bit left out — like that part of the American dream is not for you. Nothing could be further from the truth. These days, it’s easier and better than ever for a veteran, civilian, or anyone with a disability to start a new business and be successful. And yes, that includes people with mental health disabilities as well.
What Kind Of Business?Before you start getting your bank statements together for a small business loan, there’s a lot of work to be done first. That begins with deciding what kind of business is best for veterans and civilians with a disability.
Becoming a franchise owner is a great way to get in the game. While there are start-up fees, there are always costs with starting a business. A franchise can give you the name-recognition, marketing support, and plans every business needs to succeed.
A government contractor is another good choice. After all, local and federal government offices have a lot of money to spend and a lot they need to purchase. Veteran-owned small businesses are often prefered by the government, giving you an edge that’s so crucial when starting a new company from scratch.
If the veteran’s health is bad or you have some mobility problems thanks to a disability, you might want to consider a home-based business. From making art and selling it on Etsy to working as a copywriter or blogger, you can make great money from the privacy of your own home.
You Need A PlanNow that you know what kind of business you’ll be starting, you need to know how to get it going — and how to survive in this market. That means you need a business plan.
To be honest, you cannot simply think you can start a business (disability or not) and magically succeed. Even the greatest idea in the world needs careful planning, research, and scheduling. That’s exactly what you get with a proper business plan. Yours should include:
●An executive summary that quickly explains your plan and goals.
●The structure of your business (even if it’s just you).
●How to differentiate your business — and your plan — so it stands out.
●An analysis of the market segment you’re going to compete in.
●How you will market and advertise your business.
●A description of the product or service you’ll be offering.
●A projection (which is different from a guess) of your business’ profitability.
Seeking FundingNow that you have your business planned, you are ready to take the first leap into entrepreneurship: getting funding.
You might think that getting money for your new business will be hard if you have a physical disability or a mental health issue, but you are wrong. There are programs out there specifically for small business owners with disabilities. Government grants, private organizations, and even religious institutions can all offer small loans or grants to you if you 1) have a recognized disability and 2) are starting a new business.
It’s Hard Work But Worth ItAs a person with a disability, it can be hard to feel ready to start your own business. To help build that courage, you can start by picking one business that you love; create a plan to make it successful; then secure funding from sources that specifically work with disabled small business owners.
Elizabeth Rose Chacon
As I said, I was born a dancer. I love the word "dance" and I love dancing.