Studies show that 1 in 68 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism does not discriminate; it affects children of all races, ethnicities, gender and socio-economic groups. With the right support, all individuals with ASD can thrive. But understanding its complexities and raising awareness is critical.
Sally Meadows is a published author who travels to schools talking about her book The Two Trees (see summary below) and speaking to children about autism and the importance of being a good friend. I conducted a Q & A with her, and I hope her thought provoking answers illuminate you.
I am a former teacher and I use a teaching technique that encourages students to draw on their own experience and knowledge to ultimately bring out the important messages in my book. As a start, I ask the children (ages 5-9) to brainstorm practical ways as to how they could show friendship and kindness to Syd, the boy with autism in the story, if he went to their school. Then I ask them to share what they know about bullying. (There is a scene in the book where Syd is pushed up against a wall and the other kids throw balls at him.) I emphasize that when we say or do something hurtful to someone, it can stay with him or her throughout his or her life. Read the rest of this entry »
Between work, family time and household duties, we may feel a pressure to “get it all done.” And in our rush to get it all done, we may forget about one important thing: time for ourselves! Self-care is a lot more that just eating well and exercising, it’s a more holistic approach of nourishing the soul.
You might wonder, okay, but how do I nourish the soul? The first essential ingredient is self-love, and that translates into a slew of things you can do to take care of your body, mind, heart and soul. In an effort to do a better job at nourishing myself, I came up with the top 33 tips, below.
- Practice gratitude (try saying or writing things you’re grateful for each day)
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Learn how to forgive (including yourself)
- Listen to your intuition, and cultivate your relationship to it
- Respect yourself, and demand respect from others
- Be open to receiving and giving love every day, in various forms
- Eat a balanced diet with whole, fresh foods and drink a lot of water (about 8–ounce glasses per day)
- Learn how to say NO and still feel like a good person
- Don’t dwell on anything, let it all go
- Breathe (sounds obvious, but practicing conscious deep breathing makes a difference)
- Slow down (and literally smell the roses)
- TRUST yourself, and trust life
- Meditate (if this sounds impossible, just start with 5 minutes)
- Connect with friends and talk it out
- Be gentle with yourself (and say adios to that negative voice inside you)
- Write! Keep a journal and find ways to express yourself
- Read! Get some tea going and snuggle up with some good books
- Go for frequent walks in nature
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable and feel what you need to feel
- Snuggle with or hug someone
- Keep moving– take a yoga class, or chi-gong, or dance, aerobics, you get the idea!
- Volunteer in a worthwhile organisation
- Set clear boundaries with others
- Stop apologizing or feeling guilty
- Book yourself a massage
- Visit a doctor regularly
- Put your ego aside and ask for help when you need it
- Get enough sleep (everybody’s different, but you should feel well rested)
- Share what you have with others
- Save up money and buy yourself something you’ve always wanted
- Set some time aside for yourself every single day, create your own ritual
- Practice moderation, don’t abuse any intoxicants
- Find a hobby you feel passionate about
I love being a writer.
But sometimes, writing can be an isolating experience. One of the reasons I love giving workshops is because I get to interact with children of all ages. And let me tell you, that is a truly enriching experience! Even though I’m there to teach them about building narratives and developing characters, I end up learning a thing or two after each workshop.
Here are the top 5 reasons I love working with children:
- Children are hilarious!
I often write down the things they say because the statements can be incredibly funny. Even when they’re not trying to be funny, they’re funny. When I walk into a school, I like to have a notepad and pen handy at all times.
Last month, I had the privilege of giving writing workshops at Westpark Elementary School. I always enjoy giving workshops, but this was a particularly thrilling experience.
Why, you may ask? Because….wait for it….
I WENT TO WESTPARK SCHOOL!
That’s right, many years ago, a Goomie-bracelet-wearing (remember those??) fresh faced little Lydia spent 7 years of her life there. It was and is such a huge part of my life. So I was so excited to return and relive that part of my childhood. Here I am below in a class photo, with my “Cindy Lauper hair” and all. (And yes, I may have been obsessed with her.)