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.)
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Here’s my view on it:
Don’t set yourself up to fail with a ridiculously long list of unrealistic resolutions!
I myself prefer the word “intention.” I suggest making a small list of intentions you want to set for your life. Energies you want to bring forth. Make them realistic. Make them specific. Instead of saying you want to be happy, say you intend on releasing one of your negative patterns. Instead of saying you want to lose weight, say you intend on eating a healthy diet or work out 3 times a week.