Parent of a child with ASD: Average Individual or High Performer? You Decide!

Thank you to Jena Jake for today’s guest post.


First I want to thank Melissa for allowing me to be a guest blogger on her site. Let me start by introducing myself. 
 
My name is Jena Jake.  I am the mother of two amazing daughters.  One is diagnosed ASD.   I am a counselor and the author of a program called BUFFERS and BREAKTHROUGHS. BUFFERS and BREAKTHROUGHS is a coping program designed to support caregivers of children with ASD.  The program encourages parents to use their unique circumstances of having a child with ASD to go to the next level in the Parent’s life.  

BUFFERS is a 7 step acronym that guides participants step by step to actually “BUFFER” themselves to be able to “Breakthrough” to live more consciously with passion and purpose! Buffers and Breakthroughs is about embracing Autism on your own terms!
 
I asked myself, as a parent of a child with ASD what would I most want to know? For me the answer is simple; how do I live the rest of my life with ASD and all of it challenges?  Furthermore, how do I live the amazing and passionate life I have always wanted?  Well, that is what I am going to discuss today.

Victoria Osteen, wife of the famous orator Joel Osteen wrote that one has to let go of one thing to grab onto to something better.   My first suggestion is to be willing to let go of the ‘status quo’ to be able to be free to grab something better.  Living better is living more consciously! Ask any expert and they will tell you must have a plan.   Put yourself on your to-do list and make a plan of what is working and discard what is not! That is the ‘B’ in my BUFFERS program, which stands for Boundaries, Breaks and Balance.   Know what your boundaries are and make sure you keep yourself on your to-do list.  Take self-care seriously to master balance. Remember, taking breaks is not a luxury but a necessity!
 
Start your roadmap at the end and work backward. Where do I want to end up? How did I get there? What was the step before that? Keep asking yourself these questions until you arrive where you are right now.   
 
Remember you are the parent of a child with ASD, so in my opinion you are already a high performer! Start thinking of yourself as one!  What do high performers do?
Besides having a plan and a roadmap they have a toolbox to go and pull out the right “tool”at the right moment.   They know how to manage a crisis and put out fires.
 
A toolbox means everything: from ensuring a successful outing to getting through a crisis, to looking at the glass half full! For example, going to a restaurant? What will I need to have a great meal? What reinforcing items could I take?  Ipad, ipod,and headphones? Check!  Favorite toy? Check! If an unexpected crisis arises no worries! I have a plan for that too! I am prepared to handle it and keep moving.
 
I have a BUFFERS checklist that I run in a crisis situation.  The checklist is part of the program I created.  I run the steps to the acronym BUFFERS to keep myself calm and engaged in making the situation better and keep moving on. By Keeping a bad moment in check it is possible to maintain the positive healthy environment you need to move forward. A bad moment is just that, a bad moment. It does not signify a bad life!  Having a go-to tool will keep you on task and not let the situation get the best of you!
 
Mostly, I use the first ‘F’ in my program, it stands for ‘Find Something Bigger than Yourself ‘ for example: a prayer to please help me get through this moment or asking for strength in the moment.  I use ‘U: ‘Unearth New Territory’ to help me ask myself what new idea can I bring to this moment?
 
Once I am focused on something ‘new’ and not how sorry I feel for myself is when things start to change!  You are the only one who has the power to give you a new life. That is what high performers do they adapt and overcome by thinking out of the box!

Next time you are having a raw moment take a breath and think of one new thing to gain back control and get things going in your favor. You will be amazed as to what you come up with!  You may have a hard life because you live with Autism.  Autism never takes the day off and is always around yelling and screaming and making its presence known like an uninvited relative that won’t go away! It can be a feeling of heaviness like dragging a hundred pound weight everywhere you go! Well, is it a 100 pounds of coal or 100 pounds of gold?   What is unique about your circumstances that makes you valuable or marketable to others? You get to choose! You are an expert in Autism and for sure an expert in your own child! You understand on an intimate level, what loving someone with a chronic illness is like!   You have compassion and empathy! What other unique skills do you bring to the table? For Instance I am a counselor.  Autism and counseling were two of the strongest forces in my life.  I used them as assets that lead me to the creation of my program and here I am today…ready and willing to use my unique gifts to help others! I invite you to do the same and join me!  How can you use your unique gifts to serve another in some way? There is nothing like feeling good because you helped someone else. That will make you feel great and realize that you just found something bigger than yourself. In this author’s opinion, that is something that Autism can’t take away because it is much bigger!  I hope that this post has helped and motivated you to action!  Please respond I love feedback!  Visit me at www.buffersandbreakthroughs.com. Thanks!