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‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey

‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey
Oby

As a proud loving Mother of two young awesome boys on the Autism Spectrum, my dear friend Yinka approached me to share little nuggets I learned on my journey. 

I. Was. Elated.

So, I decided to share my personal story following the diagnosis stages I went through with my sons. Which I know a lot of other parents  are familiar with as well, on this autism journey.

Stages – From a Parent’s Perspective

Shock 

“Your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Says the Doctor. 

This has come as a shock to you even though you saw the signs, and you knew your child or baby was not quite developing like other kids his age. You literally feel like your world has come to a stand-still, even though it has not. 

Anyhow you want to put it, the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” sounds weightier than the actual situation. 

You scramble everywhere and anywhere for a cure. You join numerous blogs that make the situation dire than it is.

  • Denial 

Family and friends tell you your child is “Ok” and “Does not have Autism Spectrum Disorder. He/she is just slow

  • “You know boys are slower” They say… 
  • My cousin was slow, but now He’s great!” They say...
  • You want to believe them. You believe them...

After a couple of weeks, you realize the Developmental Doctor was right!

Your-Child-Misses-Major-Milestones.

  • Acceptance. Get to Work! 

After observing your child for some days/weeks and much research, you accept it.

In this stage:

Breath.

Take a cup of Coffee.

Shut your eyes for a minute.

Then get to work.

  • Research, Research, Research!
  • You will find excellent and great advice everywhere. 
  • You will also find depressive tales and more tales of doom everywhere. 
  • You will also find people who want to take advantage of you (financially), promising a total cure everywhere.

You will need to diligently research to find the right therapist (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst BCBA, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and so on).

Get this information from your doctor, and very good blogs.

Please interview them to make sure they’ll be great fits not just for your child, but also for you and your family.

  • Avoid online scammers at all cost who promise solutions and prey on your desperation.
  • Avoid pity-parties at all cost. 
  • Avoid online groups, that make your situation seem so dire and even make you more depressed, at all cost.
  • Mental Health: 

As the caregiver, your mental health is vital.

Take care of it. 

You must be happy in order to impart happiness onto your child. 

This is important! I cannot stress this enough. 

If uncle Johnny makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy whenever you bring your dear child to visit him, then stay away from Uncle Johnny.

If therapist Jane worsens your situation or does not really care for you or your child, then change therapist.

Have little tolerance for anything that’ll send you off to depression. 

There is hope always! Always!

Escape (even if it’s just for a few minutes) when kids are not with you, or when you have help. Carve out time for yourself.

Look for what makes you happy and take out some time DAILY. For me, I am a hopeless romantic.

I binge on all things romantic from the trilogy book “50 Shades of Grey” to Netflix’s “Love is Blind”. It makes me happy!

  • Support! Support!! Support!!! 

It takes a village! You need the support of family, friends, place of worship, care-givers. 

#YOU-CANNOT-DO-THIS-ALONE!

  • Let your Child Lead You! 

When you see a different behavior, ‘Your-child-is-NOT-WEIRD!

He/she is just different and learns everything about life differently.

Let your child guide you. Follow your child’s lead and discover how he/she learns. When you do this, you’ll see many windows of opportunity to teach your child and bring your child more to your world! It works! 

  • Positive Affirmations:

Because I am a woman of Faith, I believe in speaking words of Biblical Faith daily to my son. Speak words of Affirmation daily to your child. Teach your child to say these words daily.

When my son was much younger, I taught him a simple night prayer and to say the words “I am healed.” Now he says these daily words of affirmation before he starts his day: “I will be taught by the Lord, and great will be my peace and undisturbed composure.” (From Isaiah 54:13).

  • Excel/Flourish:

Once all these are in place, your child will begin to excel!

You will begin to excel.

Your family will begin to excel.

You are happy!

You laugh!

You play!

You rejoice!

Remember to jot down achievements, no matter how small (or big).

I call them “Praise Reports.”

Always remember that God is good, and that NO-ONE is a biological accident.

Your child is a blessing full and LOVE.

Your life and you child’s life have Purpose!

Absolutely! There is meaning to all this! In time you’ll find out. 

I love my BOYS. My life would absolutely be hopeless without them.

They-teach-me-daily.

Our dear Sons are amazing!

They show us the way daily❤️

We Love them dearly! 

I’d like to thank my amazing husband for his awesome endearing Love and full support. He is amazing!❤️

I also like to thank our awesome families for their amazing Love and full support.❤️

Much Love, Oby.

ABOUT HER: Oby holds a Masters in Electrical & Computer Engineering, Bachelors in Electronics Engineering. She worked for many years in the medical device industry with Fortune 500 companies in research & development, as well as leadership roles. She lives in Atlanta, GA and is happily married to Dr. Ekekwe for 16 years. She currently home schools her older son while the younger son attends school.

Yinka & Oby!

“Oby and I have been friends for over 30 years! #FGGC Sagamu Alumnus! A couple of years ago, we started talking more about her son’s autism diagnosis, Oby was very transparent and willing to share her struggles and triumphs, especially after knowing that was my field of specialization and passion. Overtime, she became an active member of my non-profit organization DCN “My Child Thrives” support group. Oby has been a vibrant, assertive and valuable resource to other members on the forum. She is certainly a force to reckon-with! Her witty takes on situations! her abundance of terms of endearment! as she showers group members with hope! ‘Autism diagnosis report certainly has nothing on this sassy lady!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka!

as I share ‘Not Lucky, I’m Loved’ by Jonathan McReynolds to celebrate – April, ‘National Autism Awareness Month!

 

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Dealing with our imperfections and learning to improve our act of soaring.

be youFelicia was an old friend of mine during our college days. Even though she majored in English Education, I was in Humanities but our paths always crossed at Offrima campus during joint lecture in Phonetics by Prof Gyanki, or while catching a ride back to the hostel. There was something peculiar about her. I took a liking to her immediately. She was younger, very expressive and rather dramatic. Most of my other friends didn’t really take to her, they’d labeled her immediately, “Oh, she talks too much! “Oh, she knows all the guys on campus” ‘Oh she sleeps in the boys hostel” But with all these flaws and hear-say, it just increased my likeness for her. For me, it wasn’t about the veil or web pulled over to cover up an old scar or shame or insecurity. It was more about her picture perfect look and the craziness going on inside of it! Everyone assumed there was something creepy about her! But, she was just imperfect in their perfect world!

One of the favorite gifts at my last birthday was a book title: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by researcher Brené. With so much excitement and anticipation, I’d hurriedly flipped through the pages. The message shouted right at me! It was so loud that I quickly closed the book, ran to the basement to hide it. Ah! You know…that feeling you get when you sensed someone is so second-skin to you, it was like that song (Killing me softly with his song) Hmmm, ‘How dare she talk about me! That’s me written all over that page! Then I started to laugh, I guess that was my 30-seconds-of-madness which I was totally entitled to. (lol).

According to Brene Brown; Perfectionism is a shield, a self-created safety net that we think will shut out the bad stuff. I was taken back immediately to my college days and only wished this theory would have worked wonders for all the crazy ideologies we had back then! And even for the present time life’s complexity. I mean tell me, who hasn’t been dealt with a harsh blow in life? Or who has it all together and lives in a glass world? Our idea of perfect world syndrome has driven us to early regret in life, and has made the very element that defines who we really are or what we really are as imperfectionists! Which is now replaced with guilt that comes from shame!, flaws that’s well painted with material things, pain and regret we carry around today under our sleeves as we paint our world in odd colors!

So, does our blemish, or undesirable feature make us imperfect? When we exert energy on things we cannot control, it only empowers the negative. Does that mean that our fallibility and shortcoming defines us as weaklings? When we have the choice to laugh or cry, do we still contemplate it? I work with children and love my job. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and think that I can’t provide everything they deserve or put a smile on their parents’ faces. Once, after a particular challenging evaluation, a child noticed a hole in my blouse and also how my hair was crazy and sticking up and laughed. So I did too. We both ended up rolling on the floor laughing together. It wasn’t a professional perfect moment, but I’m sure I was my most authentic.

Having flaws, being vulnerable, and being true to our self are cornerstones of being real. Some things we will work on to evolve and become a better person. Some things are just part of who we are. Anyone who loves us will love us because of them, not in spite of them.

We are most authentic when we are forced to gradually humbly admit we don’t know everything and we sometimes make mistakes. This makes us much more likely to accept the imperfections in others and love them anyway.

It’s easier for us to be real when we take the pressure of perfection off the table, it is easier to locate a soul mate when words alone cannot express a mutual feeling. It is easier to find true love at the most un-expected places. It is easier to follow a path of openness than a link of pretense and it’s easier to be compassionate and kind when we understand everyone is messy.

In all of us, there is only one crazy “us.” The good, the bad, and the ugly all contribute to our uniqueness. So does our past experience, hurts, and mistakes. It’s not enough to simply learn from the past. We also need to look at our choices to understand what we’re made of, and in that way either improve or understand how certain weaknesses can actually be strengths.

If you made it here this far, you are most definitely authentic! You just have to be you! ‘(Gotta be) and you are soaring higher towards discovering your best qualities. I am encouraging someone to stay true to who they are and what feels intrinsically right to them. We can’t predict the road the journey will take us, especially when the issues of life take over, but we can control our own feet. I am hoping someone will take intentional steps that move them in a direction of staying true to “self”. How we walk might not be perfect, but we can feel confident in where we are headed through God’s grace.

Yours in HOPE as I share Desree’s  “You Got To Be”

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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