Inexpensive Ways To Propel Your Child Forward This Year

Money is tight for just about everyone these days.  Families on a journey toward autism recovery are spending all they have and more to help their children fulfill their potential.  I’ve been there, and have searched for the ideal program, the greatest toy, the perfect provider and have spent tons of money, only to learn that the best person, the most fun activity and the ideal program was all about me being present, enthusiastic and happy with my child.  Right now, you’re saying “What?” Hear me out here.

  1. Find happiness and contentment for yourself.  (Cost $0) Why is this #1 on my list? Because your attitude really matters!  It keeps your marriage strong, it keeps your other children from falling through the cracks or becoming discouraged, and most importantly, your child with a diagnosis is a keen sensor of attitude.  You’ve almost certainly witnessed your special child being repelled by certain people.  I swear that my child can “smell” attitude a mile away.  You must work on yourself to overcome anger, fear, or guilt, whatever it is that keeps you from being mentally present in the moment with your child.  You know how sometimes you can be so deep in thought while driving that you don’t remember getting from point A to point B? The same is true with our children.  We can sit down to play and become so lost in our thoughts about the past (“How could this have happened to us? How could I not have recognized it sooner?”) or worries about the future (“Who is going to care for him when I die? Will she ever be able to attend college or get married?”).  Anytime we are not in the present moment with our child, we miss opportunity after opportunity to connect.  The connection is what draws them closer and invites them to love people and interaction.  If you need help in this area, check your local library for books by Barry Neil Kaufman, such as “Happiness is a Choice” or “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues”.  If you can truly clear negativity, you can become a magnet for your child and a key facilitator in his recovery.
  2. Turn it off.  (Cost $0, you may even save money!) Our world revolves around electronics and rapid communication.  Time spent with all of our gadgets and devices takes away opportunities to interact with our children.  I am not suggesting that you cut yourself off from society.  However, I am suggesting that while your child is awake or in your presence, that your phone be off or silenced, that the house phone be turned off or that you let calls go to voicemail, and that computer, gaming and television time be severely limited.  We are trying to connect with our children and invite them playfully out of a solitary world into a rich, satisfying one full of communication, ideas and interaction.  If your phone is dinging every 5 seconds or if you’re looking away to respond to a call or text, you are not modeling interactive attention for your child, you are modeling that it’s okay to look away during a conversation or fine to walk away.  The most precious item that money cannot buy is time, and time is what it takes to reach our kids.
  3. Turn your child’s areas of focus into games. (Cost $0 or perhaps dollar store items).  If you’re working on your child’s ability to ask questions, find a backpack or other bag and approach your child with an excited attitude and say, “You’re never going to believe what I have in my bag!!”  If he loves “Thomas the Tank Engine” turn yourselves into engines using home-made props and act out a story. Make a board game using a board you already have but create a journey of your own.  Make a big die out of a milk carton or other cubical box and label the sides of the die with fun outcomes.  All your child has to do is roll and you provide the entertainment.  My favorite one for small children is the laundry basket ride! You make up a simple game where all they have to do is look at your eyes, or say a word, or ask a question and as soon as they do, they get whisked away to another planet in the laundry basket.  We have done so much with this game! At every stop, there is an opportunity to get out of the basket into a new land of pretend play.  When that’s done, back in the basket and off to the next stop.  When your child gets too heavy for you to lift, find a new mode of travel.
  4. Make a friend whose child is further along the autism journey.  (Cost $0, does take time) Often, newly diagnosed families stick together because they see each other at support groups and at therapy. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but they are almost all equally lost, especially if they are only using local resources.  A better option is to find a parent who has been successful at either curing her child or has made significant progress.  The reason? She has some good advice on what was worthwhile and what was a waste. Be selective and try to find a parent whose child had similar issues to yours.
  5. Seek out grant opportunities for medical treatment(Cost $0-$200 + time) Medical treatment can be quite expensive, particularly where travel is involved.  However, it is so worth it.  When the children are ill, all the money spent on therapy is virtually wasted because they are in no shape to receive rehabilitation.  There are several options to explore:  American Airlines Miles for Kids Program for medically necessary travel, or Generation Rescue's Grants https://www.generationrescue.org/member-log-in/join-grant/.  Another highly effective means of raising funds is to collect donations of gently used items to sell, either on eBay or at a garage sale.  This would be a great job for family or church family members to undertake, because your time is better spent with your child.
  6. Attend the Autism Intensive Online Summit.  (Cost $0-$80 for the whole recording) No need to travel to an expensive conference and worry about your children while away! The greatest minds in functional medicine are featured in a series of interviews to give you hope that these children can improve dramatically, or even recover, with proper treatment of physical illness. Starts January 10 and lasts though January 18! Access it all here: https://mutzelnutrition.isrefer.com/go/1129/Autismcompass 

You've heard the saying that 'the best things in life are free'. Every time you turn around, it seems like someone wants money from you for some program or another.  While there are terrific programs out there, some of the best treatments for autism are free.  A mom or dad with a great attitude can change a child's world!