It's Time to Be Selfish Autism Community
By Kim Stagliano
The autism community is full of warrior Moms and Dads who will always put that oxygen mask on their children first - and then probably put one onto your child as they themselves turn blue and gasp for air.
Did you read this on Facebook? "We're wishing NAA President Wendy Fournier well as she continues to recover from a heart attack last Sunday."
That's right. The not-even-50-year-old-female President of The National Autism Association, herself a Warrior mom to a daughter on the spectrum, suffered a heart attack. And she came close to death.
This is a wake up call for all of us to start becoming "selfish" and take care of ourselves. If we spent one quarter the time on our own "therapy" and food choices that we spend on our kids' needs we could make a difference in our well being.
One of my favorite singers is Stevie Nicks who sings, "But time makes you bolder even children get older and I'm getting older too." I turned 49 in December. My oldest is 18 and my baby is 12. I'm plenty bold - and I'm sure you are too. But I'm also getting O-L-D. I don't mind the gray hairs zigzagging through my curls. The lines around my eyes don't phase me in the least. The year on the calendar does scare me though - because I only have so much time on earth to care for my girls.
I write a column in Autism File magazine, whose current issue features the special, "Autism and Fitness Getting Healthy Having Fun." I wrote about how I have started taking kickboxing, karate and Okinawan weapons classes. My goal is to earn my black belt and my AARP card in the same year. Not so I can enter the Mrs. Connecticut pageant, but to have the endurance and strength to take care of my girls for as long as they need me. And we all know what that means. Autism File also ran a "Caregiver SOS 10 Tips for keeping track of your own health."
What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Join us in wishing Wendy a speedy recovery. KS
wishing Wendy a speedy recovery. This is a wake up call for me, I do need to take care of myself, but there are times (for me always) that time just goes by and nothing left by the end of the day. I guess i need to be sefish from nw on for my kids benefit.
WEndy wishing you all the best and hope you can join in to be a bit selfish. Please take good care of yourself
Posted by: Tunde | January 17, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Were all hoping for Wendy ..go on..Wendy
Posted by: ANGUS FILES | January 12, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Kim I am so sorry it turned out like it did.
I wish there was something I could say that would make you feel better.
Just know - I am out here and I know your story and your bravery and - I love you although we have never met.
This from a nun sounding name,
but it rhymes with vendetta - as someone told me on here!
Posted by: Benedetta | January 12, 2013 at 01:16 AM
I garden ~ that is all you need - a plot of ground big enough for vegs. That way when you are out and about and away - you can tell yourself it will still help the family, so no guilt.
and now I going to learn to make cheese.
I made my first ever Greek Yogurt on New Years Day.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 12, 2013 at 01:13 AM
Love you Kim. Your book was the only one I ever cried at when it was ending. Not that I was sad just that I never wanted you to leave.
Posted by: Lisa | January 11, 2013 at 09:03 PM
I agree, Kim... Warrior parents... these amazing mothers and fathers taking care of their ASD kids... gotta take some down time. I found it almost impossible to run my 501c3 after becoming a single parent, plus having a full time job, running a household, etc. Trying to be an advocate on top of all that just put my career in a sorry state, my finances in the crapper and my health at risk. I've been in the E.R. a few times, thinking it was a cardiac episode... only to find out it was anxiety and exhaustion.
I'm changing gears now. Eating better, taking more time for exercise... and just myself. I'll still volunteer for this amazing community of like-minded parents, but in my own time and after my family's needs have been met. :-)
Posted by: Erik N. | January 11, 2013 at 08:16 PM
I constantly pray for the parents of "my kids". I hear the dedication, the daily grind, the stresses beyond the max. If the kids on spectrum are "cancer and heart disease cases waiting to happen" their parents are fully as much at-risk. Having been both a practitioner working extensively with my "warrior moms and dads" as well as a parent of a child recovered from, but who suffered several years with Aspergers, I understand the stress. I've been blessed with good health, and have done a lot to clean my system up. But parents who are already stretching to care for, provide for, and deal with the stresses of autism therapies, treatments and diets have to take care of themselves first. Yeah, if you turn blue too fast, you won't make it long enough to put it on your child! Please parents, know that many of us share and understand your stresses. And I pray every day for every parent of an autistic child, whether I know them or not. I can't personally help every parent, nor every child with autism, but God can.
Posted by: Cindy Griffin | January 11, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Hello, my friend, Susan - one of my very first online autism Mom friend, I'll add. And welcome. Thanks - I know you ride your bike and belly dance - I play Karate Kid and hit things. We NEED an outlet for ourselves. It doesn't make the pain of watching the Marshall hand your 18 year old daughter her probate court guardianship papers any easier - but it does help manage stress and boost self esteem in some way.
Posted by: Stagmom | January 11, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I have never commented on AoA, but this post really moved me. Kim, you are a terrific writer and express so well what so many of us are thinking. I am right with you here. --Susan
Posted by: Susan Senator | January 11, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Hoping Wendy has a smooth recovery. She seems fit as anything but the stress of the autism lifestyle is a killer for sure.
As healthy as we try to be, my husband and I both grind our teeth at night and sleep is like the holy grail around our house. We can't afford to get sick and there's no respite, so we try to give it to each other. He begs me not to take on anything new to take the stress level down a notch. Think I'll listen. Thanks for the reminder, Kim and bless you and Wendy for all you do.
Posted by: mouth guard | January 11, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Just this past week this video was emailed to me regarding signs of a possible heart attack:
It is done with humour and my husband and I were laughing as we agreed that would so be me at the end....you have to watch to know what I mean! I'm sure autism parents can relate.
Wishing Wendy a speedy recovery.
Posted by: samaxtics | January 11, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Sadly, as parents of these children, we face a myriad of emotions throughout our day. Though I feel intense love for my boys, desperation and sadness find their way into my mind all too often. The key is to find a coping mechanism that can benefit us rather than damage us. I didn't realize this until I myself became very sick last year. I was forced to utilize the same determination that improved my children's diet on my own. I dropped sugar, grains, caffeine, and only allow myself 1 glass of red wine a week. It was damn hard. But I'm doing it and living it every day. I also downloaded some great yoga classes (yogadownload.com) and use them to practice no less than 3 hours a week at home. Yoga has allowed me to find relaxation in a way that makes me stronger instead of weaker.
I am praying for Wendy everyday.
Posted by: Genny Huber | January 11, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Ubiquinol(high dose), magnesium, a no sugar/caffeine diet, and exercise has tremendously helped my heart condition (mitral valve prolapse). I've heard it said that the heart is starved for energy, and it makes sense in my case, I notice right away with my energy levels when I don't take that coq10. Russell Blaylock, MD, has excellent supplementation info for various conditions. We parents need just as much care as our kids. Prayers to you Wendy and all of us
Posted by: Amber | January 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM
I implemented dietary changes similar than those that helped my son so much. I got rid of my addictions (sweets, chcolate, wheat and dairy).
A couple years ago I bought an elliptical machine so I can work out at home and keep my body and heart in shape. Worth every penny.
I started doing meditation and relaxation using Hemi-Sync acoustics. That's to keep my mind in shape, something very challenging in today's mad world. I wish I had started that way earlier.
Posted by: Karin | January 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM
I wish Wendy a very speedy recovery, and in addition to Kim's sage advice about taking better care of ourselves, this might be a good place to note symptoms of a heart attack:
Posted by: First do no harm | January 11, 2013 at 10:22 AM
We are all susceptible to the stress of raising our kids. How many autism conferences have we all been to as warrior moms and dads finding that 'brief' respite and eating junk (YAY GLUTEN!), guzzling caffeine, drinking til wee hours and also in the front of the hotel smoking during breaks? It's ironic isn't it that we don't think about our coping mechanisms that are self-destructive and dangerous. Not to mention we are probably poor methylators too. Not pointing fingers, we have all been there. Kim is right- we need to take care of ourselves and eat right, exercise and stop our self destructive habits or we won't be around to care for our kids. I expect to see more of us in the hotel gym at Autism One and not partying like its 1999 :)
Posted by: Tired but Fierce Warrior Mom | January 11, 2013 at 09:58 AM
Kim, You make me laugh and cry at the same time. I just bought "Turbo Fire" from Beachbody.com and a boat load of protein shakes! LOL
Posted by: Sandra Lopriore | January 11, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Wishing Wendy a very speedy and complete recovery. I hadn't heard about her heart attack until I read your piece this morning, Kim.
It is so true that we must take care of ourselves. I do have to think of something to do involving physical exercise. Perhaps an elliptical machine, and long walks are in order. At the end of last year I did, finally, get to a doctor to have my blood tested for food allergies, something I had been wanting to do for years. I am allergic to wheat, milk, and eggs (and a few other things)! I am now officially gluten and casein free, myself. Gotta love the irony.
Posted by: Not an MD | January 11, 2013 at 09:20 AM
Hi I work a lot with my autistic kid. When one day my Mom told me there should wall to draw the picture. So start taking care of your health. Yes that is what my husband too is worried. Taking caring of a 15 year old boy is not an easy task who can get agitated fast and so much stronger when he has meltdowns.. So it is okay to be selfish . A new year motto ,me first and my child next, for the welfare of my child. A few minutes relaxation can give you the strength to tackle a meltdown or an OCD behavior or even prepare a good healthy meal for the whole family. Wendy's heart attack was a definite wake up call for all the parents out there. Wishing her a speedy recovery.
Posted by: Ganga Lakshminarayanan. | January 11, 2013 at 09:20 AM
Echo and the Bunnymen is one of my favourites :
"spare us the Cutter"
Posted by: Farmer Geddon | January 11, 2013 at 05:49 AM