Rebecca Jeffreys is the author of "You Were Made for This- Finding Courage and Intuition for Raising a Child with Autism." Inspired by her experience of raising her son, Rebecca's book emphasizes the need for moms to remember to refuel and reframe so they can best serve themselves and their families. In addition to writing, Rebecca also hosts a podcast called The Caretakers, which highlights people who make the world a better place. More information can be found at www.sproutinghealthyfamilies.com
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everybody welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast. Today we have another very special guest for you, we've got one of my dear friends Miss Rebecca Jeffries, thank you so much for taking time to be here today. I'm super excited to learn all about what it is that you have to share with us. Rebecca Jeffries is the author of you are made for this, which is a wonderful book, you guys need to head on over to her website and check that out. sprouting Healthy Families calm, I think is where you can find that online. Hey, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today.
I'm so excited to be here with you, Tasha, it's fantastic. I, I still feel like you know, some greater being brought you and I together?
Absolutely. Oh, my goodness, well, I'm just so grateful that you have this invaluable resource for parents out there. There's so much great information. At the very bottom, you've got the little clip here. It says finding courage and intuition for raising a child with autism. And that is the perfect description of what this book encompasses.
Thank you, thank you. This book came from my heart. And I in many ways I share with people, it was inspired by my own experience of raising my son who was 22 now, but he wasn't diagnosed till he was 20. So we went through many, many, many years of trying to figure out how to handle the symptoms without having full access to services, which of course was extremely challenging. But we managed to pull through it. But the other challenge that existed was my own mental health and making sure that I was available for him. And that I was keeping myself energized and in a good place mentally and physically, to be able to provide for him. And so that was really the impetus for this book of wanting to offer some of my experiences to other people in hopes that it will help them.
Now when did you publish this book, when did it first come
out? It just was born a few months ago, three months ago. So it's still really fresh,
very, very fresh. And again, the sprouting healthy family calm, that's where people can find it online.
Yes, indeed. And buy it right there.
Tell us a little bit about sprouting Healthy Families.
So sprouting Healthy Families is my company name. And my website and the website serves multiple purposes. Of course, it's a portal to access the book and learn about it. But I also have a lot of resources on there that I was living in Massachusetts when I started it. So a lot of them are centered around New England. But then I have a section that's national services. So there, there are organizations and therapists and services that I have either used personally or had contact with, and that I really appreciate what they do. So all those free resources are there on the site. And additionally, I've got a podcast, where I am interviewing other specialists in autism. So you can see and hear from these people that I am mentioning on my website, so you can get a little bit more of a personal touch. And if they inspire you to reach out, you know how to get to them.
And the name of that podcast is the caretakers, vague caretakers, I always had the honor of being on there as well and was very grateful for for you sharing that information out. It's a great, great resource. There's a lot of wonderful people that you're doing interviews with on there. Now going back to the book you were made for this, there is a specific section in there on page 35, about how to be mindful in a stressful parenting moment and make room for intuition. Yeah, now I was gonna see if you could just touch on that.
Yeah, you know, I did reading this, I'm so trained myself to take that deep breath. Before I react, though you read that stuff, just inhale. Like, that step is so important just to, you know, lower your nervous system because your child's nervous system is excited enough for both of you. Keeping your calm. So, in the list in my book, I go through a number of things like number two is take a moment to think and breathe. Number one is observe while you're breathing and thinking observe your child and see what really is a trigger that's causing this breakdown or meltdown or a temper tantrum or whatever. You know, sometimes you can never get right to the source, but at least you can get to something that might help them alleviate their stress. Sometimes, it can be an event that happened earlier in their day, you might have to dig a little bit with questions to help them to find the words to express what they're feeling is they've got the emotion, but they just do not know how to get that out of there. So there's, there's all these components that can, you know, trigger your child, and you, as their caretaker have to help almost train them to figure out how to self soothe. And so this list in my book gives you have some some questions to ask yourself to help you get to the answer to help the child.
So that's a very, very important thing to do. And I think just making sure that we are mindful, which is taking a moment to really think about what's going on, right in that right, that circumstance in that setting. In that moment in time, you have got a list of 11 steps here, that parents can actually kind of walk through some of those questions that you mentioned, one of them was Did something happen earlier, that is arising as a stressor. Now, I think that's so important to point out to you, because oftentimes, I think there's some delayed reactions.
Yeah, the processing speed can be slow. And they can also be ruminating about it for hours, and you don't know what's going on in there. until it comes out later. And then you're like, What is going on? And, you know, a reaction to something that happened two hours, or maybe even the day before? That's come to head? So you have to keep that in mind.
And the other one that you have here is did you make an assumption, right communication and leave out key components that left room for them to draw an incorrect conclusion, right? I mean, we do that as parents all the time, all the time.
spouses, right? Yes. I think as women, we we know what we're saying. But we don't always compute communicate in such clear detail, we leave a lot of room for people to kind of we expect them to be insightful and to be able to fill in the empty space. But that's not going to happen. Once a child has autism. They're there. They need those clear instructions, they need the steps, they might need them written down, they you know that the clarity has to be there, even though you think they should know how to put a plate on the table. Maybe they don't know what you meant by that. So give give more details than you think they need.
Absolutely. And then are they struggling to transition to the next step tivity. transition and change can be often difficulty in opening Yeah,
it definitely is a difficult spot to stop the one activity, turn it off, and move on to the next. I know when my son was little, he really struggled with not finishing the project before he moved on. So in school, if there was a project taking place over four days, this would drive him nuts. because he'd be thinking about and get the finished site and get to finish that. And then he can't focus on the next project because he's still thinking about what he didn't finish. Right. So giving, giving some, you know, warning times, in 10 minutes, we need to stop and five minutes, we need to stop giving them a little mental preparation can help to avoid that one a little bit. But sometimes we forget to do it.
Now my absolute favorite question here, for all parents, did you give them a chance to express their wants? Or did you just boss them around?
that is eye opening? A lot of ways because I think oftentimes as parents, we're very guilty of expecting that immediate gratification, you know, yeah, let's get the thing done. Or let's get ready for the next day. You know, um, and did you empower them? Mm hmm. Yeah.
And the empowerment thing, I mentioned that quite a number of times in my book, once your child feels empowered, you're going to find that your ability to kind of mold them to your own needs, it becomes better, because they feel less like you're just shoving them around and more like you've given them some choices, to take care of themselves and show that they can accomplish things and be part of the family unit.
Did you invalidate their feelings is the next one. Yeah. And I think that that's something that requires a lot of mindfulness and interaction there. A lot of checking in. Mm hmm.
Yeah, absolutely. Especially since they struggled so much to tell you what the feeling is. Like, I can't tell you how many times my kid has said I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. And he truly doesn't know. Brian doesn't know, you know, what is that feeling? What What's its name, I don't know. But at least just give them the space to process a little bit and if they need to bounce it out or scream it out or whatever, give them a moment to do that and it will go By so much faster than if you just ignore it and pretend it's not there.
And it's an opportunity for the connection that we want as parents so badly, you know, we're always looking for new ways to make those sparks of connections with your tribe.
And the more that happens, and the more they appreciate their time with you, and it becomes very mutual, and then you're happier. As a parent, there's less resentment and more joy.
Yes, yes. Practice saying the monitor is number 10. It's only temporary, oh my god help you keep perspective.
I lived with that, when my son was really little in particular, and especially through potty training. That's such a struggle. And there would be times where there'd be accidents. And I remember one time I just lost it. Every every one of us has a moment when we lose it. And I just threw my own little temper tantrum. Do you do this on purpose, you know. But uh, you know, I then calm down and reminded myself about my mantra, it's only temporary. And it really helps me get to the, to the next phase of their lives. Yeah.
And then the last step, then address the problem with the solution you have acquired. This will get easier as you trust your gut more, and learn your child's communication skill,
right? Absolutely true. I have a dear friend who used to visit us a lot. She's not a parent. But she would hang out with me and my son a lot. And she'd always say, Where did you get the answer? How did you figure that out? I said, Well, I have to think outside of the box. And I have to think about what happened earlier and what might happen later. And eventually you start to have like, a toolbox in your head. Yeah, and these things together, and really get to the question that you need to ask your child, which might not be the obvious question.
Well, every parent out there should definitely go take a look, by the book, look at page 35 when you get to that section, and keep that part in your toolkit, because that is so important to reference over and over and over again, as we go through our journey and parenting, is there anything else that you'd like to share out of the book,
um, I just want you to understand that the book definitely advocates to make sure that us moms take care of ourselves. But I also recognize that none of us are perfect either. And we're going to have moments when we lose it and just know that that's part of parenting, we can't all be perfect and we can't always have a calm demeanor is just there buttons will get pushed, and that's okay.
That is okay. And coming to that acceptance of that and, you know, having the ability to regulate the way that we want our children to regulate with their emotions, you know, and coming back to that calm center so that we can continue giving the energy and all of the attention that we want on our loved ones is so important.
Right said so well Tasha,
welcome. Well everyone go head over to sprouting Healthy Families calm. Check out the book you're made for this. And is there anything else that you would like to share today?
I think that covers it all. I look forward to meeting other moms. Oh, I have a Facebook group. What the heck is it called? Change the name, I can't remember the name. Well look me up on Facebook, send me a message we'll get you connected. You can find us grouting Healthy Families the business page or you can find me personally and we'll make sure you get when
you can send me the link to the group and we'll post that in the show notes as well. We will do that. Thank you so much. And thank you so much for taking time to be here today.
Now, we would love to hear from you.
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Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!