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Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

The Reason Why

Most of the time I tell stories about my son Dar. I did raise eight children but I mostly discuss Dar. Six of the children I raised were adopted and one of those was Dar. Four of the six were diagnosed with autism, fetal alcohol syndrome and many resulting other disorders. The lowest functioning was Dar. All the adopted children were abused. The four ASD boys were also malnourished and severely neglected. The worst neglect happened to Dar. (He was locked in a closet for years)

I worked very hard to help my kids learn. To heal myself and my family I had to address many demons and grapple with science, education, therapy techniques and money (not to mention men). Two of the four improved enough to move off the spectrum, one still hovers in the weird zone of not quite diagnosable but … well … definitely still something. All three of them are independent and have been for a decade.

But Dar is not.

Someone asked why I force him into all my videos (an exaggeration by the way) and expose him to the public at every turn. Here is my reason why:

I was standing at a movie theater noticing all the frightened faces of the people in line as they shifted away from my slow functioning, minimally verbal, occasionally smelly, man son and I thought “This sure would be different if he was the star of the movie.” I giggled to myself to think that “then they would want his autograph.” And got an idea.

The idea was brilliant for a few reasons.

1- He wants to be independent and an actor
2- I want to change his environment and make a world of acceptance. If not for all then at least for him.
3- The media generally only shows higher functioning savant-like ASD people. Thus these beautiful people are invisible to the general population and remain scary. But, the thing is, once you know my son and others like him there is nothing to be afraid. My son is a wonderful person.

So I put him in my videos, to expose him, to you, so you can love him too. I tell you about him for the same reasons.

The camera loves Dar. It just might work. True I also make these videos to help you, so that you can hear me, but in fact

Dar, is my reason why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPhBzBK5Wak

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

Don’t Medicate: Let’s Play For Healthy Brain Growth!

While I was raising my sons I found myself faced with an “opposite” dilemma, in that while most parents were wondering if they were bad parents for putting their children on medication, I was wondering if my refusal of medication meant I was a bad mom. So I tried giving them some, just to be good.

Let me explain: I raised eight children. Of my eight kids, six were adopted and four of the six were on the spectrum of autism. Most people wanted me to medicate–especially the teachers. Eventually they wore me down and I tried Ritalin for three of them and Haloperidol for the other. The Haloperidol was good for six weeks until my son’s brain adjusted and then it wasn’t anymore. The Ritalin was always good … to the adults working with them. But to my sons… it was lonely. It made them notice their difference and fear the crash of late afternoon. It also left them awake all night and me exhausted.

However, even if I hadn’t been dreaming of dreaming, I doubt that I would ever have been comfortable with this experimentation process, because during it I never heard a single professional refer to my children as anything other than controllable. The thing is, I was looking for helpable and healable. I wasn’t wanting reasonable, hopeless, and trained. I also wasn’t wanting drugged.

So – feeling like a good mom for having tried – I threw the pills out and continued to look for answers.

I found some. And then I trained and certified and educated and began to spread what I knew, globally.

So here is a little of what I have discovered (By the way, three of my sons grew into successful independent men while the forth -with the help of his fiancé – is still trying.):

A child is often hyper simply because their brain is so tired that they have to keep moving to stay focused. You can drug them so that they sit at the desk or – as I chose to do – design walk and talk lesson plans that keep the brain stimulated while the person learns. The fresh air and movement keeps them alert and because brain activity and neuronal growth increase in the areas being used the wanted brain behavior in the desired part of the cortex strengthens. Thus, the need for chemical stimulants usually disappears. Though, the child/adult may still have to study for exams while walking on the treadmill. That’s a win/win.

Keeping the brain awake enough to help it learn to be awake for learning is the trick; sometimes it’s as simple as using the trucker’s trick of chewing ice, or carrots while studying. A slow steady intake of green tea and a good supply of brain vitamins like Focus Factor is another method for boosting the brain to operate correctly while it learns to help itself.

Of course, in mine and my children’s case—yes, I needed help too–as well as the cases of most of my clients the issue is pretty severe and needs more than movement, B vitamins and chewing gum to set things right.

So though I was clearly onto something with dietary changes (like avoiding pesticides, hmmm there’s a thought) and incorporating movement, I was still searching.

I discovered what I have come to see as the dynamic duo: play and neurofeedback. Neurofeedback (biofeedback for the brain) is complimentary to play because it is a reinforcing video game run by your brain waves, and in this exercising of brain wave control a cascade of healthy brain changes occur. This is also true of physical, competitive, and imaginative play. Especially when it is done with the awareness that – as you interact with another person – you are a feedback mechanism. Thus when you congratulate and delight in someone you encourage that person to grow more and more skilled at whatever activity you are engaged in.

To help people understand what neurofeedback is I often analogize it with learning to listen for your parents footsteps when you are late night chatting with your friends. You want to hear your parents, so you do nothing more than make their footsteps important and then let your brain do the rest. When your dad’s toe hits the first step there is a subtle shifting in the way you pay attention and filter sound, you don’t know how you do it but you do it. In the case of neurofeedback you make the game important and so when it gives reward tones and the score increases as you adjust your brain waves (initially quite by accident as a simple byproduct of being alive) you and your brain try to figure out how, and like in the case of the footsteps, you adjust your focus and filtering systems which are connected to your neurons etc.

This activity strengthens your brain, leads you to balance, and eases stress. At this point of comfort I use play to teach new skills.

Initially “special children” do the neurofeedback for me because I am so much fun they don’t want me to leave. Then, once they know that it makes them feel better, they do it for themselves.

Many people assume that if their children aren’t interested in video games or things of that nature then they won’t benefit from neurofeedback. This is not true in my experience, because brains operate on pattern recognition and are driven to want control. Thus their brain will try and control the reward tone even if the child has a “who cares” attitude.

All that being said, a stronger brain is still going to look to its environment for information–so neurofeedback isn’t enough. Environmental support and enrichment is a must.

Unfortunately, most programs train special children rather than grow them.

When you grow a child you give him the sunshine of play, and you rain compliments upon them. You steer them to want to participate and stretch for the light. You feed them lovingly and breathe in their wonder. When you train a child you do drills and make reports and ask them to comply. The first one creates independence, the second one doesn’t.

An example of how to encourage skills through play is to ask your child if they want to have a food fight. Assuming they like the idea you can move to problem solving the food to fight with. This may sound absurd at first, but it’s the outrageousness of the play idea that grabs enough attention to make it possible to actually learn typical, or “boring” skills well enough to remember and generalize them. If done correctly (and with a fair amount of pizazz) a child can learn money skills–as in replacement cost. Food categories and spoiling issues–as in eggs are fun but they carry salmonella. Proper clean up, clothing choices, location etc are all (pardon the pun) food for thought. In fact, this game could easily replace an entire day of school. Depending on your child’s functioning level and ability to cooperate it may replace weeks.

The beauty of this approach is that, in the case of autism for example, social skills and inappropriateness is a big deal. Play encourages connection while also creating opportunities for teaching appropriateness– as in where you can food fight and with whom.

So what does all of this have to do with medicine? Well… everything.

When people try medicine there is often an initial benefit that is hard to recreate. This is sometimes called the “first time effect” and refers to the phenomena of why many people chase after a repeat performance of their first time experience. This is the initial basis at the foundation of all addiction (and trust me, trying to heal your child can be an addiction) and leads to things like higher and higher doses, a parade of newer and more unusual prescriptions as the tried and trues wear out, and meds leaning upon meds like a game of pharmaceutical Twister as people are too afraid to stop something that helped once, while still reaching for and adding something that they hope will help now.

As an example of this last point I recently worked with a five year old boy who had been on an antidepressant since he was two. According to the parents their son was never depressed or negatively emotional, but the doctor believed the drug would encourage growth in the frontal lobes. This child had also been in Applied Behavior Analysis for that same period of time. The family had stopped the ABA but they were afraid to stop the medicine (just in case it was actually helping) even though there had been no gains – at all – during those three formative drug taking years.

Fear and a lack of knowledge creates this vicious cycle that is perpetuated by a lack of options and a system that supports medicine more than health. It is unfortunate because in five days of play and neurofeedback this young man succeeded in speaking, playing, pottying, and befriending. Now that’s a first time effect worth chasing.

So here are some tips:

1– If it will save your life take the medicine.
2– If it will help you heal take the medicine
3– If it will be short term while you recreate your lifestyle and you can’t get there without it, take the medicine.
4– If it will be non addictive and fits the criteria for 2,3,4 take the medicine.
5– If you are done with living and want to leave in peace take the medicine.

Otherwise, don’t.

Find a new way to move forward.

You may need to give your child a stimulant to help them focus so the teacher stops bullying them, but then look around for an alternative school or prepare for home schooling or find a new class.

Assume the school wants to grow your child and offer ideas like having him stand at the back of the room because he can listen better while standing, and get permission for gum chewing as the activity often helps with focus. If your child is lower functioning and in a special class then teach the teacher to encourage her by using her favorite activity as a means of getting her to join in like: “If your happy and you know it spin around”.

The beauty of neurofeedback and play is, though they also have a first time effect that hooks you to want more, as you do more and more the lesser impact of the therapy does not lead to an increase in sessions. Because the lesser impact comes from the fact that the brain has grown stronger and has less need. In general, psycho pharmaceuticals have the opposite effect.

I believe play/biofeedback should be our first line of defense with autism (and many other disorders like seizures and depression) since it can reduce the constant stress so many ASD individuals feel without creating any dependency. I also believe it is up to us to make choices, rather than follow instructions, even when they look the same.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

Choose Your Valentine With Care: He/She is Bound to Change your Brain!

When you connect deeply with someone a new person evolves, a kind of third wheel singularity that makes choices in cooperation–and even in discord–with the two of you. I first heard this concept, of all places, while reading the book In Cold Blood: a true story about two men that murdered a family of four living peacefully in the country. The writer explained how neither of these men would have committed this crime on their own, but that when the two of them got together a kind of third personality was born. Once this new shadow of life emerged, deeds that would previously have been impossible became acceptable, and actions that would previously have been morally filtered out are acted upon.

I thought about this A LOT! How often had I become a third person? Many times I realized. How often had I been careful in the creation of that person? Chosen well? Been aware? Seldom. Especially in romance.

I am unlike most girls. I never dreamed of a man who would buy me things. Not roses or chocolates or Lamborghinis– though I did hope one would gift me with children. I never dreamed of being spoiled are dripped in diamonds. I dreamed of working hard and saving people. Still, every year when the words “Will you be my Valentine” happened to find my ears via movies, grocery counter cards or radio ads, they coerced a feeling to stir within me, a feeling of yearning, of wanting, of wishing it were so. This would happen to me even if I had a special someone at the time. The difference then was I knew who to yern for and who to be disappointed in when they didn’t buy me the flowers I didn’t even want.

Romance is tricky.

I should know, I’ve been married five times. Five times by the age of 43 often for the reason noted above: wanting what I didn’t want.

At one point I even dreamed of getting married on Feb 14th in a white wedding dress covered in embroidered roses. I wanted it to take place on a cruise ship that reminded me of The Love Boat. I wanted it most Februaries even though I hate the claustrophobic feeling of cruise ships and deplore dressing up. I do like weddings.

Fact is, it isn’t just me, people don’t always – or maybe never- make sense. They are full of contradictions and emotional responses easily manipulated by childhood dreams, music and imagery. Heck even a camel will cry if you play them the right song. Seriously!

We may think we are strong but when it comes to romance, well, some of us are not.

So I devised a plan: Ask yourself who you want to be, how you like to spend your time, and if another person actually fits into this picture, Valentine That! The picture, the third person, the new reality.

Since you and the person you romance with, sleep with, plan with, work with, talk with, fight with etc, disappear into each other and create a new someone else, design with intention.

If you are wondering what it is that happens to you that could potentially make a new person out of you– they call it focus, but for this article we will call it love. This is because when you fall in love or reach to satisfy any yearning and then do, your nucleus accumbens lights up like a Christmas tree on LSD. This is your brain’s reward center having a party on its favorite neurochemicals. Actually, maybe I should have said cocaine instead of LSD because love keeps dopamine around almost as well as cocaine does, and dopamine is your reward center’s drug of choice.

Romantic love, like the pusher in the back alley, is addictive. Addictions change your brain. In fact all experiences change your brain, but addictions change them quicker and more profoundly by leading us to repeat our actions (in this case, focusing on our feelings and making them grow) over and over again. And as the apple of your eye’s pesky little pheromones infiltrate your brain, you lose your ability to judge and asses logically because your frontal lobes are not paying attention. At this point you no longer respond to warning signals about any aspect of your craved for sexy someone, at least until you are satiated. During this mainlining on love period we all lose a few IQ points by turning off our executive functions and lubricating our Limbic system. Our sensory readings go through the roof as we “feel’ the other person’s nearness, even before we make contact. In a sense our auras extend our bodies into each other. Our brains begin to fire more coherently across the hemispheres like a love seizure of sustained dimensions. So we are happy,giddy and slightly stupid. This is the Valentine drug of romance and while we engage in it we reshape the real-estate of our brains.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself surrounded by an intervention of friends who help you go cold turkey, you may emerge to discover that during your love drunk bender you reshaped yourself into someone you didn’t want to be. You may even of become legally entangled. (Don’t worry, divorce is pretty easy in Texas.)

And I should know, I’m a brain scientist, that’s been divorced five times. They call me The Brain Broad! I think it fits.

Fact is healthy love -which is what you hope you will have once the addictive period of romance backs off — is supportive, stress relieving, joyous, engaging, economically advantageous and mentally enlivening ” it is good for you. I know because all my non-romantic relationships are all of these things, these are the results of love and romance is not required to get them. I am blessed.

However regardless of who you love, you WILL become someone new, it happens, with each person you bond to, with or without romance. So “Who do I want to be?” should be the question you ask yourself not “Who do I want to want me, and what do I have to be to get them to?”

Being strong requires self-love. Being strong in romance, well, I never figured it out, but I suspect it requires choosing a third personality that fits your ideas, beliefs and goals.

Since I learned that quite late while I was “doing romance’ I never asked the right question. Thus, I spent most of my life single, waiting for a divorce so I could try getting married again. Throughout my entanglements I have been many personalities. I have been traditional enough to run cowering to get his slippers, been bisexual, had open arrangements and monogamous commitments. I have been the matriarch, the submissive, the reject-or and the rejected. I have worn many faces as I married against my own true self and tried to become the woman they would want me to be. It never lasted because — as it turns out — I want to be ” well” something unsexy and slightly intimidating. I want to be me.

I love me in fact. I am proud of my many accomplishments and enjoy all eight of my children, even the ones who don’t always enjoy me. (Stop rolling your eyes, they are not from my dipping into it with different daddies, I adopted most of them.) I live to love, just not to romance. In fact, every hat I willingly wear is motivated by love.

That is what I discovered when I did ask the questions. That is when I admitted I don’t like flowers, gifts, chocolates, or dating. I like working, playing, skill acquisition, and creating. I don’t accept limitations and learn myself out of them. I also don’t want a mate, though if it happens I guess I’ll change my mind. What am I looking for? Nothing. What would entice me?: A beautiful third person. This understanding gives a whole new meaning to ménage a trois.

And yes, I know that since I get my dopamine rush from so many other satisfying places in my life, because I am loved and love without libido distortions and projections of romance, I might always be available to work on Valentine’s Day. Fortunately, my heart is in my work. Have a good one.

Remember, keep your eye on the person you create.

PS: If you would like to be considered for the position of spouse number six I don’t care if you are male or female, but if you’re skinny then I need you to be rich enough to buy me lots of lipo because I do hate to feel fat by comparison. Oh, and if possible I would like to be the prettiest one in the bed. And one more thing” NEVER tell me what to do and I will return the favor.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

The WingMaker

Have you ever been too tired or depressed or broke or hopeless to find value in trying? Do you have a family member that is physically or mentally or emotionally challenged and you see no point in asking them to reach for more because that seems too hard? Probably at least one of those statements fits, right? In fact something in those two lines fits all of us. That is why I spend a lot of time, money and resources trying to reach people and lift them up: Because lifting them up lifts me up and we all get to have lives filled with joy and success.

I have seen many miracles in my life and for this I am blessed.

I often want to write these ‘Miracle’ (http://www.amazon.com/MIRACLES-ARE-MADE-Real-Life-Autism/dp/193475949X) stories I observe and occasionally I do manage to put fingers to keyboards but usually I am too busy helping to tell about it. This story though… (http://www.amazon.com/Wingmaker-Lynette-Louise/dp/1628650567/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386191318&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wingmaker) this one haunted me. I knew I had to write it and share it and uplift via telling it but I was just too busy.

Then a mom, speaking of her child, said, “I just prefer to think of her as too retarded because then I don’t ask much of her and that means I don’t get frustrated and that makes me nicer.”

In that moment the need to write the miraculous story of The WingMaker (http://www.amazon.com/Wingmaker-Lynette-Louise/dp/1628650567/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386191318&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wingmaker) about a beautiful – very similar -girl I played with became paramount. In that moment I knew that the parents of the world needed to hear her story.

I looked at this mom knowing I could help her, knowing I had the therapy and the play approach to make an enormous difference in her life and decided to write The WingMaker (http://www.amazon.com/Wingmaker-Lynette-Louise/dp/1628650567/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386191318&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wingmaker) I wrote because I knew that a story was one way to get her to listen, and try, something new.

That something new was attitude and biofeedback. When I discovered biofeedback it was something I had heard of many times before but, despite searching to help my five challenged children, I had never thought of it as having any relevance in my life. That all changed the day I read an article that described the science behind the concept. This science matched my already successful existing attitudinal approach using positive rewards to teach challenged children, mine included.

Today many years later having seen many children healed into lives of independence I find myself fully dedicated to creating unique ways to shout the possibilities created by biofeedback mingle with happy attitudes. Why? Because people like that mom, can’t always hear what is said without knowing that someone else has lived it before.

Fact is, in my field amazing stories happen, often. But in order to be scientifically viable we are constrained from sharing these stories in the fear that we will never be more than anecdotal. Meanwhile constraints of this type create lies of omission. My solution is to bring creative works into the world that reach the heart and open otherwise closed doors. And yes I shared the story with that mom. And yes it has already uplifted and inspired her to help her child in a new yet beautiful way. The cascading effect is: everybody heals.

On Friday Dec 5th, my new book The WingMaker (http://www.amazon.com/Wingmaker-Lynette-Louise/dp/1628650567/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386191318&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wingmaker) will be launched. It’s based on a true story about a young girl with CP. It’s an amazing story. And buried subtly within … just enough to tickle a person’s curiosity… biofeedback shares the credit. This story is great for any family and can go where our science documents cannot. Please help me share it.  Buy one for yourself, one for your loved ones and an anonymous one for someone you barely know.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

The Why’s of an Entrepreneur: The Business of Raising Kids with Autism

At what point am I a success? When my income reaches a certain level? When I stop getting money back from but instead start paying to the IRS? When I have more employees than family members? When? Well, for me the answer to that question is: When I get my why .

Let me explain by taking us back to my first business endeavor of the early nineties. I was new to the world of stand-up comedy. I was also old to be entering any field and the sole source of support for eight hungry children. There was no time to fail yet I had barely begun to learn. Rather than spend the usual four years performing on open mic stages for short five minute spurts at a time hoping to eventually share the stage with bigger names whom I could learn a polished comedic style from, I chose to hire myself. I decided to find bars that needed a boost in their traffic and create my own shows. I would advertise those “big name’ comedians, borrow from their popularity and experience in order to draw a crowd and improve my skills. Initially I struck door-deals with the managers of failing bars. In this arrangement I passed most of the door money to the “name’ the increased liquor sales went to the club leaving a grand total of $25.00 dollars an evening for myself. That money covered my gas and I supported the kids by adding a pay to sing karaoke component.

These Lynette created comedy Karaoke nights were unique back then. They were surprisingly popular. And before long I was working for more than gas money and groceries. Eventually all the comedians had gone from treating me with that new kid on the block disdain to a more she might give me work respect. The problem with that was since they now wanted me to give them work they no longer gave me honest criticism.

I remember walking into a competitor’s club and having all the heads turn as I looked around for someone fresh to hire. And — like an old black and white movie – the someone’s came out of the wood work: Someone lit my cigarette, someone got me a drink, someone gave me a chair, someone took my sweater, and another someone introduced themselves and asked me to watch their set. As the club lights dimmed and the show began I did a mental check on the upcoming gigs I still needed talent for and realized just how much of my time was being spent running this new business. I also realized how much of my time was not being spent on stage. That is when I knew it was time to quit. So though I had just gotten the business on its feet, I was about to close its doors. For most people a decision such as this is a mistake.

True, I was buying groceries with greater ease. In fact one might think that supporting the kids was my main goal so I should keep the business growing and increasing our variety of food choices. BUT, in fact, though caring for my kids was the main driver in my life it was not the main driver in my chosen careers. Lots of jobs buy groceries, I was “running rooms’ to improve my own stage skills. And the minute my business impeded that process by making me both an administrator and a person other comics mislead with ass kissing job seeking lies, well, it had ceased to serve its desired function. This new person that I was becoming was not the person I wanted to be. I considered teaching someone else how to do the administrative part of the business and get back on stage with greater regularity but I knew that wouldn’t work. Teaching the business to someone while raising eight children, four on the spectrum of autism, would take more of my time than performing would allow.

I have spent my career as a mom making quick decision to ensure food on the table and my career as a performer making quick decisions to ensure I kept my eye on the why of whatever I have chosen to do. I was lucky to have so much need at home force me to learn so quickly. I believe that it was due to the simultaneous tugging of both home and career development that I was able in both arenas to recognize success by my own criteria.

Its easy to look at someone’s life and choose based on our own why’s if they were or weren’t successful. It’s a little harder to remember that we are actually playing a game of “if I had your life with my why’s I’d call your life a failure.’

Thus, if you use your why’s while looking over the history of my entrepreneurial life, I may or may not seem successful to you. After all I grew many businesses till they had legs and then walked away. I tried my hand at birthday party entertainment, radio call in shows, jingle writing, freelance writing, speaking, singing, play writing, authoring spiritually driven novels sized self help books, renovating homes, indoor outdoor painting, furniture refinishing etc. Each and every choice had something to do with me paying bills, while simultaneously gaining skills and not having an employer who could fire me for bringing my adopted autistic kids to work.

For me running a business has been a necessity that solved my problem of under education and became income-generating apprenticeship styled school. Sometimes I even managed a grant for the formal version of learning. I gained unusual out of the box very effective techniques that raised most of my adopted autistic children out of their autism.

People began to find me. I began to help. Another business was born. But I know me ” I know my why. So though I now travel Internationally helping autism and families, though I am highly sought after, though I have a book that teaches from experience and brings people to me in droves, though I satisfy my need to share from the stage by speaking and doing a one-woman show on the brain and its ability to heal I will surely retire this job when I get my why.

Today that why is helping Dar (my still disabled son) to become independent. I teach to learn. And staying abreast of changes and doing research enables me to help others while helping him accomplish that.

So when I quit you’ll know I made it! That is always the case.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

Ignorant is Just a Word

Once upon a time, back when I first began working with other people’s autistic children, I found myself in a family’s living room surrounded by people hungry for advice.

It was the moment I excel at: Q & A. When it comes to autism, I just get it. The kids make sense to me so I find creating ways to help them reach desired goals relatively easy.

Someone said something about a neighbor being judgmental. I responded with, “They are just ignorant! It is up to us to teach them. They simply don’t know.” I was of course using the word as it was originally intended, before society recreated it and made it into slang. To be ignorant is to be uninformed. Apparently, the people I was talking to were ignorant of this definition of ignorant. As for me, I was so busy teaching that I was ignorant of their ignorance. My use of the word created quite a stir within the minds of these moms, who unfortunately chose not to bring it to my attention at the time, and the rest of my words were suspect. That is, if they were even heard at all.

The reason I bring this up is because the world of autism is presently fraught with Definition Wars. Quite honestly, I think all this worry over words is important, but misdirected. Most often it simply becomes the bullfighters cape; a distraction from the real threat. The fact is, in the living room that day, I was sharing something important. Onlookers are ignorant. They don’t know enough about the situation. That’s what makes them onlookers. It is up to those of us engaged in the world of autism to help them understand. Too many parents (my past self included) spend too many years avoiding the onlookers’ eyes, afraid of the scornful expression we might see in them as they look at our child. Too many parents feel angry and embarrassed when all they have to do is embrace the ignorance and then lead the way into knowing. Most often onlookers are in search of an opinion. Lets give them one, intentionally. Lets teach them how to be with our kids. They don’t know, and they likely grew up hearing it’s rude to ask. Thus the onlookers’ recourse is to create an opinion out of what they know about “normal’ kids, while we avoid their eyes and end up in a self-created world of persecution and judgment.

I have a well rounded understanding of this issue because I’ve lived and learned while raising my boys out of their autism. That day with the many moms, I had something important to share. Unfortunately, the group I was addressing was too distracted by the word ignorant to hear the message. I call this the “law of distraction” and families of autism adhere to this law as if it were as irrefutable as gravity. For me, when my kids were little the word retarded — which simply means slow — felt hurtful. My being hurt by these words was especially silly because my sons actually were officially retarded. It was also shortsighted of me because my sons didn’t mind the word. At least, as long as I didn’t. The problem came from the believed intent behind any word that could also be used as slang. After all, I was never hurt by their other labels– autistic, fetal alcohol syndrome (Now, now, don’t jump to conclusions, I adopted them.) and ADHD.

At some point (likely when I started doing stand up comedy) I came to understand the utilitarian purpose behind words. Body function humor, strategically placed ‘ef’ words, and bedroom observations had them rolling in the aisles. It occurred to me that they loved these indiscretions because I was comfortable, so they could have fun watching me say what they wouldn’t dare. Little by little I learned to strip away the punitive power of any possible word and search for the meaning in the sentence instead. Thus, I cared about the content while the words themselves lost all ability to inflict pain.

That is when we started using the word retarded at home. It was brilliant!

This comfort with the word retarded helped all of my sons. Especially my youngest. In fact, it led to him using it in a most descriptive way: He called himself “Reality Retarded’ in an attempt to explain how naà -ve he had truly been. Ignorant of the “R’ campaign in autism (campaign to stamp out the word retarded) I proudly shared the story, going so far as to write a blog about it. I was pegged as ignorant (the other definition).

Right about then I started looking around at all the Stamp Out Labels Definition War campaigns for autism. Its truly inspiring how so many people can spend so much time worrying about whether to say autists or autistics, aspergers or high functioning, hyperlexic or good at reading, retarded or “I don’t mean to imply any insult but your child is learning slower than most people in a somewhat retarded fashion’ J Problem is — while everyone is arguing about all these labels, the feeling of arguing is in the air. Our energy-comprehending-children-on-the- autism-spectrum are learning to be hurt by all these words they can barely say, or even understand, with their unique little auditory processing systems.

The whole Definition Wars thing reminded me of that time back in 1999 when David Howard (DC Mayor Anthony Williams top aide) had to resign from the office of the Public Advocate for using the word niggardly in its economic context which has no racial connotations at all.

Unfortunately, the people ignorant of the word niggardly created a stir and a man’s career (and likely his family’s bread and butter) spent a fair amount of time in jeopardy. The word itself and what that might mean became a hot bed for political media attention, even though the actual political issues were buried in the economic paper itself. Surely, Howard’s reporting that the coffers were so thin there wasn’t enough money to adequately support residents, was more important than his use of the word niggardly (which means miserly) in describing how he would have to be in order to get it all done. But no, his choice of words gained more attention than the substance of his economic predictions and solutions. In fact, as I check my opinions on this by asking around if any one remembers the incident, many do. Though none seems to recall anything about the paper he was presenting within which the un-offensive offending word lay. So David Howard retired, not because he was gay (which also means happy) which he was (at least one of these) but because he was too literate for the people he represented. Fortunately, his dictionary endowed supporters made enough of a fuss to have him — at least offered – a reinstatement.

So in my attempt to offer autism awareness and educate the onlooker, I present Rye Shelton, my son. A (used to be) retarded, autistic, fetal alcohol syndromed, touretted and obsessive-compulsive disordered boy, grown into a man. He is an amazing guy who has been busy with the job of healing, blissfully ignorant of the war on words.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

The Politics of Prevention

I would like to report that when I refer to “prevention” I mean prevention against illness. But I don’t mean that at all. I mean prevention against prevention.

Unfortunately, in its effort to separate itself from Holistic Medicine, Mainstream Medicine – or more simply, government supported by Pharma – has declared prevention eventually illegal.

Eventually illegal. It’s an absurd thought, but it happens a lot in our society.

For example, here in California – where I often reside – it was illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving, but not to text on one. Of course, everyone knew that eventually texting and driving would not be legal. But for a few months anyway, it was not likely to kill anybody because it was only eventually illegal.

Most likely this abject silliness in societal belief systems was an offshoot of some authoritative strategic planning: People riot when asked to change too quickly.

Fortunately, as every good scientist knows, incremental change is adaptive and can therefore make any kind of horrific event increasingly tolerable. This is because the adjusted comparatives shift the proverbial bar of acceptability. In other words… we get used to it.

So, whenever the powers that be want to enforce major changes, they know enough to “get us used to” one legislation before introducing another.

Applying this to the texting analogy, since it wasn’t illegal, we could pretend to have faith in the law and believe that texting wasn’t likely to actually kill anybody. But alas! Eventually illegal, eventually, came about. And then, remarkable, as our toys were taken away and we returned our eyes to the road it was hard to believe that anyone had dared to text while driving in the first place.

I know there are probably loads of people still texting and even more who knew it was dangerous before it was illegal. But my eventual point has more to do with the politics of prevention, than safety and prevention themselves.

You see, I am in the unique position of working with autism using the therapy (or stress reduction training modality) of neurofeedback world-wide.

Those of us working with this very exciting brain teaching tool are board certified under either the natural therapy spiritual healer model or the mainstream medical model.

As for me, I am board certified in both. This should mean that I’m double knowledgeable in the art and science of my chosen profession. In fact, it doesn’t mean that at all. What it means is that I’m better prepared than the next gal to not be sued. Either that or because of the clash in concepts of the legal and professional ethics within the two boards, I’m more likely to be sued. I’m not sure which. Unfortunately, there is no real way to discern the correct answer to that question.

When I first began working within the mental health field I was naïve enough to believe that the rules and laws pertaining to patients and clients were based upon what was right and/or wrong for said patients and clients.

However, it occurred to me that if such a thing were true, both Holistic Medicine and Mainstream Medicine would have the same rules to follow.

Instead, the rules for ethical operation are opposite in each. To correctly follow one is to break the rules of the other.

One says I MUST ask intake questions, while the other says I am NOT allowed to.

A little incongruence is one thing, but when government hides a global conspiracy to make Holistic Health Care eventually illegal and it’s hidden right under our noses in the form of public records, well, that’s a whole other kettle of political pollution.

So, in case the hiding spot was effective and you aren’t in the know, here it is: There is something called the Codex Alimentarius Treaty (http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/index_en.jsp) and it hides under the premise of good work and a verbose ambiguity in its presentation of the facts. At least on this website, anyway.

The problem with such a written presentation is that it’s too boring to maintain one’s attention long enough to not fall asleep while reading.

Thus, instead of the uninitiated eventually coming to understand what the Codex intends on making eventually come to pass, only those who are already educated on the subject will take the time to comprehend the Treaty’s objective.

This leaves the entire subject either obscure or open to interpretation of others, whom we then accept as experts simply because they seem to have read the damn thing. Thus, we endorse their opinion on the matter in order to have one and seem informed.

According to one of the boards that certified me (effectively becoming my expert on the subject), various governments gathered together and collectively agreed upon a plan of action whose intention is to eventually close down the alternative health care field. I have no idea if this interpretation (http://www.ntew.net/codex/treaty.html) is true or not, as the Codex documentation is too dry to discern. But it certainly is unnerving.

Though I can’t be sure of the truth, I do know that global governments wanting to prevent prevention in order to protect prescripting so that they can enrich the pharmaceutical industry, thereby eventually lining the pockets of their political campaigns is plausible, probable, and even extremely likely.

Fact is, the alternative healthcare field is harder to control than mainstream medicine with its tightly fisted licensing boards. And, historically, groups who are harder to control are seen as enemies by any government body trying to control them.

Thus, I suppose it is logical that my expert’s view of the situation is correct. Global governments will most likely want to make alternative and unlicensed healthcare eventually illegal: As soon as we get used to the idea!

Originally, the timing for “illegal” was set at 2005. However, the date has since been pushed back. Perhaps all that ambiguity is to blame. Ambiguity often leads to failure.

Normally, I’m very non-political and don’t write or talk about things like this. I focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t, and go about the business of helping rather than complaining.

But this issue is closer to home than I might like it to be. A few years ago I had a staph infection which led to lung surgery. It was Mainstream Medicine that saved my life.

However, staph infections are contagious and when my whole family began suffering with abscess after abscess, Mainstream Medicine could offer nothing outside of lancing (surgical) and thousands of dollars of gut wrenching antibiotics.

We spent the money. We took all the time and the advised precautions, but still we continued to grapple with infection upon infection over a two year period. Finally, I researched the problem on the internet only to find that mega doses of garlic and a five-dollar contraption (make from a nine volt battery, alligator clips and a piece of copper pipe) could cure us, every one of us, in five days—for good. I tried it. And it WORKED!

My family and I have had many such occasions to discover that health lies in the hands of alternative approaches to medicine. Nowadays, just as in my business, I am certified in both arenas of medicine.

So, in my home do I embrace the two?

I use Holistic Medicine for health maintenance, Mainstream for emergencies, and the internet for diagnosis and alternative solutions.

I, and you, are able to access these solutions due to the laws about freedom of shared information given to us in the past. With these laws intact, the internet, magazines, newspapers, television and books have been birthed.

Though I don’t normally “go political,” I felt remiss to not bring the problem to light somewhere. This is a new era with too much for any one person to know. I’ve come to believe that healing myself is my responsibility. My provider is simply one of the tools I use to do that with. But if some of those tools are removed, I may not be able to do my job.

So prevention has politics. And those politics are preventing us from preventing our own ill health or possibly demise. That is something we should prevent from happening.

I am engaged in the cause of preventing global misinformation from leading to an increase in maladaptive behaviors within the autistic community. I am busy. Therefore, I am going to delegate this objective to you.

Eventually illegal doesn’t always prevent eventual problems, illness and death. Sometimes it causes them.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

Prison Tour Teaching

When my children were young (eight kids aged 19-9) and my grandson was a newborn I took the entire family (plus a sound man) on a magical mystery tour of the penal system in North America. At that time four of my six adopted children were autistic.

Now you may think that traveling through Canada and the United States entertaining in prisons, jails and half way houses is a peculiar choice for a mom to make but then I am a bit peculiar, so I guess that makes it, in a peculiar sort of way. At the time I needed to create a more bonded family unit (Two of the adopted six were new arrivals — teenagers with biological families tugging at their sense of loyalty.) while still making a living in order to feed and cloth the brood that barely knew each other. I also needed to put some adventurous new thing in every single day in order to stimulate interest in external reality and encourage mental flexibility in my autistic sons (This was my own idea and counter to everything I was being taught but seemed peculiarlarly logical to me. And since three of the four autistic kids eventually came off the spectrum maybe peculiar logic is the answer to autism.).

I was looking around for ideas when I noticed that my teenagers had become enamored of the idea that they might be “bad girls’ destined to write books while serving time in solitary confinement. (It was a period when movies were romanticizing prison, my children were not outside the influence of Hollywood.). Knowing that a captive audience was a good thing for me I decided to hone my family’s performance skills by creating a show and then donating our time while traveling from correctional facility to correctional facility. I made the bookings. Since it was costing them nothing they were happy to have us.

I wrote, directed, produced and starred in the play whose inflated intention it was to save prisoners lives by teaching them that you can always make something good out of something bad. I also wrote, produced and sang on a CD in order to have product to sell. We would need gas (hence we often convinced truckers at truck stops that they couldn’t live without my music) and money for hotel fees and groceries. I would use my credit card for the hotels and packed up the CD’s for everything else. Away we went.

This story deserves to be a book, perhaps it will be someday but for now I want to share some highlights:

We were robbed of our sound equipment in New York.

We were late to Sing Sing and almost caused a riot.

We were taped for National TV in Stony Mountain.

We broke down in Houston missed our show in Dallas.

No Dallas meant no CD sales so our sound man left.

We were saved by truckers in New Mexico.

We were stars in Phoenix.

We were robbed once more, this time in Vegas.

We did our last American shows without shoes.

We were redressed in Calgary.

On the final leg home — after four months of travel – all the children were sleeping in the back of the van. I was driving down the highway in Northern Ontario when the sky lit up with a beautiful display of Aurora Borealis. Everything danced in muted greens, golds, pinks and yellows.

I pulled over on the side of the road and crawled onto the roof of my vehicle to watch. It was as if the universe were setting off spiritual fireworks in celebration of our return. I was breathless with awe and happy to be appreciated. One by one the kids woke up and joined me. Our own personal sky dance went on for hours. We watched until well after sunrise.

As we did this we were mostly silent and worn out with wonder. Then, as the sun began to glow and drown out the Northern Lights, conversation poured from us in unison. Even the autistic kids shared, in their own peculiar fashion. We were verbally tumbling over each other transported by the joy of all that we had survived and become privy to, each of us was excited to add our own personal vision to the pot of personal epiphanies.

It was then that I finally heard it: a bonded family composed of rag tags and misfits, happy to be alive.

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

Empathy is for the Healthy

Have you ever been about to throw up, or about to wet yourself because you were stuck in a traffic jam, or needed to rip your clothes off and jump in a cold shower because you were having a heat flush? When that was happening did you find yourself unconcerned about the needs of those around you? And if so did that mean you were lacking in empathy? Why of course!

You were lacking in empathy. In that moment, your focus was full. Of course once you emptied your bladder or your upper intestine or got out of the shower you became open to others again and your ability to empathize returned. But what if your focus was always full?

What if your every waking moment was spent handling one sensory assault after another or vestibular dysfunction or social challenge? What if every time you looked at someone you were asked to do something that indicated you cared about them? How would you deal with that if your focus was already full trying to keep the edges of furniture from wiggling when you walked? Would you avoid making eye contact? If that were the case you just might be labeled autistic.

According to science though the brain is a great multi-tasker it can only consciously focus on one thing at a time. Thus if you are having difficulty walking, or talking, or seeing with your eyes… if you are feeling ill, or tired, or crawling with bugs … if you are reading, or writing, or computing math … you are likely to be lacking in empathy. Empathy comes – only – when we focus on the person for whom we are to feel it. That is the power of movies. Gaining our focus, enhancing it through darkness, music, close-ups and silencing our cell phones. Even my adopted autistic kids could empathize at the movies, if they didn’t have to pee, or eat, or wear head phones to filter the

loud noises. Then as they healed (I use neurofeedback and specialize in helping autistic kids heal) they became less riddled with social confusion and sensory distress. And as they became less riddled with social confusion and sensory distress they empathized with anyone, who could hold their focus.

Once focusing on others had emerged well… After some practice with the uncomfortable emotions empathy can endow upon the empathizer, my children (and all the children I work with) became kind, helpful, just bought my mom tires for her car kinda kids. They not only began to express their concern and embrace empathy, they did it daily.

So back to the question ‘Do autistic people feel empathy?’ No probably not, when they are busy, which is most of the time. And neither do you.

But of course we can feel it. And so can they.

Global autism expert, Lynette Louise, raised eight children –six adopted, four of whom were on the spectrum of autism– she was able to guide all but one out of autism and into independence. Lynette travels internationally, performing and speaking on the subject of autism and the efficacy of neurofeedback (biofeedback for the brain). She is the author of the inspirational and honest new book MIRACLES ARE MADE: A Real Life Guide to Autism and host of the show A NEW SPIN ON AUTISM: ANSWERS!

Welcome to my Brainy Lady blog! This is where I get to take off the doctor’s coat (it's not mine--yet), tie it around my waist and share autism tips, surprising brain science, funny personal stories and painful doctorate program homework complaints… okay, maybe I'll avoid that last one. Regardless, I hope to offer insights and invite the same while enjoying a cup of coffee with the autism, neuroscience, psycophysiology, parenting, spiritual, thinking, comedic, curious community! If that leaves you out, I'm sorry and suggest you try on one of the many hats. One is bound to fit!

Jingle Bell Rock–and stim! Tips for enjoying the holidays with your whole family!

1 – Every child likes to shop – their way. If shopping has proved stressful you likely had an agenda. So when you take your kids shopping, take them shopping – not you. Do this for all your children–not just the autistic child. Admire their choices as you let them choose the gifts they want to buy. So what if they buy their sister a so jar of mustard? Maybe they think that is a good gift. Instead of simply redirecting them, try to understand why.

2- In other words give control – your children spend their days being ordered and shaped so let go on the holidays. Let them just be autistic (or fourteen) for a change.

3- When you plan outings give them a say (non-verbal kids can point or make noises to help guide you … most kids do better when they have a voice … even a non-verbal one) how long and where and who will they see…

4- Make the car your friend. It’s familiar and smells like family so if they need a space to pull themselves together in, use the car. It goes everywhere!

5- Eat in unison. This means that if they have a special diet either everyone picks their favorite foods and your ASD child feels happy with that or everyone eats the special diet. Way too often the difference in the diets drives the kids to tantrum.

6 – Give gifts that THEY want NOT toys the educational department approves of. For example, if your child loves baby pillows give him a refrigerator box full of them. If he wants that every year so be it. Those other toys come from our wishes not theirs. So those other toys are not gifts, they are lessons.

7 – Don’t invite problem people. Leave that for everyday life – that way holidays are a holiday – for all of you.

8 – When you do go to events, your children may have discomfort so let them bring a favorite sensory comfort toy (or if it’s a sibling bring a best friend).

9- Make a memory that they want, not that seems appropriate. Take pictures and paste them in a book that day… that way they have something to hold on to till the next time the rules evaporate J

10 – Put decorations like trees etc up the night before so you can dedicate the day to the holiday. Decorate together and find beauty in the child version of decorative … keep things low and edible (like popcorn strings for the trees and cookie ornaments) and have the siblings all pitch in to create and devour.

11 – Wrap gifts in fun stuff like comics and bubble wrap and toilet paper and streamers and pillow cases and bags that you decorate and then wear on your heads …

12 – Avoid blinking lights that mesmerize and singing toys that surprise unless the child has indicated happiness for such things.

13 – Laugh, play, make a mess and do holidays the autistic way… after all, Xmas is for kids.

Remember, you can’t teach a child to relax and enjoy family unless you do. Happy Holidays!