“So many people are looking for the one pill miracle solution to autism that they often miss the boat and their child grows up while they search the Internet,” wrote Lynette Louise. She had me keenly interested with her book and story as soon as I read that first line. Special Needs Book Review was pleased that Lynette Louise and her daughter, Tsara Shelton, agreed to write a guest post introducing Lynette’s book, MIRACLES ARE MADE: A Real Life Guide to Autism. Read their post here. Today our Author Interview Series goes up a notch with an interview with this amazing mother of eight children, four of whom had autism.
Lorna: Welcome to our Author Interview Series! Congratulations on all your accomplishments. It must be you found a “magic-energy-giving” pill somewhere along the way. Your story is so amazing. Let’s start with the make-up of your family. What motivated you to adopt children when you already had children of your own? How is everyone doing now?
<<Lynette Louise: Thanks! The kids were my energy pill by the way. There was just no time to be tired. For everyone’s understanding I raised eight children, six adopted, five disabled, four were multiply diagnosed and on the autism spectrum. Also, all the adopted children were abused.
As for my motivator – hmm – I never know how far back to go with this question. I could tell you that when I was around eight I decided to have six to eight kids, that my dad and brother were adopted so it was a viable form of becoming a parent to me, that I wanted to be a missionary and save children from that early age till today, and that would be true. But I could also say that I had had three children, my son died at birth, and I couldn’t have anymore kids so I adopted. Special needs kids were easier and faster to get, and so I adopted special needs kids. Once I had six my daughters advertised me to their friends and I ended up with two more from troubled homes, and that would also be true. But I think the real answer is I am greedy. I love kids and I wanted lots of them. I especially wanted kids that I believed I could help more than possibly the next guy.
As for how they are all doing: wonderfully! They all (except one) have strong independent well established lives. The one who is still at home is exciting everyone right now with his new skills and improved language. So all in all, I am blessed.>>
Lorna: In your Facebook bio I found, “Lynette Louise holds two board certifications in Neurofeedback and is working on her PhD in Clinical Psychophysiology at UNM’s College of Psychophysiology. She has her BCN-T, CBS which means she is doubly board certified in Neurofeedback. She has also been certified by Autism Treatment Center of America in two different modalities as well as been degreed in Computer Science. She raised her kids while educating herself.” Bravo for all this! Armed with these degrees and knowledge what did you first set out to do?
<<Lynette Louise: Since as far back as I can remember I set out to be a missionary mom who is a writer and performer that moves people to grow ‘happy’ through emotional experience. I think I have realized all of those intentions. And I guess care-giving and orating came first, as I was an extremely sought after babysitter that gave sermons by age 11. Besides it was easier to become a mom than a graduate.
As for my first educational goal… well I was a high school drop out with two children and two failed marriages by age twenty. I was in Canada at the time and they had a provision which allowed high school dropouts to go to college as mature students as long as they had been out of school and self supporting for a minimum of two years. The criteria fit me but I didn’t have the self-esteem to believe I could do anything sophisticated. So I tried to get into a keypunch operator course.
Funny thing is keypunching was a dying field for non-thinkers. I had completely misunderstood myself. I failed the exam because I was too precision oriented which made me slow. The admission’s officer suggested I test for computer programming. I thought that was a joke, after all I was a looser with no idea how to do anything but raise children. I scored off the charts.
My Aspergian-like mind loved the logic of flow charting for computers and so I not only excelled at programming but I discovered something that changed my future life: I love school when I am allowed the control and responsibility that college affords its students. The rest is history. >>
Lorna: You say that since neurofeedback is much like play therapy for the brain, it is congruent with everything else you know and teach about raising children with autism. In April 2011 your book, “MIRACLES ARE MADE: A Real Life Guide to Autism” came out. You wrote that your book advocates for autism, and neurofeedback. Please elaborate.
<<Lynette Louise: Well, the thing is we are giving feedback at every turn to our children. We say good girl, bad girl, smart boy, stupid boy, (well hopefully we don’t say that one), that is feedback. We smile we frown, we lower our voice we clap… all feedback. In play therapy I use positive feedback and matter of fact instruction to teach while having fun. I don’t really use punishment or negative feedback but I use the absence of positive feedback as a sort of soft punishment.
Neurofeedback is a method of doing something similar but in this case directly to your neuronal functioning. By attaching sensors to the scalp a person is able to observe their brain wave behavior and adjust it in order to reach a desired goal. To make this more motivating we use video games. The experience for the person is that they seem to be playing a video game with their brain rather than their hands, and in fact they are. As they play they practice being in a new more balanced state, and the brain changes accordingly.>>
Lorna: You are now hosting the radio show A NEW SPIN ON AUTISM: ANSWERS. Tell us about some of the interesting guests you have had. What are your goals for this radio show?
<<Lynette Louise: Good Question. All my guests have been interesting of course and I don’t really have any favorite shows but I have been blessed with a few guests that fill society’s idea of ‘important’. People like Johnathon Schaech, Donna Williams, Madam Becky, etc … and some well known product presidents like David Humphrey of Kirkman Labs as well as great scientists like Helen Ratajczak PhD … have generously shared their thoughts and feelings.
I have tried to keep the show creative and interesting by telling stories from my work around the world and sticking to themes that address issues in new ways. For example I spoke with Dr Michael Brein, The Travel Psychologist. Together we pondered the benefits of travel for individuals with autism (I home-schooled mine for 18 months while traveling and living in an RV. The kids learned, North American history, social skills, map reading and road signs among other things.).
I have been joined by personal friends like my pianist Mitch Kaplan (I share him with Sandra Bernhardt and Beth Lapides of Uncabaret). Mitch is a little ASD and he was willing to tell his story and play his emotions on the piano. A CP stand up comedian colleague and friend TK Madison came on to discuss his (and my) experience of learning social skills from the stage.
I have also interviewed my family and given them a chance to answer the question of cure and autism. I think I called that show ‘Are You Normal Now?’ But as for my plans for the show I don’t really have any. In fact I never did. I just address the issues I think will help people and talk to folks I think are interesting. When I feel done, I’ll quit.>>
Lorna: There is never a dull moment in your life! Your latest project is a reality series which you are still filming called FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD. I watched a video of you explaining the need for funds to make this project successful. Tell us about this reality series and how it is progressing.
<<Lynette Louise: FIX IT IN FIVE is an unscripted show. I have cameras with me as I play and teach a family wherein at least one member has a brain disorder and some symptoms of autism. I meet the family, work with them for five days and then revisit to see the progress six months later. Each family is from a different country and I will choose very different aspects of autism in each show. So far we have shot two families. That is ten shows, one per day. We are knee deep in editing and two weeks late putting it up onto the Autism Channel.
I want to create this show without company sponsors so that I can show what happens rather than concern myself with being PC or supporting the therapy of the day. But I confess, it has been very financially challenging and may bankrupt me. That being said it’s a show that needs to happen.
Autism is worldwide. It’s important to show the samenesses and the differences culture to culture. More important though is that I see the bar for autistic kids as set way too low. They are much more capable than we allow them to show us. Unfortunately, they usually rise to just below the level of our bar so if we drop it to meet them they tend to drop it as well. I see amazing changes in three to five days. I want the world to see and learn so that these wonderful people can grow the way they were meant to grow.>>
To read more about Fix It In Five go to this web site.
Lorna: You wrote that as an autism speaker you get a kick out of sharing answers and inspiration with humor and an honesty that comes from understanding autism as a mom, a professional and an individual. When you speak to parents what are some of the points you try to get across?
<<Lynette Louise: Parents are pretty racked with guilt. This is especially true of moms. It’s illogical but that doesn’t stop us Parents tend to think that if they were good parents or loved their children enough then they would just know how to help them. Or at the very least they would know to not hurt them. I try to dispel that myth. I explain that…
You (the parents) were raised in a school system so you think teaching means sitting at a desk. When they say your child learns slowly you – out of love naturally think – more desk. In fact a whole therapy grew out of this type of thinking. When your child speaks but won’t answer your questions you likely remember when you were being stubborn and didn’t answer your parents. So you think stubborn. This type of being trained as a child on how to be a parent is how it’s done. But unless you were autistic no one trained you on how to raise an autistic child (and even if you were no one trained you on how to do it right). So you do what you were taught to do. That doesn’t make you bad, just wrong.
When you were a child playing at being a parent you likely didn’t pretend your child was special. So you are completely uninformed and when you seek information you give away your power to professionals who all grew up just like you. So if some of the things you do or did increased some of the symptoms so what? Just relearn and try again. All parents mess up. That is a given. Just be willing to keep going and constantly reshape yourself. There are great gifts ahead if you do that.
Another very important point is that your child is not a problem. Your child is a child. Your child is bonded and loves you more than anyone else no matter what you see. Your child understands so much more than they can express, so just play with them. We are suppose to play with kids. That IS how they learn.>>
<<Lynette Louise: I am on twitter @lynettelouise even though I don’t really get the point of it
Read Also: Guest post introducing MIRACLES ARE MADE: A Real Life Guide to Autism