by Anne Maxwell, LCSW
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
~ Albert Einstein
It has become clear to me, having worked as a psychotherapist for the past 25+ years with children, families and adults of all ages and kinds, that there are particular cultures of thinking or attitude in regard to the way people, and especially kids, should function. Those that don’t function according to the rules and regulations in play around them are labeled with ‘disabilities,’ especially in educational and medical communities.
Autism is one such definition.
I have a different way of viewing people who have been labeled with autism, and, 10 years ago, when I discovered the tools of Access Consciousness®, my practice changed, as did the children and adults I was working with... more ease, longer-lasting change, happier families.
Some questions I was invited to...
“Want to go riding?”
My friend Alison and I were in Dublin with other friends, attending a class. She had found a stable just outside Dublin. The website showed spectacular views, through woods, up in the hills, looking down on the city of Dublin and the ocean … hard to resist!
On the day of the ride, the sun was shining, soft blue Irish ocean sky with puffy clouds.
We arrived at the stable and were welcomed by horses peeking out from their stalls, curious. “You picked a good day … the weather is beautiful,” the guide said, greeting us. “It doesn’t happen like this very often!” She had us fill out paperwork (the last time I rode was as a little girl, riding a large, gentle old horse named Sasha, bareback.) She and the stable hands saddled up horses and brought them out in the courtyard.
“This is Divo,” she said, as she handed the reins over to me. ...
“Can you help me? My son needs to be in some therapy, like a therapy group. Can you recommend one for him?”
I was at the bank, and my favorite banker was doing some last-minute paperwork for me, before my move to another state. She knows I have worked as a child and family therapist for years, and, was lamenting the fact that I would be moving my practice out of state.
“How old is he?” I asked.
“What’s up? What’s going on that makes you look for therapy for him?” I asked.
She looked worried and slightly embarrassed.
“He won’t sleep by himself, and I’m exhausted. I stay in his bed until he falls asleep, and usually, when I get up, he wakes up and cries. If he doesn’t wake up then, he wakes up at two in the morning, screaming and crying for me. He’s a mama’s boy and he’s mad at me a lot of the...
How many New Year’s resolutions have you made?
And how many have you kept?
Not so many?
I cannot tell you how many times I tried … and tried … for years … and I would greet each New Year with renewed seriousness and earnestness and intention and gravitas … It was exhausting!! And ultimately not very satisfying, as I observed my weight creeping back up or my continued attraction to men who preferred to be with other women or my inability to sustain a workout routine or my continued attraction to people who viewed themselves as superior to me or my earnings that never seemed to go above a ceiling … the lists went on.
So, I decided to quit with the resolutions … except I never really did … I just didn’t announce them or claim them or admit that that was what I was up to … with similar results.
And whose beliefs were those, anyway? Where did I make myself think I needed to weigh...
My family always had a thing about money.
Sometimes we had it, sometimes we didn’t. And during the times that we didn’t, we never let on … it was a secret. We kept up the appearances of having it and nobody was to know.
Money was not that big a deal to my dad. His point of view was if he had it, he spent it … and if he didn’t have it, he still figured out a way to spend other people’s … they would either loan him money (which he rarely repaid) or gift it to him. For my mom, appearances were important.
I grew up in an affluent suburb of Boston, in a beautiful old house, surrounded by fields and woods, with a river just over the hill. My childhood consisted of private schools in Boston, summer camp in the French Alps, a boarding school in central France, and multiple trips to Paris and to the south of France. By all appearances, we had money.
And yet, there was always an undercurrent … a...
My mother came to live with us for the last two years of her life. She had profound dementia and was medically fragile, requiring in-home hospice services for the last 18 months of her life.
She and I had always been very close. Despite our occasional ups and down, we were fond of each other and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Ours was the kind of relationship that had never been dependent on physical proximity. There were times where we communicated almost daily and times where we didn’t.
As the dementia progressed, several things occurred. She became less and less able to recall recent events or conversations, which among other things, created an almost childlike delight in her daily life. For her, everything was new, so if it was something she enjoyed, she was delighted each time, as if it was the first time! “Why, it’s been years since I’ve had corn on the cob!” she would exclaim...
Conversation in my office last week, between an awesome, magical, athletically gifted 12-year-old boy, his Mom and me.
Mom: Everything was going really well until last night, when we spent most of the evening in Urgent Care.
Me: Wow! What happened?
Mom (looking at her son): Bike accident!
Me to 12 yo (observing no bandages, no outward signs of injury): Awww!! Are you ok?
12 yo (squirms and nods, studying the floor)
Mom: He cut open his scrotum … there was blood everywhere!
Me: Ouch!! What happened?
12 yo: Well I was on a path and I fell off the bike.
Mom to me: Now it’s a “path!” Last night on the way to urgent care, it was a curb …he hit a curb!
Me (smiling at him): A path?
12 yo: Well … actually it was stairs!
Me: Hmmmm! Open stairs or a stairwell?
12 yo: A stairwell.
Me: Wow! What were you thinking?
What are children saying when they “act out”?
A mom brought her five year old son to see me. He had been getting into trouble at school and was difficult at home. They sat on the sofa … he couldn’t keep his hands off her and she was clearly irritated.
At one point, I asked him: “What do you know?” He sat bolt upright and appeared to stop breathing. His eyes locked into mine. He said: “Mikey (her boyfriend) is going to move in with us, and then he’s going to leave and Mommy’s going to cry.” She burst into tears.
A week later she called to tell me that his “naughty” behaviors had all but disappeared, and, that she had broken up with her boyfriend!
Tool: Ask a question!
The next time your child gets into...
I had a skype session recently with a 7-year old boy and his father. The boy had been getting into trouble at school and at home, and his dad was at his wits’ end! He didn’t know what to do anymore. He was exhausted.
The two of them were together in a room, sitting in chairs next to each other, behind a table. Or rather, the Dad was sitting upright in his chair and the boy was upside down in his … legs and feet waving in the air, head nowhere to be seen! The Dad said to him in a part-stern part-begging voice … “Joey, you need to sit up … you’re not being polite.”
I quickly reassured the Dad that it was fine with me for his son to choose how to sit in the session. His dad looked relieved. A little arm appeared and waved at me!
I asked Dad what was going on, and, as he told me about his son’s behaviors, the legs and arm continued to flail in the air.
Then, I asked the boy if I could ask him a...
I took my first Foundation class eight years ago. That class changed everything for me. It turned my world upside down. It created space for me that hadn’t been available before. I was different. I was happier. I actually liked myself a little! And I noticed that people wanted to be around me, more than before.
The day after that class, members of my family and extended family came to our house for a holiday celebration. They stayed for three days. We had been estranged from each other for many years, and this was the first time in a very long time that we occupied the same physical space.
It was incredible!
We enjoyed each other’s company. We had conversations with each other we hadn’t dared dream about. Old wounds healed. The past lost its significance. And, we had fun together.
And, it happened without upset, without drama.
It was so different.
Since that first class, I’ve taken many Foundation classes and facilitated even more. What I love...