Empowering and advocating for mothers who have children on the autism spectrum.

Five years ago I shifted my identity from a working mother to a stay at home mom. Not long after, I found myself addressing and searching for answers about our youngest child's developmental delays. After much denial, shock, and yes even guilt, a formal diagnosis of Autism was determined in 2008.

A whole year went by and my daughter was still catatonic, nonverbal, clumsy, stemming vocally, spinning, eating only a few foods and many non-edible items, exhausted from irregular sleep patterns, wearing diapers, isolated in her own world, and having tantrums because of fundamental frustrations and we were going nowhere fast!

Then out of the blue, during a meditation, I had an epiphany that she was exceptional regardless of these challenges and this label that had been imposed upon her being. This tiny thought transformed our lives. With raw frustration and a glimpse of hope, I fired all of her specialists, hired a new team and successfully took matters into my own hands. I spent tireless hours researching and implementing modalities within my reach. I knew we had a small window of opportunity and felt it was closing quickly.

As a Reiki master with extensive knowledge in the alternative health arena, a master's degree in counseling and unconditional love, I knew I was equipped to take my power back as a mother and became my child's biggest advocate. I stopped saying my daughter was autistic and started saying, "My child experiences autism," or "My child is diagnosed with autism." See, we can change our experiences and labels, but if we determine we are this label or that experience that is harder to change.

I shifted my perception of my child being disabled to this phenomenal spiritual being that was here to offer immense lessons to me and all of the lives she touches. Autism became a gift not a disability in my motherly eyes. I became grateful toward God (the Universe, Spirit, or whatever you call your higher power) for trusting me with this incredible soul! I started to interact with her differently and I started to find joy where there used to be heavy despair. This shift in ME caused amazing shifts in my daughter.

This past year has been full of huge accomplishments and joyful milestones. We have gone from catatonic to an expression of life; non-verbal to the use of pronouns, conjunctions and some functional speech; no eye contact to eye contact without ABA protocols; isolated play to parallel play and then interactive play; and so much more! We are learning nothing is outside of our reach with a little time, patience and intent.

Along this personal journey, I have learned that many children are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD, ADHD, ODD and PDD-NOS. In addition to these common diagnoses, more and more kids (and adults) are experiencing depression, anxiety and other emotional upsets.

I speak with mothers weekly about how they are at the end of their rope, on the brink of exhaustion, and living on nothing because insurance will not cover most traditional therapies. This truth coupled with the memory of being so alone and hopeless at the onset of my journey, inspired me to embrace my own advocacy and energy practice, Exceptional Beyond Labels.

Exceptional Beyond Labels is dedicated in supporting families and individuals with natural approaches to alleviate some of the major issues surrounding these difficult experiences. We are committed to offering services that we have found to be beneficial in our own personal journey. We have had the most success with and therefore specialize in Reiki, meditation and soul healing. Although Reiki and these adjunctive services do not cure these conditions, it is our experience that they can alleviate some of the major issues and stresses in very sensitive children and adults. In fact, we believe that the whole family dynamic can benefit from these services allowing for a reduction in day-to-day stress and a higher functional expression of life.

If you know someone with autism (most likely you do since 1 in 91 kids today experience this condition) or other behavioral/emotional conditions, please pass this article on to them. My intent is to empower mothers to see that their children are exceptional beyond the labels that they experience and that they have power within themselves to help their children achieve their true potential!

I intend to keep my practice small enough to give each client precisely what they need while remaining active in my own family endeavors, but large enough to begin a ripple effect of empowerment among a community that is desperate for answers. I look forward to working with you and your exceptional children!
Susan is the author of The Mother Consciousness and www.Alterna-Mom.Blogspot.com; and the founder of Exceptional Beyond Labels, an organization dedicated in empowering and advocating for mothers who have children on the autism spectrum. For more information visit www.meetup.com/Exceptional-Beyond-Labels/.