Recognize When You Need a Break

If you have a child with autism, you might realize they seem to experience the world differently. Here at The Son-Rise Program®, we understand that autistic people have sensitive sensory systems and interpret sights, sounds, smells, textures, etc., with different degrees of intensity. This sometimes can make the world feel unpredictable and overwhelming to them. People with autism may need to disconnect from their surroundings to take care of themselves. This could look like they are not looking or responding; perhaps they are stimming, scripting, pacing, or playing by themselves, for example.

In The Son-Rise Program, we recognize that it is beneficial when our children take care of themselves in this way. We call this a Red Light moment. It’s a sign for you as a caregiver to take a pause from trying to engage your child and help them cope by letting them stim and, if possible, do The Son-Rise Program Joining technique to show them your love and acceptance. Once they have taken the time to regulate, or as one Son-Rise Program grandfather/doctor recently said, “heal themselves,” they will choose to interact (we call this a Green Light) and be so much more ready to engage and learn.

Here’s the thing: we ALL have Red Light moments. Perhaps not as often as the autistic people we love, but we, too, have moments of overwhelm. It’s important for us to recognize our own Red Lights and honor those as well, in order to have the energy to pursue our needs, wants, and goals.

Recently I traveled to help teach a family at the Autism Treatment Center of America® in our Son-Rise Program Family Training. At the end of the week, I got caught in a snow/ice storm that stranded me at the airport for a day. I was then stuck in a hotel for another couple of days, waiting for an available flight. I was jostled and moved around so much. On Monday, when I was still at the hotel, I attempted to work. I had plans for myself and lists of things that still needed to be accomplished. However, a little after 1pm, when I was trying to work in a lobby with colorful lights, visitors chatting, and someone vacuuming around me, I recognized I was spent! I just couldn’t concentrate. My head was buzzing, and I knew it was no use trying to do anything. I was in a Red Light!

I gave myself permission to stop trying and find a way to take care of myself. I decided to pack up and go to the airport early, where I was actually able to find a small cubicle. I put on my sleep headphones/eye mask and took a little nap. After that, I felt a little better and could make a quick work video and cope with the rest of my two evening flights with more patience. Now, this is an extreme example for me. However, I can tell you of many other moments of overwhelm when I was a stay-at-

home mom with two young kids, after a jam-packed day, fighting with my husband, or many other moments that can influence our own Red Lights.

What’s important to me now is to recognize those Red Lights for myself. I give myself permission to STOP and take care of myself however I can before I continue with my day.

One of our Son-Rise Program Advisors, Linda McGinn, a Scottish Son-Rise Program Mom, prefers to help herself with tea. She says, “I have a wee cup of tea regularly. Not because I am thirsty but because it’s something I like to do by myself. It’s my sacred time, and I don’t like to be interrupted; I recognize that as my Red Light.” As I mentioned, I can take quick power naps that recharge me, or I can at least lie down for a few minutes listening to calming music or meditating. Even when I was home with my little girls, if needed, I would set them up with an activity (The Son-Rise Program Playroom is terrific for a safe place to be!) and tell them it was my time for a break.

If you have two parents at home, it can be helpful to talk about your Red Lights so that one parent can watch the kids and the other parent can take a “wee” break. When you give yourself permission to relax and recharge, you can return feeling ready and willing.

Another wonderful resource for you is that if your Red Light feels more emotional, asking yourself a few questions, such as those used in the Option Process® Dialogue, can be helpful. This can help you uncover your hidden beliefs and perhaps change your perspective, which can be a huge relief and energy giver. Some questions to yourself could be: “How am I feeling right now?” “Why am I feeling this way?” What am I believing in this moment that may be causing these feelings? “Do I want to believe that?” If not, you can come up with a new belief that may help you feel better.

An example is switching the guilt-causing belief that “a clean house is best” to “a happy house is best today.”

However, sometimes, you might not even have the energy to ask yourself questions. It’s okay; it’s a Red Light. Bond with yourself and take a break.

So, what do you think? What do you like to do to help yourself through a Red Light?

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