What about mom? Reducing stress in mothers of children with autism

Original post from Mother Nature Network (MNN)

‘………….By: Jenn Savedge

Researchers find that when moms of children with disabilities get stress relief, the whole family benefits.

Photo: Nadezhda1906/Shutterstock
Photo: Nadezhda1906/Shutterstock

Pick up any book, read any article, or watch any program about autism and you will see that the focus is front and center on the child.  His wants.  His needs.  His troubles.  And that is how it should be.  Kids with autism face varying degrees of social, economic, and academic struggles and most information about the disorder focusing on helping them deal with these issues.  But take a closer look at these kids and you will see something almost hiding in the background.  The parents.  Particularly, the moms.

Academic research has shown what most people already know – parents of children with autism experience more stress, illness, and psychiatric problems than parents of children without disabilities.  Yet autism services – such as counseling and assistance – are only available for the children affected by autism.

But a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics, took a closer look at the health of these moms and found that when efforts are made to help them reduce stress, everybody in the family benefits.

For the study, researchers enlisted 243 mothers of children with varying disabilities and randomly enrolled them in either mindfulness practice or ‘positive psychology’ sessions.  Each week the mothers attended the 1.5 hour sessions.  Their stress levels and health were assessed at the beginning, middle, and end of the study.  At the beginning of the study, 85 percent of the women had significantly elevated stress levels, 48 percent were clinically depressed, and 41 percent had anxiety disorders.

Researchers found that after the six week study period, the mothers in both groups experienced significantly lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression. They also reported getting more sleep and feeling an overall improvement in life satisfaction.  Mothers in Mindfulness-Based sessions saw the greatest improvements.

It doesn’t take a scientific study to prove that a mother who has lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression is better able to care for her family.

The study’s authors argue that autism professionals should be trained to meet the health needs of the parents, as well as the children with autism.  And that doing so would improve the parent’s ability to care for children with complex developmental, physical, and behavioral needs.

When mom gets relief, the whole family benefits.

Related posts on MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.  ………….’


She Never Saw The Cake by Joseph Walker

Such a good message for all to consider.

Madamsabi's Blog

Cindy glanced nervously at the clock on the kitchen wall. Five minutes before midnight.


“They should be home any time now,” she thought as she put the finishing touches on the chocolate cake she was frosting. It was the first time in her 12 years she had tried to make a cake from scratch, and to be honest, it wasn’t exactly an aesthetic triumph. The cake was . . . well, lumpy. And the frosting was bitter, as if she had run out of sugar or something.

Which, of course, she had.

And then there was the way the kitchen looked. Imagine a huge blender filled with all the ingredients for chocolate cake  including the requisite bowls, pans and utensils. Now imagine that the blender is turned on. High speed. With the lid off.

Do you get the idea?

But Cindy wasn’t thinking about the mess. She had created something…

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Mother reportedly locked up son with cerebral palsy and no one noticed

Original post from The Washington Post

‘……. March 29 2015

When the mother dropped her 9-year-old son off at his father’s Washington home last June, the father was struck by the appearance of the boy, whom he had not seen in about a year. The child appeared to be malnourished. He had bruises and burn marks, and there were bits of duct tape stuck to his wrists and ankles, his father later told social workers.Taurus Bulluck, 30, rushed his son to Children’s National Medical Center. Doctors determined the boy had 60 injuries, according to D.C. Superior Court documents. They called police.

Police said that over a period of three months, between March and June 2014, the boy’s mother and her then-boyfriend kept the child locked in a bedroom in their Southeast D.C. apartment as “punishment” for misbehaving. The mother later told police she was “embarrassed” because the boy has cerebral palsy, according to court papers. She also said she “hated” her son and blamed him for a miscarriage, the papers said.

The mother, Betty T. Threatt, 27, is to appear Monday before Judge Rhonda Reid Winston in D.C. Superior Court, and her attorney said in court that she intends to enter a plea deal with prosecutors. Neither side would discuss details of the agreement. Her former boyfriend, Lester O. Jackson, 52, rejected a plea offer and is to go to trial in July.

Court, police and social service documents, along with family interviews, present a harrowing tale of how the boy allegedly ended up locked away without anyone noticing. Bulluck told social workers that Threatt had stopped allowing him to see their son. When ­Threatt moved to the District from Prince George’s County in February 2014, she failed to enroll him in school, according to two officials with knowledge of the case. The boy’s grandmother said she eventually became so worried that she called social services.

Threatt, Jackson and their attorneys would not comment publicly, and Bulluck did not return repeated calls and messages left with family members.

Threatt told social workers that she was born to a mother who was addicted to crack cocaine, an allegation her mother declined to address. At age 9, Threatt was sent to an inpatient psychiatric facilityfor treatment after putting the family cat in a microwave and turning it on, according to social services documents. “I got meds for my anger and therapy,” she told a court-appointed psychologist recently. She said she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Threatt said that a year after she returned home, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, an allegation that her mother denies. By the time she was 13, Threatt gave birth to the first of her five children.

‘I thought I could trust her’

The boy was the second-oldest of Threatt’s children. For the first few years of his life, he was raised by Threatt, his father and his paternal grandmother in Bulluck’s family home in the 300 block of Decatur Street NW. Threatt, Bulluck would tell a social worker, “moved in and out” of the house several times during the boy’s early years, then finally left for good, leaving Bulluck and his mother to raise the boy.

When his mother died in 2013, Bulluck told social workers, he felt he could no longer care for his son and sent the boy to live with ­Threatt. “I thought I could trust her,” Bulluck told a D.C. social worker, according to a 28-page document prepared on Oct. 23.

Bulluck said he visited his son at Threatt’s apartment on weekends for a year, according to the report. But Bulluck lost contact with Threatt after she began dating Jackson and eventually moved, according to the social services report. Threatt would not give him her new address, he told social workers, and allowed him to speak with his son only with the phone on speaker.

As 2014 wore on, Bulluck became more concerned about his son’s whereabouts, according to the report.

 He told a social worker that Threatt told him she had sent the boy to live with his maternal grandmother. The grandmother, Lora Brighthaupt, 56, said in an interview that it wasn’t true. She said she, too, became worried about the boy last year.

In February 2014, Threatt and Jackson moved with the boy and his three younger siblings from Temple Hills, in Prince George’s, to the District. Police said that soon after the move, the couple began locking the boy in a bedroom and withholding food.

According to the police charging document, Threatt received about $700 a month for her son as part of his government disability check. She told social workers she also received about $732 a month in Social Security for her disability.

Threatt told police she had Jackson change the locks on the boy’s bedroom so it locked from the outside, according to the charging documents. She also told authorities that she struck the boy with a belt and that she and Jackson wrapped the boy’s ankles and wrists with duct tape, the documents state.

Sometime over the next few months, Bulluck and Brighthaupt both began searching for the boy, according to Brighthaupt. “I hadn’t seen my grandson in four months. My family hadn’t seen him. There had to be something wrong,” she said.

Brighthaupt said she contacted D.C. Public Schools but got no answers. She said she and Bulluck later went to a school where she thought the boy was enrolled. “They would not allow us to come in the building and check and see if he was there,” she said.

Eventually, Brighthaupt said, she called the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. A spokes­woman for the agency declined to comment on whether an investigation was launched.

Bulluck would later tell a social worker that he thought Brighthaupt’s call prompted Threatt to drop their son off at his home on June 18.

After her arrest a few days later, Threatt’s three younger children, ages 1, 4 and 7, were placed in foster care. It is unclear who had been caring for her oldest daughter. A neglect case has been filed against Threatt involving the younger children.

More than a week in hospital

When the boy was 5, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which mostly affected his left hand, according to the social worker’s report. After her arrest, Threatt told a detective that she was “ashamed” of her oldest son. Social workers did not detail any signs of physical abuse of Threatt’s other children.

Prior to her arrest last June, Threatt had little contact with police. In 2009, D.C. Superior Court records show Threatt was arrested for driving without a license. In 2012, she was arrested for assaulting her landlord and was ordered into anger management classes.

Threatt’s family blames Jackson for the alleged abuse. “My daughter wasn’t like that until she met” Jackson, Brighthaupt said. “She wasn’t into drugs. She didn’t drink; she didn’t do nothing. I’m not saying it was anybody’s fault. I’m just saying my daughter was not like that before she met that man.”

Threatt’s sister, Asia Brighthaupt, 30, said, “It was the man, the dude my sister was with, who made her do those things.”

Jackson, who has a 1-year-old with Threatt and adult children ages 34, 27 and 22, told a social worker that he and Threatt dated for about four years and that the relationship was “up and down.”

In 1992, Jackson was arrested for handgun possession. The outcome of that case is not clear. Prosecutors also allege that Jackson, while in the couple’s apartment, pulled out a handgun, pointed it at his head in front of Threatt and the children and said he would pull the trigger.

The boy, now 10, spent more than a week in the hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and monitored by the psychiatric unit. “Mr. Bulluck was practically living at the hospital with his son, attending team meetings, attending therapy session (both physical and mental) to learn how to care for his son post-discharge,” the social worker wrote.

Later, the child received therapy, working on walking long distances, climbing stairs and his speech.

A teacher told a social worker in October that the boy, now in the third grade in a Southeast elementary school, was “clingy” and that there was some concern about his performing at grade level. But overall, the teacher said, the boy was “doing well.”

The boy’s grandmother said he was “excellent” and likes football and basketball. “He doesn’t talk about what happened,” Brighthaupt said.

Bulluck told social workers that he is now focused on raising his son.

“It’s all about school, video games and getting back to normal,” he told the social worker.

As for what police say happened with his son’s mother, “I will teach him to respect her, because she is his mother, but never to forget,” he said.

Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

  Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

DeNeen L. Brown is an award-winning staff writer at The Washington Post who has covered night police, education, courts, politics and culture.   …….’

Why parents want to believe in a vaccine conspiracy

Original post from The Washington Post

‘….. March 6 at 7:00 PM

Susan Senator lives in Brookline, Mass.

For the first three years of my son’s life, I lived a kind of “Gaslight” experience. Sometimes everything seemed fine. But other times, ordinary activities such as piling him into the stroller and going to the park would feel odd somehow, false. Something was not right, but I could not say what or why. I felt as though I was playing the part of mommy, while the real me was clenched up somewhere in the background, nauseated with an unnamed fear for my son.

Nat had autism, but I didn’t know it. It was 1993 when he was diagnosed, and no one in my circle had a child with autism or even really knew what it was. When I had Nat evaluated, I asked whether I had caused it. “Oh, no, no one believes that anymore,” the doctor said, soothing me with his pragmatic, scientific manner. “Autism is neurological, genetic most likely.”

I was grateful to hear this, but only for a little while, because the real problem was still autism. Around the time Nat turned 8, he hit a rough patch that lasted years. He stopped sleeping on any kind of regular nighttime schedule, and he began to exhibit all sorts of difficult behaviors — false, maniacal laughter, hitting and pinching, breaking things. I didn’t know how to get him to calm down, and I feared for his safety. And because so little was known about autism, no one could really help us. In a way, I found myself back at the beginning, researching the condition, trying to figure out why. Why Nat? Why me?

When I came across the theory that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism, it made a kind of Old World sense to me. From what I could gather, it sounded as though the vaccine might blow apart some young children’s immune systems, making them susceptible to all kinds of conditions. I was so worn down, so miserable in those days that I was desperate to believe there was a culprit, something or someone to blame. It was a relief to think that the problem wasn’t my DNA but an outside aggressor, a mistake caused by the medical establishment’s hubris.

 I wondered, if this is true, what should I do? Shouldn’t I sue someone? Kill someone, even? I felt suffocated by anger and horror and also by not knowing what to do next. But the more I thought it through, the less clarity I had.

My husband and my mother told me I had to move on, for how could we ever really know whether the vaccine was the cause? I heard them. I also heard the whisper of those very early days with Nat, when doubt needled me. Something had been off — subtle, but there — before his vaccinations.

So I did more research, and I learned that scientific organizations around the world — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health — had proved the vaccine theory false. No one could say for sure what caused autism, but they certainly could say that it wasn’t a vaccine.

In hindsight, it’s easy to understand why some parents of children with autism want to see conspiracy and evil where none exists. Living with a person with autism can be devastatingly difficult, and learning that truth about vaccines didn’t really help me. Autism seemed to have stolen my son, and he was getting worse. He’d been expelled from school for his aggression. I needed help, and his therapists kept quitting because they were afraid of him. I was afraid of him. I was sick of my life.

I hung on, of course. Spring came. Somewhere I found the strength to keep my family together and to try one or two new things with Nat, such as signing him up for a Special Olympics gymnastics team. Nat started to do better. Nothing earth-shattering, but he was communicating a little more, and he seemed a bit more tolerant of other people. It was the first time I experienced coming through a bad time, finding a light at the end of the tunnel, with Nat.

Now I look back and see that something was indeed shifting in Nat — and in me. Maybe one influenced the other: He felt my happiness, he grew confident, he succeeded at more things and felt my approval. The change was gradual. Yet it was also all at once. I remember one heart-stopping moment when we shared a laugh on the living room couch, and his warm eyes held mine for a sliver of a second. I knew he was in there, and that was enough.

I didn’t get a perfect kid or a perfect life. No one does. But when you’re a young, scared parent, you will grasp at anything to make sense of a hardship such as autism. I know that firsthand. But the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. And more important, autism is not the only tough thing that can happen in this life. A return of deadly diseases kept at bay by vaccines would be far worse.

 Whatever caused Nat’s autism did not crush him. He is all there. Still very autistic but growing toward the light nevertheless.  …………….’

I Blinked – by Lisa Osma

Being a Mum.

Kindness Blog

stages of growth - humansI BLINKED . . .

I blinked. . .

When I opened my eyes I was responsible for four precious human beings.

As they sit, all in a row, they look like an image of a life cycle you would find in a magazine; infant, baby, toddler and pre-schooler. One charming little boy followed by the three beautiful, graceful little girls adorned in pink with large bows atop of their silky hair. During this time I was on my feet all hours of the night and desperately trying to keep up throughout the day.

I grew weary, filled with exhaustion, until my eyes felt so heavy, I blinked . . .

When I opened my eyes the eldest two children were standing tall, with their sacks slung on their backs, waving their small hands bye bye as they lift their foot on the step of the long, yellow painted bus…

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Child mental health: A mother’s struggle

Original post from BBC News Health

An extract

‘…………..In the first ever children’s mental health week, a small survey reveals parents’ frustration with the support they get.

Parents like Sally Burke.

She has toughened up. She has had to.

She says: “I’ve become a very hard woman. I’m holding my emotions at arm’s length so that I can function.”

The change has been brought about by having to cope for more than two years with her daughter Maisie’s mental health problems.   ……………’

A Grieving Mother’s Kindness Helps Other Parents In a Heartbreakingly Beautiful Way

Kindness Blog

While the birth of a child is a joyous occasion for most, some parents’ experiences are shadowed with deep sorrow. When babies are born with terminal illnesses, the parents may only have days, sometimes hours, to spend time with their child. The heartbreak is unimaginable, leaving a void that can never be filled, not even with memories.

To help ease the pain of these families, and to help them heal, one organization is creating memories of the children’s short lives to celebrate their legacies.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep connects volunteer photographers with the parents of terminally ill babies.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

The photographers, each of whom have been trained to handle the delicate circumstances professionally, capture the families’ last times together in poignant and beautiful images.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Now I Lay Me Down To SleepLogan Bostrom with his parents (top) and father (above).

The photography services are completely free for the families. The organization believes that having the…

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8 Lies, My Mother Told Me

Madamsabi's Blog

This story begins when I was a child: I was born poor.


Often we hadn’t enough to eat. Whenever we had some food, Mother often gave me her portion of rice. While she was transferring her rice into my bowl, she would say “Eat this rice, son! I’m not hungry.”
This was Mother’s First Lie.

As I grew, Mother gave up her spare time to fish in a river near our house; she hoped that from the fish she caught, she could give me a little bit more nutritious food for my growth. Once she had caught just two fish, she would make fish soup. While I was eating the soup, mother would sit beside me and eat the what was still left on the bone of the fish I had eaten, My heart was touched when I saw it. Once I gave the other fish to her on my…

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“He Has Aspergers” and Everything Else I Never Wanted To Hear About My Son

A post telling it as it is, the love, the anguish, and feeling what more can I do.

A Buick in the Land of Lexus


Do you hear that?

Come closer.

That’s the sound of my heart breaking.

My son has always loved the ocean. His eyes are the color of the sea, changing from blue to green with the swell of the tide.  And my love for him is an ocean, an overwhelming force which is sometimes calm and steady, and other times full of conflict.

A mother’s love is like the continuous miracle of the sea. It begins in the ocean of your womb – but there is something unsettling about the way your baby kicks. So fiercely you feel bruised on the inside.

There is something willful and stubborn about his refusal to come out. He arrives weeks late, and even then – after almost 40 hours of labor.

Your baby is overwhelming and mysterious and brutal, like the ocean. He screams uncontrollably for hours a day, every day. And you bring him to…

View original post 1,269 more words