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SUCCESSful Henry: An Autism Success Story About Reassurance


Season 2, Podcast Episode 207

This blog post is based on podcast episode titled "Successful Henry" which can be found on Spotify, Apple and other podcast platforms, or here:

Help your child -- and your whole family -- make sense of a life with autism. The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm) online course is a "game-changer"

Welcome to Connect with Success with Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila, where we help connect you with knowledge. Our mission is to lead you to a new and exciting way of understanding, responding to, and helping all those with autism. We hope to expand your thinking about how to best serve these amazing people and to support you in your daily struggles and celebrations.

RICH: Welcome to the next episode of Connect with Success, a podcast built around The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm) and the person who coined it, Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila. We have another special guest with us today who's going to give us another witness of how The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm) has impacted their life, their son. So we're looking forward to taking this journey with you in this episode. And of course, we have the amazing doctor right here with us who is going to be helping us digest some of The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm) in given situations as we're talking today. So Dr. Lynette, what concept will we be focusing on for this episode? LYNETTE: Today's concept is Reassurance, such a great term. And when I think about reassurance I consider it to be the intentional stroke of truthful insight that we have about a child that oftentimes the parent doesn't have, or needs to hear someone else say.

RICH: So as you can probably imagine, we had a very powerful episode so let's get into meeting our guests now. All right, everybody. Welcome to this next segment where we're going to meet Lisa Welsh who is with us today. Welcome, Lisa. LISA: Hi. Thanks for having me. RICH: Yeah. Thanks for being here. So tell us a little bit about yourself. LISA: Sure. My name is Lisa, and I am a pediatric nurse born and bred here in Cleveland, and I work for our local children's hospital. From a professional sense, I am a nurse manager over a pediatric cardiac program. So I get to manage all the great nurses that take care of our lovely children locally. Personally, I am mother to a wonderful six year old little boy, Henry, who has joined ITC’s family as of almost two years ago, right at the start of the pandemic. Yeah, they were a godsend. We had a transition to some virtual learning from their previous district and it was not going well. And it forced us to shift our thought processes and to see what is the best environment for Henry and, you know…a pandemic. Everybody is saying it's probably the worst thing right? But there's a silver lining to everything. And we were able to take that silver lining and really do a good assessment for our son. RICH: So how old is Henry? LISA: Henry is six. He will be seven in two weeks. RICH: Wow. And any big plans for the big seven? LISA: We’re in the planning phases right now. He has let us know what kind of cake he wants and all the things, so he's the big planner. RICH: So tell us a little bit about his diagnosis. LISA: So we had really seen, at a really young age, that he was having primarily sensory issues. He would become overstimulated in large crowds. And this was from when he was very, very young, like even before one. He would hand flap, and we would take him into a public restroom and the blow dryers would be going off, and he would just lose it; he would scream, and it was fear. It was such fear. And as he continued to grow and evolve, through understanding him, we really saw that the sensory concern really was more than just what he was hearing; but then it was in what he was eating, like you put something near his mouth and he'd gag, and then it turned into emotional processing problems that we had seen. He would become upset and it wouldn't be something that he could regulate himself almost instantly, it would be an hour, you know, until he came off of that, that high, if you will. And then we started seeing, as he got a little bit older, around four, is where we really started seeing he was having social concerns where he would try to have some type of conversation with a friend and it would be off the wall. You know, that doesn't correlate with what we're talking about right now. You know, so we started really seeing those things. And once he started preschool, we started getting the phone calls. You know, we started getting the phone calls. He's not listening. He's not doing this. He's not doing that. And unfortunately, it turned into my husband and I saying: What are we doing wrong? You know, we just don't get it, right? We don't get it. And so the more we started thinking about it, we're like, this isn't Henry. This isn’t Henry’s fault. There's something going on here. And then we started pursuing the journey. We said, where can we get him what he needs? RICH: It's important for parents to listen, and we've heard this consistently amongst other stories as well. You know that being the best advocate for your child is so true, and then taking the reins. They're so good for you for recognizing. And I also see here that you are an author. Tell us a little bit about the book. LISA: Yes, again, with the pandemic… I am a very positive person, when it comes to silver linings. And during the pandemic, unfortunately, I actually found that I had a medical condition that I was not aware of. I had a congenital bone defect that I stumbled upon when I started having some pretty significant joint pain. So I went to the doctor, and he essentially said, you are going to have to do two reconstruction surgeries. Like wow, okay, so I looked at that and I said, Okay, we're going to have to handle this, you know, we're going to have to handle this. So I had the surgery and we homeschooled Henry. So, again, the silver lining from the pandemic of switching to a different style of education. We are sitting and talking about, you know, how can I teach you character? Character traits that are so pertinent to human beings; a human person, being a kind individual, right? How can we make society better, right, we're going to teach you how to be kind, and we're going to teach you how to use what you have, and we're going to teach you to be confident. How do you teach a child that has autism? And now we have that diagnosis, right, at four. How do you teach a child who has to have that tangible item or that one thing to be able to see, right? How do you teach that when it's kindness, that's not something that you have? So Henry and I just started talking about, you know, hey, what does it mean to be kind? And we started providing examples, and we ended up making up the story. It's about this elephant going through his life, this journey of life. And, you know, you hit all these barriers and all these things: I'm going to be kind of this person; I'm going to be courageous. I'm going to be resilient and strong. I'm going to use what I have, and I'm going to accept others for their differences, right. And at the end, I am the change and I am the future, and I am going to make an impact in the world. So as we made the story up, we said, you know what, let's make it into a book! Let's draw some pictures. Let's do this… And then I'm sitting here like, Okay, I've always wanted to write a children's book. Let's legitimize this. So I started doing research, as my nurse-self does. How do you write a children's book? And so Henry and I did it together and we ended up with the really fun titles of The Adventures To Me, and it coins the terms very well, so no matter what our experiences are, it forms us into who we are, and how we react to our experiences. And what we learn from them is the true adventure to who we are. LYNETTE: That's an amazing concept. Yeah, and it’s for the whole world, because that's what's so exciting to me. RICH: Where can they find it? LISA: We are officially live and active on Amazon as of September. So it’s available for purchase in hardcopy, or softcover. RICH: Great, and we will put that link in the show notes to make sure that you guys have access to this book as well. So we'll probably come back to that in a little bit. I'd love for you to give us a little excerpt from the book. RICH: All right, welcome back to the message of the episode. So let's just jump in because you've got so much to cover about you, and Henry, and your journey with The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approachsm. I can't wait for the audience to hear. So is there anything that you learned about your child since being at ITC that no one else knew or explained to you? LISA: So, as a nurse, I have all my training in you know, science and biology and anatomy and physiology and a little dabble in neuroscience; and when I say a little dabble, I say one semester. And I'll tell you what, ITC gave me and my husband was the seminar class that was offered. It gave a great insight into that neuroscience, right. I am a mom, I'm a nurse and I'm always like, gosh, every time somebody gets sick. I'm there. I'm the fixer. I can fix you, you know, and I can I can help you. And with Henry, it was like, I can I can only help you to what I know. And my training wasn't specialized in autism. So that seminar that we took it was, I mean, that was the moment we met them, we were like, we're going to do this. We're going to do this training, and I'll tell you, my husband and I both. Anytime we have the opportunity, we say you've got to take this class, if you have a child with autism or you think they have autism, or even, to be quite frank, you don't have to have, you don't have to have autism to use this type of training in your life at all. It makes you think differently. And it really looks at the individual approach of taking care of somebody and addressing concerns. RICH: Were you in person? LISA: No, unfortunately, no, we did it online. RICH: Now see, this is the researcher in me. What was your experience with the online course? LISA: Yeah, so… I'm very, very busy and in my job. And my husband is part time, so he does have fluctuating schedules. So for us to be able to have that flexibility to be able to take that online class at the time that works for us -- we were doing it at 9 or 10 o'clock at night -- because that was the time that was uninterrupted. The kids were sleeping, and we were able to just sit and like pause it and we're like, what do you think of that? And that open dialog? And I'll tell you, from my clinical experience, and then my husband with no healthcare background. I was able to then help interpret, you know, he's like, Well, what does this mean? And I was able to kind of help a little bit when it came to those terms. So it was a great option. You know, if you know some learners do well in classrooms, and some learners do well online, to have that flexibility -- and options -- I mean, I endorse it completely. RICH: That is one of the key takeaways from the research behind putting it online is the demands on time, and being able to stop and reflect, and even going back if you have to listen again or trying to ingest it, but also because you can have engaged in this discussion with other parents are taking the course of time or with the instructor. So I'm glad to hear that that was such a valuable experience for you guys. LISA: Yeah, it was fantastic. LYNETTE: The one thing I wanted to point out that is so important to emphasize. And you said it so eloquently, Lisa it's really for any child and any adult. I've had so many staff member said You know, my husband is totally neurotypical, but I use it, or I'll have a dance that you know, it really works on the dog. It really does apply because it's about understanding how we tick and that's a neuroscience that maybe some people don't know, it was an amazing nursing background medical background health care background is not the same when it comes to understanding the nuances and the differences of autism. It is a distinct neurological disability. neurodevelopmental disability, and I think that the training the 9 session training that is self paced, which we think is wonderful and allows for people to move at their own pace really helps people to know that neuroscience without making them into somebody who's credentialed or degreed. LISA: Absolutely. I did find that after the seminar was completed, my husband I both said, it's like our blinders came off. Oh, wow. It's like you think of things so much differently. You have a purse effective to give now that you didn't have before. We always say: I just want to climb inside his head. I want to understand what he's feeling. And this seminar, in the classes, it helped us get to that one step closer to getting into his head. RICH: And how have you noticed a difference with Henry now in the interactions that he has, having the knowledge that you have had taken this course? LISA: Yeah. He's much more receptive. Like we, I mean, your automatic instinct is when they're doing something that you don't want them to do. What do you say “Stop,” you know, “Stop, don't do that.” Right? But if you don't lead with a why, or why you don't need to do that, and explain to them in a way that they understand, you're not going to get the response you want. And if anything, you're going to get more frustration from both sides, and you're just going to spiral out of control. So being able to understand the “why” of “why you can't do that and putting it in terms that the child understands takes you to a whole other level of parenting. LYNETTE: Yeah, in addition to what else to do, exactly. They could think of something else to do something else, they would think of something else and do something else. It's part and parcel of the disability. RICH: Well, and the validation of what they're feeling. Because you say this all the time, and I actually use this now when I'm teaching too. I see that you're feeling this way. Right, and then moving on from there. So it's the acknowledgement of what they're feeling or what you feel that they're feeling. LYNETTE: That validation. RICH: And so the that kind of pulls them in draws them into the perspective of wait, they might understand what I'm saying. LYNETTE: Yeah, because you've become a partner. The beautiful thing about partnership is each other is the each of the partners identifies with the other. And they join. That's exactly what you just demonstrated by validating. RICH: And that partnership is The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm), that transdisciplinary care. LYNETTE: That's right. It's intended to be. People who use it that way have really great success with their families. RICH: That's amazing. Okay, so what did you first detect in ITC that made you realize it was different from other agencies that might be out there? LISA: Yeah, this this is probably the easiest question to ask. The moment I knew ITC was different was five minutes into the first meeting that I had with the ITC staff and team. We reviewed over the established goals, the IEP goals -- because Henry already had an IEP -- so it was great because we had a baseline to bring to the team. And the goals were very generic. That's probably the best way to put it. And I remember Lynette's first words to me were, “You know, I think Henry is more than just a scissoring human being.” LYNETTE: Wow, I don't even remember that. LISA: And this is funny because we had, my husband and I had this conversation, we're like, it's so true, right? I mean, you can learn the skill of scissoring. But what does that really mean? That means you're learning fine motor skills, right? You're learning how to live your life and use your hands. Right? So yes, I know the concept was there, you know, with the scissoring but, there's so much more that he needed than just scissors; there needs to be a component of social integration, there needs to be a component of looking at his feeding because you know, we say this all the time, right? If there isn't the health and the nutrition to support the child and their development, you're going to be five steps behind. So you have to have that in order to move forward and progress. So from Henry's perspective, he had a very, very large feeding component and nutritional component that needed to be addressed, as well as scissoring and fine motor and all of those additional things. So the holistic approach. LYNETTE: That's right, great word. RICH: We keep hearing that a lot with our with our witness. LYNETTE: Yeah, that's what families really take away -- that it's a holistic model. And professionals too, I think professionals who use The SUCCESS Approach (SM) in whatever area of practice they are they see it as holistic, I think sometimes it's hard to implement it as holistic if you're not among others that also adopt that mentality. So you and your husband have that shared mentality, and so you've joined as a couple to have that happen. It would be ideal if groups of people in school systems or other agencies or facilities or adult day programming or anywhere could do that, too. It's a different kind of mindset. And the people who wrote the goal for scissoring did a great job. It's absolutely their skill set. They know that that is a content standard and something that a child has age to do, so there's really nothing wrong with it. I think what we need to acknowledge is that it's one I think, kind of small sliver of the pie. It's part of the pie, but it's small. And so we can diversify and holistically look at the bigger picture, we are, I think, better serving our kids. LISA: Absolutely. And I agree with that. Completely. You know, it is the foundational concept of scissoring; it is so important, right? It gets all the musculature moving. It gets the all of the right components moving in the right direction. But to have that, along with the five, six other things that are so vital to his successes, you know, and having them with a team collaborative approach of saying, hey, this speech pathologist is going to work on this today, but guess what, when they go over to the occupational therapy group, they're going to work on that and just a different segmentation of what they're trying to address as the goal. And you don't get that everywhere. That's something that makes this stand out as well. Is that this isn't, my husband said it wasn't, the therapies are not siloed -- they're not siloed -- and I was like, gosh, man, that's really good. LYNETTE: Does he write books? LISA: I know, we might have to, I might have to tap on the shoulder here for this next one. They're not siloed; everything should be cross functional, you know, and because, you know, the way I communicate with somebody, there's more than just that communication. I'm also having cognitive conversations that elicit additional responses, you know, while you're trying to figure out other things, too, so everything connects with one another, and therapy and services should do the same thing. RICH: Yeah, I was thinking, when you were talking about evaluating the whys, so you talked about the maybe the end goal is getting the scissoring. Right, but then we can step back and say, Well, how are they holding the pencil or the pen? Or then we can take it back and further how are they forming their grip? And then when you come down to see and you're like, well, we got to work on the muscles and how they operate before they can even think about the pencil like, helps to walk you back. LYNETTE: Yeah, it strips it down. It strips it down. We always talk about the pyramid of development and at the base is, you know, just the functional things of how we move through space and process sensory information and you go up the ladder to the very tip of function, and everything underscores function when you look at it from a neuro developmental standpoint, and that is what The SUCCESS Approach (SM) truly is. Because it's grounded largely in occupational therapy because that's who I am. And so does neurosciences really underscore everything, whether it's teaching or whether it's socializing, or whether it's scissoring. So I always like to and this is the teacher in me to try to give examples of things. And Lisa, you said that beautifully that scissoring, you know, can happen with OT and of course it would and then they might go to another session, let's say that's a speech session. And then after that they might go to a special ed session, not to mention all the wonderful aides here at ITC, that transdisciplinary aides that really help hold the fort and carry over with the methods but an example of how we might use scissoring in a transdisciplinary way would be that the OT works on the mechanics, prescribes the right kind of scissors, the right kind of angle, the right kind of paper, and that scissoring skill might be used in sort of a drill fashion, you know, practice, practice, practice, which is awesome. But when they go to speech, they may go with a friend, and they might both cut something out and then turn it into a social opportunity to show what they wrote or drew, I should say, cut out and maybe talk about their characters. So it becomes a social, interactive, social pragmatics “who's taking the turn” “what do you want to say about it?” The speech therapist may use adjectives or qualifiers to find or all sorts of parts of speech that allow the child to really build on some of those language skills. And then if they go to the special art teacher, she might then turn out what they cut into a puppet and work on pretend play, which also has a social and motor component. So it's just knowing what activity and what skill set you're looking for, and putting it in an intentional, proactive planned transdisciplinary spirit and that came to me when you're talking about scissoring. LISA: Yeah, and I know for a fact that this is really translated into his successes with feeding as well. You know, Henry had a palette of like five different foods, and it was getting to be very concerning to us. And, you know, we had tried out a few other private institutions to try to find the right fit and it just wasn't sticking. It wasn't sticking. So, you know, we had brought this concern to the team here at ITC and said, you know, we really need your help. We need your help and what ideas do you have and we are now to the point where Henry has so many different food selections, and he's chasing me around the house, and I can definitely see how that transdisciplinary approach could translate into feeding as well. You know, you are going to have a feeding session. Okay. And then you're going to go to the, you know, now we're going to color and we're going to work on fine motor things. We're going to talk about cheese and we're going to talk about this right, and then we're going to go do fun things with the sensory right, we're going to touch the food; we're going to we're going to crunch it in our hands, we're going to do all these things. We're going to desensitize, so it translates not only into, you know, the scissoring you know, it translates into everything; and that is what makes this approach from a mom and from a nurse perspective, so incredibly successful. LYNETTE: I think what you pointed out is “critical curriculum,” you know, he will say that C and C in success which we talked about in the class. It's that strategic use of critical curriculum that's going to elicit sensemaking. Well, for Henry, that elicitation of sense making was easy, very, I mean, it's I hate to simplify therapy and neuroscience because it's not simple at all, but it was it was very quickly when he needed it. And part of that was mom and dad's amazing and gift of being a good historian. It allows us to see what has been happening in the past what different therapists have tried, what was successful, what wasn't successful, and unfortunately, there wasn't a lot that was successful. Not to mention some of that was rendered in a pandemic, which is nobody's fault. But even without that, you know, it is not really an outpatient kind of thing in my professional experience as a feeding specialist. And so it really did give the great opportunity to have him here and that transdisciplinary spirit, so that critical curriculum is easy to come up with and to make it transdisciplinary so that you're doing what they need the just right method and only just right method across disciplines and carried over at home. LISA: Yes, absolutely. RICH: I was just thinking about the whole metaphor of the food. That's that's powerful, and I would never have thought that that crunching may have been distracting for someone ,like we eat food and we think about chips crunch and celery crunches. Carrots crunch, kind of like celery, you know, and that noise that internal noise of the crunch might be distracting, which could be what's preventing them from eating LYNETTE: Oh my gosh a thousand things, of the physiology of eating and the sensory experience, not to mention the information processing and cognitive aspects of feeding which you know, we'll get more into and actually touched a lot on already in sensory but there's so many more families that have worked through sensory issues related to feeding. It'll be more to come. RICH: I can't wait for that. That's got our wheels turning on in all different directions. LYNETTE: So one thing I was thinking is that you might have just answered another question in the last witness, or the last example you gave us of feeding, but I'll ask you and maybe there's other angles you can present but this question is what's been helpful about placement at ITC? And how is it different than what else is out there? LISA: Sure, yeah. When I when I think of ITC, and with the concept that we have for the overarching concept for this session of reassurance, I look at ITC as kind of a, I'm going to say it, a sanctuary. That we came here, and we need help. We have tried all these different things, and we don't know what to do, you know, and we came here and we said, please help us and we look at ITC as a sanctuary -- that anybody could come with a concern, with anything, with their child having any type of processing disorder, or anything of that nature, and be able to come here -- and they will hear you out. They will hear you out, and they will help you in any way shape or form that they can. RICH: Actually have that validation piece, you know, and offering that reassurance that you're okay, it's just a matter of unlocking what it is you need to communicate and, you know, I that's the beauty. I mean, and I've said this over and over again, it gave me back my child, that sense of understanding who they were and how they operate. It gave me a chance to get to know them and who they really are. LISA: Well and similarly as my book right, it's they elicit the best version of my son, right. The adventure to Henry is the adventure that he has took here is making him the best version of him and what they've trained my husband and myself to do is to be able to carry that over at home. So it is in all aspects of his life. He is becoming the best version of himself. LYNETTE: Anyone who knows me knows that I am absolutely not about money. I mean, you know that if you saw the car I drove, it's kind of like a Flintstone car where like, nobody, truly… but if I had a dime or $1 whatever for every parent that told me over 26 years what you just told me, about it almost being like a safe place, or a sanctuary, or almost magical, people are like…Do you sprinkle fairy dust around here? I'm like, no, because if I did, I'd be sprinkling it anywhere else but here, as we get it here. We want the rest of the world to get it right? But it's not magical and here's why -- it's such a beautiful testimony about what you just said: The reassurance piece, Lisa, in particularly your family, it is so easy to, if you think about my definition of the intentional stroke of truthful insight we have about a child that often a parent doesn't, or does, but needs to hear. This is why it feels like a sanctuary because we are doing nothing more or nothing less than speaking the truth. It is all about truth -- that child's integrity, that child's true capacity – it’s buried sometimes, the view of that beautiful truth is buried, just kind of under a bushel. But we see it, we know it, and it's we just speak to it. And that is what ends up being reassuring. We're not making up anything. I remember it’s the stroke of truthful insight. It just happens to be inside, and we want it to be outside. We want everyone to know it. We don't want to be the first one to tell a family what this means, or how to interpret it, or the name of a particular skill, or method, or theory that really underscores their kid. We want to be the last one, meaning that you come to us saying oh you know what? I heard about you 5, 10, 15 years ago, but we never needed your service because he is doing great without it. And we had everything we need right? It came right to us. No one needed to do anything special or something. No one needed anything obscure or anything. Nothing beyond the ordinary. But that's not the case. They do need beyond the ordinary, and it's not the fault of the people who are doing what some people might say is ordinary. They don't know what they don't know. And so it's this changing society, like your book, going forward and making everyone better through knowledge through truth. Through truth this to me, this is a spiritual experience to uphold the truth. This is who I am, this is how I am; and I wouldn't want, if I had a special needs, or something that I didn't have an orientation for, or skill with, or understanding of, I want someone who did, to take me aside and say listen when that this is this is the facts. And I would be so grateful for that truthful insight. And I would be reassured even if it wasn't all positive, at least you know what you're dealing with. RICH: You call the sanctuary, Integrations Treatment Center, the physicality of the center does offer that peace, especially where they're located here, the campus right, but just the fact that the driving force behind it is the system The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM). And that is what makes it so special, is that they can be retrieved anywhere. That's what we want the world to know is that you can be part of The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM) and make it work for you.

LISA: Yeah, absolutely. And I also feel like it's, I write it in my in my authors layout in the in the back of the book but, you know I put on there. Perfection is boring. It's overrated. And it's boring, right if we all strive to be the same and normal, if you will. What does that leave the world that leaves us all the same? There's no fun in that. You know? LYNETTE: Like little houses all the same. Exactly. No spice in life. There's no spice of life. RICH: How has The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM) impacted your marriage and other family relationships? LISA: So my husband and I, we've always been a really great team. But you know, looking at our story, it's a very I don't want to say it's typical, you know, but I'm going to say it was typical, right like, Boy meets girl, you know, we get married. We want kids, you know, it's just very, like, you know, it was just very cookie cutter; and then Henry's our first, and so we had Henry and, you know, like I said, at a young age, we identified that there were some needs there. And it was always a conversation of what are we doing wrong? You know, we just again we always questioned like, what did we do wrong? I question what did I eat wrong? Well, you know, and it's, you start questioning yourself as parents and we kept we kept going through and when we got when we got the diagnosis and similar to what I said, those blinders came off… those blinders came off for both of us in a way that we looked at each other. And we said, we're putting it all in. We're doing it all -- right now. And we're going to lay it on the line for ourselves. Yeah. RICH: You're right. And you do, you speak to something very true to the heart of relationships, because when you start out, we did this too, you start thinking:how am I going to parent? You know? And you get all this stuff pre-planned, and as we hear time and time again, tell God your plans and listen to him laugh, right? And so then we had our we had our child and it was like, I think it was God's way of saying, yeah, let me tell you how you're going to parent. You know, and we were all the better for it. I mean, you know, our daughter made us the best parent in the world in our book because it really taught us to be working together as a team LYNETTE: Well, and you hit the nail on the head. And if you can't, I'd like you to talk more about this. But you said something very potent just now. And it's emotional. You know, you said related online, you know, we're all in. So what it what was it like for you? What does that mean to put it all in or? Or to put it on the line? LISA: Sure. Yeah. So at that time, my husband and I were both working full time. I was actually pregnant with our second child. And so it was all happening all at once. So we had identified these needs, and they were they were getting pretty elevated these needs. We were getting the phone calls from preschools saying that, you know, he he's doing these weird things or whatever. And he would last two weeks at a preschool and then, you know, on to the next and we did that twice. And finally we had said, “Enough is enough.” We're not going to put our son through this anymore. And where is the best environment for him? And we didn't know that answer yet. So my husband and I sat down. And we assessed our lives. I said, I love my job. And he was like, you know, I like my job, but our kids need us. So, we looked at our finances and we said you know, what we're going to make do with what we have -- we're going to make some changes, right? And he quit his job. And we're like, we're going to figure this out. We're going to have the right care plan. Right, if we’ll call it that. We're going to find the right fit for him and whatever that means, if that means he's going to stay home, we're going to get in home therapy; if we're going to do this or that -- this was before ITC -- you know, and we had said, that's what we're going to do. So that's what we did. My husband quit his full time job and I became the person who brought home the sole financial, you know, contributor and he stayed home with our, with our brand new baby and our child that was almost at that point near diagnosis of autism. And we spent a solid six months just researching: of what is the best place? What is the best thing for Henry? And that's when we stumbled upon ITC and you know, reached out and just said, Hey, just tell us what you're about. This might be it. This might not be it and after we spoke with them from like an intake standpoint, we're like, I got the warm and fuzzy that “Mama, warm and fuzzy feeling” …you follow that. You always follow that. LYNETTE: Because moms know, and dads know, they know…and that “warm and fuzzy” is you can't get it from a brain perspective. It's a heart and brain combined. So you were informed on a gut level -- a heart level -- because it made sense to your brain. So, and you know some of the emotionality behind making a choice like that and the (I'm going to cry just thinking about it), but the sacrifice, that dad in particular, you know, leaving his craft, leaving his trade and taking on you know, even though it started off a cookie-cutter relationship, it really isn't the traditional family dynamic right now, most parents to parents sometimes work and if one's working, it's usually not the mom. Not that there's anything wrong with any dynamic. You have to do what you have to do in life. Right, but what an interesting twist for him to be the Mr. Mom, if you will, he's probably got a lot of people calling him that and referencing that. And what a testimony and this is, that's what I think of when I think of all in is you do whatever it takes. Um, it's no different than the family from Texas that moved here 1100 miles for a year or more with their boys to make sure that they could access The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM). And you're, you know, in this county or, you know, close by, so, wonderful opportunity you stumbled upon. As we noted, we're trying to help this model be out there so there's no stumbling at all. So it's everywhere so people can really adapt it and change the paradigm because it works. LISA: Absolutely. Yeah. And that's the way my husband and myself we function as parents, as do many others. Right? It's you brought this child into the world, you are 150% responsible for this child, their growth, and development. And you know, God willing, you know, you're going to be a part of their adventure and their journey, right, and they need to be as successful as they possibly can be, because you're not going to be here forever. You know, you're not so you have to give them the best foundation to be able to succeed in their lives. And that's our responsibility as parents. LYNETTE: And it's extreme in the sense of what you guys have had to do and chose to do. Yeah, absolutely. That is a beautiful combination. RICH: That dynamic is so unique, but what the core the fundamental core of what we're doing as parents is whatever is in the best interest of our child to make sure that our family can flourish. You know, and sometimes it is one that stays home and one doesn't, or you're like the two sheep dogs on Looney Tunes: one clocks in and one clocks out, you know, like, what you have to do to make it work! LYNETTE: And as an extension of you guys doing crazy heroic (I always say parents are my heroes). At the craziest stuff you guys do. We're an extension of that very notion because we do whatever it takes as well: You don't have feeding on your IEP, probably not going to be on your IEP. Guess what? It’s not going to stop us from serving your child. You don't have toileting on your IEP? You don't know the first thing about toileting? Guess what? Not going to stop us from getting toileting done with your kid. You don't have social pragmatics? You don't have typing? You don't have pulling your pants up? Pooping on the potty? Whatever it is… it doesn't matter …your child is whole to us. Now it takes a village of people believing that, and even more than a village, it takes skill with that village and the people in it to make it really work. And that's the disconnect. Sometimes it's very hard to keep a center like this going with that kind of passion. Not because the people don't exist, but because keeping them employed is a challenge, especially if kids are put through this kind of program using the scholarship, which is a wonderful access to us, but because it's not on the IEP, it isn't covered by the scholarship, but much of what we do but it doesn't stop us; and it's you know, it's almost irrelevant because the kid comes first. LISA: One of the first thoughts that I had when starting with ITC, and Henry being here, is reassurance. Again it is just the concept at the true heart of ITC. We came in and we heard you're doing the right things. You know, you made the right choice going to this homeschooling model, which by the way, I had not had any experience in whatsoever. You know, you did the right thing by, you know advocating for your child. You did the right thing, and you know, we were over in left field thinking, gosh man, what are we going to do? What are we took a leap of faith? Yes, you know, are what are we doing here? Are we doing the right things and coming here and ITC with the team. They are constantly reassuring us that we are doing the right things. We are we're executing the right things at home, you know, and we made the right choice coming here and learning the strategies. LYNETTE: And part of what's so easy to do about that is, that just because it's truthful and grounded and insight, but Henry is proof. There's, I couldn't convince you otherwise if he wasn't thriving, you even if I said you're doing the right thing, you'd wonder, because you wouldn't see the proof in the pudding. But you do, because we're treating the neurology and the disability, if that's what you want to consider it, where it lives. LISA: Absolutely. RICH: And his home team, like you guys did the right thing to by sitting down and ingesting it together and really dissecting what it meant for you know. Pressing that pause button and taking that time to reflect on how it might apply to your situation. You know that's the whole purpose behind making that that system available online. LISA: Yeah, and it's funny that you say that because something that really jumps out to my husband and I, and we always, it's funny, because we start we start talking “the lingo” right? Where it’s the lingo, but it makes sense, right? We'll be like, we'll say, we'll start saying, well, Russ will be like, “That's his schema! It's his schema.” That's a schema we have to we have to change the schema, right? We have just like it says we have to change the schema. So if he thinks that walking into the room and throwing himself on the floor is what is normal for that room, then we need to change that schema – like, what do we do to be intentional to elicit the response that we need, right and that we want him to do? And again, leading with the why and the how of doing so is all intentional. LYNETTE: That’s right. And doable. Intentional and doable. That's my joy. So sitting back for 26 years watching this happen before my very eyes. It's so refreshing. It never disappoints. It never disappoints. There has been so many kids, different ages, different levels, different intensities, different cultures. We've had kids … we had a man that brought a child from the United Arab Emirates I'll never forget. And the change in that child just in two or three days of being with us, even though he was not English speaking and we certainly weren't speaking Arabic. He had such a different attitude leaving than he did coming. And it's shapeable, it's doable, and it's all because of neuroscience. So I'm glad it's impacted your family to the extent that it has and again, the carryover piece is huge. So thank you for that. LISA: Oh, it's completely changed our lives. LYNETTE: Good and talking the talk feels good. LISA: Yeah, absolutely. LYNETTE: There's a name for it. Let's call it by its name. LISA: Yeah, absolutely. RICH: Oh, that was probably the best feeling in the world is that you kind of like and we've talked about doing a whole episode on unlocking the lingo. You know, just with the IEP process and some of the acronyms that are there and some of the terms. Maybe we'll just do a whole episode on just terms. LYNETTE: Yeah. Alphabet Soup. Yeah. Yes, while everyone calls it because it's so complex. So a question I really love asking our guests, because I'm always surprised myself at their answer is, what about your experience at ITC or with The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approachsm was most surprising to you? LISA: Yeah. So I would, I would say how fast we saw the change. How quick we saw the change. And now that we've been here for two years, how we've seen the longevity of that change. So it's, you know, it's not just it's not something, a skill that was learned and then lost, right. It's the, again, the biggest thing that I can do as an example is the feeding because that was truly what was the biggest change in him as quickly as it was. You know, we started and it was five things that he was eating and that diet was like goldfish crackers, like there was nothing of substance to his health. And now we are watching him eat spaghetti. And I will tell you, I watched him eat pasta and spaghetti for the first time a month ago. And while he was eating, I was bawling my eyes out. I was like, this boy hasn't even… the last time he had pasta, or we tried to give it to him, he was gagging. And now he's over here playing with it. He's eating it and it's just the most refreshing thing. I would also say that the individualized services regarding his feeding therapy have also been a huge component of this. I remember the game board. Yeah, the game board that was created for him to help with him reinventing that schema that he had. So I remember mashed potato mountain, you know, in the way that they would play on this game board and mashed potatoes you know, that texture that consistency, not well received by my child at all. But the fact that he is now talking about it and asking questions about like, what is mashed potatoes? Oh, you eat French fries. So let's talk about where's where does the French fry come from, you know, so being able to put those strategies in in those different formats, has been really helpful too. LYNETTE: Yeah. It's what the fun part about me talking to moms and hearing some of what's salient for them is, you know, where some of that came from. There was to expand on what Lisa was talking about. I prescribed an individualized version of Candyland for him. And so the pieces were his family. We had one for Eleanor and grandparents and such, and then other friends who he would play the game with sent their pictures and so we'd be moving them around the board and we'd go through Broccoli Forest and Mashed Potato Mountain and, you know, Carrot Court and all these different things that would allow us to talk about food in the context of funds. So that transdisciplinary piece, if they play Candyland, and speech, of course I trained them and what I want them to really take aways to be they would then have that social pragmatic piece and “oh it's so and so’s turn, and Henry, now it's your turn and I was going to get to that mountain first and what would you do if you got to mountain the mashed potatoes? Would you really climb it? Like what would you do? What would it be like to walk through a Broccoli Forest, really? Do you think it's like the forest and the Wizard of Oz with the apples and broccoli the say like you know, think about all the endless possibilities of all this great conversation all about food, which not to be harsh, but is almost like an enemy for some of our kids. It evokes fear in some of our kids. I mean, the thing you need to live is you're afraid of it like this is not okay. So you have to stretch the schema in addition to the palate and the sensory systems and the digestive system that is that used to certain foods, so it's very complex nutrition. And he's done a great job responding, and so have you guys I mean, the minute we say, What do you think about a protein smoothie? Great. Here it is. Here's we're sending this we're sending that this is what we need. And Mom and Dad provided it. That's a real beautiful example of partnership. RICH: And an ideal example of masterful, meaningful creativity. You know, like you could do the masterclass on meaningful creativity. And I go back to Finny’s Feet sheet. Yeah. I mean, in the previous episode, we talked about Finn’s schema for just kind of being curious and how we how we had to bring that into the fold in that short amount of time, and being able to turn that around. That's just masterfully creative. LISA: Yes. I think that's something that is so important into this model is you are making it so creative and fun, right? That it's infectious. Why wouldn't you want to learn that way? I want to learn that way! LYNETTE: You know, it was so amazing about that concept. My daughter Maria, who was featured in episode, I don't know six or seven, something like that, maybe eight. It was growing up TSA, you know, The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM). And my poor children Paul, Dominic and Adam, I and Maria, I love you so much. And thank you for being who you are and for sharing me with many other people over the years. But you have always been, you know, on the receiving end of this because this is how I just raised my family and Maria talks about like almost that first time we heard her she had when she started going to other people's homes and like watching brothers and sisters and such of her friends like doing homework and she come home and she be like, Mommy like they just have like paper and pencil and they're learning and doing things and she says in the episode that like what no one like sings and dances like, she just realized that it was such an awareness, or I forget how she put it, but, and you know I'm not conscious of this. I'm just raising my kids, but it really is a difference and I appreciate the idea of being masterfully creative, but it is the field of OT: we think out of the box. It’s is all about function, it’s all about motivation. We get that dynamic and unfortunately some of the OTs that have to work or do work or choose to work and other settings, sometimes they tell me, as my some of my dearest friends, you know, they're there. They're inhibited. Like they don't have the liberty to really be free and creative. They kind of just have to work on the drills of handwriting or scissoring or whatever it is -- that they're limited -- and it's nobody's fault. It's the way that it is. But that's where supplemental help is really important. And maybe those OTS can be doing things and speech therapists rehab services can do more creative things. If they knew how to be a transdisciplinary; and with The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM). You can do it anywhere. I've done it in schools before. Schools are doing it. Schools are using it. It’s a mentality. It's a mindset. RICH: And it's not even just outside of the box. You've built the field for cultivating, and for growth, and I think that's what's beautiful about The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM), is that it's not just a box, inside or out, it's the endless possibilities of what can happen. LISA: It’s the opposite of a box. RICH: Yeah, for sure. Close the box! What was missing from your life before your child was accepted into Integrations Treatment Center or The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM)? LISA: Yeah, I'm going to say it again. I'm going to say reassurance. I questioned everything, you know, and that put a huge strain on a lot of things. You know, again, looking at myself as the healer, the fixer, the know, you know, the know all the things that have to do with medical and you know, given the circumstances that we are in, it's like, Man, I have to learn how to be a teacher. Now I have to learn how to get him the services that he needs. Where I don't know what our options are. And, you know, so, reassurance. I can't drive that home enough. Like that is what I didn't have before and the confidence to be able to know and continue to trust that gut feeling and the mom the primal mommy instincts that I have that I know that I was doing the right thing. And ITC has helped us get there. RICH: So one last thing, I want you to take a look at your book. Take a minute and take a look at your book and pick out one of the adventures that you would say best relates to your current acceptance into The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM) right now? LYNETTE: And why you're looking, Lisa, I can just say that this book is so spot on for what I think society needs to hear our kids or adults, every facet every person so comprehensive and so spot on and it's done so artfully is through rhyme and through meaning and sense making. It's really a “success approach” kind of book. I was just so glad that it's part of what's available now through Amazon, and through our website when we can post the link. LISA: Yeah. One of the one of the excerpts that I have, and I was very intentional when writing this this one was, when Henry and I were talking about people being different, right? You know, he knows that he has autism, right? But like what does that mean? Right? What does that mean to him, and does that make you different in a bad way? And the answer is no. You know, and so the way that we discussed that, and we had conversations was, the best way to reflect is and is in the writing: Self affirmation is I accept differences. Each person is special, but different than me. Everywhere I look as far as I can see. Each one of us makes the world a better place. I'm accepting to all and choose to embrace. I'm friendly and helpful regardless of color class and size. Truly, this is how we make our society rise. LYNETTE: Just have to sigh. It's so potent and so appropriate. And the fact that you partner with Henry to articulate it is just beautiful. RICH: Well, I'll tell you, Lisa, thank you so much for what I'm considering a very, very powerful episode. We haven't even sat down to edit it yet. I know it's going to be hard to edit. And for giving us so much to think about. What The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM) has meant for you and your family. And hopefully what it can mean for many more. So thank you for your time dedication today. LISA: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Again, similar to what I was saying about the book with The Adventures To Me, this book, there are certain days that I sit down and read it because, you know, you have to remind yourself that, you know, we're all here. We all have a calling, if you will, and we're all the future and we can all be a change. So, you know, we need to instill this into our children. We need to instill this into, you know, the generations, you know, currently and, moving forward. LYNETTE: Yeah, I like there being in the future with you. And with your family. We can do this… RICH: One hundred percent. Well the book is called The Adventure To Me, and it's from Lisa Welsh. So make sure you stop at Amazon and get the book for you and your family. Today. Well, we will again put that link in the show notes so that you guys can look at it later. LYNETTE: Yeah, it's a great tool and a great gift for teachers too. {Music} LYNETTE: So today, listeners I have a challenge, and the challenge is surrounding the idea of reassurance. So I want you to try your best to be a voice of reassurance for others that offers insightful truth that a parent doesn't know, or maybe knows, but needs to hear, or be reminded about. And in so doing know that the child's True Potential is probably going to be revealed in whatever it is that you're going to share. Because sometimes it's hidden, so be that voice of reassurance. It's going to go a long way for a parent that's struggling. RICH: I'm just in awe of Lisa Henry and the Welsh families testimony to The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM). We could literally do a whole episode to unpack SUCCESSful Henry. Quickly though what stuck out to me very quickly in the episode was that feeling of the need to be the fixer as parents, that feeling that we get when we can't quite put our finger on that disconnect and then the momentum we feel through The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM) as the catalyst for unlocking that potential. That was just so powerful for me right at the beginning of the episode and throughout. And then the other thing that really stuck out to me was looking at a goal, and working it back, to work to the basics to develop and build the skills to work toward that end goal to really kind of walking it back or scaffolding it backwards so that we can really just unlock potential. It really capsulize is for me the beauty of what The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (SM) is. Lynette, what do you think our listeners should take away today? LYNETTE: Yeah, I think there's a couple of takeaways kind of what struck me and Lisa story is the whole idea of going all in, putting it all out there. And usually when a family goes “all in” it really can and does pay off in a big way when what you're committing to is really spot on for what you expect to change and that family worked hard to find the just right combination of support with the staff here at ITC that were able to bring it home. And the second thing that really struck me is her witness about how fast it all happened. That it really doesn't take long for these methods to take hold and start to sort of re-sculpt the nervous system and the brain in particular, we know that neuro-developmentally, we are malleable. And even if there's a hardcore schema set or a motor loop or something that the child is sort of can't stop doing or is compulsive about. We really can work together with a family and the staff to introduce that child to a new way of being, thinking, or moving; and it's not an accident and is intentional. So all in can lead to a lot of fast pace with changes. RICH: We would love for you to connect with us. Leave us feedback, a story or a question you're thinking about through our Speakpipe page. You can leave us an audio recording and ask away. Who knows, you may even be featured on one of our episodes, you can reach and use your phone or computer to leave us a voice recording. We'll put the link in the show notes as well, but that's LYNETTE: We hope that you learned something today to help you on your journey with autism. We'll share more on our next connect with success podcast. Until then, expect success. RICH: The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm) is a registered service mark protected under intellectual property law. Unless otherwise specified, all music, audiovisual and proprietary content shared in this podcast is property of AWEtism Productions LLC and its sister agency Integrations Treatment Center. Use of this content is unlawful without the expressed written consent of aforementioned agency. For more information about The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach (sm), Please go to our website at

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