Healing From Within – Autism Changes One Family for the Better
Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Carrie Cariello
In today’s episode of Healing From Within, your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love welcomes Carrie Cariello author of What Color is Monday? How Autism Changed One Family for the Better. Carrie offers a positive perspective on the challenges of raising a child with autism without sugar coating some of the struggles along the way.
Carrie shares her daily experiences of raising a child with autism who views the world through a different lens and how the family has learned to adapt and as a result brought the family into a more cooperative and loving interaction focused on living and loving to the best of their ability.
Carrie says that many people and parents would focus on finding a reason for why their child is different but you chose to reflect on how to positively make life work for the family giving everyone the love they need to stretch and not break. Carrie tells us a little bit about her family, how many children she has, and where her son Jack falls into that order. As a busy mom of five kids-four sons and one daughter, she chronicles family adventures and experiences: most of which we can all readily relate to Her words to describe the chaos of life within a big family along with the quiet moments that seem so ordinary but are often extraordinary and can be expressed honestly and funny sometimes emotionally. She tries to notice the little things that often get overlooked in the course of a whirlwind of a day…but Carrie and her husband Joe try to keep each child as an integral part of the family and make it as special as it is.
Carrie, as most authors struggled for the best title to capture the feeling and message of the book. At first she thought about using the word, “snowflakes’ somewhere in the title because she thinks people with autism are all unique and fragile much like beautiful snowflakes. But, one day Jack asked her, “Mom what color do you see Monday?” She responded that she did not see the days of the week as having different colors, but Jack told her he did see every day as a different color. Sheryl as a Reiki Master Teacher suggests the chakra system or energy system of our bodies represent different life issues we experience in the course of a lifetime and each chakra is represented by various colors. Sensitive people during energy sessions often mention that they see color and certain colors seem associated with different emotional responses..so relating to the days as different colors may be Jack’s understanding or relationship to his processing of the world and finding beauty in his life and family.
Jack was officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 2 years old and we somehow hoped as many parents do that he would outgrow it and some children do. Though coming to terms with autism as a lifelong diagnosis was difficult she had little time to focus on what was ahead. The day after Jack’s diagnosis Carrie learned she was pregnant with their fourth child. Carrie and her husband feel that having a large family as she had 3 more children after Jack’s diagnosis would be a gift and support system.
Sheryl wonders if Jack was locked into any specific routine at home that is different from Carrie’s other children or does she encourage he toe the line just as his siblings do? Having a family of five children was perhaps the best thing she and her husband might have done for Jack. He had a group of his own, in which each sibling seems to have a role of their own. When it comes to Jack his sister Rose is very nurturing while his younger brother Henry is the most demanding of him. Joey and Charlie are so intentional in bringing him into their fold. While Jack is not incredibly locked into any specific routine at home, he also must toe the line just as his siblings do. That’s not to say there aren’t difficult times..there are storms but we get through them and every morning starts a new day.
Sheryl asks Carrie if Jack had a sense of competition with his siblings. They all seem to have their own talents and interests she responds. One of the things Jack particularly loves is license plates, friends, family and those who have heard of this passion for license plates have contributed to that hobby in a big way. There are many days in which a new license plate from a faraway state arrives in the mail or a king neighbor comes by their house with a plate for Jack. Carrie says his collection has made him aware of what is out there well beyond his own state and Jack is eager to someday visit each of the states that he owns a license plate from.
Sheryl tells Carrie about a sensitive little boy who came to her office. He was 4 year olds and coming to the office for occupational therapy and his passion was Porsche cars…he dreamed about them, drew pictures of them and carried models with him…he also brought his mother to experience Reiki with me after he asked me what I did in my office and when I explained how I helped people feel at peace and know more about themselves he responded his mother needed that. Eventually both mother and child had sessions…Sometimes the wisdom of small children lets me know it is not in our head but in our hearts and soul that we experience the greatest sense of love and Self.”
The book is subtitled How Autism Changed One Family for the Better. The family travels regularly. Carrie speaks of a visit to North Conway and an experience at the hotel they normally stay at. As they were checking in Jack noticed a man in the lobby sitting with his small dog. With a deep-seated fear of dogs, Jack marched up to the front desk and announced, “There’s a dog in here. Dogs aren’t allowed, repeating it over and over. His siblings grew concerned because they could sense how upset Jack was as he circled round and round repeating this. Carrie decided to give him a moment to adjust…Eventually the man called out softly to Jack…”Come closer, closer, Jack. We’re waiting for you.” In this soft patient manner, he finally persuaded Jack to tentatively reach out a hand and touch the man’s head and then the dog’s giving it a pat. This was a huge breakthrough, given this longtime fear. For Carrie this was also a huge turning point. In seeing that this man, a stranger, understood that Jack saw things differently and was ready to approach him in a way that might make sense to her son she felt as though the world was ready for people like Jack.
Carrie said that explaining this to Jack and answering his questions is somewhat similar to preparing for the sex talk with kids: that you are aware your kid knows certain things, but he or she often knows more than you thought and that it’s your job to fill in the blanks. In Jack’s case he’s been picking up details here and there and in understanding his autism, she feels it slightly altered his sense of self.
Sheryl says “As a Reiki practitioner I had one client who wandered into my room one day..I work in an office with other health professionals and this eight year old boy was there for occupational therapy. We had a wonderful chat and he asked his mom to bring him for a Reiki session. He came to me almost every week for 8 years and while he was on my table for the session he often looked at stuff on his ” I “pad while I administered Reiki. His confidence and management of his fears and anxieties continued to improve and he looked forward to this relaxation process. I worked with several other autistic children and they also felt comforted and warmed by the flow of energy that helped them connect to their inner higher self or soul perhaps. This boy was not happy feeling different than the other kids and was very high functioning..He almost didn’t accept the diagnosis and of course like most of us didn’t want any limiting factors in his Iife.”
Although Carrie had been writing her blog and some other articles the thought of a book suddenly became tremendously important to her. She realized how important the message could be not only for Jack, but for others as well. Drawing on her past journaling it took about six months to fill in the gaps and then another few months to fully coordinate and edit the book. Her oldest son, Joey, also contributed a chapter. Carrie wanted to chronicle her days with Jack, which is why she started to write the book, and then she wanted people to understand what he was like. Now she said the book is for anyone who has been touched by autism.
A truly warm and loving story of one families united and unified fun filled and fulfilling approach to living with an autistic child and if there is one thing she would like people to know about autism It’s this…Autism is to be embraced, not feared—it’s not something to be afraid of.
Sheryl and Carrie have taken a peak into the dynamics of family life with Carrie and Joe… 5 siblings including Jack who has been labeled with autism but who experiences life as we all do through our own unique perceptions fears and limitations, perhaps, from our genetic predispositions, environmental factors, soul and energy life before being born, and perhaps part of the Universal divine plan for each of us. It has been my personal observation over the many years of my intuitive development and energy healing work that each of us possesses the DNA of Universal Life and are more similar than different…We have exactly what we need for us to explore this physical realm to learn and evolve and in the process discover more about ourselves, others and the nature of love and compassion…nothing is random or wrong. It simply is and we have the free will to make choices to find joy and happiness no matter what challenges or circumstances face us… In Sheryl’s book The Living Spirit she addresses this by writing…. “It is this ability to find love everywhere and in everyone which allows the soul to connect to a higher knowing, namely, that all that exists on this and other dimensions are miraculous and infinite. This is the journey of the soul and in order for soul maturation one cannot allow oneself to be any more attached to one soul than others. This can be hard to accept let alone implement. After all, aren’t we all taught from birth to love our families beyond all else, and to take care of our own?” Although all expressions of love are equally needed and valued by Spirit, it is in the oneness of being and the fairness to all that means we are detaching from our human ego and have come into the fullness of our divine soul energy. When we can accept each other with all our earthly limitations, without wanting to change, fix or blame each other, then a greater sense of peace and freedom will be established.
Carrie and Sheryl hope we can all continue to see the beauty uniqueness and love that our children express so effortlessly and allow each child to share their own perspective in their own way without thinking only one way is possible and to find their own path in life.