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From time to time, the Waterloo Region Family Network (WRFN) is asked to distribute information on behalf of third parties. WRFN provides general information to self-advocates and families of children with special needs. The information provided on this website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider. WRFN is not responsible for any information or services provided by third parties. You are urged to use independent judgment when considering any resource.

 


 

The Nuances of Moving House when Neurodivergent

By: Cristina Stanger, Self-Advocacy Liaison

*This article was originally published in the Family Pulse Newsletter November 2022*

 

My August Family Pulse article focused on giving myself grace amidst change. A lot of the change I was experiencing stemmed from moving house, something I had not done on a large scale before. And while every neurodivergent person is different, I thought I would share my experiences, what worked well and what didn’t, to give you information to consider if you need to move, or need to support a loved one through the moving process.

Preparing to say goodbye and hello:

As I read through articles about how to prepare children for a move, I quickly realised that many of the recommendations would benefit my own transition period as well. My family said goodbye and thank you to our old house, going from room to room, writing down memories as we went. We visited parks and places near our new house to build our comfort level with the new neighbourhood. My family and I did a collaborative art project together during our first days in the new house, creating something we could hang on the wall to commemorate our family’s arrival. Something I would have liked to manage better was the social element, saying goodbye to old neighbours and hello to the new ones; these gestures of closure or introduction didn’t come to fruition in the way I would have liked, mostly because they occurred to me as an afterthought and I didn’t prepare myself enough in advance for these interpersonal tasks. Making the new space work for us There is no way around it, moving is a process, a process which requires a good deal of effort and organisation. My family decided in advance to get help with the organisational element in our new home, focusing on our kitchen and basement. By ensuring things were unpacked, sorted and given a ‘home’ early on by someone without an emotional attachment, it significantly reduced the environmental chaos, which in turn significantly reduced my sensory overwhelm. The decluttering and decision making element involved with the organisation was draining and required some recovery time, but was well worth it in the end. While it took some back and forth within my internal dialogue, I decided to arrange our furniture to suit my family’s needs, rather than meet conventional norms. For example, we placed large shelving units in my dining room for storage, as we use that space to craft or play games as opposed to entertaining. Our space, our own way to use it.

Managing the emotional elements:

I knew moving would be hard as it is a big change, but I underestimated the sheer amount of stress involved (buying, selling, planning, etc.). The element of stress made life more challenging because stress impacts my neurodivergent symptoms, and my ability to deal with aspects of dayto-day life was reduced. This is something I failed to anticipate, though it seems an obvious issue in hindsight. Once I came to this realisation, I had to be deliberate in building in extra downtime into my schedule to allow for recovery. Grace was involved, once again, as I reduced my goals for each day and cut myself more slack for parenting missteps. We discovered that different family members experienced different emotions at different times during the moving process; which again, sounds obvious, but didn’t occur to me as something to prepare for. Being gentle with each other and openly communicating went a long way in this regard. I had a hard time navigating the social niceties that came with news of moving. Most people would talk about how exciting it all was, but these small-talk conversations left little room to express how I was really feeling (worried about change, overwhelmed with stress, etc). I often had to gloss over all my true emotions, which was very draining. So instead I talked with trusted sources about these feelings, which is a strategy I had learned already, but that I had to remind myself to use.

Other important things I learned:

Adjustments to one’s muscle memory are required when living in a new space. The recalibration of various movements and actions can be exhausting! Take some downtime and remember this process can take several weeks (approximately 8 in my case). You might discover new quirks in your home that can be disappointing at first. However, over time the reasons you picked your living space will begin to shine through again. It takes a while for a house to feel like it’s really yours. Slowly, you will develop new cleaning routines and figure out where to put seasonal decor to help make your new space feel more like your home. Don’t forget to modify your travel planning when leaving your house for the day, including the length of transit time in addition to the route itself.

In conclusion:

I share these experiences not to scare or deter anyone from moving, but to give you things to think about —because the more I know what I might need to expect, the easier my transitions are as I get fewer surprises and I can prepare for anticipated challenges. If you are going to be moving, I wish you the best and please don’t worry if you, like me, do not feel excited. We all process things differently, and you will adjust in time.

Trish Coupal at 10:53 AM
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Family Pulse November 2022

November is here!

 

In the November issue of Family Pulse, you will find information on:

 

SEAC Updates

Nuances of Moving House When Neurodivergent

Erin's EarlyON Drop-Ins

Family Event

Celebrate Family

A New Chapter

What's Happening

Community Information, Resources and Opportunities

 

You can read the online version of Family Pulse here or download the PDF here. 

 

 

Trish Coupal at 10:35 AM
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Grace Amidst Change

By Cristina Stanger, Self-Advocacy Liaison, WRFN
*This article was originally published in the Family Pulse Newsletter August 2022*

 

I’m finding myself in the midst of a lot of changes lately. We, at WRFN, are transitioning back to in-office work. We are doing so with the absence of my well-respected and loved colleague, Steph, who passed away this spring. My family is moving houses. My children are reaching new milestones. So to be completely honest, I am writing this article for myself as much as I am writing for you, the reader. I think we can all use a reminder to be gentle with ourselves, especially in the midst of changes.
 
Heraclitus is known to have said, “Change is the only constant.” (Personally, I always thought dirty laundry was the one constant in life, but since worn clothes change from clean to dirty, I suppose Heraclitus accounted for that too). If anything, living during a pandemic makes the reality of change even more apparent. Benjamin Franklin took Heraclitus’ statement one step further saying, “Change is the only constant in life. One’s ability to adapt to those changes will determine your success in life.” Well that sounds daunting, doesn’t it? This may be true, but it’s certainly not easy. Guess what? Sometimes I just don’t feel like adapting, it’s hard work for me. I was once told by a professional that, “change is hard for everyone, but it seems especially hard for you,” – so I don’t think my aversion to change is imagined.
 
And because making constant adjustments is very draining, I find myself working through frequent negative thoughts, frustrations and self-criticisms; this is what brings me to the concept of grace, both for myself and for others. The word ‘grace’ can have many different meanings, but I am thinking of it in terms of being considerate, kind, or merciful. In order to counteract those ominous quotes about change, I thought I would look up a few about grace to help see me through.

  • “Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” - Max Lucado
  • “Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.” - Philip Yancey
  • “For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them” - St. Augustine of Hippo
  • “Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.” - Brene Brown (I will augment this last quote with my own spin – Grace means that all of my mistakes now serve to facilitate my adaptation to change, rather than serving guilt or shame).

 
Grace to get me through these challenging times:

  • I am struggling with the loss of flexibility that I had with remote work. Grace.
  • My colleagues and I are learning to work without Steph’s physical presence. Grace.
  • My children need more mom time, more reassurance, and more cuddles as we move. Grace.
  • I can’t remember where I packed an important item. Grace.
  • My approach to pandemic public health measures is different from those of other citizens. Grace.
  • I am too tired or sad to do anymore than the bare minimum. Grace.

 
So if you find yourself coping with a lot of change these days, as I am, maybe you’ll benefit from reading these quotes about grace too. Let’s all be a little gentler with ourselves.

Rachel Cave at 3:03 PM
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Everyone is REALLY Awesome

By Cristina Stanger, Self-Advocacy Liaison, WRFN
*This article was originally published in the Family Pulse Newsletter May 2022*

 

Sometimes you come across a product that speaks to you. I really like the “Everyone is Awesome” Lego® set (40516) for the messages of inclusion and diversity it represents. I purchased it as a shared-activity for my children that would facilitate discussions about race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. My seven-year-old built the wall, my four-year-old assembled the people, and we engaged in important conversations. I chalked it up to a win.

 

 

But as we built it, I kept feeling like the idea could have gone farther. There was a clear lack of disability representation, and that seemed to me like a missed opportunity. Afterall, it is said that nearly a third of all people will experience disability at some point in their lifetime. So I determined that at least 4 of the 11 figures needed a visible exceptionality (although in reality many are invisible, like mine). I started wondering if I could modify my set to be more inclusive of those with exceptionalities, in addition to the marginalised groups already being celebrated.


It wasn’t long before I was pouring over Lego® sets online looking for accessories I could incorporate. Some sets did have one or two disability-related pieces, but I wanted to take the idea farther, so I settled on ordering piece-meal through eBay. Seeing how many different exceptionalities I could represent with the 11 figures was a fun challenge. And thus, my little passion project was born. #EveryoneIsREALLYAwesome.
 
You may have seen some of these images on our WRFN media feeds already, and I would  like to walk you through the modifications I made and my logic behind them:

 

 

You’ll notice that I did not change the background at all as these coloured stripes carry strong meaning for the communities they represent, and they are well understood within society as a whole.

 

 

I rearranged the components of the figures, because after all, we are not one dimensional, and some people will identify with more than one of the represented groups. I did, however, keep the hand and face components paired together to be more in keeping with race representation.

 

 

I spread the figures out, because I needed to create physical space for the tools and support needs of those with disabilities. In a way, it is also a metaphorical space for our exceptional needs which are so often overlooked or ignored. I felt this “flying geese” formation generated a nice sense of community as well.

 

 

In the end I modified eight of the 11 figures.

  • Service dog - visual impairment, hearing impairment, emotional support needs, etc.
  • Backpack - medical equipment, homelessness
  • Hat with visor and ear protection - sensory sensitivities, autism
  • Wheelchair - physical disability
  • Helmet - personal safety needs
  • Tablet - augmentative communication device
  • Hand removed - congenital difference, amputation
  • Cane - visual impairment, physical disability

And I like to think that the remaining three figures have invisible exceptionalities such as Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, schizophrenia, or chronic pain.

And here is the end result:

 

 

As a person with invisible exceptionalities, I am still on the lookout for signs of inclusion and representation in businesses and organizations. If they welcome and support other under represented groups, they will likely welcome and support my neurodivergent self as well. Waterloo Region Family Network plans to display this customized set in our new office in the near future, so please check it out the next time you visit!

You are seen. You are valued.

Leah Bowman at 11:12 AM
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Family Pulse-May 2022

Welcome to May! 

 

Inside the May issue of Family Pulse you will find information on:

SEAC Updates

Everyone is REALLY Awesome

A New Chapter
What's Happening at WRFN
Community Info, Resources & Opportunities

 

You can read the online version of Family Pulse here or download a pdf copy. 

Leah Bowman at 11:07 AM
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Contributors

Blog Contributor Portrait
Name: Rachel Cave
Posts: 9
Last Post: December 9, 2022
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Name: Leah Bowman
Posts: 508
Last Post: November 8, 2022
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