Autism Detection in Infants and Young Children

Autism Detection in Infants and Young Children

Deciding to objectively look at your child for signs of autism is hard. Thinking about your child possibly needing alternate care or schooling when that child is still a baby was not what you signed up for. But detecting early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and seeking a professional diagnosis is the best way to make sure your child lives a productive and happy life.

Early signs of ASD are not easy to detect and you should always seek a professional opinion with your observations and concerns. It is not possible to diagnose your own child with ASD from reading online tests, blogs, or watching videos. The purpose of this blog is what to look for that could potentially be a valid concern for your child.

Many early signs of ASD can be confused with normal developmental behavior. All children develop at different rates. There are some behaviors that may be valid reasons for raising concern. Let’s take a look at what to look for (and what not to look for) when it comes to your infant or young child and ASD.

What are the Warning Signs of ASD in Young Children and Infants?

There are several marker behaviors that parents should take into account when observing their infant or young child developing. Again, note that none of these behaviors means your child has ASD. These are simply behaviors that are commonly associated with ASD if they persist.

The behaviors listed are from the CDC and Autism Awareness Center.

Infant Behavior Markers (up to 12 months)

  • Does not make or maintain eye contact
  • Lack of facial expressions (never smiles or frowns)
  • Does not respond to their name by 9 months
  • Uses few or no gestures
  • Does not respond to verbal cues or ‘games’
  • Lack of attempts at verbal communication

Young Child Behavior Markers (up to 24 months)

  • Does not share interests, such as found objects or toys by 15 months
  • No pointing to indicate things by 18 months
  • Lack of empathy (recognizing others are happy or sad) by 24 months
  • Delayed language, motor, or cognitive skills
  • Interested primarily in objects and not people
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has unusual or extreme reactions to sensory experiences (touch, taste, smell)

Other Potential Early ASD Markers

The CDC lists the following as other marker behaviors commonly exhibited by those with ASD:

  • Preterm births or low birth weight
  • Environmental exposure to hazards like lead paint
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Gastrointestinal issues (e.g., constipation)
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

Remember, all of the above behaviors and characteristics are just general markers. Some children who get diagnosed with ASD won’t exhibit any of the signs listed above. Always speak to a medical professional when you are unsure of what to be concerned about.

When do the Signs of ASD Start to Show?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is hard to diagnose, as there are no medical tests that reveal it. Diagnoses are made from testing conducted by medical professionals based on behaviors, developmental milestones, and other specific criteria.

With that said, warning signs of ASD can begin to manifest as early as 9 months of age. These are warning signs, not a diagnosis, however, and need to be monitored. Keeping an eye on specific behaviors and conferring with a professional is the first step if you notice one or more marker behaviors that don’t go away as the child gets older.

The CDC notes that “ASD can sometimes be detected by 18 months or younger,” but that 24 months is the age where “a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.”

When Should I Seek a Professional Opinion?

The best way to seek a professional opinion is by getting one directly from your child’s pediatrician. Pediatricians can help with screening and recommendations. Sometimes developmental disorders and signs of ASD are part of a regular wellness visit for your child. Talk to your pediatrician about specifics if you have questions or concerns.

ASD screening is recommended by many pediatricians at specific developmental intervals. If your child’s pediatrician doesn’t mention an ASD screening at a wellness visit and you have concerns, ask them about it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental screening for all children at doctor wellness visits at 9 months, 18 months, and 36 months of age. The AAP also strongly recommends screening specifically for signs of ASD at 18 months and 24 months.

If your child’s pediatrician believes that your child is at risk for ASD, there are two paths you can take for a formal diagnosis and care plan: private evaluations & interventions and state-sponsored early intervention programs.

What is a Private Evaluation?

Private simply refers to private pay i.e. paid for out-of-pocket or covered by an insurance company. These evaluations allow parents to select a care program of their choice to help evaluate their child.

Private evaluations are in-depth looks at a child’s development. These evaluations are handled by a licensed medical professional like a child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, developmental pediatrician, or another specialized professional

These evaluations screen your child, analyze the data, determine whether or not the child needs specialized care, and then help develop a course of action. Keep in mind that private-pay evaluations may not be covered by your insurance and can cost lots of money out-of-pocket.

If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford out-of-pocket expenses for a private ASD screening/evaluation, you should look at your state’s Early Intervention program.

What is an ASD Early Intervention?

For those who cannot take on the financial burden or private ASD testing and screening, Early Intervention (EI) programs are available from individual states. These programs help families with children under 3 years of age get screened and will create a care plan if necessary. States are required by the federal government to provide several services free of charge.

If a screening or concern from your child’s pediatrician notes several at-risk behaviors, you may be encouraged to start an EI. Early intervention screenings do not require a formal diagnosis and are conducted by federal EI specialists.

The EI specialists will determine whether or not your child requires more comprehensive care. EI specialists will recommend the type of care they believe will be the most beneficial for your child.

What Should I Do If My Young Child is Diagnosed with ASD?

Both of the paths to getting a legitimate ADS screening or evaluation listed above will provide you with a care plan. Following this care plan will get you started on helping your child get the services they need to flourish.

After an ASD diagnosis, children are commonly referred to work with one of the following types of professionals:

  • Psychologists
  • Behavioral Analysts
  • Developmental Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Speech Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists

This is not a comprehensive list, it is simply to give you an idea of where your child may start in their developmental journey.

On top of your child receiving special care you, as a parent, will need to learn how to best help your child grow and develop. Talk to your child’s healthcare professional to learn what you can do to best provide the things they need most to grow.

Being active and supportive in your child’s development will help greatly in their development. Therapy for ASD shouldn’t stop when a clinic or class ends–parents should be aware of their child’s interests, behaviors, and moods to help them develop all the time.

Asking your child’s healthcare provider for information on how to learn more is the best next step you, as a parent, can take. Learn, teach, and do what you can to make sure your child grows up in a loving environment.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment with ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Sources

CDC Signs & Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders

A Few of My Favorite Things

A Few of My Favorite Things

Over the past several months I’ve been writing to you about the courage and joy that come from walking through pain. About the importance of feeling our feelings versus shoving them down, avoiding them, or taking them out on others. Last week I wrote again about finding true joy; the moments that take our breath away in their simplicity. In writing this to you I’ve been writing from two different perspectives. The first perspective is from my own personal trauma going through a divorce. The second is from the assumption that a year into the pandemic each and every one of us has some level of trauma to unpack.

In writing from the second perspective I don’t mean to assume or project that each person is in trauma. My intention is to honor the humanity in each of us and perspective that, if you are struggling with the pandemic or any other personal trauma, to offer you the grace and compassion I offer myself. You see, I believe we are all worthy of the life we want. We’re far enough along in my writing that you know joy doesn’t come from taking from others or out in the material world. I don’t have to tell you this. When we strip it down to what makes us truly happy we find the God inside of each of us. She’s whispering, “this is the life I want for all my children.”  

Will you listen to Her call? Will you listen to your heart? Your knowing? I’ve heard this calling in the wind many times. I’m no longer letting it blow by me or my life. I’m ready to do joy. I’m ready to live.

Discovering What You Want

What feels like months ago (but may be further back) I wrote myself a little note. It sits on my desktop where I see it every day. It reads:

I want to:

  • Recommit to my own happiness
  • Take pictures with a camera
  • Turn the TV off
  • Lighten my schedule
  • Eat real food, drink less, but good wine
  • Write
  • Spend time outside
  • Dance to the moon
  • Disconnect my boys
  • Cherish love every day
  • Sink into my family & tribe

When I think about my perfect day it’s one where I’m totally unplugged, surrounded by my children, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. It could be snapping a picture with a camera because my cell phone is down. It could be a walk in the woods or a fireside chat with Dametrius. Cooking food from the farm to my table. Dancing to the moon. Back down in the grass, eyes at the stars, boys against my chest. This, for me, is pure joy. This is life.  

It’s such a simple list. Really. But when I read it to myself I know that when I do these things they bring me joy. These simple things take me home to my own heart. In coming out of trauma I saw these things as unreachable. Each time I reached for any one of them, more trauma came to me. I was told, “this is not for you, this makes you bad,” and slowly but surely I started to believe it. That is where I was losing myself.  I was giving away what brings me joy. Sitting here now I know that love never asks this of any of us, and it certainly wasn’t asking it of me. It’s not asking it of you either.

Listening to Love

Love is born in our hearts and glimmers to the world. Love smiles in the sun as it sleepily peeks through the clouds every morning. It kisses us goodnight, slipping into the night light of stars. It says to us that no matter what may come for us on any given day, it will be there waiting for us. We are capable of harnessing the stars and living a life through this lens of love. Mamas, close your eyes and imagine that day when your body erupted and your babies were born. Remember their darling faces, nuzzled at your breast, and breathe that image in. That’s love. That’s joy. It’s been in you since the day you and your children were born.  

Late one night, I tapped on Henry’s heart and told him, “Mama lives in your heart. I’m always with you.” He sleepily reached over and tapped my heart, “Yes, and Declan and me lived in your heart. Then you pushed me out & I was born.”  

Yes baby, you were. We all were.

The more I take time in the quiet pleasures of life, the more time my heart swells and I realize how precious my life is. I used to think that life meant happiness all of the time. I know now that isn’t true. Hardship and struggle is part of being human. Yet within the same world where war exists, there are tiny baby snuggles and toddler giggles.  The moon calling us for one more dance.  We are made with strength to endure struggles but we are meant for joy. 

So kick off your heels, pour a glass of really good wine, and snuggle up with joy. Make a list. What are your favorite things? No credit card swiped, no status gained, no other person giving or taking it from you–your favorites. Breathe in, breathe out, and chose to boldly live in real joy.

Xoxo,

Jessie

The Importance of the Early Years

The Importance of the Early Years

If you’re a mom of young children like me I’m sure you’ve had the thought of going to the zoo once or twice. It goes something like this:

The local zoo announces a baby. Let’s say an elephant is born so of course, you go rushing! You get to the zoo (pre-COVID, maybe) and see the beautiful baby elephant, just days old, walking behind their mama. In a short moment, you think back to your child’s infanthood and think, “baby boy(or girl) you had fewer skills than an elephant.”  Infant humans, while incredibly squishy, cute, and forever smelling of Dreft and lavender, come into the world with no survival skills.

There are thousands of articles on the importance of early intervention. I spent my bachelor’s degree diving into many of them, followed by stocking my brain with new findings for the past decade. This is in part because I am a researcher by trade. The other part is because I am a nerd for human development. It fills my bucket. In my blog today I’m going to try and give you a snapshot of why development from infancy through kindergarten is so vital. I’m also going to talk about why it’s important for children with autism and our amazing clinics at Instructional ABA Consultants.

Focusing on Child Development Early

OK, let’s get started by going deep. Human infants are born without any skills because their brains need more time to develop than all other mammals. If babies grew into functional toddlers in the womb they could not come out of the birth canal. Women’s bodies are incredible but they aren’t magic; there is a limit to the size of what we can birth (yes, I’m grimacing as I’m writing this because medication-free birth with a newborn is magical, but birthing a toddler? Um…). 

So we get these tiny humans, who are desperately in need of being cared for–it’s almost like they are in the womb for an extra three months after delivery. Then they begin to wake up. I remember when both Henry & Declan found their toes and fingers in amazement around three months old.

During this first year of life, thousands upon thousands of neuroconnections are made. Babies are quickly developing their brainpower, motor skills, and language through these high-speed connections. To do this babies need a few simple things. Infants need to be nurtured, to know that when they have a need their parent responds. This creates a secure connection and lets baby know the world is safe. Babies need food and lots of sleep. Once these basics are covered we move into the two most important things; environment and socialization.

Early Socializing & Environments

I like to think of babies, toddlers, and children as little scientists learning through cause and effect. The environment is a huge blank canvas for our children to discover how their world works. Socialization is the tool children need to survive in our culture.

In their early childhood years, these two pieces are so incredibly important because of the rate children can learn. From infancy to year five, children will learn more than any other time in their lives. “What about college,” you say? Nope. These foundational years are the years where connections are made in the brain that last a lifetime.

As a professional, I love looking at how all this heavy lifting helps to shape the outcome of children’s lives.  As a mama, I drove myself crazy after Declan was born and I realized I was basically running a school in my home for Henry. This wouldn’t be possible with two kids under two.

This was insanity in hindsight. This was also when I was personally able to take a deep breath and remember what I knew. The two most important things are environment and socialization. It’s not about how “cute” my day is with my boys. It’s about how often they are able to explore and engage. These days you won’t really find me teaching at a table much.  Instead, you’ll see a “yes” environment set up (more on this later but basically a safe space to learn), technology out of reach (no TV/no Tablets on the regular as these devices delay both language development & socialization), and lots of talking.

Henry and Declan get to flex their learning muscles through exploration and language. I get to flex my relaxation muscle by not trying to do it all. I’m lucky in that way because my children do not need intervention. If they did I would not be able to sit back because these experiences would need to be contrived. That’s why ABA is so helpful for young children with autism. Here’s why.

The Importance of ABA Therapy for Autism

When a child has autism the neural pathways or roads in the brain that tell that child how to communicate and process information are not forming, either naturally or as quickly as a neurotypical child. The connections are still there to be made but without intervention, a child with autism can’t connect the dots. What this looks like in each child with autism is different but always results in some form of socialization or communication developmental delays. This leaves the child with autism lost in their social world and wondering how to connect.  

In applied behavior analysis (ABA), behavioral scientists (BCBAs) are able to assess the language and communication skills missing in early childhood based on developmental milestones. Children with autism are gifted learners but they learn differently because their neural pathways are routed differently. Through assessment, BCBAs are then able to figure out how our little students learn, what skills are missing, and how to connect those missing dots.  This happens in three really key ways.

The first is one on one therapy (think personal trainer at the gym) to really teach to the student. The next is to help the child with autism apply what they are learning with their peers. Remember, socialization is hard but children who are neurotypical learn from other children. To strengthen the socialization neuropathway, children with autism need to practice these skills with kids their own age. The last is transferring learned skills back to mama and papa. If a child with autism is in therapy and can do all these skills at a treatment clinic but not at home, the neural pathway is not fully formed.

Therapy at ABA Consultants

Instructional ABA Consultants runs autism clinics for children ages 2 ½ to 6 years old (in addition to our home-based therapy for older children).  Our clinics (Naperville & Oak Lawn IL, Castle Rock CO, and coming soon Northside Chicago) have a Preschool Instructor designing the socialization component of our students’ days and BCBAs designing the individualized instruction. Parents are at the core of treatment goals and together we’re helping their precious children make connections in their early development.

Whether you’re a parent of a neurotypical child or a child with autism know that your child’s early years are precious. While we all can dream of our children functioning like that baby elephant walking around fully skilled, the reality is human babies and children need shaping. We’re a social species. 

So set down the tablet today, pack up all the toys the marketing teams said you needed, and let your children explore and enjoy. If your child isn’t exploring, jump in and help. If you need help teaching these skills because your child has autism (or this is a new way to parent for you) reach out.  We’re all in this crazy world of parenthood together.  

 

XOXO,

Jessie

Picking Your Mountain to Die On

Picking Your Mountain to Die On

Okay, okay I hear you. That title! It’s a loaded one. I thought I’d just have a little fun this week with wrapping up our series about functions of behavior. I’ll explain the title in a bit.

Over the past month, IABA has republished my series on functions of behavior because it’s such an important part of working with children. It deserves an annual highlight! As a BCBA, owner of an Applied Behavior Analysis company, and boy mama this little piece of scientific knowledge guides so much of life. 

Functions of behavior give us the framework for why a behavior continues to happen and lets us breathe easier knowing that all behaviors have a reason. We can start building our plan of action to address whatever it is we’re interested in changing once that behavior is identified.

Learning About Functions of Behavior

Let me back up a little and tell you why learning about functions of behavior was so life-changing for me. In doing so I’m going to go ahead and date myself. Thirteen years ago I was working as a line therapist with adolescent boys with autism who engaged in high levels of aggressive behavior. At the time there was little regulation in the applied field and while I was supervised by a BCaBA. I was not using function-based intervention because she wasn’t designing her treatment following this principle. As a new undergraduate, I knew I didn’t want to continue to work with children with autism if I couldn’t be effective. I was so frustrated for the children that our interventions weren’t working. I then decided to apply for my master’s degree with a goal to better understand behavior. I’ve been enjoying this gift for 12 years now.

One of the first things I learned in my master’s program was that behavior is maintained by the four key functions I’ve reshared this past month; escape, attention, access to tangibles, and automatically maintained behaviors. When a problem behavior occurs you want to make sure not to reinforce the behavior with what the learner is seeking. 

My beautiful clients from back home? We were directed to put them in time out every time they engaged in aggression and their behaviors were maintained by escape functions. This meant each time they engaged in aggression, putting them in time out told them we were saying, “yes! That’s what I want you to do.” What should have been done instead is follow through with demands and teaching the boys how to tell us they needed a break. Their lives could have been changed using our science properly.  This is a large piece of why I love ABA so much; lives change.

Using Functions of Behavior at Home

Fast forward to today and the wrap of our series. Learning about functions of behavior can be overwhelming. To think that all human behavior can be categorized into four sections and then studied from there is work by itself! This is the work we love at Instructional ABA Consultants but let me tell you this first hand as a mama, that shit is hard at home.

Raising Henry has been one of the greatest blessings of my life (Dametrius and Declan are the other two). Henry, as I’ve written, is a strong-willed child with a great big heart. Henry feels and responds to things the moment his feet hit the ground. This brings me to the title.  

About a year ago I was transitioning Henry to a booster seat from his high chair. It’s a value of mine that my boys eat at the table and don’t wander around eating or zone out eating in front of a screen. I love food and want us to enjoy it together as a family. Henry? Henry had wanted no part in this family value. 

I knew the function of his daily battling was escape from the table and followed him through each time for sitting. He would not back down. Frazzled, I went to my team saying I was now six months in and I still had to use strict follow-through at every meal to get Henry to sit and the end was nowhere in sight. One of our BCBAs (now supervisor & PhD!) Allaina Douglas said, “Jessie you have to pick your mountain to die on.”  

What she meant was if this was an important value to my family that I would need to let go of other demands through the day that were less important and literally buckle into sitting at the table. So that’s what I did. I sat down and thought about what was really important for me with Henry so that when I made any demands, including sitting, I knew I had to be ready to follow through. This allowed me to lighten up on what wasn’t a value (PJs all day? Sure! Tv all day? No way) and hone in on what I did want to see out Henry.

Henry responded beautifully to this regarding the sitting. We then of course entered the 8-month potty training saga but hey, you win some, you lose some, but I digress. In the end, I understood that as a mama and clinician I couldn’t be function-based all day every day. That shit is exhausting. I could pick my values so that I could decide which behaviors will be allowed in my home and which ones won’t be. As my children grow up this will provide them their own moral compass to follow. I parent Dametrius way differently than Declan and Henry (as he is older) but our values are still the same.

Functions of Behavior and Being a Mom

This leads me to the second “purely mama” part of this. When you are choosing to live in a home where you are the leader and not your children it takes an incredible amount of energy. It would be super relaxing and wonderful if we could all say yes to popsicles for breakfast and binging Netflix every day. For most of this, we have different values than that for our kids (zero judgment here if these are your values!). 

Being a leader in the family means you will have to implement rules and therefore boundaries. This is work! In order to do this, we as parents have to learn how to rest, reflect, and take care of ourselves so we can implement our values in the home. When we don’t we risk either giving in or blowing up. While this happens to the best of us, I know personally that I want this to be the exception to my parenting, not the rule.

In order to do the meaningful work of choosing what goes in your home and standing on that mountain, we as parents have to be at home with ourselves. That means spending time with our own thoughts, deciding our own values, and creating a self-care plan. The time with your thoughts and deciding values provides a compass for your home. Remember, attacking every single behavior and function in your family home would be exhausting! Picking your mountain means picking what’s important to you. 

The self-care plan is included because, let’s be honest, as a mama or papa shit gets real fast. At any given moment our children are doing the next “please don’t do that thing.” We can navigate through our days with intention (most of the time!) when we’re rested and healthy. For me, this looks like morning meditation, evening journaling, and drinking more tea than wine these days. It also looks like saying I’m sorry when I do slip up and yell or holding myself accountable if I gave in when I didn’t want to.

Last night Henry had a high-emotion night because it had snowed and he really wanted to go outside to play at bedtime. I had to say no, it was bedtime. But I sure as shit could say yes when he asked me for a cool down bath with his swimsuit on. Rock on Henry, rock on Mama! We followed our values and I sat on my mountain. I hope this helps you find yours.

Xoxo,

Jessie

Authentic Love Warriors

Authentic Love Warriors

This past week has been a long and eye-opening one for me. It started with Henry and my first trip back to Illinois since our move out to the farm in Ohio. I crammed every second with people I love to work with. I couldn’t even walk into our old sitter’s home, now a dear friend, without crying because I miss her so much. But that’s the good stuff right there. Loving someone so much your heart explodes when you see them. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful women in my life and a work team that accepts me as I am. I think they’re lucky to have me… but I’m even luckier to have them. It’s reciprocal.

Living Authentically

During my time away from home, I was able to take a deep dive into my emotions. Remember, our feelings are messengers. I wrote to you all a few weeks ago that I haven’t been feeling like myself for awhile at home. I thought self-care would fix it; it didn’t. During the trip back to Illinois I spent time reflecting on the “why.” A very good therapy session later it was loud and clear; I’m not being authentic at home.

Guys! This is tough stuff. One of my content buckets is authenticity. I show up at work each and every day with my whole heart. To have it pointed about that I’m authentic at work and holding back my true self at home was hard to hear. It was also necessary. A lightbulb went off in my head that indicated I needed to feel like myself again. I’m not joking–as soon as I saw it for what it was I felt like myself again. This reminded me about “A Course in Miracles,” that a miracle is shifting back to love. That’s it. What more is authentic than loving ourselves?

Let’s dive in.

Losing Authenticity

Over the last five years, I’ve slowly shifted away from living authentically at home, which corresponds directly to becoming a wife. I somehow got this tiny, mad idea that I was responsible for how everyone was feeling (gender norms anyone?). Day after day, year after year, I started giving away pieces of myself to keep the peace. Now, while I did and still do activities I love, I still wasn’t showing up as myself. I was overwhelmed by the idea of making my husband uncomfortable because of the way he responds to my preferences. Holy crap, what total bullshit.

It’s not that my husband said, “hey you need to make me happy all the time!” but he sure didn’t and doesn’t stop me when I make concessions for myself if it benefits him. For me, this looks like giving up the things I hold to be true for myself that come across and bossy or uptight. I have a very specific way I like to do things based on my values. I love my values (they’re mine!) and yet I hate being labeled as a perfectionist, overbearing, and the like. I know that this is because I am a woman. If I was a man who was detail-oriented, confident and organized I would be labeled as sexy. Dare I say women can be labeled as bitches for this characteristic?

So I held back, pushed through, and fought. This looked like giving up on arguments surrounding how we eat, how I clean the home, how I organize bills, activities I like for the boys, not using shame, screen time, and so on. Sometimes I would fight the fight and sometimes I would concede because I was tired. On and on it went. This is how I lost my authenticity. Because I don’t want to be called bossy. Seriously Jess? Girl, it’s time to stop that bullshit.

You see, I actually am bossy. I employ over 75 people and run a multimillion-dollar organization built from my own heart and with an amazing team. I have to protect my company, employees, and clients which calls for being precise, protective, and loving. I hold the line on quality and values at Instructional ABA Consultants. I love what I do and love my team. Ask any one of them if my directness means they are not heard? That will be a resounding no because even though I’m holding the line, it’s my job to listen to my team. I honor their skills, they honor mine.

Learning to Be Yourself (Again)

So why is it that when I became a wife I adopted this story? That to be assertive at home isn’t Okay? I’m guessing I’m standing beside millions of women who may be asking themselves the same damn question. My idea? Society benefits from keeping women small and in their homes. Period. So even if my husband doesn’t outwardly say, “I need less of your personality,” he doesn’t have to. I stepped into a female role and while I fought sometimes it wasn’t always the case. I still found myself doing the laundry if no one else did it or wiping counters at 10:00 PM because crumbs bother me.

After I realized this is not self-love and to keeping myself small doesn’t serve my heart or the world, I did something radical. Ready for it? I woke up and embraced myself and told my husband I would never compromise my worth again, not ever. That ladies will be the daily practice of my life.

You see, a love warrior, as I’ve written, is someone who knows they are good, whole, and true despite what the world is saying about them. Sometimes that world is as small as our own homes. I’m committed to living this life authentically. Will my fellow love warriors join me? What a gift that might be.

In putting down what I felt my role was and the title of “bossy/uptight,” given to me by my husband, I am standing fully in my power through my heart. I poured a glass of wine last Thursday night and made charts for my home. How the boys and I eat, love charts for myself and the kids (for connection styles), labeled my pantry, wrote our values, wrote my boy’s daily schedule (the littles). Then you know what I did? I folded Martin and Dametrius’s laundry one last time and left a note, “You both need to clean up after yourselves, this is so not my job,” and left it on the stairs for when they got home.

Because you know what? It’s not my job to take care of the whole house, it’s my job to live authentically so my boys can live with their whole hearts. The cleaning crew comes tomorrow. I’ve got other things to do.

Xoxo,
Jessie

 

P.s. Proof

photo of a laundry basket with clothes