The Re-Building Has Begun: Continuum April 2018 E-Newsletter
Monday, April 30, 2018
In This Issue
Will you join Conny the Re-Builder in rebuilding lives during The Great Give?
People ostracized and bullied Tim for being different for much of his life.
Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and anxiety, Tim remembers feeling singled out for being different as early as pre-school when his above average reading skills – his parents caught him reading the New York Times at age 3 – became disconcerting for his classmates’ parents. In addition to his learning differences, there were the social challenges.
Gym class would end in meltdowns over Tim’s fear of changing in front of his classmates. Woodcutting class was out of the question because of his sensory issues. People often misunderstood his blunt honesty, a common trait in those on the autism spectrum, as rudeness. Yet, Tim functioned fine in a regular classroom setting.
Then, his father died from ALS during his 9th grade year.
As Tim processed his grief, his meltdowns increased and he’d lash out. His public school did not know how to handle him. Eventually, he was able to flourish at a school tailored to people on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Subsequent residential programs he entered as an adult did not fit as well, particularly given his combination of developmental differences (he prefers to not use ‘disability’) and psychiatric condition. He especially didn’t like feeling that people were trying to ‘cure’ his Asperger’s.
What Tim likes about the care Continuum provides is the independent living environment with a safety net: “Independence means not having other people run your life for you.” His program is really structured with 12-hour on-site staffing, groups, and case management services. But he takes the bus on his own to go to Gateway classes and handles his own shopping and most of his finances.
Tim is working towards a secondary education degree and looks forward to getting his Masters in Psychology one day. Eventually, he wants to teach middle or high school. However, he might say his biggest accomplishment has been his ability to turn the misunderstanding he experienced earlier in life into a platform that promotes compassion and acceptance for people on the autism spectrum.
Years ago, Tim started giving presentations on his life as an “Aspie” at events or group meetings. He shares personal stories of tough times, like being mistreated or not fitting in, but also fun anecdotes about his unique Aspie-related traits, like his ability to pay highly focused attention in specific areas and his photographic memory – just try and quiz him on baseball stadiums and stats. "Get to know us one-on-one," Tim urges. “We're a fountain of energy and knowledge.”
Now, Tim and his best friend Lauren share their lives as Aspies as the performing arts duo Phoenix Warriors; a theatrical evolution of Tim’s presentations. They chose the name for its symbolism of rebirth and fieriness, and to represent all they have lived through and overcome.
Tim hopes that by sharing his story he’s contributing at least one building block towards constructing a society that embraces diversity of all kinds.
"We’re all human beings, no matter the barriers or differences. The smallest smile or ‘I’m there for you,’ even the smallest action can make a big difference in someone’s heart."
Zih, a Continuum clieht, uses poetry and storytelling to cope with mental illness as well as to increase acceptance and awareness. Zih shares a compelling piece with a message of loving and embracing oneself, even in the darkest times.
I Am Broken!
I often wake up to yesterday
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
Sometimes when you are feeling a lot of stress and flurry of thoughts and activity, you just need to stop and plant yourself back to the ground, kind of like a tree. Try this activity sitting or standing: Place your feet flat on the ground. Imagine the sun shining a strong bright ray of light going in through the crown of your head and filling your body. Now, imagine the ray continuing to flow from the sun, down through your body and into the ground to the depths of the earth. Just hold the sense of the flow of powerful, pulsating rays as they pour through you for a couple of minutes. When you feel calm, slowly take a few deep breaths.
Drink plenty of water and eat small, nutritious snacks. Hunger and dehydration, even before you're aware of them, can provoke aggressiveness and exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress.
Get a Grip
Muscle tightening and releasing can unlock stress. So, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, try this: Grab your steering wheel. Clench the muscles in your fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Do this until your muscles begin to tremble (about 45 seconds), then release. You'll produce a wave of relief in your upper neck and arms all the way down to your fingers. You can do something similar at your desk.
Listen to “Pink”
You’ve heard of white noise. Now experts are discovering pink noise, a mix of high and low sound frequencies. Studies have shown that adults who listened to pink noise while snoozing spent 23 percent more time in unbroken shut-eye, a study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology found. "Pink noise enhances the naturally occurring slow brain waves characteristic of deep sleep," says Phyllis Zee, M.D., Ph.D., the chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University. To play pink noise all night, try an app like Noisli ($1.99; iTunes and Google Play)
Raising awareness and advocating for those with mental illness is incredibly important to Continuum of Care. Agree with us? Then join Team Continuum for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connecticut Walk!
The NAMI CT Walk is an uplifting experience of solidarity with other organizations and families who support and provide care for people with mental illness. It's also a celebration with food, giveaways and live performances!
Date: Sunday, May 19, 2018
Location: Rentschler Field, 615 Silver Ln, East Hartford
Registration: 9 am, Walk Time: 10 am
RSVP: Lisa Acosta, LAcosta@continuumct.org 203.387.8319
You can also support Team Continuum by donating* to help Lisa order the snazzy bright blue t-shirts that always get Continuum noticed at the walk.
*Write a note that it's for the NAMI 2018 Walk
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