April Choulat appears regularly in media outlets

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Highly Sensitive Children, Empathy and Mental Health Disorders

In indigenous cultures, children who are highly sensitive, intuitive, connected to nature and perceptive about others’ emotional and physical states are considered “shamanic”. A child like this is handed over to the village medicine man or medicine woman for training and apprenticeship.

medicineman
In the Western world, we have no such frame of reference for these type of children. Instead of skilled training and awareness of their innate perceptual talents, they are given a medical diagnosis and often heavily medicated. They may develop shame because they are treated like something is “wrong” with them. Some children do in fact have mental health issues or other neurological concerns, including Autism, ADHD and so on.

Many children in the mental health system are actually highly sensitive in various ways and are mirroring back the mental and spiritual sickness in our society. They may in fact demonstrate mental health issues that are either a result of not being understood, and thus not being taught the skills to deal with their innate sensitivities, or in many cases are actually experiencing mental health symptoms that are not really theirs.

It is important to understand the nuances of this, because highly empathic children can actually PICK UP the symptoms of others in their support groups!! They may appear to get WORSE because the underlying causes of their issues are not identified, and the traditional mental health care system (i.e. drugs and often group therapy) does not teach them to regulate their spiritual gifts. This type of care not only doesn’t teach them how to understand and regulate their processing of spiritual-energetic information, it actually EXPOSES them to absorbing negativity from others who are experiencing emotional turmoil and/or dysfunction.

If you have tried to address your child’s behavioral and emotional regulation challenges every way you know how, and can’t seem to shift it, then your child may be experiencing something that is originating on the spiritual-energetic level (as opposed to emotional, psychological, biomedical and/or neurosensorimotor levels). The good news is, if this is happening for your child, you CAN learn ways to support him or her to function in a more healthy way.

To learn more about whether your child is highly sensitive, a free training class is happening next Thursday, October 15th at 12:00 PM ET. REGISTER HERE.

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  • Transcend Autism TV: Red Flags Every Parent Should Know

    In this week’s episode of Transcend Autism TV, April shares red flags to be aware of for your child’s autism program. This video is roughly 30 minutes fyi!

     

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  • Are You A “Warrior” Mom?

    This post might ruffle a few feathers, but it’s not intended to. I want to bring to light an issue I have seen with many parent-child relationships that can be illustrated through that popular phrase “Warrior Mom”.

    Don’t get me wrong…I am all for taking care of our children and future generations by ensuring we have safe food supplies and healthcare. I believe it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves by taking care of our planet, including avoiding exposing future generations to an onslaught of chemicals that have never existed before in history. I even think anger is a positive emotion to draw upon when we want to provoke change in such issues as the current state of denial of the increases in autism diagnoses and the long-term implications of environmental chemicals on prenatal and child development.

    When we use the phrase “Warrior Mom”, generally that invokes an image of a mom who is not taking no for an answer, and who will “arm” herself with the education, supports and resources to get her child the education and services he or she deserves.

    warrior_mom

    It’s the mom who is throwing herself into political action, serving on boards and starting non-profits to facilitate change on a societal level. From a spiritual perspective, it is likely this particular type of mom has been thrust into such a role to serve the greater good by her own experience, and anger is the driving force to get her there. Most of us have not been taught about the so-called “negative” emotions like anger, so we try to suppress them. From a positive aspect, anger propels us to move forward, take action, and get sh*t done. Anger serves a purpose in getting us out of an undesirable state, whether that is fear or despair. If anger is no longer a driving force, typically we have moved into a place of action and resolution (and probably feeling more settled and peaceful, if not entirely happy). The alternative is depression. Maintaining a long-term state of unhappiness and not drawing upon anger in a productive way to create change can lead to or indicate full-blown depression.

    When I think about Warrior Moms in the context of anger and autism and the impact on the parent-child dynamic, I just want to bring to light something that can happen on a spiritual-energetic level.

    Many children with autism operate primarily as vibrational beings, and even those that are verbal often are interpreting, processing and “reading” their worlds through vibration. Emotions carry vibration. This is not to suggest we should *always* be in a “happy” state, as all of the emotions carry a purpose and some emotions like grief are healing emotions. However, a highly sensitive child with autism (or other neurological differences) who absorbs and processes others’ emotional energy can take on parents’ emotional states and reflect it back.

    This can look like “behavior problems” (which won’t go away through behaviorism, by the way). In addition, children don’t often understand exactly what is being discussed, so hearing a phrase like “fighting autism” can be misunderstood and can feel like not accepting the child. A parent who carries a high level of anger over a long period of time can be felt and sensed by the child as not full coming to acceptance with who that child is. And honestly on an energetic level, it often can be felt and sensed that the parent literally is in resistance around some aspect of the child, which will play out in the way the child perceives himself and behaves.

    When does anger become unhealthy?

    1. When it’s been 10 years and you are still fuming on an issue (whether your chosen issue is vaccines, or GMO food, or big-pharma), and likely have begun to develop secondary physical symptoms such as high blood pressure or weight gain.

    2. When you repeatedly discuss the triggering issue to drum up “sympathy anger” in your social circles but no real action is taken to resolve anything.

    3. When you spend the majority of your emotional and mental resources with distractions that take you away from building a connection with your own child. Some “warrior moms” start up foundations and organizations to help other families but their own child is in the hands of professional therapists 24/7.

    This post is not intended to sound judgmental in any way. Every human on the planet experiences some degree of trauma and tragedy, gets overwhelmed at times, and copes with painful emotions in a variety of “healthy” (exercise, political activism, volunteering) and “unhealthy” ways (i.e. addictions like overeating, alcohol, chemicals including prescription medications, numbing out on TV 6 hours a day, etc.).

    We all do the best we can and typically use coping mechanisms to get through painful experiences. I am not aiming to make any parent feel guilty for over-working, avoiding heartfelt connections with their child or being unaware or in denial about the impacts of this type of behavior on their child’s sense of self. I just want to point out a pattern of adult behavior that can have (unintentional) negative implications for children with autism. Not every “Warrior Mom” stays in a prolonged state of anger or avoidance of heart connection to their child. For those that do, this post might be infuriating, which would indicate unhealed trauma that is being triggered and brought to the surface. Children with autism benefit from awareness of energetic and spiritual processes that occur during social interactions, so taking care of buried emotions and fostering a heart-to-heart connection with your child is one of the most significant things you can do to facilitate his or her own healing and development.

    If this is something you would like to learn more about, or if you are interested in supporting your child vibrationally, check out the upcoming workshop “Spiritual Tools for Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child”.

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  • Transcend Autism TV: How to Manage Your Time

    One of the biggest issues I see with many parents who have children with autism (or any child for that matter!) is not having enough time. I could write a whole other post about this in terms of mindset and energy and priorities, but for now I shared a simple tip on this week’s episode of Transcend Autism TV.

    Let me know if you have any other ways you organize yourself and feel free to share them in the comments below!

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