Caring for a Loved One With Autism
A Mentoring Group For Parents and Guardians
Autism in the family cuts me off from so many things I used to enjoy. How can I be happy again?
I find so many things about autism difficult to accept. How do I find the strength to keep dealing with autism day after day?
All my energy goes into coping with autism. I am so totally exhausted and depleted that I don’t even know who I am anymore.
I am not just talking about taking breaks, hiring a caregiver or even taking a vacation. You have tried all that and you know that sooner or later you have to come home to the same situation. Respite is valuable, but in order to get true relief for the long haul, it’s going to take something more than getting a break.
When life with autism gets hard, you have a choice.
You can either give up and let the situation diminish you…
Or you can rise up, and let the situation bring out the best in you.
What good can come from living with a family member with autism?
Let me give you a peek into how I got through that impossible moment when my strength seemed to give out.
There came a place in my journey, when there was a major shift in my approach to my life.
Every single moment before that major shift happened had been about “saving Jaison from autism.” My life had become completely consumed by wanting Jaison to be one of the children who recovers from autism. All I wanted was for Jaison to talk, to make friends and to grow up to be independent.
The “Sharon” I had been before autism arrived in my life seemed to have flown out the window. Nothing was more important than my Jaison’s healing.
I know you know what I mean. Maybe you’re not quite as obsessed as I was; maybe you are.
The shift came, when I began a process of asking “Who am I?”
For many years, I found great value in telling my story to those who would listen, because I felt understood and comforted. However, as the years passed, I also began to realize that the more I told myself the story of suffering because of autism the more pain I was in. I was in pain, because I believed the story that my life was not going to feel better until Jaison recovered and it was not looking as promising for me and my Jaison as it looks for many of you. His progress was on the very slow end of autism.
I kept wondering if “all I really am” is just a woman, whose life took a drastic turn into the mundane and hopeless because of autism.
Of course not, came the answer. I’m a wife, and a friend, and a daughter, and on and on.
But something had cracked or more precisely opened.
I realized that I didn’t know who I was. Not just because of living with autism, but deeper than that. And then, I summoned up my courage to look to see who I was. And what I found was emptiness.
At first I thought that the emptiness meant; “I’m nobody. I don’t have an identity.”
I kept asking myself, “Am I really a nobody?” When I really took my attention and looked directly at me, what I found was that I got no answer at all, just silence. Does this silence mean I’m nobody—-or does it mean something else?
So I sat and sat and looked at that emptiness to see if it meant I was nobody or not.
Sounds totally terrifying, right?
It wasn’t terrifying.
The silence and emptiness wasn’t doom like I feared—-it was FREEING.
The silence and emptiness turned into calmness and the calmness turned into peace.
Eventually the peace turned into warmth that became joy.
I was free. I could stop believing all the thoughts I had been telling myself.
Thoughts like “I’m always going to be running around Jaison trying to figure out what he wants and I’ll never have time for anything else.”
I looked to see where those thoughts came from. I looked to see what was the substance of those thoughts. A ceramic pot is made of clay or a woolen rug is made from wool. I wondered, “what was the substance of a thought?”
Again I was surprised. What I found when I looked for the substance of a thought was that thought actually doesn’t have any substance. Thoughts arise from that same stillness, emptiness and silence. Then I realized that I don’t have to believe those thoughts, or follow them anymore.
I realized that I didn’t have to follow all the thoughts I kept telling myself about how difficult it was to be a mother of a child with autism. I was free to just be here in this moment without the story- the story of autism, or the story of “poor me”. I felt deep peace. I realized I could be at peace, even if Jaison didn’t recover.
This is the gift that autism gives me. I found a path to freedom. I found a source of fulfillment that wasn’t dependent on what was happening in my life. I realized that I might in fact be happier and more at peace than people who hadn’t had to take such a rough road.
And my connection with Jaison deepened, because I could see him beyond the appearance of autism. He is magnificent. I realize that he is that silence and peace despite his appearance of being autistic.
I want to shout to the world that although autism looks like a prison it has a silver lining that points to freedom beyond what the world knows.
Our children, our autistic kids, teach unconditional love at a very advanced level.
How does finding inner peace help me with my child with autism?
In order to have the energy and endurance you need to succeed at helping your child(ren) learn to communicate and interact socially, it’s critical that you learn how to find a source of enormous inner strength within.
Until you find inner peace and joy in your own life, you will not have the stamina you need to help your loved one with autism over the long haul.
Inner peace gives you access to this source of inner strength; an inner strength that allows you to move from compassion with determination.
While you’re waiting for the external situation to improve for your child, this inner peace is a much better choice than hopelessness and despair.
How do I bring out my child’s capabilities so that he/she can soar in his/her own unique way – despite autism?
In order to nurture the hidden gift in your child’s soul, you need to see your child’s magnificence.
That won’t be possible until you see your own magnificence.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s not going to happen. I’m nowhere near magnificent, as a matter of fact, I think I am a failure as a parent.”
See I get it. I’ve been there, done that. I know what it takes to get past that despair.
That’s why I created the Caring for a Loved One with Autism Mentoring Group.
Parents of children with autism need a place to come to realize how magnificent you really are. Parents of autitistic kids need to be honored and celebrated, rather than seen as the parent with “the problem child”.
Why me? Why do I have to live with autism, when so many people have a much easier, and happier life than me?
Your child with autism came into your life for a reason. Do you know what that reason is?
Sure you do.
Our autistic kids teach unconditional love at a very advanced level.
Your autistic child is giving you the advanced course in unconditional love.
It’s a very challenging course.
You’re not failing as a parent, you’re struggling, because you’re taking “calculus of the soul”. You are not taking “math 101” like most parents.
And struggling doesn’t mean failure.
If your typical child was struggling with calculus, what do you tell them? You’d tell them that they have to “apply themselves” and decide to do their best, even if the course is hard.
It’s time to decide to “apply yourself” to the task of learning unconditional love at an advanced level.
Our autistic kids go through a lot, so that we and others, who interact with our child, can have this opportunity to learn unconditional love. It’s only fair that we take a moment and at least try to learn the lesson they are here to teach us.
Caring For A Loved One with Autism Group is where you come for guidance in how to succeed at “calculus for the soul.”
What happens for my child with autism when I learn to love unconditionally?
The good news is that when you learn this lesson of unconditional love, it goes a long way towards relieving the stress between you and your child.
As parents, we love our children and we don’t want to see our child as a burden, but that doesn’t mean that from time to time we don’t feel that autism is a great burden, because it is.
A child, even an autistic child, knows when a parent is seeing them as a burden. Your child might not have words to describe the feeling of being a burden, but they know when it’s happening.
And you know, that the child knows. You have seen a certain look on your child’s face that says, “I know I am disappointing you, I know I am not who you want me to be. I keep trying, but I can’t do it. I am not lovable.” And when you see that look on your child’s face, you feel so sad and hopeless. It’s moments like this that bring despair to a head.
Advanced lessons in unconditional love teach us how to make a clear distinction between what autism is and who our child is.
Advanced lessons in unconditional love teach us how to see the magnificence of our own soul and how to see the magnificence in our child’s soul.
Advanced lessons in unconditional love teach us how to love, even in the midst of failure, no matter who is failing.
Advanced lessons in unconditional love teach us that true success is the ability to love – no matter what’s happening in our lives.
When you shift your focus in this way, your child will no longer feel like they are a burden.
When you learn to love yourself even when you think you’re failing, then, your child knows you love them even when they fail.
When you master unconditional love, then your child will sense the shift. He/she will know that you see his/her presence in your life as an opportunity to learn even more advanced lessons in love. The child won’t have words for it, but you will know that the child understands, because you will see a smile on his/her face and you will see eyes that shine through autism.
Not to get your hopes up too high, but it’s possible some of the behaviours that the child has been struggling with begin to resolve on their own. When your child feels that you are coming from unconditional love, then it will relieve a lot of stress for your child. When you can love, even in the midst of failure, it makes more room for little successes to happen.
But even if the behaviours don’t change, you will be more fulfilled and you will be happier. And your child will be happier, because they know you are happier. That kind of fulfillment is what we all want in life, and it can happen even when autism blocks certain kinds of success that we had previously hoped for.
How do I help my child with autism find their unique gift?
When I stopped pressuring Jaison to live up to my expectations and I came to the place of mastering unconditional love, that’s when Jaison’s gifts appeared. That’s when he told me about his desire to write a play. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected that my son, a non-verbal child would want to write a play. I can’t promise you that your child will have such a gift, but many people with autism do have unexpected gifts. Learning unconditional love at the advanced level can provide fertile ground for that gift to blossom in it’s own unique way.
Meet Sharon Hart
Sharon Hart M.A. is an author, spiritual mentor, life coach, and ordained minister. She has worked as a special education teacher and psychotherapist as well. Sharon has a phenomenal gift for encouraging her clients to perceive the world from a place of inner peace, freedom, and joy–no matter what is happening in their lives.
Sharon earned her special education degree from Lesley University and worked as a special education teacher for many years, before she gave birth to her son, Jaison who struggles with autism. While she was pregnant with Jaison, she completed her Masters Degree from Boulder College in transpersonal psychotherapy. Today she chooses to focus her practice on her unique approach to spiritual mentoring/coaching that she calls Quantum Dialogue Work™ (QDW).
Although Sharon is considered one of the “foremothers” in the field of autism, unlike other experts, what is outstanding about Sharon is that, even though her son never learned to speak, she discovered other incredible ways to enrich her son’s life. Using her talents and abilities, she supported Jaison to find a highly effective way to communicate via typing, and then worked beside Jaison as together they uncovered his unique gift; playwriting. In her work, she strives to encourage parents to discover the unique gift that their child with autism brings to the world.
In addition, she discovered how to have a meaningful, fulfilling and enjoyable life, despite the challenges that autism placed upon her. She enjoys sharing what she learned about how to accomplish these things with other parents/guaridans of children/adults with autism through her Quantum Dialogue Work™ (QDW).
Sharon is the co-author, along with her son, Jaison Hart, of a soon-to-be-released book entitled More Than You Hoped For: The Unexpected Joy of Raising an Autistic Playwright. There are two interwoven stories in this narrative non-fiction book.
- It is the true story of how raising an autistic son became the catalyst to propel a mother to deeper and deeper spiritual realization.
- It is the true story of how a non-verbal boy learned to type his thoughts and write an outstanding play.
The play written by Jaison Hart is entitled Dreams of an Autistic Playwright. It tells the story of his day to day home life and his dream life with fairytale characters, who teach him about friendship. The play received a stage reading at Colorado University, and has since been performed by ColoradoACTS. It is Jaison’s hope that his play and this book inspire people to make true and lasting friendships with people on the autism spectrum. It is Sharon’s desire that the book inspire people facing challenging times in their lives with hope.
What is a HartWisdom Autism Mentoring Group?
* The asterisk at the beginning of the question indicates that this question is specific to this group. Please be sure to take a look at these questions, even if you have read the “What is a HartWisdom Mentoring Group” section somewhere else on the site.
*Can I Join the Caring For A Loved One with Autism Mentoring Group?
- This is a group for parents who live with a child/adult on the autism spectrum as long as the individual is a family member or friend. This is not a group for professionals.
- If you and your spouse both want to come to the group you are welcome. However, this group is focused on the challenge of being a parent or guardian, it doesn’t deal with the marriage issues between parents raising a child on the spectrum.
- You are also welcome to join the group if you are a grandparent, step-parent, foster parent, or adoptive parent as long as the child/adult lives with you. We also welcome foster and adoptive parents considering welcoming a child who is on the autism spectrum into their home, if the child who they will be living with has already been identified.
- If you are a current or future guardian of an individual on the spectrum, you are welcome. It doesn’t matter if you are a sibling, a grandparent or a friend. However, this is not a group for professionals, who fill the role as guardian.
- In order to keep the group focused on the demands of parenting a child/adult with autism, we need to keep conflict between individuals from the same family system to a minimum. When determining which family members can come to a group, priority is given to parents and guardians, who live with the child/ adult. If there is more than one family member, who cares about the same individual with autism, then you will need permission to join the group. Please talk to Sharon in the initial free call about this. If there are many family members who want to join the group, we might suggest a family autism retreat. See quantum dialogue page.
However, the Awakening Together As Parents When Your Child Has a Health Challenge or Disability Mentoring Group is a couples only group. The Awakening Together as Parents Group is focused on couples issues, and the Caring for a Loved One with Autism is focused on parenting issues. You might want to consider attending both groups.
*What if my role in the family is not parent or guardian, but I care deeply about the child/ adult who has autism, and his/her family? Can I join?
We know that you’re also struggling with autism and that you deserve to have a mentoring group of your own, but this group is for parents and guardians. Therefore, we are considering creating another mentoring group called, “ Friends and Family Members with a Loved One on the Autism Spectrum.” If you want to see us offer this new group, then please fill out the registration form below and be sure to check the box indicating that you would like to see us start this “Friends and Family Members” group. Please indicate what your relationship is to the person with autism. When we get enough interested people we will call you back and set it up.
Will I really have an opportunity to work directly with Sharon in these group sessions?
Yes! Unlike many spiritual programs, which enroll hundreds of participants, we are making a conscious decision to keep our groups small. We keep enrollment to a level, where there is plenty of time for people to ask questions and take turns in mini-sessions. We will work directly with at least three to five people, who want to ask a question during each session. If you want to just come and listen, that is also an option.
Why are these mentoring groups focused on a theme?
Most spiritual mentoring groups usually don’t have themes, but we chose to have themes because by focusing the mentoring groups on a particular theme, it’s easier for members of the group to benefit from the questions presented by other participants.
What are the benefits of doing this work in a group?
One of the great benefits of working with a HartWisdom mentoring group is the synergistic awareness that forms within the group. This group consciousness works on a subtle level to gently empower your work in the “mini-sessions”. In addition, as group members begin to know one another through the work, a strong sense of community develops.
We are not affiliated or sponsored by any religious organization.
Our groups are open to anyone from any religion or spiritual orientation (including atheists), who is interested in exploring Heart Wisdom.
Ongoing Groups Starting Now
How often do these mentoring groups meet?
When you join a group, initially we ask for a three-month commitment, because we know that it takes most people 6 sessions to have a full sense of how this work can be of benefit to them.
What do you mean by on-going? Can I stay in the group after the initial 6 sessions are over?
What is the time commitment?
For individuals, there is no set curriculum in this mentoring format, thus beyond actually attending each meeting, there is no additional time commitment – no homework or teaching videos to review.
Some couples groups do have assignments. For details, please check the particular couples group.
Can I get an audio recording of a group session if my loved one with autism is having a terrible day?
We understand that autism issues may impede your ability to attend every group call live.
If your child’s autism requires your attention and you cannot attend a particular group session, then contact us and we will provide an audio (not video) recording of that call. Because we want to encourage your attending the calls live, we limit this service to one recording per every eight calls unless you obtain special permission.
This option is only available to those enrolled in the Caring for a Loved One Program only. We do not provide this service for any of our other groups.
We reserve the right to record any group session for our own use.
What if autism concerns impact our limit to attend every meeting?
If the autism problem becomes critical, then at our discretion, we might give you written permission:
- to postpone sessions and complete them at a later date
- To switch to a different mentoring group
- To apply the balance to a private session.
Are there some Mentoring Groups that Sharon will be facilitating alone?
Sharon and Trevor share an interest and an expertise on many of the HartWisdom Mentoring Groups topics. However, there are some HartWisdom Mentoring Groups in which Sharon excels. Therefore, she will be facilitating the following groups by herself:
What Mentoring Groups will Trevor and Sharon facilitate together?
As we begin launching these HartWisdom Programs, Trevor’s involvement will be quite limited, and Sharon will often be the primary facilitator and mentor during the initial phase. But as the HartWisdom Programs become more established, and as Trevor begins to reduce the size of his private practice, Trevor’s role and involvement in the HartWisdom groups will increase substantially.
Starting in Fall 2020, Trevor will begin facilitating the following groups with Sharon at least once a month.
Starting early 2021, we expect that Trevor will begin facilitating the following groups with Sharon at least once a month.
I have been told by other people that you have a very long waitlist. Is it possible to get a private session with Trevor and Sharon?
When you participate in any of our groups, you go to the top of the waitlist for private sessions. This is not a guarantee that you will get private sessions with Trevor or Sharon, but it does improve your chances of becoming a private client.
I am very interested in experiencing the LightBody Engineering protocols. Will Trevor be providing any LBE protocols during the groups?
Who is this group not for?
- If you aren’t interested in personal growth
- If you are clear that emotions are not something you want to explore
- If exploring a higher power is something you know that you are not interested in
- If you like to blame others for your problems
- If you think you’re beyond hope and you’re not willing to change
- If you like to argue and debate
Sessions for the Caring for a Loved One With Autism Group are ongoing and held
Tuesdays 2:30-4:00 pm EST
twice a month
When you are accepted to the program, you will be given the dates for the next 12 group sessions.
Register now for these groups.
Just enter your details in the form below.
(Investment details and FAQs beneath the form.)
Program Fees and FAQs
How do I join a group?
No payment is required at time of registration.
Be sure to provide your correct phone number on the registration form, because the next step in the enrollment process is a short free pre-enrollment call, during which time you can ask any questions you might have about our HartWisdom mentoring programs. We will also go over the details of our enrollment process and payment methods with you at that time.
If there is room in the group you are requesting, you will be invited to join the group.
How much does it cost to enroll?
- The initial package is for 6 sessions (3-month).
- After that you can purchase as many 4-session (2-month) packages as you want.
The cost for joining a HartWisdom mentoring group is $375 per person for your initial package of 6 sessions.
If you join the group after October 15, 2020 the price for the initial 6 sessions goes up to $450.
We are also expecting another price increase after the new year.
Payment in full is required before attending any group.
Prices and dates are subject to change at any time. We do not offer refunds.
How much does it cost to continue per person after the first package?
You can continue purchasing consecutive blocks of four sessions (2-month) packages for as long as you like.
The current price for a four session (2-month) package is $250. On November 20, the price for a four session (2-month) package goes up to $325. We are also expecting another price increase after the new year.
As long as you continue buying consecutive 2 month packages, your price remains the same as your initial package of 4 sessions. However, to keep this low price, you need to pay by check and you must register within 5 days of completion of your last package of sessions.
Otherwise, the price for the 2 month package reverts to the newest current price.
Payment in full is required before attending any group.
Prices and dates are subject to change at any time. We do not offer refunds.
Are there any special discounts? What are the payment method options?
- EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: The earlier you decide to enroll the lower the price. (See ‘How much does it cost to enroll’ above for details)
- PAY BY CHECK OPTION: If you choose to pay via check for your initial 6 sessions, the cost is reduced by $50.
- PAYPAL INVOICE- We offer this option for the initial package of 6 sessions ONLY. Let us know if this is how you would like to pay.
- LOW PRICE EXTENSION: We offer our lowest prices for those who choose to pay using the following methods: (We prefer these options because we want to minimize people going into debt via credit card to pay for our programs.)
If you use one of these methods, you can reduce your cost by $50 for each payment for a HartWisdom group. Apply for this low-price extension by sending an email to [email protected] and we will send you payment details.
- Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies (Inquire now)
- https://alpinegold.com/ (Available now)
- SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM: We highly advise you speak to us about our partial scholarship program, rather than going into debt to take our course. Apply for our unique Partial Scholarship program by sending an email requesting with the word “mutual gifting” in the subject line to [email protected]. This option is also available for private session work.