Contagious calm: a mom raising a child with an Autism diagnosis

Contagious calm: a mom raising a child with an Autism diagnosis

The Apollo community is a diverse community who all share a common belief – that the human body is powerful and we have the capacity to heal. Through a series of member features, we’ll highlight some powerful stories from Apollo users and their causes. 

We sat down with Staci Smith to discuss parenting during Covid, particularly to a child with an Autism diagnosis. We discussed the importance of her online community of fellow mothers, and how she manages her kids’ moods by balancing her own nervous system with Apollo.

Tell us a bit more about your family.

I’m a mother of three little ones — I have twin three-year-olds and a five-year-old. Our five-year-old currently holds an Autism diagnosis that we are turning around through big lifestyle changes such as a clean diet, environment, grounding, natural remedies, and healing our nervous systems.

When we first received this diagnosis for our oldest, I dove into research about how to best help him thrive. I was fortunate to have found a beautiful online community of similarly-minded mothers working toward the same goal. It became clear that Autism is a blanket diagnosis vastly misunderstood by Western medicine that looks only to alleviate symptoms instead of find underlying root causes.

What have been the bigger challenges of parenting in 2020?

It has been an intense few years, so as you can imagine, 2020 has certainly had extra hurdles as a mother of young children. I have come to understand that all children are extremely in tune to their caregivers emotional state, and understandably even more so for kids that are extra sensitive to sensory stimuli. I have had to work at becoming very conscious and present with processing my own emotions about both daily life and the current state of the affairs in the world. 

How are you staying grounded?

Well first and foremost, I’m a huge fan of actual grounding. Placing our bare feet to the earth. Go figure that our bodies need this to function properly and our modern lifestyles have left us very disconnected from this natural healing. It has been monumental for my oldest son. We are privileged to have our own yard and make it a point to spend as many hours outside as we can. This is something in particular that my community of Autism mothers value highly to help alleviate our children’s symptoms.

Interestingly, my own health as a mother is very intricately linked to my children’s health. It has been shown in studies that children will match their adult caregivers heart rate and breathing – so if my heart rate is raised and my breathing shallow – my children subconsciously pick up on this and their bodies translate it instinctively as danger or fear. Quite literally, parents and their children alike often live in a constant state of fight-or-flight even if the stressors are only perceived. 

Tell us more about balancing your nervous system with Apollo. 

A fellow mother who has turned her son’s Autism around shared one of her extra hacks to maintain calm and peace for herself and her children: Apollo Neuro. As any mother may attest to, there is that stretch of time toward the end of each day, when dinner is approaching and everyone is tired from the long day. I will use Apollo on Relax and Unwind to get through the home stretch from then until bedtime. If I can keep myself regulated and calm, my children have a much easier time – dinner goes smoothly, bath time is happy and refreshing, everyone piles into bed without much trouble. Apollo helps keep my nervous system balanced and relaxed and so because I am not blaring subconscious signals of stress and alarm and fatigue – my children feel safe and secure and can fall asleep easily. Such a relief! 

While I purchased Apollo mainly for me, my oldest son has used it on occasion as well – a bonus that it is also safe for kids. If he is super wound up by the end of the day for whatever reason, I’ll put the Apollo on his ankle on a lower intensity. He welcomes it and thinks it looks really cool. It calms him quickly and he has even taken a little nap and woke refreshed and happy. This from a child who has never been a good napper and stopped napping altogether years ago. 

What are your most frequently used Apollo modes?

I like to wear Apollo preventatively when I know I’m going into a stressful situation, but I also use it as damage control if I find myself dysregulated in a high-stress environment. I often wear it all day and start it several times depending on what I’m trying to accomplish or what’s come up. 

If I need to get something done, which let’s be honest, there is never a shortage of things to do as a mother – I use Clear and Focused. I also love Relax and Unwind for the end of the day. I will use Social and Open before a Zoom Call or anything interactive and Mindfulness and Meditation before I meditate nightly after the kids are finally in bed. If I am having any trouble falling asleep or if I want to make sure I am well rested for something the next day, I use Sleep and Renew and wear it in bed. 

There is a clear difference when I use Apollo during our bedtime routine with the boys. If I’m rushed or annoyed during the transitions, they pick up on this and it makes the process that much more frustrating – which is exactly the opposite of what you need as a parent in those moments when you feel stretched thin. While I am still working daily to prioritize my own self care and physical/mental health – parenting takes a lot out of you some days without a doubt – and I am loving Apollo as an extra boost to care for myself and my family by proxy.

What does taking care of yourself look like for you?

Self care in my pre-motherhood days looked much different than how I make it happen now. You both plan ahead and take your moments when you can. Apollo lets me have a little respite while still in the thick of it, being present for my family and to wind down and reboot at the end of the day. Keeping my own stress levels in check is a gift to my family as well as myself. Just knowing I have it on helps keep me relaxed and I find it so amazing that it simultaneously trains our nervous systems to manage stress better even when it’s not running. 

If you’re interested in being featured on our blog, please reach out to Rachel at press@apolloneuro.com.