“Take up a Hobby” with Alicia Trautwein

When it comes to autism, early intervention is crucial. The problem is that parents, especially new parents, do not know what to look for when it comes to autism. The lack of parent education on mental health and developmental disorders in children leads to later diagnosis. Through The Mom Kind, I am working to help […]

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When it comes to autism, early intervention is crucial. The problem is that parents, especially new parents, do not know what to look for when it comes to autism. The lack of parent education on mental health and developmental disorders in children leads to later diagnosis. Through The Mom Kind, I am working to help educate parents around the world and provide them the much-needed information.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Trautwein.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism Advocate, Writer, Motivational Speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

After my son was born, we noticed many signs and symptoms of autism in him. At nineteen months old, our son lost all his words. During the process of receiving his autism diagnosis, we realized that our daughter had displayed similar traits as in her early years as well. As such, we wound up starting the process of getting her diagnosis as well.

Within a matter of six weeks, we had two autism diagnosis. I was lost and confused, so I went to the internet for help learning what it was like to parent multiple children on the spectrum. All I found was information from doctors’ perspective and nothing on parenting. Then, I search for information about girls on the spectrum and only found one article!

From there, I realized I needed to start sharing our story so we could help others on the same journey. I have dived deep into autism research mode, meeting with doctors and autism specialists from around the world while learning to balance life as a special needs parent.

I took everything I learned from specialists and our life experiences and shared all that information on The Mom Kind. Now, almost five years later, our story has changed the lives of so many families. At that time, our middle daughter and I also received an autism diagnosis. Finding out who I was, helped me dramatically in accepting myself and learning to prioritize self-care as a parent of special needs children.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

The month of April 2020 was all lined up for me. I was set to check out the autism-friendly town of Myrtle Beach, South Caroline, with my youngest two children for business. I had speaking engagements lined up and even was in the running to possibly speak at the United Nations!

Then, COVID-19 hit, and all my plans went down the drain. I went from bringing in the majority of our family income to none in what seemed to be overnight. What hurt worse, though, was that I finally felt like I was accomplishing something with my life, and then it was gone in a blink.

It was also in those days and weeks to follow that I realized I had been running on empty again. I had spent so much time trying to make everything perfect for my family and make my business perfect, that I forgot to take care of myself. When I took a moment to take care of me, I realized that I had been in the midst of caregiver burnout, something so many special needs parents struggle with as well. I refocused my talks and writings towards self-care for parents. It was amazing to see the impact of encouraging moms and dads to remember to take care of themselves. Having parents that take time to focus on themselves, provides children with the best care possible!

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When it comes to mistakes, I have had my fair share. I have fallen prey to the “get rich quick” schemes, overworked myself, lost an entire website, and countless other hiccups. My biggest mistake was wanting to rush every process. I wanted to grow my website traffic, social media followers, and my income as fast as possible. While that is something that we all aspire towards, it takes time and dedication to grow all of that. Trying to go quickly by taking short cuts or over-extending yourself will not pan out long term. Sure, you can pay for ads and take short cuts. In the short term, you will get the numbers you want, but in the long run, those quick followers won’t engage long term.

What I have learned from my mistakes is to take your time to create quality content and promote it organically. You need to build a platform that engages and provides content that your niche audience is looking for and needing. Those followers are the ones that will not only keep coming back. They will spread the word about your website both online and in person. While ads will work (and are necessary), there is still nothing better than word of mouth.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Our story is a unique one. When I started my website, I did not have any connections to help me out. To be completely honest, my family and friends circle is who helped me out along the way. There were countless hours that my husband and a best friend listened to me ramble off thoughts and projects. They helped guide me in a direction that was always focused on my mission of helping others. As my website grew, I began to connect with countless experts within the autism community, that I am forever grateful for taking the time to discuss autism with me. Even connections I made that had absolutely nothing to do with autism somehow connected me back to my mission. I was once given a signed copy of Dr. Temple Grandin’s book, The Loving Push, by a new connection that felt I could benefit from it. The kindness of others is truly amazing when you are willing to listen and learn instead of just speaking about your own story.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

When it comes to autism, early intervention is crucial. The problem is that parents, especially new parents, do not know what to look for when it comes to autism. The lack of parent education on mental health and developmental disorders in children leads to later diagnosis. Through The Mom Kind, I am working to help educate parents around the world and provide them the much-needed information.

Even when a child is diagnoses with autism, the information and resources provided to parents are extremely lacking. After being through four autism diagnoses and many comorbid disorders, I can attest that there is room for improvement. Parents need information they can understand, not medical jargon, provided to them right away.

After an autism diagnosis, parents have their heads spinning. They are going through the cycle of grief. Some are grieving the loss of the image they had in their mind of their child’s future. Others are angry, looking for a cause, or going through denial. At the same time, they are trying to be strong for their child. At best, when they leave the doctor’s office, they have a pamphlet with the 100 days autism Speaks packet and told to schedule occupational therapy. In many countries, however, if they receive an autism diagnosis, it is treated as a curse. I have spoken with parents all over the world who have no centers to help their children.

My mission is to help those parents find the help they need where they are at in their journey. Every article explains issues revolving around autism in an everyday tone of voice that parents can relate to and understand.

There are countless articles on The Mom Kind that are not about autism, though. An autistic child is still just a child, and their parents are still people. Having articles that promote self-care, self-discovery, hobbies, and general parenting provide a one-stop-shop that parents can turn to in those tiny snippets of time they get to themselves.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

Make Your Bed Every Day!

Make your bed right when you get up, no matter what. It seems so simple and extremely unimportant for having a better lifestyle. How could making your bed change your life at all? Well, it is because you start your day by completing a task right away. You set yourself up for success before you even leave your bedroom.

My kids hate this rule, yet I have enforced it every day for well over a decade. Every morning when my kids come out of their room, the first thing I ask is, “Did you make your bed?” Sometimes, the answer is yes. Other times, the answer is no. When the answer is no, there is no screaming or fussing about it. I simply tell them they need to go back and make their bed. While they did not understand it early on, my oldest has seen the importance of it. She created her own routine and prided herself in having a clean room.

As William McRaven said in his speech to grads: “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”

Have Your Own Space

Your bedroom does not count as having your own space. Whether you have a family or live with roommates, it is so important to have a space for yourself. Whether it is an office or a reading nook, you need an area that you can go to unwind. A place without the clutter that brings you happiness and peace,

For me, I have my own office in our home where I work. I also have a comfy chair in there that I can read my books or try my hand at cross-stitching. It faces my desk for a reason, though. While it is my space, my family brings me joy. I love having my children or husband come sit down and spend a few minutes with me.

While I have a whole office, having your own space doesn’t have to be that big. It can be a chair in your closet or a bench outside. No matter how you spend your time or where your space is, you need to have a space to call your own just to relax.

Take up a Hobby

We all need ways to express ourselves creatively. Having a hobby provides a way to relax, to produce results that bring you joy, and new challenges. Hobbies are entirely unlimited. Some people skydive and mountain climbing, while others take up quilting and couponing. Through newfound interests, you can also make new friends along the way. Some countless clubs and groups get together over every interest possible.

One thing I have always loved is gardening. It is so rewarding to be able to be somewhat self-sufficient and pick your own produce from a backyard garden. Several years back, my father-in-law helped me build a fenced-in garden space so we could garden entirely. I taught my children how to garden, and they learned just how delicious tomatoes and grapes could be right off the vine! Not only do I find joy in gardening, but I also love sharing my interest with my family. While the work can be strenuous at times, the benefit far outweighs any negative.

Having a Routine and Schedule works for Everyone!

One thing that all doctors and therapists encourage is the positive impact schedules have on autistic children. I have learned that the same applies to not only autistic adults but every child and adult on this planet! Have you ever noticed when you get off work that you do the same thing most days? You get home and place your keys, purse, or wallet in a set location. Maybe the next step is to grab some food, get a shower, or take a nap. Doing those things helps you unwind from your busy day. That is routine, and that feeling is what having routines and schedules offers for everyone.

In school, I always filled out my planner to know what homework I had or tests coming up. However, that habit did not continue afterward, though. At most, I would write sticky notes, but often would struggle to get everything done on time or worse, miss important deadlines. I realized that way was not working and invested in a planner. I started writing down what I would do each day, what time to start dinner and even planned out my own bedtime. Is it possible for me or anyone to stick to the schedule 100%? No. However, it provides the ability to know when to follow that routine and where I can make improvements.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself!

It is easy to forget to focus on yourself when you are a parent or caregiver. You are so focused on others’ needs that you lose track of the last time you had some “me time.” I have had a case of caregiver burnout a couple of times over the previous thirteen years.

The last time, I found myself deep into depression. It took a therapist to point out that I was doing a fantastic job with everything I was balancing but that I forgot about myself. The only thing I did was take care of the children, work late in the evenings on my website, and sleep a few hours. I had no hobbies nor spending time with my husband or friends. I started with just fifteen minutes a day of “me-time,” and I will be candid, it was hard! It was confusing because I did not know what to do. Slowly though, I started new hobbies and spending time with other adults. Once I took care of myself, I became so much better able to take care of my children and other responsibilities.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

So often, parents of special needs children struggle with their own mental health as well as their child’s needs. If I could start a movement, it would be for teaching parents about developmental milestones and providing them with support from other parents. Parents need more support from the health care field than they currently are receiving. With the right information, parents would know when to seek medical advice for not only their children but for themselves.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Focus on One Social Media Platform at a Time

Unless you hire someone to work on each platform, you cannot focus on several social media platforms at one time and get the growth you desire. Take the time to work on growing your audience on one platform at a time. It is okay not to be on every platform!

Stop Focusing on Numbers

Yes, we want tons of traffic and followers. However, focusing on numbers and continually looking to see if there are new followers or unfollows does you no good. At best, you have only wasted time continuously looking at your phone. At worst, you cause yourself stress. At the end of the day, numbers mean nothing. It is better to have thousand loyal, engaged followers than ten thousand that never engage.

Do Not Compare Your Story to Someone Else’s

How many times have you scrolled Pinterest to find pins that say “My Monthly Blogging Report” or “How I made $10,387 last month” just to find yourself wondering why you are not there yet. The thing is, that person is at a different place in their journey than you. They may even be in a different niche. Focus on you and your followers, and those will increase your income instead.

It is Okay Not to be Number One

Who does not want to be the first spot on Google searches or have the most followers on Instagram in their niche? I get it, but it is okay not to be number one. While you envy someone else’s success, there is someone else looking towards yours wishing to be where you are. Whether you are number one or twenty-one, what matters is that your followers are engaging with your content.

You are Starting a Journey, not a Website

When you start a website or an influential social media account, it is way more than just a space on the internet. You will make mistakes and hiccups along the way. From those moments, you will grow not only online but in your own life.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health is so important to me because I have seen firsthand so many times, the effects of both receiving the right help and not receiving any help. While times are changing, there is still a stigma around mental health and admitting that you need help. That change can happen and starts with each of us. When we change how we view mental health, we become supportive of others.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Whether you tweet, pin, or post, you can find me @themomkind. For a behind, the scenes look into our lives, make sure to follow our story on Instagram at https://instagram.com/themomkind

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