Banish That Email

Never send complex information by email. Anything that can be misconstrued or may cause offence is best said face to face. Emails don’t have emotions or body language. They are subject to the interpretation of the reader. If their perception is that you are antagonising them or you are out of order, it takes the conversation to a whole different place. At the end of the day, the time you were trying to save by sending a quick email is totally obliterated by the ping-pong emails that ensue and your need to defend your corner.

The downside of technological advancement is that people stop making time for conversation. In reality, conversations are quicker. You can correct any wrong impressions or misconceptions there and then; you can agree a way forward and THEN you send an email confirming what was agreed.

I’m all for robust discussions when necessary but working relationships become a lot more pleasant when there is dialogue not ‘e-darts’.

Redefining Wonder Woman Series 2: Living With An Autistic Child

For the second instalment of the Redefining Wonder Woman series, I’m interviewing one of my oldest friends, Larry. She has been kind enough to share her experience with me about raising her autistic child, Lanre. It has been a challenging journey for Larry, her husband, Kayode and Tobi, their last born. I hope you find it encouraging if you are in a similar circumstance and enlightening if you are not.

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RWW: When did you discover Lanre was autistic?
Larry: Well Kayode and I always felt something was a bit “off” with Lanre’s development, more so my husband. I was a little bit more optimistic and kept saying “oh he’s just a bit slow, he’ll catch up with his peers soon”. Well my son turned two, still wasn’t saying much and was having the most uncontrollable tantrums. We eventually decided to seek medical help and got the professionals involved in our case. Two months after his fourth birthday, we received the official diagnosis that he was autistic.

RWW: How did that make you feel?
Larry: My husband and I attended the official diagnosis meeting together. I have friends and relatives that have all described the moment when they receive devastating news such as a death. Well, that is exactly how I felt; like I had been hit by a bus. The room became a blur, the professionals’ voices and faces all became blurry. I felt like I was floating on cotton wool. I must have started crying at some point because I was handed a wad of tissues. I literally sat there in shock and could no longer contribute to the meeting. All that kept running through my head was that I had lost my beautiful baby boy who would now no longer have a normal life and would be dependent on his parents for the rest of his life. I recall speaking to my family that night and everyone being so down.

RWW: How did it alter your life?
Larry: After the initial shock of getting the confirmation, I picked myself up and prayed to God (I am a Christian) about the situation. I then started to read, read, read and then did some more reading! I decided to learn all I could about this mysterious condition that people automatically associate with the film “Rain Man”. I am ashamed to say that I turned my son into a bit of a guinea pig trying out each new treatment that I read about to see if it had any effect on Lanre’s condition. We also had to completely address our home / school routine and also monitor what he ate and drank.

RWW: What is your coping mechanism?
Larry: We found this wonder drug (our Lorenzo’s oil) called Equazen that is a mixture of omega 3, omega 6 and evening primrose oils. Lanre takes it daily and he will most probably be on it for the rest of his life. We are also very careful not to change his routine suddenly as it drives him mad.

RWW: Tell me a bit more about his routine. What does a typical day involve?
Larry: Well we have fairly normal days now, the early days were pretty rough. With autism, routine is very important and must be regimented. Children on the spectrum detest change, and routine changes must be managed effectively. Lanre wakes up at the same time every day (6.00 AM while we were in the UK, 7.00 AM now in Nigeria), has four crackers for breakfast (can’t be more or less) and has noodles for lunch. We take the same route to the school every day and so it goes. If you think about it, human beings are naturally creatures of habit, able to adapt if need be to sudden routine changes. The main difference in autism sufferers is that the brain cannot easily deal with these sudden changes and goes into panic mode.

RWW: Can you describe your roughest day with Lanre?
Larry: We have the occasional days when Lanre will just not do what he is expected to do. I remember once we were taking the train to the shopping centre and we needed to change trains. He wanted us to get into the first carriage but we ended up going into the middle carriage and he went absolutely ballistic. Kicking, thrashing and rolling on the floor; being completely uncontrollable. We ended up having to get off the train and going back home because he was so upset.

RWW: You and your family recently emigrated to Nigeria. So how did he cope with that major upheaval?
Larry: Initially it was quite tough, as I explained earlier Lanre hates change. He berated my husband and I daily for bringing him to Nigeria. Six months on, I am pleased to report that he loves it although he still has the occasional meltdown but we are now able to cope with that.

RWW: There is very little support for autistic children in Nigeria isn’t there?
Larry: Nigeria is definitely miles behind other developed economies such as The U.K and U.S.A. However, Kayode and I very quickly discovered that with this condition, it’s the parents and not the professionals that make all the difference. We have therefore been coping quite well and Lanre also attends a mainstream school that understands the condition.

RWW: What are people most ignorant about in your experience?
Larry: Oh my word don’t get me started! People think it’s a disease that their own children can catch; they think that my son is gifted in some amazing way (this is the biggest myth about autism) or they think that my son just needs stronger disciplining.

RWW: What have you found most frustrating?
Larry: Initially because we knew nothing about the condition, my son was literally uncontrollable. We couldn’t take him shopping, meltdowns came out of nowhere (I remember one particularly tough time on the DLR in London, his diet drives me mad (mostly bland foods). All these things I have now learned to cope with and we plan, plan, plan in advance with my Son.

RWW: What do you do on the tough days?
Larry: The tough days are now few and far between, praise God. I do rely heavily on my faith to get me through the bad days and I always take a picture of myself on the rough days, you have to smile when you take a picture don’t you 🙂

RWW: Any practical tips for families who have just received this diagnosis about their child?
Larry: I am not going to sugar coat this. You will feel like it’s the end of the world. The key to controlling this condition is knowledge acquisition and quick intervention. Do your research and do not believe everything the professionals tell you. Be prepared to do most of the work yourself, after all it is your child!

RWW: How have you coped with being a full time working mum and caring for your son?
Larry:
It has being quite tough. In my case we are lucky that my husband is self employed and so is able to be a bit more “involved” in caring for Lanre. In any other situation I probably would have had to give up my job.

RWW: How has this changed you as a person?
Larry:
I am definitely a more tolerant person, and tend not to let things affect me as much. I have also developed a “sixth sense” when it comes to identifying other children with autistic traits. It’s amazing how many parents are in denial!

RWW: What impact has this had on your marriage, if any?
Larry:
In the early days (before we received the diagnosis) Lanre used to wake up at 4.00 AM screaming and crying and banging his head on the floor. My husband and I would be tired and cranky, shouting at Lanre and each other – it was horrible. We now support each other and know when to take over when dealing with Lanre if need be.

RWW: What advice do you have for those of us who have never met an autistic child?
Larry:
As we now have a handle on Lanre’s behaviour, we are able to have a pretty “normal” life. I would say treat them with kid gloves and please do not be so quick to blame the parents for spoiling their child. People on the spectrum are just like you and I, they just need you to understand and give them the opportunity to have a normal life.

RWW: Thank you Larry for sharing your story with us.

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Disclaimer
Please note that the content of this post is based on an individual’s experience and is in no way a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

I Will Not Mourn The Easter Holidays

I will not mourn the Easter holidays.
I will not mourn the days of laying in bed and not caring about what to do next.
I will not mourn the fewer cars in the morning on my way to and from work.
I will not mourn not having to be at the school gate at 8.45am daily.
I will not mourn the time spent with my children living in the moment.
I will not mourn the fun we had and getting to know them a bit better.
I will not mourn the lack of routine.
I will not mourn the letting them get on with whatever they want.
I will not mourn the needless getting to bed on time.
I will not mourn the hiatus from the dreaded school run.
NO! I will not mourn.
I will not cry.
I will not moan.
I will not stress.
I will not caress the notion of early morning rest.
I will just take my pill like the good girl I am.
Finding comfort in the knowledge that many join me this week on this journey.
Wondering how it flew by so quickly.
Longing fervently for the next holiday.
No. I will not mourn.

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Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ”

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
-Mary Elizabeth Frye

Old Rugged Cross State Of Mind

I liked this Good Friday article in the International Business Times.

Of course I have to leave you with some music. 🙂

The Old Rugged Cross: Text & Music by George Bennard, 1873-1958

1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.
(Refrain)

3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.
(Refrain)

4. To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I’ll share.
(Refrain)

Never knew there was an Al Green version. See if you like it.

Demoralise Your Team In 10 Easy Steps

If as a manager you do not value contributing to the enhancement of your team members then perhaps management is not really what you are interested in. Every individual has potential and a good manager is dedicated to bringing out the best in their team members; however lazy, unmotivated or mis-directed they may be. You may not get the desired result but you would have discharged your duty fully.

There is a huge difference between being a manager and being in management. Those with a ‘management’ hat on are only interested in their own career progression. A true manager wants a team of motivated individuals whose careers progress alongside theirs.

Here are ten silly things you could do as a manager.

  1. Show No Interest in the Personal Development of Your Team: They are bound to be motivated and happy at work each day. After all, who comes to work to excel at what they do.
  2. Make Your Team Feel They are Being Used: This will motivate them to dedicate a 100% of their time to the job and engender loyalty.
  3. Delegate Only Mundane Stuff to Them: This is the sure way to develop experts and stretch their capabilities.
  4. Take credit for Their Work: They will praise you for choosing your promotion at the cost of their career progression. It is only expected that the limelight belongs to the manager.
  5. Don’t Enquire About Their Health When They’ve Been Off Sick: This will only spoil them and God forbid people think this is a caring environment. And when their child or dependent is ill, take no interest other than in how it’ll affect their work. This is a work place not a support group.
  6. Make It Clear They Work For You: You are not team members or colleagues. Yeah, because you pay their salary not the organisation you both work for. They belong to you. There can be no merit in them thinking you are part of the same team working towards the same goal. They need to know their place.
  7. Block Their Career Advancement or Training Plans: How dare they think they are better than you? Everyone needs to wait their turn, after all you have been waiting for your opportunity too.
  8. Do As I Say Not As I Do: This way everyone in the team will know how important it is to adhere to the processes you consistently violate.
  9. Blame Your Team for Your Mistakes: Show them who is boss. There is no need to take responsibility for what you did wrong when there are others whose roles are less important and dispensable
  10. Yell and Curse at Them: Way to go! That way they’ll know who is boss.
  11. I think we need people in management; people who know what to do to get an organisation to excel. Organisations definitely need such people but if they are unable to carry people along with them then I say, keep them well away from people and just leave them in an office to strategise away. Find someone else who will be interested in the team to drive people towards the corporate goal.

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