Sunday, February 24, 2013

Autistic People should…

Happy flash blog day!!!  Many of my fellow spectrumites are participating in a flash blog today. We are to complete the sentence - Autistic people should…

Here is my sentence, a love note to society.

Autistic people should be seen as valuable, viable, and resourceful members of society.

We live in a society that gives little value to those who are socially, physically or emotionally different. There are too many instances where tolerance is used to fill in the gaps for political correctness. To be tolerated is an insult. We deserve better than that. Autistics did not raise their hands and say, “oh, please, let me to be in society.”

Autistics have always been part of society.  

Autistics have the same rights and should receive the same respect as any other member of society. That is a given to ALL.

Autistics do not deserve to be alienated, cast aside, ignored, bullied or banished.

Autistics are…

Artful, inquisitive and gifted

Unusual and outside of the box thinkers


Individuals first and foremost

Simply wonderful




Survivors of insurmountable odds

Autistics are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, family members and friends.

Autistics are part of all walks of life, religion, race, color and creed. We have the desire to love and be loved; to understand and to be understood.

Compassion breads understanding.
 Acceptance is long overdue.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Song and Sniffles, Part 2

As promised I am writing about Hunt’s music/speech therapy today. 

We were just a few minutes late. Hunt ran into the class. I tip toed behind him hoping not to slip. It’s been raining and there are wet foot prints on the floor. The children are signing their greeting song.  I take a seat not too far from him. Hunt likes me to be near but still far enough away that he has his own space. I wait with baited breath, hoping Hunt will sing a little in group today.

The mood in the room is different. Oh, I see the founder of the group is here. That may change things a bit. Hunt is not accustomed to seeing her during meeting times. Even though he knows her, he’s still not used to her being here. The other therapist must have an appointment or is out sick today.  That’s okay we’ll just have to adjust.

My eyes pan around the room and I notice the chalk board where the lyrics are written. The lyrics…they’re different this week. Oh no, they changed from the chorus to other lines today. Hunt worked so hard to sing the chorus and now they’re going to go over lyrics he’s not familiar with. Okay, here we go… The piano sounds and the therapist begins to sing. She sings one line and then the children sing. Hunter does not open his mouth. She sings another line and again the children sing. Hunt still does not open his mouth. I can tell by the way he turns his head that he recognizes the song, but he wont open his mouth. I leaned forward and touched him on the shoulder…sing boo-boo. Instead he begins to wipe his eyes. He turns to me and I can see that his eyelashes are a little wet. He’s crying. My heart breaks. How sad this is, to see Hunt take the initiative to work so hard practicing the chorus only to be the caught completely off guard. There are too many differences today.

My heart sank lower and my head dropped. I felt myself getting angry but then…that’s not right. There’s nothing to be angry about. There is no fault here. I look at Hunt and I wonder if he feels bad that his friends know the song better than he does. I shake my head and try not to impose my thoughts upon him. It is enough to know he is sad. I am silenced. I put on a smile and continue encouraging all of the children. My son turns to look at me again and I smile at him. I know he can see the sadness in my eyes. I’ve got to get it together and be strong. This is not the end of the world.

A few minutes go by and I see my son begin to perk up. He’s talking a little, responding to the questions. This is good…very good. Another song begins and my son opens his mouth and he sings a little. What great joy, to hear his beautiful voice among the masses.  Sing boo-boo…sing. My pride erases the sadness that weighed so heavily on my heart. What a relief to see him smile. All is not lost. Hunt’s hard work is not in vein. He sang today. For the first time ever my son sang with other children. It has been a very good day.  

Song and Sniffles

Today I’m seeing another leap in my son. He’s becoming so mature. It’s a little hard for me facing that fact that he’s growing up so fast, but at the same time I celebrate his accomplishments, his growing desire to learn more, try harder and achieve. This is monumental…

Hunt enjoys being in a music/speech therapy group called Voices Together. He seems to enjoy the group activity and is making friends, but reluctant to participate in the actual singing. Hunt loves every aspect of music and even shows an interest in learning to play a few instruments…drums, piano and guitar for now. He’s the oldest in the group by a year or so and his general demeanor depicts a measure of boredom as I guess it would be with any teenager who’s not totally committed to the cause. Whatever the case, he seems to enjoy himself, so I press on.

Each semester the children learn a new song. This semester’s song is very long and a popular hit. Fortunately we are to learn the chorus, only. I bring the words home and find the song on YouTube. We listen and then I sing… My son shows little interest as he usually does when embarking upon something new. It takes more than one exposure to something before he reacts to it. Well, unless it’s a food item he does not like. That is when I can expect the tale…tale wiggling of the fingers accompanied by a very clear and stern “no” or “do not.”

Anyway, I played the song several times, always encouraging Hunt to sing along if only a single world. He refuses, but does so with a sheepish grin. That tells me he’s receptive to my proposed notion, but will comply in his own time. There’s more school work to be done, so we’ll try the song again on another day.

Time for group again and as usual Hunt is eager to go. As usual he runs into the classroom and greets everyone in his own way and as usual he sits and listens to everyone else sing and he grins. Song recognition is wonderful, but I do so want him to sing a little. The leader of the group tried to encourage Hunt to sing, but he only points and requests to play the piano. I clap and cheer at the end of the song and tell all, job well done. Hunt seems to be please as well and claps also. I am happy that he gets so much enjoyment out of this group. Perhaps one day he will sing with his friends…perhaps.

Today after finishing school work Hunt pointed to YouTube and wanted me to pull up the song we’ve been working on. He waited with anticipation for me to start the song. Watching carefully to see what icons I clicked on. As soon as the song began to play, he grabbed my pen, started rocking and pointed to the words of the chorus that were in front of him. At the appropriate time he began to sing the chorus. Oh my goodness, he’s signing the song!! I stared for a moment and then left him on his own to process the song in his own way. He must have played that song 20 times. I think he sang for about 30 or so minutes. He worked so hard to sing as much of that song as he could. And he did exceptionally well I might add. He sang and sang and I shed a joyful tear. He sang until he was satisfied and then announced that he was done. We have another group meeting tonight. I don’t know if he’s going to sing or not, but I know for sure that he’s learning this song. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I’m excited. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it later.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Food for the Soul, Pt. 3 – Armor of God

 Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The first time I read this verse it struck a very deep cord in me. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” I liked the sound of that. I needed to know more about God’s armor, so I studied Ephesians 6:13-18 (NKJV) over and over again for months. I wrote the verses down and took careful measure to look up every item on the list, noting what each item meant in biblical terms. I wanted to be sure that I knew exactly what I needed to arm myself with the “whole armor of God.” I could not afford to miss anything as the devil prides himself on being a tireless opponent.
Okay…so now what? I have my list…how do I get the armor? Confused and a little dismayed, I continued to read the verses over and over again. I somewhat understood what God was saying in the sense of what was needed to sustain ourselves during attacks from the devil, but I did not understand how to obtain the armor itself. I read the bible verses again. And I continued studying my list. I spoke with fellow Christians, Evangelists, Elders and a Deaconess, but no one could clearly tell me how to get my armor. I was so disappointed. Why can’t anyone tell me how to get God’s armor for myself? So I began to pray for understanding of the verses I’d been studying. After saying my prayers I tried not to think about it anymore, but my mind continued to search for answers.

My imagination takes over. I envision myself being in mid-evil times looking around, seeing many people walking along muddy paths tending to their business as I take in the various sights, sounds and smells of the time. There were tents all around and vendors selling their wares. There were huge hay stacks like giant teepees for the animals to feed and wooden carts on large wooden wheels carrying clay pots, linens and metal objects. There were also massive horsemen riding around on angry horses scaring all the people, threatening harm if they did not follow the king’s rules. I can see myself hiding in a corner placing the breast plate of righteousness on my chest and girding my waist with the truth, looking down to make sure my feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and leaning over to take up the shield of faith with which I will be able to quench the fiery dart of the wicked one, also taking my helmet of salvation and my sword of the spirit which is the word of God. I was preparing for battle. Wow…what a vision. God is trying to show me something. So I prayed and gave thanks for the vision that He gave me. But I still needed to know more. 
Days, weeks and months go by. I struggle through life holding on to God with all that I have. Hoping upon hope that He will see me through. I’m still studying my bible verses and I’m working diligently to increase my prayer time. I read Ephesians 6:13-18 (NKJV) occasionally, but not with the same fervor as before. Instead of focusing on God’s armor, I put my energy into weathering the continual storms of life. So much so that I stressed myself right into the hospital. Just a few nights before I ended up in the hospital I had fallen to my knees trembling with exhaustion and fear. I was completely ravaged and in desperate need of God’s salvation and deliverance. He granted me that, but not without a lesson learned. You see, God offers us salvation, peace and rest in Him who is God’s holiest and most faithful servant, Christ Jesus. John 13:6 (NKJV) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Jesus is never far from us, only a breath away. It is with this breath that we ask Jesus for all that we need and His reply to us is this, John 14:13-14 (NKJV) “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” I asked for the armor of God. And in doing so, the Lord began preparing me to receive God’s armor. You may wonder why many times there is a waiting period between our requests to God and His answers. Often times we have to be prepared to receive what we ask for. It is by preparation that we are able to recognize when our prayers are being answered.  
I used to run and hide every time trouble came my way or even at the slightest warning. I would hide with great fear and trembling, begging God to help me, lamenting about my unworthiness to receive any of his goodness; yet giving thanks for whatever He graciously gave to me as, if a dog thanking his master for a bone. God wanted me to see how much He is willing to do for me…for all of us. How He waits patiently, knowing what is coming and knowing our reactions. He waits for us to turn to Him and ask for what we need. He wants us to trust in Him. He does not want us to lose hope…but to have hope, one must have faith. This may seem like a tall order, but all we need is a mustard seed of faith to receive that which we ask. Matthew 17:20 (NKJV) So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
It was on a Saturday morning, while spending time in prayer and thanksgiving, God gave me a revelation. The revelation was the realization of a profound change that occurred in me as a result of events that took place six months prior to that day. It was during the trial of my hospitalization and recovery that I turned to God and asked Him to help me manage my stress. It was then that I humbled myself before God and admitted to Him that I could not handle all that was needed of me by myself. I needed Him and I wanted to say it to Him. I’ve always needed God, but did not put my full trust in Him. I did not have much hope back then either. My faith had yet to grow to the size of a mustard seed.
I wept and turned everything over to God in the name of Jesus Christ. I released all of my worries and woes. I released all stress and anguish. I began to understand the pureness of God’s love and how to serve Him in a loving way…in the way that Jesus loves and serves as we are all servants to the Father. I was made whole and became free. God is cultivating my faith and so it grows to someday be the size of a mustard seed. It is in my faith that I find hope, joy and peace. And it is hope, joy and peace that I dwell. As for the armor of God, he is still working with me on that. But now I know how His armor will be given to me. It is through trial and longsuffering that I will receive the whole armor of God. And it is with this armor that I will do battle until glory comes.

Friday, February 1, 2013

So I’m a Little Different

As a young child, I noticed that I was a little different.  I didn’t act like children my age. As a matter of fact, I had great difficulty understanding peer behavior; that is, what would be considered typical behavior I guess. I much preferred interactions with older people, people that had some semblance of a knowledge base beyond the most current toys on the market, spelling bees and recess. So it should be no surprise that very few children wanted to play with me. I did have three childhood friends. One was much younger than me and soon lost interest as she grew older. Another friend liked me for my ingenious way of pranking her mom and older brother.  My third friend is still friends with me today. She is very accepting of my differences, even if she thinks me a little goofy at times, I don’t think she minds. Most of my peers did not like me or found me odd because my speech was too proper and my posture too straight. I walked on my toes and stared off into the distance too much. I was slow to respond to jokes, if at all and I did not know any childhood games or songs. I much preferred the company of my dolls over the company of humans. To be honest a gobstopper (jawbreaker candy) and a sketch pad were all I needed for my world to be complete.
Bullying was a common occurrence. There was some bullying in kindergarten and grade school, but high school was the worst. Not only was there continuous name calling, but people would set out to befriend me only to get money from me. I wanted to have friends, but did not know how to be friends, not really. I still struggle with that sometimes. It was easier to lie to myself and say I have several friends knowing all they wanted was money. I was glad to give them money and treats from my parent’s store. It made me feel like I was liked for a little while. Yes, I was used and I let them do it, all because I needed to have friends and to be liked.

I have another confession to make. I hate gossip and the very act of gossiping, but I did it for many years, because that was the level of conversation I could engage in and feel like I was being normal. I felt accepted.  It was easier to engage in gossiping about someone else rather than be the one gossiped about. It felt great being liked as opposed to being an outcast. Even if it was all an illusion, the lie perpetuated itself and manifested itself into a truth, but only in my mind. I wasn’t liked…I just engaged in liked behavior.  I had grown so tired of being the odd one. For once, I finally fit in for seemingly no cost, but there was a price and what a price I paid. I lost a potentially good friend and self-respect behind gossip. Gossip is hurtful and it is wrong, and a waste of brain cells. After all was said and done, I found that I too was talked about behind my back by the ones I called friends. If nothing else, I learned when fraternizing with people that talk about others, know that they too are talking about you. I still struggle to understand why this behavior is a norm and perfectly acceptable in society.

I have decided to no longer give into that which is considered “the norm” just to fit in. It’s not worth it. I want to regain myself and be the person that God created me to be. It’s not an easy road. I have learned many things over the years, both good and bad. I now have to figure out how to undo the bad. I am determined to succeed in this. I feel I have no choice as I continue to move forward on this path. I find my need to be my true self stronger than my need for friendship.

It is not my diagnosis of mild Asperger’s Disorder that defines my differences. It is a culmination of many things including a tumultuous childhood which ended at the age of 42. I am now 47 and just starting to discover who I am.

Some say I pressed the mute button on life. I say life also pressed the mute button on me; perhaps life pressed the button first, but that's another story. I’ll share that with you later. In the meantime, I am happy to be blogging again sharing my thoughts and a few of my experiences with you. Be blessed and stay true to yourselves.  Thank you for reading my blog. And please do share your comments.