Friends, a big part of the purpose of this blog is for Autism Awareness. This fall, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of parents, Occupational Therapists, Behavioral Therapists, and Speech Pathologists. It was an amazing experience, and something I feel so passionate about. Here is a few lines of my talk…and some awesome movie clips about Autism and Aspergers.
Watch this video of Temple Grandin…it’s amazing. (Click the black section, watch this video on You Tube and it will link you up).
The Ladder Builders
“Autism? He doesn’t have Autism!”
This little face was not the face of Autism to me. Sure, he couldn’t sleep and had a lot of food sensitivites, but he was funny and fun, and smiled…not all the time, but sometimes. When he felt good. At the time I didn’t realize I had preconceived notions about Autism. That I was playing into a stereotype. And a false one at that. I had heard all the commercials on the radio, that your child is more likely to have Autism than to play major league baseball. And for the record, I still don’t like that commercial. One day I hope they replace it with, “Hi. I have autism and I play major league baseball.” That’s the kind of thing we need advertise. Back to my point. I’d usually turn the volume down every time that commercial on, even before Parker was born, because it made me sad. Being a person that thrives on relationships, I thought Autism was, in a nut-shell, a child that was incapable and uninterested in forming relationships. And Parker wanted a relationship with me, and the rest of his family. No way was he Autistic. Or so I thought. I had put Autism in a nice little box. And now that I know more about it…A box is the last thing Autism fits in. Now looking back, I could not have been more wrong. Every child with Autism wants relationships. They do. They just sometimes have a different way of approaching it, a different way of connecting, and it’s our job to find out how they connect, and pursue it! Pursue it with all our might!
Temple Grandin says, “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher.” She goes on to say, “Social thinking skills must be directly taught to children and adults with ASD. Doing so opens the door of social understanding in all areas of life.”
One of my favorite songs is Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”. The lyrics say, “May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung.”
Kids on the spectrum need someone to help them build their ladder to the stars.(See picture above). With help, YOUR HELP, these children can reach their goals and dreams. These stars are not out of reach.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself. Imagine yourself nailing in those rungs on the ladder belonging to your student, or patient, or child. You are so important for their future. You are their ladder builder!
Through Parker’s story there is one main highlight I have learned… Autism doesn’t fit into a neat box. Or a messy box. Or any box for that matter. Stephen Shore says, “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.”
In looking back over our story, I have come to the conclusion that yes, we made mistakes, but we also made great victories. Victories in realizing that Autism is not a disease. It’s not something to be cured of. It’s just the way Parker is made. He was fearfully and wonderfully made with Autism. Just the way God wanted him.
Watch this clip from the Movie, Temple Grandin. It’s the true story of Temple Grandin, best selling author, professor, activist, and voted as one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world. And she is autistic.
Temple says, “I had people in my life who didn’t give up on me: my mother, my aunt, my science teacher. I had one on one speech therapy. I had a nanny who spent all day playing turn taking games with me.” She goes on to say, “It’s never too late to expand the mind of a person o the autism spectrum.”
Are you that person for some one? The person that didn’t give up. The ladder builder.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures. Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Build the ladder. Reap the harvest. Change a life.
Here is a great link to show your kids about Aspergers from PBS’s Arthur.
And just one more clip, to make you laugh. This is Big Bang Theory. It comes on CBS, and my husband and I had been watching this show for years. We had NO IDEA that Sheldon Cooper had so many qualities of a person with ASD until we entered into this world. Now it’s even better to us. Sheldon, while quirky, is funny, fun, has friends, has success…he gives us good laughs and a lot of hope.
With that said, I’d like you to watch this clip of Big Bang Theory of what not to do. Amy is giving Sheldon Cooper therapy to try to stop his compulsive need for closure. Let’s watch.