Thursday, May 29, 2008

Holy Ground

Reid will be baptized this Saturday in the ocean near our house. I am not sure exactly what to expect but I hold myself open to some awesome possibilities. We are setting apart holy ground by calling upon the name of the Lord. Since He will be present, it will be grand! 

Sara Groves wrote the song, "What Do I Know," about her friendship with a senior approaching death. She can't imagine what heaven is like, nor can her friend. But we can trust God's word and what He promises is all good. Click the link to hear the song or read some of the lyrics here:

Well, I don't know that there are harps in heaven,
Or the process for earning your wings.
And I don't know of bright lights at the ends of tunnels,
Or any of these things.

But I know to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord,
and from what I know of him, that must be pretty good.

I remember Allie's baptism last October. It was as if the words of the Lord's Prayer became reality--"your kingdom come, here on earth as it is in Heaven." God enters into our existence in a tangible way through the sacrament of baptism and through the praises of His people. Although marriage is not a directive from God, it is a similar public profession before God and man. Take a minute to view this clip; the wedding scene from The Other Sister.

Purity of heart is beautiful to God. From His perspective and compared to His perfection, we must all seem impaired and helplessly disabled yet, nonetheless dear to Him.  In this clip, the couple fumbles over the mechanics of exchanging their vows. Ironically, it is the very fumbling that amplifies the meaning and passion of their intent. Their joy cannot be suppressed and they manage to express more through their disability than any "normal" couple I've ever seen. Their experience becomes universally enviable. I end up wishing for what they have: the ability to be wholly honest, genuine, and natural.

Reminds me of another song. "Undignified" by Dave Crowder band is a call to live for God and not for man.  This link will let you listen to the lyrics which are straight out of 2 Samuel 6 when King David dances naked in the street before God much to the dismay and scorn of his wife, Michal.  She is worried about many things primarily their reputation.  As it says, "Nothing Lord should hinder the passion in my soul."  Reid and others walking among us with autism--in spite of or maybe because of their diagnoses--live this out.  Reid could care less what others think of him.  Hard as we try to teach him a social consciousness, he remains refreshingly uninhibited and undaunted in his joy in the Lord, his affection for others and his love of life.  Woe to me to un-teach this exuberance. God must enjoy him as much as He did David.

Could this be one of God's reasons for allowing disability? Could it be for our benefit? Are there lessons we (neurotypicals) can learn only through their example?

We spend a lot of time, money and effort teaching Reid social appropriateness (a word I have come to despise). While it is critical for his future on this earth, I wonder how necessary it will be in eternity. Just for Saturday, I "will lay my pride by the side" as the Dave Crowder song says, and let Reid be who he is before God and man (even if that means dancing naked on the beach). Did I say that?

David said to Michal, "I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." 2 Samuel 6:21-22

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Ephesians 3:19-21

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another gig

"Mom, just get me to the stage!" Reid implored as we anxiously unloaded the van for one of his first gigs a couple years ago. There was a volume of between-the-lines information conveyed in that one little sentence. An empathetic, trained, engaged mom could fill in the paragraph of meaning in those seven simple words:

Mom, I can't do this alone.  I need your help.  I can sing.  I practiced. I know all the words I'm supposed to sing.  I love to perform. I can't wait for the thrill I feel when the people clap.  Will the people cheer? When I get on the stage and the band kicks in, I know I'll be fine but right now, I'm not sure if I can manage the sensory input that I know lies between this already over-stimulating parking structure which smells of carbon monoxide and the plaza we just drove by where Angela and the In Harmony band are expecting me.  But I've seen you do it.  And I trust you.  Will you get me past that gigantic, flagship Tower Records mega-store on the corner through the throngs of noonday workers and passersby at Horton Plaza to the stage they've set up for the NBC Health Fair? They're counting on me and I'm ready!

Well, he did do it!  Reid was the guest vocalist performing some of the songs on the In Harmony Integrated Learning Resource book and CD.  Our personal favorites, "I'm OK When Things Don't Go My Way" and "I'm Listening to What My Body Says" are ones he'd cut his teeth on over the years with Angela Neve as his music therapist. As Reid morphs into a teenager, Angela continues to gift us with her Developer and Futurist strengths (see yesterday's post). It is amazing to watch the sense of purpose and accomplishment which result from performing.  
He's come a long way, baby!  Last month, The Kingsmen Band, of which Reid is a member, had a gig at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. The Autism Tree Project filmed their rehearsal session to be shown that evening at the 5th Anniversary "Rock The Lights Out for Autism"benefit gala.  The boys in the band impressed us as we gathered in the opulent lobby and then roamed around to multiple meeting rooms lugging sound equipment while the crew considered the best possible filming location. We experienced moms (with years of stored memories of breakdown, meltdown, and fall out) suggested the cameraman scout it out and get back to us. "These guys don't transition well.  You're going to lose them (mentally and maybe physically too). Do you know change is rough when...," we cautioned. 

Finally, we landed in a vacant ballroom atrium in a different wing of the property. Despite our collective wisdom and fear from hindsight, the boys in the band cooperated with even the unreasonable requests that were made of them.  All in the name of show biz! It was a testament to their motivation to perform, growth in character, ability to delay gratification, flexibility, responsibility to a team, and sense of purpose.  That's why we're doing it!  All good stuff.

Here is a portion of what was shown that night.  Reid is the one giving the unsolicited rave endorsement of The Music Therapy Center of California. That part was not rehearsed or planned.  It is straight from his heart and ironically, might be the best part!

They edited out an equally charming interview with Charlie:

TJ, the cameraman:  Where else do you guys play?  Do you hire out for parties?

Charlie: Ohhh NO.  We don't do parties.  Parties are very loud and too crowded.

Did I mention the film crew had no specific training in autism or speech therapy? Charlie displayed awesome self-advocating skills and honesty. He was gracious and polite to omit what I would have said, "One question at a time please, sir."

Be sure to catch their next gig at Border's Bookstore in Mission Valley Tuesday, June 17 at 7:00pm.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Strengthsfinder--just do it!

We are hooked on Tom Rath's book and online assessment tool StrengthsFinder!  My mom's husband introduced it to us by giving the book to every member of the family.  Papa Jim did it first.  My husband and I did it.  My mom finally did it.  My brother has yet to do it. Our music therapist has her entire staff do it.  A local church does it as part and parcel of their discipleship training. Carla and Sean did it.  Carla redeemed herself from previously underselling Reid when she (true to form) discovered that they have a version for kids, StrengthsExplorer.  So, my daughter, Allie did it.  And then Reid did it.  I am waiting for my nephews to do it.
I encourage all of you to do it!  It is most useful if done with the group of people you interface with most often --be it family or colleagues or classmates--not in isolation.  Then you begin to appreciate each other's gifts and differences in a constructive and practical way.  

If you do it, you will learn 5 themes which represent your strengths.  By focusing on those you will understand yourself in new ways and be equipped to find more satisfaction in work and relationships.  For example:  I felt a new kinship with my mom's husband realizing that we both have Harmony as a theme. It plays out differently in each of us due to our different life experiences but is nonetheless bonding, now that identified. I like to think that mothering autism with my need for Harmony, has shaped me into a mini-Kissinger with the learned ability to facilitate peace at any cost in our family.  In contrast, I notice Papa Jim retreats (during family vacations under one roof) in order to maintain Harmony.  Now, I have a new compassion for his motivation. As an out-of-town grandfather, he does not have the practice nor the responsibility of creating harmony--but it is definitely his preferred state.

My personal theory is that we are drawn to people who share 
at least one of our dominant themes.  This would explain why we just "get" some people and not others.  A common Achiever theme bonds my husband, Jim, and I.  Working together on a task (ie. cleaning the garage, moving annually across the country) really turns us on! Ha! Of course, family environment and nurture also influence the formation of our themes.  I learned my Responsibility theme from my mom. She raised us placing a high value on doing the right thing, leaving a place better than you found it, taking the high road, and being the "big one." I fully expect my brother, David, to have Responsibility on his top 5 list also.

The StrengthsFinder exercise has helped me to see with hindsight certain events in the past with new interpretation. Most recently changing Reid's school was difficult for me because of the combination of my Empathy and Harmony theme.  Jim sings this in a mocking permutation of "Ebony and Ivory" as this is where our opposite themes attract. (His top theme is Command.) I knew the change would be best for Reid and had to be made. Implementing it however, meant breaking it to the staff who I loved at the old school. I procrastinated doing that because I knew how it would make them feel (Empathy) to the extent that I put their feelings before my own. Coupled with the Harmony theme, meant I would also keep from rocking the boat as long as possible.  Can you see how this new awareness of our strengths enabled me to appreciate (even welcome) it when Jim told me, "just do it!" He helps me get off the harmonic dime. Previously, I have just thought him hasty and insensitive.  

Lest you think this is getting off topic, here comes the Autism Unplugged part. It is tragic how quickly, upon diagnosis into the world of autism, we begin to see only our child's deficits. How many professionals have you listened to itemize in great detail the myriad skills your child cannot do, may never do, and is way behind in doing?  Where has it gotten us? or them? Depressed, demotivated, discouraged.  Who needs that? Unplug from the noise.

StrengthsFinder, by contrast, gives us new excitement about where Reid will be most motivated, what opportunities we should create for him, and how he can accomplish the most in life. The process itself has been cathartic, empowering and corrective. Reid's attention to the online questionnaire was rapt.  I had gotten special approval to have the time limit extended so that his answers could be accurate.  Not necessary.  Apparently he too responds positively to learning more about what he's good at! In short order, we had the fun of discovering Reid's top themes (Organizer, Achiever, Presence). If you've met him these will seem self-evident.  He likes lists and schedules; likes to get things done (and off the list); and the world is his stage!

Seeing these in print from a reliable, mainstream Gallop poll puts him on a par with other members of the family and community which has been transformational for us. Will you do it?

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
2 Samuel 22:32-34

Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:9-11

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-14

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where is Balance?

I have rocks in my sink. Literally. I lifted the idea from my hairdresser who has them in her salon's restroom. They create a spa moment for me and a sensory experience. The sound of water couououssshhhing over rocks takes me momentarily to the beach at high tide. On several of the stones are written abstract concepts--life themes of which I like to be reminded: Balance, Inspire, Journey.

Instead of INSPIRE-ing anyone or stimulating conversation as I had also hoped, they seem to bring on waves of ridicule and controversy. They confound my cleaning lady. She can't decide whether to wash each one or wash under them or wash around them. They are the ultimate knick-knacks I suppose--absolute clutter serving no function. Mind you she doesn't converse (even in Spanish) with me about them, but instead huffs and puffs as she moves them brashly out of her way.

The rocks (really they are pebbles) discombobulate my mother in-law. She clearly could not, would not, will not wash her hands in the out-of-doors environment that rocks in a sink simulate. Because the washroom is right off our kitchen, I heard her without trying, as she too moved them out of her way each time she washed her hands before meals. She could not fathom that the soapy water would simply filter through the rocks and on down the drain. Questions like, "don't they block the drain?" and "how can that be?" or "why did you put...?" kept us head-tilting like confused puppy dogs.

The stones intrigued our 20-
something nephews on a recent visit. Being younger, more idealistic and open minded, they actually added to the collection when we returned from the beach. And complimented my aesthetic! I take this as a good sign of what's to come with the next generation.

I digress. The BALANCE rock makes me think of many things. I need to find balance between my over-sympathetic, over- invested,  homeschooling 24/7, over-consumed role as mother and the role (which some feel I should try) of bon-bon eating, beach walking, puttering woman of leisure with no deadlines (or thoughts) other than arriving promptly to the carpool line and bus stop. Or does balance find itself?

We need to find balance when hearing reports about our children. Hearing that they have erred in school or with their peers can be devastating in the moment.  Yet, put in perspective (that's a synonym for balance), it is part of growing up and just serves to create a teachable moment. Maybe it's an opportunity to practice self-control dealing with difficult people.  Gee, let me tell you about guarding your tongue.  Hmmm, here's a good example of why modesty matters.

As a society, we need to find balance in our portrayal of autism in the media. People are critical of Autism Every Day as it portrays only the down-side, scary, gut wrenching, traumatic, unbearable reality of autism. Others criticize Autism Yesterday which oversimplifies the cause and "cure" by blaming immunizations for every incidence of autism. Both offer some truth. Neither is absolutely true. Fundraising dinners are a good place for the worst-case-scenario depictions. Family movie nights are a good place for the tolerance tales. New parent orientations are a good place for the hopeful testimonials.

Two cliches come to mind: All press is good press and Consumer Beware. If nothing else, the airtime that autism is getting in the media stimulates the nay sayers to create the "rest of the story;" the flip side then creates balance.  And dear fellow parent, don't believe everything you read, hear or see.  We need to be wary of anything that promises or strongly infers to "fix" our kids. A better pursuit is to arrive at the point of seeing that they are not broken. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it insults your child on the way, skip it!  

My husband has written about the extremist view as a rallying point for the green environmentalist movement in his blog, (He is my inspiration and tutor for all things technological and futurist.) Like our interest in autism, his passion for the environment has become trendy all of a sudden.  For those of us living with autism as a reality not a trend that can breed resentment sometimes.  We are like the Irishman who won't wear green because he knows he's Irish all yearlong not just on St. Patty's Day!  We know autism yesterday, everyday and tomorrow too.  Self-respect and pride are not about a green shirt and hair.

Any new passion or bandwagon requires jumping to the extreme before a leveling off occurs. The groundswell and critical mass of media about autism is good even though it's not all accurate. It is on people's radar. There is enormous fodder for discussion. It has not reached an equilibrium. Balance will find itself. That's my soapbox on the BALANCE rock...stay tuned for INSPIRE and PEACE.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them       Ecclesiastes 3:1-3  

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?     Isaiah 40:11-13

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Teaching the Mundane

I am preparing today to meet with one of the pastor's at our church to prepare him to prepare Reid for his upcoming baptism.  In addition to making sure Reid understands the profoundly abstract concepts of salvation and eternal life, I have notes to be sure we cover the more mundane logistics like keeping the bathing suit on afterwards.  Both are important!  Reid has heard and sung about Jesus washing away his sins since he was in the cradle.  After lots of repetition, I think he has internalized those as reality.  Less familiar will be the actual baptism ritual.  Never before has someone walked him out into the ocean, held his arms on either side, and dunked him backwards three times. I will assume nothing and explain everything. It has become second nature to me to do what others might call "explaining the obvious."  In actual fact, social cues and customs are not learned by osmosis and are definitely not obvious to those on the autism spectrum.

Isaac Gitchel wrote this instruction 
manual on How to Order Fast
 Food posted recently on his dad's blog, It is a highly useful document that I plan to share with my son before our next visit to In 'n Out.  I know I make lots of modifications--some conscious and some unconscious--to enable a relatively smooth family life.  Through conditional response over the years, I now insist on drive thru windows at banks as well as at restaurants.  Am I alone in my willingness to wait as long as it takes (albeit in the car with a pager) for the socially acceptable containment of a booth rather than a table?  We have our little tricks, don't we?:)  

Eventually though, I want Reid to make his own accommodations and self-advocate for his needs. Isaac's post makes that easier. Isaac, will you write a book of similar instructions? It would be a great manual for teens on the spectrum, for community living programs at schools, and a tool for developing awareness. You could sell it through The Gray Center. They have a lot of great resources but nothing as specific as you have written.  Thank you.

It also gives family members an articulate glimpse into how much extra work is required of those on the spectrum to accomplish everyday tasks which others may think of as "no brainers."  Our kids are making constant daily adaptations to function on this planet.  Articles like Isaac's remind me why I am happy to show a little extra patience, compassion and mercy whenever it is needed.  Information is power.  Now that you know, who can you grace with an extra dose of understanding?

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25:40

"Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power." Proverbs 8:14

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Friday, May 9, 2008

In Whose Presence?

It is a well known fact that many variables impact our kids' behavior.  I notice that Reid is very sensitive to people's expectations of him.  With someone who knows his personal best, he does nothing less.  With others, who are just meeting him and may make false assumptions that he is non-verbal or "unable" in some area, he stoops to that lowest denominator and those skills appear dormant. Whether he is believing their lie about him or just taking the easy road when possible, it is confounding to keep him motivated let alone raise the bar to his full potential. 

After a recent appointment with our chiropractor I found myself telling a friend that, "I like who Reid is in his presence."  Well, that sounded vaguely Biblical and dangerously heretical. Good fodder for blogging!  

Dr. Phillips is a fabulous man and skilled practitioner who we've seen once a month for more than two years.  At our last appointment, Reid was in rare form.  He has the doctor's spiel down pat--from the initial greeting at the door (in perfect intonation) to every inquiry in exact sequence as the appointment proceeds.  Thanks to Dr. Phillips' consistency and our repetition of going, Reid has worked out a stageworthy impersonation of this man.

This may be a case where "you had to be there" but let me try to convey our humor, surprise, and delight.  Part of understanding this also requires that you are a bit familiar with muscle checking, applied kinesiology and chiropractic--which could be good thing for what ails ya'.  

Dr. P:  Good Morning Reid!  How are you today?
R:  Good Morning Dr. Phillips! You are the best man in the whole...
Dr. P:  Aw thanks Reid.

Who can help but smile at that kind of affirmation and generous praise? (My husband took a bit of offense that night at the dinner table.  We reminded him that he has the honorable distinction of being the "best dad in the world" and Reid did catch himself before finishing the sentence.)

As Dr. Phillips proceeded the checklist of NET points had a familiar ring to me. To Reid, it was more than just familiar; he knows it verbatim. At his peak attentiveness that day, he anticipated each one. He beat Dr. Phillips to the punch more than once: "conception to birth," "personalized will" (which he mistook for "paralyzed will" which Dr. P had skipped)!  Reid seemed to be vying for his job.

 I love who Reid was in the presence of that man for those 20 minutes. He can enter that office having been vegged out on videos and act like a pill the minute he's back in the car, but for those 20 minutes his power was "on!" I really want everyone who interacts with him to hold that as a new baseline so he can generalize that gregarious, engaged, conversationalist, confident self into other settings! 

As much as the fabulous treatments, I value Dr. Phillips for the role model he is to Reid of a caring, tender, man diligently working in a helping profession, serving his clients with patience, warmth, and intuition.

When Moses descended the mountain after time with God, he had a glow, a radiance, a definite light which all the Israelites noticed.  He reflected the immense glory of our Father in Heaven who would blind us if we but gazed upon Him. Reminds me of the song You Are the Sun by Sara Groves?

You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can’t be a light unless I turn my face to you

Whose presence brings out the best in you? Have you been in the presence of the Lord lately? Is it apparent to those around you? In His presence, God renews us, changes our name, makes us white as snow, loves us, fills us up with His Spirit, delights in us. He sees us in our completion and fulfillment in Christ. THAT changes our potential!

...whenever Moses entered the LORD's presence to speak with him...they saw that his face was radiant.  Exodus 34:34-35

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" 
Exodus 33:14-15

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

He's Gotcha Covered

Remember that scene from Sophie's Choice? Putting Reid on a school bus for the first time recently felt like selling him into slavery?  Maybe it's because mine are twins and I often feel like I'm always choosing one child over the other in a win/lose scenario. Maybe it's because we adopted them and I am overcompensating on a personal vow to never impose rejection on them.  Maybe it's because Reid has autism and I am practiced at hypervigilance. Maybe it's because I rode a bus to school when I was a kid and (even though I was verbal) didn't tell my mom all that happened on it. Maybe its because we homeschooled for years and I consider constant surveillance the norm. 

Whatever and however many the reasons, I just now (Reid is 13) had that quintessential experience of motherhood: waving to him from the curb having entrusted my child to that gape-mouthed orange whale, the school bus. 

This seemed an economical decision.  I had been driving a 40-mile round trip to his school twice a day.  As I put the wheels in motion, I kept my options open saying maybe he'd just ride one way to start.  I rationalized that he would mature from it.  I prayed about which driver would be assigned and what other students would be on the route. "Lord, let me know if he's ready for this." The transportation department called and I asked many questions trying to give a not too scary description of what Reid might do in the process of becoming familiar with the bus riding routine (ie. visit another student's front door, change the driver's radio station, check other riders' ipods, check out the view from other seats). It became quickly apparent to her that perhaps we should have gotten approval for an aide to ride with him.  Not wanting to be greedy, I let her run it by the powers that be.  In short order, Reid's was switched to another route where an aide rode along with the driver.
The day arrives; Reid is stoked; he skips onto the bus in his characteristic exuberant fashion. That was easy? Ugh...wait...what do I do now? The not knowing, the emotion, the fear.... I sat in prayer until the time I knew he'd reached the destination point where I'd usually dropped him off.  Now what? I'd have to wait 8 hours to maybe hear or decipher how it went. I called my mom to commiserate; no answer. I called a soul sister friend; left a message. I broke down in tears. I began my Bible study. It's still only 8:30am. These two extra hours a day could just change my life!

The phone rings. It is the sweet bus driver, Sandy, calling to tell me what a nice young man Reid is and how happy they are to have him on their bus. He did a great job with the seat belt. She thought I'd want to know!  Oh boy, would I. As our conversation continued I learned all about her. She has a grandson with autism; her husband drives a bus at the local Christian school my daughter attends; she prays every morning with some other drivers before they leave the depot. 

Could Reid be in any better hands? Now I realize that riding this bus is a privilege I could not withhold from him. Wow! Could I have planned that? No amount of my orchestration, manipulation, worrying or control could have master minded that scenario.  All I could think was, "Thank you Lord."  He seemed to reply, "I gotcha covered." The Lord has got us covered with His glorious shield--you, me, and Reid. Sometimes we realize it and sometimes we don't. This time I did.

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Proverbs 30:5

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Matthew 6:27

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:3-6

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Music: Let it Move You

Don't get me started on music therapy!  I should probably start a mega-theme or Music Monday column to cover the volumes of thoughts I have related to the power of music to transform our lives.  

Apparently, I am not the only one.  Have you seen the movie, Young at Heart?  Although the movie doesn't focus on him I wonder many things about Bob Cilman, the leader of this choral group of seniors: What did he do previously?  How did his passion for music connect with an interest in seniors? Does he know he is doing music therapy? What are his natural instincts and strengths?  No doubt he is a Developer on the StrengthsFinder inventory by Tom Rath like Reid's music therapist par excellence, Angela Neve. I also wonder why there aren't similar groups in every single nursing home--especially my Nana's in Ohio--to appropriate the vitality and sense of purpose that singing together and preparing to perform brings these seniors who are simultaneously vibrant and dying.  

Seniors singing together is a relatively simple concept.  (Maybe most good ideas are simple--once they're thought of!)  The further genius of the project though is their repertoire of songs.  Cilman has this geriatric choir doing Sonic Youth, Beatles, Ramones, and James Brown covers!  They don't particularly like the songs.  I don't really either;  except when they take on new life sung from an unexpected vantage point.  With years of life experience and the wisdom of age, the seniors give new meaning to these lyrics.  When Fred croons "Fix Me" as a memorial to his dear friend it means more than Coldplay ever imagined.  This juxtaposition is what makes the film profound.  (Then again maybe I am selling Coldplay.  A similar thing happened when Reid sang "Scientist"  last fall.)

Young at Heart is inspirational on many levels and for all ages.  It depicts mutual trust between director and choir.  It's novelty makes us laugh, not at the unusual, but in acknowledgment and recognition.  It models the importance of mental flexibility and teachability.  The film captures the therapeutic magic of music.  

Also irresistible is the empowerment of a group of people who are otherwise dismissed from our society.  Like those with autism and other disabilities, many seniors can feel isolated, forgotten, neglected by the end of their lives.  Young at Heart demonstrates another truth; they in fact, have untapped potential and loads to offer--not just on the sidelines but in commercial venues at the forefront of our culture! 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:27

'Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.  Leviticus 19:32

As they make music they will sing, "All my fountains are in you." Psalms 87:7