Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Climb, Hike, Swim and Walk WITH Autism

We hear a lot about walking for autism. Our San Diego Autism Walk is fast approaching on November 1st in Balboa Park, San Diego. Reid will perform with his band, The Kingsmen, which is always fun. It is good to see a new twist and trend of individuals with autism taking matters into their own hands to raise funds themselves rather than be recipients of the funds.

Autism Vox recently referred to two athletes with autism who are raising money for others. Jay Serdula, swam for autism. Here is his blog or here on youtube.

Giving to others is crucial to our sense of purpose. Dr. Dan Gottlieb points this out dramatically in his fabulous book, Letters to Sam. As he lay in a torturous halo device bolted to his skull, unable to move after a paralyzing car accident wishing he was capable of suicide, a nurse confided in him about her own depression. Having learned he was a psychologist, she asked him for help and advice. It was in that moment, realizing he actually could help her--even in his dire state--that his own will to live was restored. The nurse's expectation of him was more effective than any cheerleading or soothsaying from well-meaning family and visitors. His epiphany that he still had something to give, provided a reason to continue living.

I highly recommend the book. It is outstanding on many levels. Dr. Dan began writing letters to his grandson when Sam was born, aware that his own life expectancy was diminished as a paraplegic. The tone and content of the letters changes as the grandson is diagnosed with autism. Dr. Dan realizes he is in a unique position to empathize and prepare Sam for a life of being different--whether due to paraplegia or autism.

Tis truly better to give than to receive. Brain Highways is a local program from which Reid has benefited enormously. Its founder, Nancy Green, is a gutsy visionary genius who, among other out of the box ideas, has challenged her clients to give to others and make a difference in the world. What makes that gutsy is that all of them are enrolled in her program needing various degrees of neurological re-patterning. Endlessly empowering them to use their brains, she has mobilized small throngs of kids with enough labels on them to fill vats of alphabet soup, to give to someone needier than them. They have personally collected and delivered food and supplies to children in a homeless shelter. Just recently, a group of Brain Highway kids raised money for Cancer Angels, walked in their walk and attended their benefit dinner. Rather than the blind leading the blind; she has created a powerful example of the needy helping those in need. Her expectation of the kids demonstrates how capable they actually are --to the community, to their parents and to themselves. Lest they embrace a learned helplessness that can result from a lifetime of therapy, she proves they can make a difference with whatever skills they have today!

Clearly, giving is therapeutic, healing, and life saving--for the giver. Maybe we could coin a whole new intervention program of "Giving Therapy" with Board certified clinicians, hourly rates, and clinical fees....just kidding. It's way simpler than that. Start looking around for ways to serve, whether it be having a talent show in your garage and giving the ticket money to a homeless man, or volunteering to do the A/V controls at church (a job Reid loves), or carrying off the dinner dishes. As Bob Dylan says, "You know you've got to serve somebody."

Timely enough, my niece will be hiking the Appalachian Trail in March with a new organization, Train 4 Autism. Check out her page. I praise God every time we see her that she has embraced Reid as he is. She appreciates his unique view of the world and allows his exuberance to inspire rather than embarrass. Kathryn has seen first hand the daily challenges and surprises that come our way. I admire her response which is gracious, generous, and self-less. She has made a way to use her personal passion, abilities, and experience to give to others.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Acts 20:34-36

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:9-11

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men... Ephesians 6:6-8


  1. Thanks for another awesome post! I love the idea of "Giving Therapy." Giving/serving is such a wonderful way to get our mind off our own troubles. I think it's awesome that Reid will perform with his band at the Walk. I hope one day my daughter will be able to "give" in a tangible way. I'll be checking out Letters To Sam...

  2. Thank you for all the inspiration today!

  3. Thank you so much for your kind comments on my blog! It's always a fun feeling knowing that other people appreciate what you're writing-- or at least find SOME entertainment! I'll be praying for your son and enjoyed reading some of your posts! Keep up the good writing!