Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month this April

10. Post the Turning the Tide Prayer Thrust calendar on your refrigerator

9. Send it to the prayer team at your church to build their awareness

8. Rent Adam or Snow Cake

7. Tweet or post one of the verses on your Facebook

5. Read Rules by Cynthia Lord or The Boy Who Ate Stars by Kochka

4. Eat gluten free for a day, perhaps April 2 which is World Autism Awareness Day

3. Go on a prayer walk around a special education school in your town

2. Offer a playdate or an hour of respite to a family experiencing autism

1. Fast on April 23 with me

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Do We Educate?

Do you have 20 minutes to spend with Sir Ken Robinson? You'll laugh and be inspired to think of intelligence differently.

After absorbing his points and reading Donald Miller's blogpost today, I ask myself, "What if Reid were treated as if he were highly intelligent?"

This afternoon a conference call with the purpley woman....tomorrow a pre-IEP meeting at his school......Winds in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewing, about to begin. Can't put me finger on what lies in store, but I feel what's to happen all happened before...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Things that Honestly Don't Even Phase Me
(and I wish were more widely accepted)

10. bacon on the dashboard

9. dog hair on the floor

8. open bathroom doors

7. weeds in the front yard

6. stained carpets and upholstery

5. broken electronics

4. strangers staring

3. poop in the tub

2. siren like screaming

1. incessant "Barney" trailers

Unfazed, undaunted, unflappable are modifiers I might like to see on my tombstone. This is not the same as being calloused, stoic, or insensitive, mind you. Au contraire, the unruffled mum remains calm in order to better love, care for and nurture her offspring. It is her tender heart that fuels the self-sacrifice. Her resolute peace instills confidence and security. She is intentionally mindful of higher learning and relational skills that are taking place amidst the seeming chaos.

Like the horses ideal for therapeutic riding programs, we have become "bombproof." Bombproof horses don't freak out when an impulsive rider screams, hits, kicks, or moves suddenly aboard their saddle. Loud shrill noises do not upset them. They stand as rock solid antonyms to the word "skittish." Some are born that way, others trained into it.

With another homeschooling family, we once toured the San Diego Police Department Mounted Police Force stables in Balboa Park. (This was a couple years after they assisted us in finding Reid there one Sunday.) In any case, the fascinating fieldtrip was led by a woman officer who rides and trains their horses. As a trainer she would throw bottles, therapy balls, and other random objects at the horses in order to prepare them for duty in a riot squad duty or at a St. Patrick's Day parade. Blowing various and sundry whistles at close range, she conditioned them for anything and everything. I could relate--to both the horse and the trainer!

I would like very much for "bombproof" to be added to a modern amplified version of the Proverbs 31 woman's list of life achievements.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31: 25

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two Kinds of Teachers

The centipede Kathryn found in her bed brought this vintage song to mind. A favorite blast from the past, The Inchworm song by Frank Loesser takes me right back to the golden homeschool days of snuggling with my babies on the sofa in our jammies reading Five in a Row classics. Science took us to the duck pond and math meant baking cookies.

Watching it now, underscores the diametrically opposed styles of the two teachers. I feel this tension every time I step foot in Reid's current school, tour an alternate placement, or interview tutors. Even as I navigate daily situations, I face the internal dilemma of prioritizing "instructional control" or following his lead.

Reid's days are spent in a sugar-coated behavior mod hell. But hey, it's scientifically based and proven effective!* Through consistent, direct instruction and follow through they have, in fact, helped Reid establish good student skills and extinguish several maladaptive behaviors. I fear however, that his success there dictates a future in some equally rigid, highly staffed environment, which is not what I envision.

In contrast, this very moment as I peck away, Reid is directing the show with a woman who would fly a kite with Danny Kaye all long as the day was long letting shoes pile up at the cobbler shop. With her, his spirit soars higher than the scarves they are tossing in the air. He chats a blue streak, dances a bi-lateral jig, and otherwise fills our home with unbridled joy. There is cooperation, mutual respect, emotion, and creative output in the form of drawing, singing and art.

Which do you prefer: the pinch-nosed marm reciting times tables behind the shutters or Danny Kaye inspecting inchworms after weaving yarns down on the river bank?

Who would you learn more from? What about your child?

Or do we need some of both? That is my quandry this month friends....

Friday, March 19, 2010

yeah, uhuh, whatever, go ahead

I picked Reid up early from school. We met Jim at the offices of an integrative educational specialist for an initial intake appointment. Had one of those lately? The encounter was awesome and admittedly atypical.

Jim tends to leave details and decisions like this to me, so it was not until we were in the waiting room that he mouthed (a little too loudly I thought), "What is this place? How long is this gonna take? and What do they do?" Classic!

I had already gotten a tour, met the players, and interviewed 4 satisfied clients. So, the organic, responsive, in the moment, alternative experience that ensued did not take me by total surprise. Jim had not. So it did.

His reactions crack me up. His humor afterwards illustrates how open-minded and fluid we've become. His mannerisms in the moment harken back to our common reference points. Where would we be without each other as bookends to hold up all that's gone between?

After 20 minutes in the waiting room (one broken photo album and a bent wastebasket later), Reid bulldozed through the door to scope this place out. Forget greetings or a potty break between appointments for the owner. Rather than block him or force a do-over with proper greetings, this purple clad female recognized his sensing curiosity. She immediately shifted from any protocol in order to follow his lead. Honoring the child, as they call it other places, she did what made more sense: treated him energetically.

We had expected her to politely grill us and review the ream of paperwork I'd dropped off beforehand. Instead, in short order, she had Reid and I both up on different massage tables tuning into Sennheiser headphones while she began Body Talk. (photo not actual size)

What about Jim? He had no idea what to do out in the hallway. I only peeked out the window once to see his dropped jaw and dumbfounded expression. The stereophonic rain and chimes sounded too good; the blanket on my feet too cozy to worry about whether he had gotten out his laptop or gone back to work.

After my balancing, I was terrifically calm, resonating with Reid on the comfy plum sofa. I could only grin watching Jim caddy corner from me in total bewilderment. He listened to the spontaneous specialist talk in intuitive circles, unable to nod or fill in her sentences. She may as well have been speaking gibberish. Later in bed, we debated whether he had actually spoken the words, "I don't even care," or just thought them.

Either way, our new friend had sized us up. These smart, engaged parents have been around the block. The mom is anxiety ridden. The dad focussed on results.

Bottom line: she won't make any predictions or guarantees, but she has complete confidence in her work. How long? How much? How often?How will we measure success? It can't be quantified. Finally, with a furrowed brow Jim did say outloud, "so, are we done here?"

Once we got home, he chuckled describing it to Allie as a "total twilight zone seeing mom in there drooling on a pillow." (exaggeration) At the same time, God love him, he is open to the value it may hold. Together, we are undying optimists hoping against hope to find the master key which will unlock the potential all agree Reid has in him. That is the unanimous common denominator that draws us back to each new specialist.

Oh Lord, it's hard not to be cynical when you've lost count of how many have claimed their work would be the bomb. The look on Jim's face told it all. What he wanted to do was hand them a list and say, "yeah, uhuh, we know...That's what they all say." "I'll call you when the results are obvious."

I don't blame him for I felt the same way. I suppose we want to be treated as colleagues for having acquired some knowledge along the way. Evidence of progress for all the time and money invested, would be nice. And acknowledgment, just for the record, that we are not starting at square 1 here; we are way into the double digits! So I wrote that list for Jim, in chronological order as best I can recall:

Occupational therapy

Speech therapy

Cranial Osteopathy with Viola Fryman and 5 of her proteges

Floortime training with Serena Wieder

B12 injections

and now....Body Talk

Parents who've been on this journey will surely understand what it's like to be held captive hearing suggestions you've heard before presented as if they are new under the sun; listening politely to the claims while calculating the hourly fees; feeling like "the sucker born every minute" on whom P.T. Barnum banked.

By now, I feel more like a battered wife returning yet again to be socked, disappointed, even burned, all the while wondering, just this once, if it could be different. Then choosing to go because, after all, you've got nowhere else to go. And you want so badly for the happy ending.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29:18

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:20-22

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 1o Verses I Pray over My Kids

10. Thank you Lord that you have the power to turn every curse into blessing for those who love you. Deuteronomy 23:4-6

9. Thank you Lord that, you know the plans you have for ___, plans to prosper and not to harm ___, plans to give ____ hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-12

8. Thank you that You command your angels concerning _____ to guard them in all your ways; Psalm 91:10-12

7. For God did not give ______ a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-8

6. Lord, fill ________ with the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...keep ____ in step with the Spirit today. Galatians 5:21-23

5. The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in ____, He will quiet ____ with his love, He will rejoice over _____ with singing. Zephaniah 3:16-18

4. Surely goodness and love will follow ____ all the days of ___ life, and ___ will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:5-6

3. Thank you Lord, that by Your wounds ______ is healed. 1 Peter 2:23-25

2. I pray that like Jesus, ______ will grow in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men.

1. Thank you God that you go with _____ and will never leave them nor forsake them. Deuteronomy 31:5-7

Countless helps are widely available to guide us in how to pray for our kids. My standbys are a xeroxed bookmark of 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for your Child by Bob Hostetler. Can't believe it is still available online since I can't even remember how I obtained it eons ago. It stays on my washing machine.

My Moms in Touch hand outs live at least nine lives and a $3.99 bargain bin copy of Praying God's Will for my Husband by Lee Roberts stays in arm's reach next to my driver's seat in the Eurovan. It's available customized for any family member you can imagine (praying God's Will for my son, my daughter, my grandmother, myself, my marriage). I was too cheap to buy all of them and just smart enough to modify the pronouns and fill in the blanks accordingly, making it a multi-use reference.

I clutch it like a Catholic with rosary beads whenever I have wait time at a carpool or doctor's office. It came in handy last Sunday during Allie's Certificate of Merit test. It is basically a topical list of verses organized alphabetically by keywords like Peace, Worry, Obedience and so on. Bible verses are listed in each category with a personalized fill in the blank (as above).

Praying Scripture back to God became a pattern for me after reading Becky Tirabassi's, "Let Prayer Change Your Life" and Beth Moore's "Praying God's Word." I appreciate the metaphor one of them used of a double stick of dynamite. The fact that we are praying to an Almighty God coupled with declaring the truth of His Word makes for explosive results.

Often enough I am tired or flustered to the point of not knowing what to pray. Rather than flounder around in circles or my own ruminating thoughts, I land on His. Then in addition to knowing he's heard my prayer for a particular circumstance or person, I'm also refreshed.

When I pray God's own words back to Him, I have the surety of asking something I can be sure He already intends. I don't have to wonder if it is just my misguided wishing, projecting or wanting. As you'd expect, certain sections of the book are doggeared and worn from handling. Thus, the Top 10 have emerged as ones I've memorized from overuse. They are my go-to claims, in the moments that I sense the struggle against rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness.

Gravitational Insecurity

None of these authors have it! (Though I'd wager each one could define it. They are that vicariously in tune with their kids on the spectrum.)

An anthology of perspectives on parenting, titled Gravity Pulls You In, is hot off the press. Having spent an hour on their website, I have reconnected with some bloggers I'd lost track of, gotten to know my neighbor a bit better, and met a couple new kindred spirits.

As I read the excerpts from editor, Kyra Anderson's Preface, I am flooded with camaraderie and ready to be deserted on a desert island with any of the contributors. She explains the title:

In my cartoon imaginings, I saw us sticking out sideways or hanging upside down like St. Exupery’s Little Prince...

Gravity, Mom,” he answered for us both. And then he thought for a while. “I have an idea! Gravity doesn’t really pull you down, it pulls you in. So, if you were upside down, it wouldn’t pull you away from the earth, it would pull you in,
toward the earth, toward its center!”

Huh. Gravity pulls you in.

He’s right. It does pull you in, not just to the center of the earth but to the center of yourself, if you let it. Things that are weighty, things that demand a closer look, a new approach, a shift in perspective, those things pull you in. Even when you are spinning, even when you are moving much more quickly than you thought was possible, even when you find yourself in territory where instincts alone don’t feel like enough to complete the revolution.

The circumference of the earth at the equator is about 25,000 miles. Every twenty-four hours, the earth travels 25,000 miles around itself through space. That means we’re going more than 1,000 miles per hour. That’s fast.

And we’re not falling off.

It's centrifugal! Like the roller coaster on the cover art...and that I've mentioned previously here.

Funny how same reference is made in the opening of the movie, Adam.

My favorite children's book is about a little prince who came to earth from a distant asteroid.

He meets a pilot whose plane has crashed in the desert. The Little Prince teaches the pilot many things but, mainly about love.

My father always told me I was like the little prince but, after I met Adam I realized I was the pilot all along.

Here is to the continued journey of love and learning from our kids and other parents in the same boat!

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-8

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Anniversary to a faithful ministry!

Today marks 8 years of daily prayers--like this one--that Rebecca and Jack Systema have written for the autism community through their Children of Destiny ministry. That is 2,920 verses from the Bible that they have personalized from the trenches to give specific hope to others on the same journey marked by autism.

I, for one, want to say THANK YOU! Many a morning, I have dragged myself down for coffee and clicked into my email in search of meaning. (I know that in itself is an oxymoron which is why my New Year's Resolution was to open my Bible before I opened my laptop.) Leave it to the good Lord though, who "never leaves us or forsakes us" to make His "grace perfect through my weakness" and guide me to truth online nonetheless!

Not everyday, but often enough, I hear God very directly through the verse the Systema's have chosen that day and the prayer they've written out so I can read along rather than dare to utter one myself. So, today to reciprocate and write this prayer for them:

Lord God in Heaven,
Thank you for the Systema's, their ministry, their family, and their diligence to follow you on the path you have made clear for them. Sustain them I pray in Jesus name. Bless them and enlarge their territory so that more who struggle to understand the 5 W's of autism --who to listen to, what it is, when will they get a break, where to go for help, and why it's happened in their families--will turn to You personally and your Word for answers. Thank you for your continual fount of hope and inspiration that flows freely through them.

Are you a subscriber? Click here for the free subscription service with two prayer options--one for families, the other for friends of families. They also organize a Prayer Thrust in April during autism awareness month. Or catch them every Sunday on Autism One radio.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us see your miracles again; let our children see your glory at work. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!"

Psalm 90:14-17, NLT