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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