The other day I went looking for some old chore charts that I had made for my twins during my homeschooling career. My eleven year old daughter, Hope, does not like chore charts, behavior charts, any kind of charts that tells her what she needs to do. This brought up memories for all, and apparently negative ones for Hope, who could not believe that I would bring that wretched chart up to see the light of day.
It turns out that she was offended that I thought she needed such a thing...charts are what the boys need, not her. (I pointed out the issues at the age of 6 are still the things we'd put on her chart at the age 11!) So I gave her a little refresher course on her early childhood:
"Hope, it was you that would not stay in your bed, you that would kick the walls at night and refused to go to sleep (or let anyone else sleep!). It was for you, that we made the very first sticker chart of the house!"
After revealing various stories of her "terrible two's"--the same terrible two stage that her baby sister is currently in-- Hope seemed very proud of herself for carrying this badge of honor. It's kinda like a chart shaped trophy!
I find it funny, that it was her, our "typically developing child" that was the beneficiary of these first charts. To be fair, her twin brother didn't care one iota about stickers (or even candy--oh how the boy has changed!) and it would be another year or two before he'd understand the language of "If this, then that". We could not find anything that meant enough to him, to motivate him to do things he didn't want to do.
The traditional behavior and chore charts went out the window for him when he was 2. We had no idea what to do to help him, because we didn't know he was wired differently from typical kids--the ones the books were written for.
Autism became our reality when he was 2 years 8 months, and we realized we needed a whole different way of parenting for him.Out the window went all the parenting books we'd acquired, trying to train up our boy.
I often hear other moms talk about how they wish their kid came with a manual. Most of us read at least one of the "What to Expect" books, but what do you turn to when all the standard "How to raise a kid" books seem to be talking a different language?
When the time comes that you should "expect" to hear your bright child's first words... and then it goes without a peep... or conversely, maybe it came far before the expected date and the child has been non-stop precociously speaking since she was 10 months old and you would like to give your ears a break... when things don't go according to "plan", then what?
With ASD kids, you get what you get and it has nothing to do with what any books have to say about what is supposed to happen. We had one child reading at age 3, before he spoke much and another doing math equations and elaborate k'nex buildings in preschool.
I remember filling out Ages & Stages Questionnaires for my twins and the questions were like a foreign language. I couldn't plot an a scale from 1-10 if my child said 3 words yet. Why? Because, well, yes he DID say words but no, right now he doesn't and it has been a long time since I heard him speak words besides letters and numbers. So where on the number line does that go, exactly?
A lot of us ASD moms learned to throw out the How-To manuals the hard way, and those with more than one kid on the spectrum know that you can't use the manual you wrote for the first kid, on the second. No, it's a whole different ball game with each child.
As the saying goes: If you've met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism...
When our child does not go according to plan, we end up going on-line, finding out what other people found to work for them. And we desperately try that, and everything else under the sun until we hopefully find something that works...hopefully.
But now there is a book out there that I am sure will help all of us no matter what age or stage of life our kids are in typical or not...
And that book is, "I Need Some Help Here" by Kathi Lipp. In her new book, she goes through different things that happen in the life of a kid, and how to handle it. She offers encouragement, hope and tips for each section, and prayers for you to pray over your kid, and for yourSELF.
One of the things I really like about this book is that while it is talking about handling situations that we do not expect as far as our kids are concerned, it also does not neglect YOU. The mom. Every section has prayers for us to consider and scriptures to speak God's Word to our hearts.
So while we still don't have a manual given to us with each child, we DO have a book that guides us through a majority of issues that we can face while raising kids.
Here is a list of topics that are discussed, and a favorite quote to go with each:
When My Child Is Different:
We all have dreams for our child, and as long as we cling to those dreams, we are going to miss out on the gift that our child is sitting right in front of us. (p58)
When My Child is Overwhelmed:
When our kids struggle, we are not in control. When our kids struggle, the God and Creator of the world--the author of life and the giver of abundance--is in complete and total control and is working behind the scenes to put all things together for good. (p67)
When My Child is Troubled:
Trust in God at all times, daughters. Together we are learning that some kinds of pain and disappointment are effective teachers. Pour out your hearts to him, for he is our refuge. (p84)
When My Child is Sick or Injured:
It is not a show of unfaithfulness to be concerned. You also can't remove the worry from your heart. But God can be your comfort in any of these circumstances. And only through earnest and intimate prayer can he truly move in you. (p97)
When My Child Makes Poor Choices:
God has not and will not give up on your kids. Instead of getting angry or depressed or hopeless, you can choose to be a strong advocate, a prayer warrior, an encourager, a hoper. Because regardless of what your kids are doing now, I can assure you that God is doing much, much more. (p108)
When My Child Is Running Away From God:
It's when we start putting our trust in the sheep and not the shepherd that we run into trouble. We parents run a real danger of misplaced hope. We put our hope for our kids in our kids....instead of committing them to God every single day. (p120)
When My Child Is Lacking Character:
Our kids are works in progress. God loves them desperately and is using each of these character struggles to teach them--and (dare I say it?) us--about him. (p132)
When My Child is Struggling:
And we need to remember that our child and their issues are not the same thing. (p145) "We want better for our kids than we had for ourselves. But the only gift that we can truly give them is our support, understanding, and prayers--and that comes first from acceptance." (p151)
When My Child Is Left Out:
I finally realized I had to stop listening to others and start listening to God. Our very first step is to understand that during a tough time...God is with us and, even more significantly, with our children. We need to be listening to and leaning on him. (p160)
Here is some more information about the author, Kathi Lipp:
Kathi Lipp inspires thousands of women each year to take beneficial steps in their personal, marital and spiritual lives through purposeful living. With humor and wisdom, Kathi offers hope paired with practical steps to live each facet of our lives with meaning.
Kathi is the author of ten books with Revell Publishers and Harvest House Publishers. She has become well respected on the topics of marriage, children and self-purpose from a biblical perspective. She has four more books slated for release in the next two years.
She is a national speaker and is often featured on Focus on the Family, MOPS International, Crosswalk.com, and Nickelodeon TV’s Parent Connect as well as a number of other reputable organizations around the country. She was recently named “Best of Broadcast” on Focus on the Family.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not doing laundry, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.
If you would like to connect with Kathi, here is how to find her:
And, if you are interested in purchasing this book (you will be glad you did!) Here is where you can purchase it: