Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!

 

Raindrops

I've got a vision playing in my mind, that takes place about 20 years from now.  I am 60 years old, carrying my 25 year old Stevie,who won't step foot in the rain.  I'm wondering how that is going to work?

I am sure he'll come to tolerate the rain a bit better by then than he does now, but at this point, his total disgust and fear of the rain is getting worse, not better!

Today I was coming home from taking him to OT, and the darkened skies opened wide, spilling it's heavy rains to the earth.

When we got home, Stevie wanted just one thing:  to be in the house where it was dry.  There was just one problem with this what-should-be easily solved problem.

He has to get though the torrential downpour that is blocking his way between the car and the house.

At first he wouldn't even come near the car door.  When I opened it, with the umbrella in hand, he backed up away from the open-to-the-dreaded-rain door.  He was not ready to face his fear head-on....or, head under, as the case may be.

 

"Come on, Stevie, I'll carry you!  See?  I have an umbrella to keep you dry. It will be ok!"

"Are you all done? AHHHHH!"

"Stevie, it's ok, I'll carry you in and keep you dry!  Then you can get your blue blanket (his favorite thing)"

"Ahhh!  All Done!" Stevie screams and cries in objection.

It took about 5 minutes of convincing him that it is safe, and worth it, to let me carry him in.  He screamed all the way.  I'm sure the four steps to the porch and four stair-steps up to the door seemed to be more like 4 miles long, with each inch looming with the potential disaster of getting wet...of having "spots" on his shirt...of his shoes having a darker shade of leather than they did before...or...here's the worst... he may get wet hair!

But, it didn't happen.  I kept him dry, just as I promised...all the while getting my own feet wet from walking in puddles since I couldn't see the way while carrying him...my back was spotted with rain drop stains, my shoulders sore from coordinating the umbrella and Stevie at the same time.  But Stevie? He was ok.

Except, he didn't think he was.

If I thought he was screaming before, it was just a minor whimper in comparison to what came next.  Now that he's in the house and dry & safe, he lets loose with the high pitch alarm sounding scream...the one usually reserved for severe pain or terror!

Ignoring his screams, I sit with him by the fire place to get warm and dry.  I grab a extra-comfortable quilted blanket with a rainbow colored sunburst in the center, and wrap it around us both.

He giggles.

I squeeze, and he giggles in relief, again.

I just hold him and warm him and give him squeezes of pressure & hugs that make him feel safe.  (I really don't mind this part at all!)

We cuddle by the fire, feeling safe from the dangers outdoors.

Sometimes we have a storm in our lives, or a dreaded event, or something we just don't like.  And we have to endure it to get to the promised land of comfort & safety. And just like I carried Stevie in the house, God offers to guide and protect us as well, while we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death"  We don't need to fear any evil, for "your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

And even though we may be absolutely dreading the path we have to take, and it takes all we have to make that first step out of the door into the arms of God (who's holding us under a really big umbrella), God is there and He carefully takes us to the other side.  God takes the rain on his own shoes and back.  "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

And once we are safe... we may still feel a bit traumatized by the whole thing.  We may still want to throw our fit and scream:  "Did it really have to happen THAT way God???  Couldn't you magically get me here from the car while avoiding the rain???"

And God comes, and takes us by the warm fire of his presence, re-assures us with his Word, and wraps us with the Holy Spirit like a blanket, and comforts us.  And we relax. And we may giggle at how silly we were about the magic tricks, or the situation we dreaded so much but just turned out to be no big deal in comparison to God. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

Often at the point of finally relaxing, we want to just move on. To get up and start doing things that need to be done.  But I encourage you to follow Stevie's example and to not do that.  Treasure the moment. Stop by the fire place and rest, soak in the love of our incredible Savior.  Rest in the presence of God, absorb the Words of God and soak in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

It's still raining outside here in Maine, and maybe it is still raining where you are too. Maybe you are about to take that first step out of the car to make the journey to the other side, and to you I say:

Fear not, the God of the universe is waiting to take you safely over, hand-in-hand, or perhaps by carrying you all the way.


Originally posted October 6, 2010 on Treasures In The Dust.com

Speak The Language: Pictures

STL Pictures Small

 

Have you noticed that kids with autism often don’t seem to process auditory information, but instead rely on what they see?  They seem to be unable to hear, but that is far from the truth.

When my son was a toddler, if I called his name he’d act as if he couldn’t hear me calling him.  But if I were to quietly whisper nonsense sounds, he could hear them a mile away.  This was baffling as new parents, not knowing about autism.

We had no idea what was normal and what was not.  We had his hearing tested and sure enough, he could hear sounds most people could not. He just didn’t know his name. He didn’t know that anything had a name, except for letters, numbers and shapes.

Once we figured out that he was born without a language, we made use of pictures. After all, he learned by what he saw:  if I put on my shoes, to him that was a firm promise that we are going outside to play.  If that didn’t happen, then there were tantrums to deal with.  If we drove toward Lincoln Street, then that was a sure promise we were going to the park. Telling him we were going elsewhere was of no use.

To make life easier for everyone, we took a bunch of pictures.  Pictures of things… like “Outside”, “Juice”, “Puzzles”, "Park".  Then when we were going outside, I would show him the picture of  our backyard and say, “Do you want to go outside?”

Highlighting the word and pointing to the picture made a whole lot more sense to my boy. He quickly learned how to receptively “get” pictures. And we were finally communicating.

We also used pictures to teach him his name, and the other family members names. One of my favorite memories of these early years is when I was quizzing him on our names by tapping his sister on her head, or tapping Daddy’s head and I’d say, “Who is this?”

He’d answer correctly until I asked him what my name is. I said, “Who am I?” as I tapped my head with my hand.

“NINE!” He shouted!

“What? Nine?” I asked confused.

And then Daddy burst out laughing. Because he could see what I could not. By putting my hand on my head while standing up, My body made the shape of the number 9!

Learning to think in pictures helped us explain many things to him as he got older. From single words, to a picture schedule (or list of pictures “to do”), to sentences, to stories.  As soon as he got the concept of things having names, his language exploded.

  • He went from 0 words at age 3, to  5 word sentences by Kindergarten!
  • By 2nd grade he didn’t need pictures anymore (except for a picture schedule).
  • In 3rd grade, his Developmental Pediatrician said, “I can’t even believe we (her and my son) are having this conversation.  If you asked me before if he’d ever be able to have conversations, I’d have said, “I don’t know”. But here we are! This is truly amazing!”
  • And today? He is going to be entering 7th grade. He says as many words as he wants. He still has issues with pronoun reversals, but besides that his language is amazing (well, except for the bad words. Why do kids learn those so easily?).

There is a TON of information out there on pictures in the forms of PECS, social stories, pictures schedules, etc.  One of my favorite free resources is www.Do2Learn.com.

Here are some examples of what we did for our kids:

Early on, we used actual photo's of what we wanted them to do:

IMG_0240

Then came first sentences:

( Beneath this sentence strip, would be pictures of commonly asked for items.)

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.01.23 AM

 

Schedule boards are just awesome, providing independence and structure:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.05.51 AM

Then we had some social stories. Some were very graphic, some very simple. Here is one that worked very well:
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.02.16 AM

and as he got older, his social stories became more cartoon-like:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.02.04 AM

and then, he started making stories for us!: Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.01.35 AM

And for your amusement: 
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.05.24 AM

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.01.48 AM

 

This is part 2 of a series on speaking the language of our kids on the spectrum. To read part 1, click here: Speaking The Language: Scripts

Coffee Time:

Let's help our new autism parents out with a lot of ideas!

How have you used pictures to teach your children?