Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Many people with autism have difficulty processing what is happening around them. It is easy to become overloaded. This video is an explanation of this phenomenon by someone with autism.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nonverbal Does Not Mean Unintelligent

People say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But we do it all the time. This includes how we look at people with autism.

Two of our children with autism are considered nonverbal. If you met our son, you would probably consider him low functioning. He doesn't talk (much). He hums and moans and makes weird sounds. We have heard a number of times of people who should know better who think that he is unintelligent.

It just isn't true.

Our son is very intelligent. He taught himself a song on the piano without a lesson or even the encouragement to play. He can read, in fact when we play a CD, he pulls out the lyrics to read along. Put him in front of a computer and he can navigate the internet no problem.

There has been some research done in this area. You can find the article here. The main point is that we should not be making assumptions about people with autism or anyone else.

Image by pixaby

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Autism and Eye Contact

It has been long known that children with autism have issues with eye contact. This was the case with Logan and Abby. People at our church used to try so hard to get them to look in their eyes. When my dad was dying in the hospital, a nurse tried to get them to look and Abby kicked her hard. They are much better now, at least with us.

Here is an article that includes some of the updated research on this topic.

Image from pixaby

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Autism and Wandering

Wandering is a very serious problem for families dealing with autism. Our son wanders and he has gone missing many times. The most recent time we almost lost him for good. Thankfully, we have had strangers step in and help.

I encourage you to watch this video and learn what you can do,

Autism & Wandering: 60 second PSA from NCMEC on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Silver Linings Have Clouds

As a parent of special needs children, I try to stay positive. I look at the bright side. I rejoice in the little victories. I celebrate those moments when everything works.

All of that is true but special needs parenting is still very difficult.

Our two children with autism live in group homes. While that takes off a lot of pressure, there are still plenty of challenges. There are still committees and government agencies and boards and financial concerns to navigate.

I just came across this post called "The Dark Side to Special Needs Parenting." I don't know the person who wrote it, but I will tell you that this post rings true to our experience.

We don't like to talk about this stuff much, but if you want to understand special needs parents, you are going to have to know it.

Image by pixaby

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Becoming Pre-Autism Friendly

What if you want your church to be autism-friendly but you don't have any families with autism in your church?

Image by pixaby
I'm glad you asked! 

This is exactly the time to be thinking of these things. It is so much harder to start the process after you have had people with autism for years. The best thing is that these steps will make your church healthier even if no one with autism ever attends.

So here are some things for you to consider before the families with autism show up.

  • Make sure have you have some Plan to Protect safety plan. You should have this anyway.
  • Have a strong theological foundation of the image of God in all people.
  • Learn to deal with loud and unexpected sounds in the worship services. Babies should help.
  • Do a study of the role of the marginalized in the Bible.
  • Find families in your community that are dealing with disabilities and bless them with no expectation of them attending your church.
  • Educate yourself on autism and other disabilities. This is one of the major roles of this blog.

This should get you started.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Jesus' Resurrection and Disabilities

Easter Sunday is the most important day for Christians. It is the day that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Does this have anything to say about disabilities?

When we think of the afterlife, we think about becoming perfect according to popular understandings of normal. All the things that we think make us stand out will be removed and we will have the bodies we always wanted.

What will the afterlife really be like? The only hint that we have is Jesus. The resurrection body of Jesus is the type of body we will have at our resurrection. Yes, it will be a better body. It will be a body that will be built for eternity. Jesus was also able to do things that his other body could not do. He walked through walls and even seemed to travel differently.

But there was something else interesting about his body. He still had his scars. The holes in his hands, feet and side would not seem to be ideal by normal standards. None of us would choose them. And yet there they are in his resurrection body. While a resurrection body is, what I tell my Bible college students, "an upgraded body," for Jesus it was a body that was in continuity with his "weak" body.

What does this means for those who have disabilities?

It is possible that some aspect of what we consider disabilities may be represented in our resurrection bodies. The difference is that it would no longer be a disability any more than Jesus was still being bound to the cross.

I am not necessarily saying that those in wheelchairs will be unable to walk in the resurrection or the blind be unable to see. But it is very possible that those parts of their life will be represented in some way in the resurrection.

Easter Sunday is a day of hope for all Christians. The possibilities that it opens up are limitless.

Image by pixaby

How to Talk to a Nonverbal Child

Some people who have autism are able to communicate clearly, even if they had early delays in speaking. Other people are what is called nonverbal. Our two children with autism are nonverbal.

What Does Nonverbal Mean?

It would be easy to assume that nonverbal means that a person is unable to speak. That is not exactly correct.

Our daughter has pretty severe language limitations. Even so, when she is hungry she can say, "Toast please," or request, "Juice." She is able to say a few other things that she has learned by rote.

Our son is different. If you met him, you would understand why he is considered nonverbal. What you would not realize is that he is actually able to speak clearly if he chooses to. This most often happens when he is angry or sad. However, he generally does not communicate with verbal language.

How to Connect With Nonverbal Children

So how can you communicate with a child who is either unable or unwilling to speak. Although we have discovered ways to connect with our children, I think it is better to share from someone else's experience. Here is an article by Lois Prislovsky on how to connect. There are some very useful suggestions.

What I really want you to get is, it is possible.

Image by pixaby

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What Does Autism Awareness Mean?

Today is Autism Awareness Day. Individuals and organizations have been working hard to build awareness about autism. I am thankful that awareness is growing.

But what does autism awareness even mean?

The first step is knowing what autism is. Autism is not a disease. Autism not a bad parenting choice. Autism is a disorder. Autism is also a spectrum. The symptoms range form relatively mild to quite severe. Knowing one person with autism does not tell you much about autism in general. Autism affects learning, communication and social interactions. If you know this much, you have made a good start.

The other step is to know people with autism. You cannot be truly autism aware until you are aware of the people who have autism. Autism is not just theoretical, it is about people. When people talk about 1 in 68, I don't think of statistics, I think of Logan and Abby. People with autism have likes and dislikes, personalities, fears, relationships and everything else that all people have. To be autism aware means that we need to see beyond the label and to see the person.

Happy Autism Awareness Day and I hope that you have become a little more aware today.

This is what autism looks like

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Autism Infographic

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We can type and type about what autism is but an infographic often gets the information across much more clearly. I hope this infographic helps you.

Autism - Spectrum Disorder
Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Autism Awareness Month

Today is the beginning of autism awareness month. It is an opportunity for all of us to both grow in and to spread awareness about autism.

I will be sharing a number of resources throughout the month. But I want to focus on what churches can do for autism awareness month. Here is my advice.


Seriously, just do something. It does not have to be big. It can be including an insert in your bulletin (which I happen to provide here). It can be a link on the church webpage. It can be doing something special for a family with autism in your church. It can be reaching out to a family in the community. It can be as simple as including autism in one of your prayers.

My point is that anything is better than nothing. Autism awareness is growing but unfortunately churches have not caught up with the rest of society.

So if you are in the position to do something in your church, do it.

Autism Awareness Month