Language Translation

Monday, May 30, 2011

The silence can be broken, but first you must break yours.

In trying to understand the difference between a child who is verbal and non-verbal, my experience has been this:  If your child is verbal, they have shut off access, at least partially, to their heart and emotions.  So your definitions will be very different.  Take all of the emotion out of the definition to a word, and you may come close to having similar definitions, although they still won't be spot on.  If your child is non-verbal, he has chosen to trust his heart rather than his head.  He, too, has walls but they are connected with the brain instead of the heart.

A non-verbal child can think, but is not capable of expressing that thought because it is so much more than just a thought.  It is a complete, everything included experience.  For those on the severe end of the spectrum, the feeling I get is astounding.  It is as though they experience all of everything, I don't know how else to say it.  They are right, there is no possible way to put this into words, or pictures, or music, or art, or anything else.  Each emotion is like words, music, art, and flowing emotion all wrapped up into one...and that's just one feeling - just like the word "wrong" in my last post is just one word.  How do you even begin to express that?  If you ask them how they are feeling, it is so far beyond our comprehension that there is no possible way to even open their mouths.

Just as I, as a child, decided my emotion interpretation must be shut down because I felt so many things at once, they decide their brain must have a malfunction, because they think more things than can be fathomed.  He knows that our language is incapable of beginning to express an inkling of what he desires to express.  It feels dishonest and we are black and white people.  If there is a shade of dishonesty, then it is a lie.  It isn't cold, it just is being able to see the truth as the truth.  I know the way I just said it makes it sound cold and calloused to the rest of the world, but it isn't.  There is more feeling and emotion and heart in it than I can explain.  They can't communicate the way the rest of the world does, so they just shut that part down and put it to better use.

If your child is non-verbal, your best communication tool will be quiet, still time.  Just be there in the room.  Whatever your child is doing, let them do, but you do nothing.  Nothing physically.  Feel and breathe, and focus yourself on him.  Make sure the emotions you focus on are emotions you want to let him focus on.  He will grow accustomed to you as you do this and you will grow accustomed to him.  You will learn to feel you, and eventually you will learn to feel him.

If you are having a stressful day, don't be offended if he doesn't want to be around you, or touch you.  Don't be short-tempered when he starts to have a meltdown.  The best way to help him is to take ten minutes for yourself.  Re-center yourself and be in a place of internal peace.  That will give an instant level of calm to him, like turning down the sensory volume.  If your home becomes one of order and peace, he will improve dramatically.  Improvement can look like many things...less meltdowns, more conscious interaction, more calm and less "hyper" - any and/or all of these will happen.  There may be something else altogether that will happen.  But it will be movement in the direction you need to head.

If he needs time to pause and look at something, let him.  Give him his space, and in his way.  Don't try to figure out what he is thinking and feeling, that is like me talking over you in mid-sentence.  He is so aware of all of the energies around him that it is literally like he can't get a word in edgewise, in his own brain.  How frustrating that must be!  I would probably throw fits occasionally too.  Take note the next time there is a meltdown.  Is there someone in your home that is emotionally upset or very excited?  If so, it may help to verbalize to him what is happening.  Tell him how you are feeling and why, be sure to include the why.  It will help separate the emotional overload he experiences.  (Yes, thoughts and feelings emit an electrical energy that moves beyond the border of your physical body.  And, yes, there is scientific data to back that up.  Look into a woman named Barbra Brennan who used to be a research scientist for NASA.)

It is harder for mother's of non-verbal children in one way, you can't be certain of the feedback from your children without a bit of trial and error.  But the work is worth it, I promise.  If you will verbalize your feelings to him, honestly, he will start to be able to know that all the things he's feeling are not his own.  As this happens he will be able to handle more.

Verbalizing how you feel and making certain he knows it isn't his fault is extremely important.  A little over a month ago I was in New York.  I stayed with a friend for the week I was there and the day before I left we had a conversation that was life-changing for me.  I've known for years that I could pick up on what other people were feeling.  I didn't know how off I was on what some of those emotions meant.  As she and I spoke, she helped me discover something.

For our entire friendship (about 6 years or so) I thought she was just putting up with me, that she really didn't want me around.  She would say she loved having me over, she enjoyed spending time with me, etc.  But the feeling I kept getting from her was like...it was almost like an internal groan, like she was internally saying, "Oh no, not Tara again."  It made me so confused and made me feel like she was lying to me all the time.  I told her how I felt.  I've questioned her before when she would say something and I would kind of dismiss it, because what she said and what she felt were two different things.

On this particular day, we finally found the light.  The feeling I was picking up on had nothing to do with me.  She did feel a feeling of not wanting me around, but it was not because she didn't want me around.  She felt all kinds of feelings of self-doubt and really beat herself up over the apparent disparity she felt was there between my ability to tune in and her ability to tune in.  She used as an example the experience I wrote about in my first post - the woman on the subway.

My friend said, "I was closer to her than you were, she was right next to me.  Why didn't I feel what she was feeling?  Why couldn't I pick up on it?"  She went on to explain that it wasn't that she didn't want me around, she loved having me around.  She felt such a disappointment in herself when I was around that it made it hard for her to interact with me.  We talked more and helped her feel better, but that doesn't need to be shared here.

The point is this:  I thought the loathing was aimed at me.  I could feel the disappointment, the frustration.  I couldn't read her mind, I just knew that she felt those things when I was around.  The day after that conversation she really helped me hit home the conversation when she told about talking with her husband about the conversation we had the day before.  I realized I was misinterpreting a lot of the emotions around me, not just her.  I could feel things from others and thought they were all aimed at me.  The reality was that they were very rarely aimed at me.  I cannot tell you the number of people I have driven away by my endless questioning of their friendship because of picking up on something that was not intended towards me at all.

Don't let your child think that the anger, hurt, frustration, etc. is his fault.  Tell him why you feel the way you do, and who it is aimed at, not just what you are feeling.  This is true for verbal/signing and non-verbal children alike.  They pick up on everything, but that doesn't mean they interpret it correctly.  They may not even be conscious of the fact that they are picking up on things.  I sometimes get into what I call "work mode" and it seems like I feel nothing.  But if I stop and focus, I realize why I am sitting like a ball of stress when there is nothing particularly stressful about the day.

If there is a meltdown, it could be someone in the home, or it could be someone your child is connected to in some way (whether physically present or not).  It could be the weather, it could be the music, it could be the season...just depending on the depth of your child's sensitivities.  I've found that the less interactive a child is with you, the deeper the sensitivity goes.  Don't be overwhelmed by it.  Just be open to the idea that if he is struggling, there may be something he needs.

Find the things that help him get grounded.  For me it just takes physical touch from someone whose emotions are more centered.  Sometimes it is as simple as smelling my favorite blend of essential oils.  Other times I need to close my eyes, put on a pair of headphones with Clair de Lune playing on repeat.  It just depends on the day and on the intensity of the emotions in the room. 

When I am not overwhelmed and feel balanced, I am peaceful.  If I am getting too much, I tend to either get hyperactive or get sick.  If your child is sitting peacefully and there is no illness or fever, take note of how the environment feels.  Take note of how you feel.  What is he doing?  What were the events that lead up to that moment.  Something in there helps your child get grounded.  It will, again, take a little more detective work on your part.  But honestly, you can spend your energy really knowing your child and learning things that truly help, or you can use your detective work to search out another doctor who will run another battery of tests with another dozen drugs to try before shrugging shoulders and saying, "I can't understand why it didn't work."

Above all, non-verbal does not mean vacuous.  In fact, no matter what the brain scan tells you, they function on a level that we are not capable of comprehending.  I know I touched on it above, but truly, when I am sitting and have found a safe space with a person who is non-verbal - meaning a space where they feel calm and at peace and can interact - I am blown away by the things I learn.  The little girl I currently care for sat with me on my third day at work and taught me a connection between physics and music that is still making my mind spin.  And she is five.

Now, that's not to say that if she could speak she could explain to you the complexities and technical terms of physics.  There are eternal, natural laws that are in existence.  She knows them and understands them.  She explained them to me by sharing part of herself with me.  For about ten minutes I was able to feel and see through her eyes, and WOW, what an experience.

Talk with your child just like you talk with everyone else.  They need it and it will encourage them to interact more.  Part of the reason non-verbal children are absent so much is because they are ignored.  Verbal or not, you would become mentally absent if you were ignored even without being sensitive to anything else.  If you don't encourage them and give them a reason to stay, they won't stay.  Interaction starts with you, not with them.  The silence can be broken, but first you must break yours.  You have taught them over the years that they are secluded, they are separate, they are not part of the family/class/group, etc.  There will be hurt feelings to mend.  Depending on the age of your child, you may need to help instill trust again and a self-esteem.

Unintentionally, and probably because of the doctors suggestions, you may have given him the feeling that he doesn't matter to you at all.  He may feel like the least important person in your life, or maybe even feel utterly worthless to you, or maybe feel like he is the cause of all your burdens and pain.  If he does feel this way, please, please remember it is not your fault.  You have done everything with your heart in the right place.  You have done the best you could with the knowledge you were given.  Don't get angry at yourself...it will make him feel like it is all still his fault.  Just let yourself feel your disappointment.  Cry over it, grieve over it.  Then let go of it and resolve to do differently.

The wonderful thing about these very special children is that they heal much more quickly than we do.  He will feel the change in you and if you verbalize the confusion to him, that will help.  That single conversation with my friend in New York was amazing.  It was retroactive.  As soon as the realization hit me, all of the hurt from all of my relationships disappeared as though in an instant.  I felt loved by those around me and a part of everything that I thought I was an outcast from just moments before. 

It may take some time for you to adjust to the new way of interacting and you may even feel self-conscious at first.  Keep going, it will be worth it.  You will see things the doctors told you were impossible.  You will see miracles happen before your very eyes.  Then you can go to your doctors and teach them, if they are willing to hear.  And maybe others can be helped and healed.  Talk with your child, he understands far more than you think.  Don't talk down to him.  Speak to him like he understands you, because he does.



*This is a blog about my own life and my own experience.  If you choose to follow anything written here, you do so without any claim on me for problems or complications that may arise.  I am not a doctor.  I have no degree.  I am not a professional.  This is my perspective and experience, that's all.  If you don't think you should do something on here, then don't.*

We are verbal, but still may not understand.

This posting is more for the families with verbal or signing children, although those with non-verbal children will learn a few things still.  Those with non-verbal children, keep reading please.  I'll address your special circumstance in my next posting because it is too much to put with this post.

It was not until about 2 years ago that I could handle teasing.  As a child my family would joke and tease a lot.  I never thought it was funny...because I took everything literally.  So they would say something, completely in jest, and I would not only take it as them being literal, but then they would laugh about it and add insult to the injury.  My childhood was much harder than it had to be because I could not understand the concept of teasing.  To me it was just cruelty and abusive.  My mother and teachers would try to explain to me that people were just joking.  I'm sure they tried to help me understand in many different ways, but my black and white mind could not understand them.  I don't know if the words they used had different definitions for me, they probably did.  I could also feel when people said things, they did partially mean what they were saying and to say it to me in private without joking about it would have been fine and would not have hurt me in the least.  But to say them in public, in a jest, and then to laugh about it was a pain that cut me deeply.  It took me years to recover from my perception of my childhood. 

I don't tell you this to make you worry for your child, but in hopes of helping you see the road ahead and maybe have some ways of preparing for it.  Understanding your child's definitions of words will be essential to helping him understand the world around him.  For example: About 3 months ago I was talking with my sister and the conversation did not end well, again.  I was going through a hard time, recently separated from my husband of 13 years.  I was thinking and trying to understand the things I needed to do and to change because I am not so proud as to think that it was all his doing.  I said some of the things that I had been thinking about to her and she said, "No Tara, that's wrong.  You didn't...."  I heard nothing else she said.  I was so angry at her for saying I was wrong. 

We hung up and I sat and thought and wondered why she would say that to me.  Then, for the first time in my life, yes, for the first time in 33 years, I realized the word "wrong" might possibly have a different definition for me than it did for my sister.  You see, I define my words by the most basic definition, or as close to the scriptures as possible.  The scriptures are my balance for everything in life.  In the scriptures "wrong" is equated with evil, never with incorrect or incomplete.  Even though my brain knew that my family, teachers, etc. were telling me the answers were wrong - as in the steps of the math problem were not correct and here is where I need to rework the problem from - in my heart I felt condemned and like they were telling me I was evil.  That is why I could never be wrong, I always had to be right.  If I was wrong I was evil.  And that was worse than anything I could dream of.  I cannot begin to express the emotions I feel at the thought of being evil.  It is as though someone has reached inside of me, pulled out my spirit and left my body there, vacant.  My whole point of existence becomes pointless if I am evil - tell me I am evil and you are telling me I don't exist - not, shouldn't exist, or wasted existence, I mean literally...telling me I'm evil makes me immediately feel empty inside and like I don't exist at all...I disappear into nothingness, it is terrifying on a level I cannot put into words. 

Do you see how just one word made things so difficult?  I spoke again with my sister, and my assumptions were correct.  She had never considered that my definition of the word "wrong" could be anything but what her definition was...I didn't have the full picture or maybe hadn't thought about it from a different perspective was all she had been trying to say.  Now, had she said, "Tara, I see something that you don't see,"  I would have been most attentive and eaten up everything she had to say. 

So, with your child, be sure to find many different ways to say the same thing so that he knows what you are saying.  I find that pictures are most helpful for me.  As in the case with my sister, if she had simply said, Tara you are only seeing one side of a cube, my reaction would have been, "If you see another side, please, PLEASE share it."  I was desperate for answers.  But she thought I was proud and couldn't stand to be told I was wrong (in the sense she meant it).  I learned that pretty much every person I know thought that I was really proud and that I always had to be right...and I see why.  After a few years of being told, from my perspective, that I was evil - I started fighting back.  When people would say I was wrong, I would instantly shut them down and tell them I am not wrong.  I have thought about it, prayed about it, considered it from every angle and knew I was not wrong. 

Their response was, naturally, well then, why bother asking me?  Just to get my agreement?  If I disagree you jump down my throat.

So here is the interpretation of what I was trying to say.  Again, assuming my definition of a word is the same as thiers, I did not explain completely to them.  Before I begin talking about anything with someone, I weigh it out before the Lord and make sure it is something that can be talked about and is something that He feels ought to be talked about.  By someone telling me I am wrong - evil - for talking about something I thought that they were attacking the most sacred part of me and I fought back.  Inside was the feeling of, once upon a time I might have believed you and questioned whether or not I should be thinking in this direction, but I don't now.  I am solid in my relationship with the Lord and if I feel guided in this direction, who are you to tell me I can't go there or am evil for thinking in this way?!  To the core of me I wanted answers and help with looking at the problem in front of me, but everyone seemed to call me evil for even beginning to look the demon in the face.

We were in two very different realities.  I see that now.  I still have to mentally tell myself when someone uses the word "wrong" that they mean the other definition, not my definition.  I have even incorporated it into my vocabulary in the way they mean it in hopes of letting my brain and heart absorb a new way of thinking.  But who knows how many words I define differently than most of society???

So I ask lots and lots of questions.  I will speak with someone, and if I find myself angry or hurt, I look for the trigger word, and then I ask them to define that word for me.  If I still have issues with it I will define what that word means to me and discuss with them until we both understand what the other is trying to say. 

Since then I have found a couple of truths.  One, I am almost always saying the same thing as the person I am talking with, but with a slightly different perspective and maybe a little more levels to it.  They usually understand the surface of what I mean the first time it is out of my mouth, but I keep going, because the way I define the words they use tells me that they don't understand me at all.  They get frustrated and quit talking with me or shut me down or, on the rare occasion, have patience with me until I get caught up to where they are.  Then we discuss the deeper levels of the thing from my perspective, if they have the patience to help me get that far with them.

The second thing I have learned is that my opening in this way has caused many people who liked me the way I was to turn away from me...one of them being my husband.  He felt attacked by all of my questions and could not understand why I was asking them and needed answers to them so badly.  He could not see how I felt at all.

It is as though I have been starving my entire life, watching everyone around me sitting at this great feast, this table brimming with food, and I am standing there watching and wishing I could eat too, longing to eat, begging to eat.  And those at the table keep "taunting" me with food, saying I can come and eat, but then there is no room and no one offers a space, or as I begin to come toward the table someone pushes me away and takes the place I was headed to. 

The food is friendship, love, acceptance, and more than anything it is understanding.  The people are all those who don't see the world I see.  I have a dear friend who literally spent 10 hours everyday (with exception of about 1 week per month) on the phone with me, talking.  You see, we both drove truck with our husbands.  So we would drive the same time as each other and call each other to talk.  At first it was just to help the other stay awake.  Then it became a mental exercise for both of us, something we both desperately wanted - being intellectual people and driving truck meant mental starvation until we met each other.  Then it became spiritual.  Then it became a quest to understand ourselves, God, our relationship with Him and with each other.  She is NT (Neuro Typical) while I am an Aspie.  It took about a year before we could talk without one of us getting offended.  Now, nearly 6 years later, there is not a topic we have not discussed.  We spent about 3.5 of those 6 years in conversation a minimum of 5 hours, but usually more like 10 hours, nearly every single day.  I think this is why I am able to help bridge the gap, I know I wouldn't have been able to understand anything outside of my view without my years with her.

After all of these years, it feels as though someone has seen me, come and taken me by the hand, sat me in a chair next to them and said, "Please, enjoy this with me."  Then she gave me the tastiest things and helped me avoid the things that really weren't so good or satisfying.  I finally get to feast too.  It is so nourishing and healing and all the ache begins to subside in me. 

Definitions changed everything for me.  They will with you and your child as well.  Even if you assume you understand each other, just double check.  On the days where he seems angry and enraged for no reason, start thinking about the conversation or experience that happened just before.  He probably is still too young to be able to explain clearly how he defines things (this is assuming your child is verbal or uses sign), but if you use pictures (as the feast above) to explain things, he will understand and can then use his own analogy to help you understand.  That is the greatest gift my friend gave me, she used analogies when I kept misunderstanding her.  By using analogies with me I really came to understand her and then I was able to understand how to use analogies myself. 

Now, whenever speaking of an emotion, I go to an analogy first.  And since people who are not on the spectrum are 9 times out of 10 going to be discussing things on an emotional level, I am trying to learn to stay in what I call "picture mode" more often.  It is not natural for me and it is a lot of conscious, mentally exhausting effort.  But it is worth it when I feel understood by those around me.  I never felt that growing up.  I treasure being understood.  You don't have to agree with me.  You don't have to like me.  You don't even have to accept me.  If you understand me, I feel loved whether you love me or not and then it opens my heart to be able to love you.



*This is a blog about my own life and my own experience.  If you choose to follow anything written here, you do so without any claim on me for problems or complications that may arise.  I am not a doctor.  I have no degree.  I am not a professional.  This is my perspective and experience, that's all.  If you don't think you should do something on here, then don't.*

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Your Eyes - My Eyes - Our Eyes

I really became aware of Autism in 2006, after my adult diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.  I have heard since then the very commonly reiterated phrasing that is something like, "Why isn't there more being done about the disease?"  Every time I hear that word, "disease," every time, I cringe.  I don't see it as a disease.  I know there will be many of you out there who will disagree with me, but please be open to hearing me out.

It's going to sound like a silly reference, but it is the best thing I can think of.  Have you ever seen the movie "Matrix"?  I saw it for the first time not very long ago, when it aired on television.  When I saw it, I thought "Wow.  That is just like being an Aspie.  I wish I could give everyone that pill."  For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will give you the pertinent information.  It is based on the premise that the chemicals produced by our bodies are food for a machine which produces mass hallucinations that create what we know as reality.  So the bodies are encased in some sort of fluid and stay there in a comatose state.  But there are a few who have these pills they take in "reality" and it wakes them up.  They then get to see what real life looks like.  Instead of the color and variety and beauty of the dream world, everything is dull and gray and the food is bland, but sustains life.  Some wish they could go back and forget they had ever seen reality, while others are grateful for the freedom of the truth.

This is Autism for me.  I don't see what everyone else sees.  If I can sense it with one of my 5 senses, it isn't real to me, and frankly, matters to me very little if at all.  I feel like I have taken the pill and most of the world has not.  I see what is important.  Many of my friends get frustrated with me because they will be talking with me about a problem and, instead of consoling and comforting, I cut to the core.  The truth is not pleasant and usually means quite a bit of personal growth, pain, and work.  But it is the truth.  If they didn't really want to hear it, they would choose to talk to someone else about their problems.

So, to those of us with Autism, we see what we define as reality.  We are like the main character (going back to Matrix analogy) who is in the dream world and can see everything for what it really is.  People shoot at him, attack him, and try to kill him in various ways.  They are unsuccessful because he knows the truth.  He knows that none of those things are real and they, therefore, are not able to harm him unless he believes they can harm him.

You see me and my kind as someone you need to defend.  You see us as in pain and being mistreated and misused.  I see you as worrying about something that is silly to me...it can't hurt me because I know it isn't real.  I don't believe it can hurt me and so it doesn't hurt me.  In the movie no one worries about the main character because he is "invincible" to everything that they throw at him.

Autism is not a disease.  It is a spiritual gift from God.  It is to help us move forward to that next step.  The reason so many have "Autism" is because we must progress.  There is a cure for it, but it will not be found in a doctor's office or from an interminable number of hours at various therapists.  It will be found as we learn to live in harmony with each other, the earth, and our creator or higher power...whatever you want to call God, He's still God.

In the Holy Qu'ran, the Tao te Ching, the Bhagavad-gita, the Holy Bible, the Tripitaka, the Analects of Buddhism, The Book of Mormon, A Course In Miracles and, I'm sure in many other works of a sacred nature (that I have not yet read), there are things that speak of the future.  They call it the final awakening, the last days, the end of times, the last evolution, and a myriad of other things.  But they are all the same thing.  They all speak of a new kind of person becoming part of our people.  They speak of a person who is able to transcend this earth, it's view, it's materialistic pursuits, and see what is truth.  The truth is that we who have Autism can see what is real, some of us more completely than others, and we prefer reality to the dream world and the slavery that comes with it.  Unlike the movie, your reality is more like the drab, gray, no flavor, no color.  What we see is vibrant and colorful, glowing and pulsating with life and color and sound.  Every sound sets off a vibrational frequency that emits sound, color, energy, etc.  Some are more attuned to it than others.  But it is there, I feel it and occasionally can see it.  I choose that world, but I stay in this one so that those in the true reality can have a voice here.  In the movie, I would be the character with the pills; offering them to those who want to or are capable of seeing something more than they currently see.

What I believe may feel a little extreme to many of you, but here it is none-the-less.  You can give your children drugs to force them to live in your dream world, or you can elevate yourself and then help those around you to elevate to the reality your children are in.

They aren't angry at your doctor's - to be angry would mean they think the answer lies in the hands of the medical world.  The answer is found in scripture, with God.  Until this is realized, you will either hinder your child's true nature, or help to free it.  You are fighting the wrong demons.  Again, as in the movie, the program is so good at conning you into thinking you can see your enemy and that the enemy is a person, someone to be fought.  The enemy is an idea, a thought.  The lie is so twisted into the truth that it is hard to see.  But it is there.  We do suffer from something that is stifling our true genius from being freed, but it is not physical and it is not chemical.  It is the discord and chaos of this earth.  You suffer from not being able to communicate the way we can and see what we see.  The truth is that you are the ones in bondage.  You are the ones who need to be freed.  That is why we are here and that is why there are so many of us.  There has to be enough to get you to listen.

I have sat with different persons with Autism who are non-verbal on many occasions.  I feel them, they feel me.  We exchange hearts, as it were.  There is no need for the limits of language or the barriers of intellect.  There is only heart, which is where the real truth resides in each of us.  Our motives, our desires, our passions...those things are what are real and what create the reality we know.  We see in the ethereal world now what you will see in the physical world a few years from now.  Is this what you want to call a disease?  Really?!

It is only thought of as a disease because it is not understood.  Learn to see, and you will see.  If your child is acting up, don't think on the physical plane...try to feel and sense what is unseen.  We are all able to become sensitive to it.  We just have to desire that sensitivity.  Some call it energy, some call it aura, some call it the Holy Spirit...but truth is truth no matter what you call it.  God gave our natural laws, so it makes sense that He would govern our world by them.  It does not mean God does not exist, but rather proves that He does exist.  I think this topic is a tangent.  We can talk about it another time.  Sorry.

Whatever name you give it, the Spirit is there, working in, around and through all of us.  He teaches and guides and directs.  You can embrace that and become aware of it, or you can continue to keep your heart hard and ignore it and pretend like it isn't real.  But, as Isaiah said, "...add ye year to year, let them kill sacrifices; Yet I will distress Ariel." (Isaiah 29:1-2 in part)  In other words.  Go ahead, keep doing what you're doing.  Add year to year, stay in your stubborn way.  Keep following your path and doing the things that you think will help...keep killing your sacrifices....it doesn't matter.  He has a plan, and with or without you, it is going to happen.

I have never heard from a parent of an Autistic child anything other than, "He/she is so powerful, and has been from birth.  Such a strong spirit!"  So, if that is the truth, then maybe we can take a lesson from those strong spirits.  They are here to teach you something....but it's not what you think it is.  They are here to help you learn to see God.  To learn to live in balance and in harmony, so that final progression can happen....call it the final progression, the rapture, the last evolution, the second coming, or the last judgement....it is what it is.  And it is where we are headed.  How many need to be born before we will learn to see what is to be seen?

If you ache for your child, then do what you need to do to move forward.  Make your heart a sanctuary of peace and calm.  Your child will feel that and things will progress.  Make your home a safe haven and a refuge from the imbalance and abuse of the world outside and your child will come alive and open, able to have more time in the "now" with you.  Let that spread to your community and your children will become your teachers.  "A little child shall lead them,"  "Children shall be your teachers" "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy." (Acts 2:17-18)
These and a thousand other sayings are in all of those sacred works for a reason.

Will we wake up and heed the call our children give us?  Or will we decide that only what I can see and touch is real?  Will we work for the cause we have been told is here, or will we pretend that we know better than the facts staring us in the face?  If you do not see, it is because you do not wish to see.  Your children will show you.  Learn to be still and peaceful, then they can help us merge our reality with the true reality.

Do you see what I see?  It is the truth.  Want it or not.  Those who have eyes to see will see.  Those who have ears to hear will hear.  Those who do not wish to see or hear will be uncomfortable when what they have chosen to ignore is the very thing which determines their progression. 

What do you want to see?  The choice is yours.  But the choice must be made.  "Add ye year to year" or "Look, and live."  It really is that simple.  Your children are teaching you how, if you will listen to them.  Quit thinking you know everything and what is best for your children.  They are far better at knowing what they need and don't need - they have not yet learned to ignore their intuition.

I have to put the disclaimer, lest some nut thinks I'm saying you should neglect your children or something.  Again, my reality is not your reality.  I am speaking of the ethereal world.  Do not spend your energy worrying about something that is not useful.  If you are going to worry, use it to prod you into growth and becoming a being of peace.  Light, peace, and love are the things that will loose the tongue of a child who has been given sight.  The goal is to allow your eyes to see through my eyes and then the vision can become one.  It can become our eyes.  Your eyes see things that are necessary, things that my eyes do not see...there must be the vision of the past that allows us to lead into the hopeful brilliance of the future.  You cannot step forward if you do not understand the path that led you to that step...otherwise, how do you know the next step is on the right path and going in the right direction?

Your eyes show me where I started.  My eyes show you where we can go.  Our eyes together can bridge the gap that separates the past from the future.  Seeing through our eyes is the only way to be in the present, balanced perfectly between where we have come from and where we are going.  Will you come and see with me?  It is a glorious view!


*This is a blog about my own life and my own experience.  If you choose to follow anything written here, you do so without any claim on me for problems or complications that may arise.  I am not a doctor.  I have no degree.  I am not a professional.  This is my perspective and experience, that's all.  If you don't think you should do something on here, then don't.*

Truth

We don't meltdown because we are overwhelmed.
We meltdown because what we feel coming from you
Contradicts what we hear coming out of your mouth. 

What I see in your eyes is telling me
that what you see is nothing but a lie and a farce. 
Truth will out, but until it does,
We who "have Autism" will be impatiently patient. 

One day all of our tongues will be loosed. 
And then we will declare all we know from the rooftops. 

For we feel you.  We know you. 
You are not pulling the wool over our eyes and you are not hiding the truth. 

The things you want no one to know, as you let your flowery words fly,
Those things are known by us. 
You think because we cannot speak that we cannot know. 
Oh how you err.

One day you will fear and tremble
Before us, we who are your "stupid" and "barely human."
We who have been labeled as less than,
We remind you who we are, and tell you again so you cannot say,
"I didn't know."

The kingdom of God shall be entered by none,
Save it be those who become as a little child.
You do not believe in God you say?
You forget, we know you.  We feel you.

Your mouth says "God does not exist,"
But your heart says, "I fear he does exist."
Your mouth says, "I do not believe."
But your heart says, "Belief takes more work than I want to give."

You, who are so wise and cunning in your ways;
You, who think that because I cannot speak I must be stupid;
You, who say your definition is the only definition;
You, who see only in flat colors and hear only faint tones;

WE KNOW YOU. 
One day you will know us. 
One day all that you see as weak and worthless
Will stand before you in power and glorious.

Then you will see, then you will hear.
Then you will say, if I had but known.
But oh, remember, we feel you.
You did know.  Your heart told you.
Your pride was screaming so loud you would not hear
Your heart, speaking the quiet truth.

One day you will see where the true handicap is. 
It is not my tied up tongue;
It is not my violently shaking body;
It is not my eyes that gloss over when you enter the room;
It is not my refusal or inability to show I understand you.

No. 
The true handicap is this: because you have eyes to see, you will not see;
Because you have ears to hear, you will not hear.

The handicap is not mine, because I am not of this world;
The praise and accolades of this world mean nothing to me…
But oh, how you treasure them.

One day all of that treasure will turn to dust.
At the bottom of the pile, heaped up into a shriveling, shaking mass,
Unable to speak, unable to acknowledge understanding,
We will see you, and the ego you prize so dearly.

So speak on.  Tell our parents all you know. 
Break their hearts and give them grief you cannot comprehend.
Let your vanity be fed on those who come to you,
Hearts broken and seeking for solace and answers.

Speak on.  Spout your words, so self-assured.
We feel you.  We know you.

One day, all of the world will too.
We will speak, and on that day,
You will be silenced forever.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Not What You Think It Is.

As a child, I would walk into a room and if it was filled with people,  I usually walked out as quickly as possible.  It was hard for me to be around other people.  I couldn't explain why.  I didn't understand what was going on inside of myself.  I just knew that I wanted to have quiet time and space to myself.  In a home of 11 children, that was a hard thing to accomplish.

I have spent years trying to learn about myself and why I am the way I am.  I do not have a degree and I have only completed 3 full semesters of college (and almost every class I took was a music class).  I have studied and read (on my own) much about music as well as a little about law, physics, psychology, biology, and communication.  All of these things gave me great information, wonderful insights, and mind-blowing correlations...but no answers as to why I was different.

Then one day, while driving my truck (and I mean a real, 18-wheel truck), I blacked out for a nano second.  I was taken from behind the wheel and had to go through three months of tests.  While being tested to find the reason I blacked out,  I was diagnosed with 3 other things.  Two of them were fairly easy to understand and were physiological birth defects that could not be changed.  One was more difficult for me.  I was told I had Asperger Syndrome.  I didn't know a lot about it at the time, except that the few people I had known with it were very non-social, a little odd, and obsessed about one particular thing.  I was social.  I had a hard time going to school because I couldn't keep my interests narrowed to one thing.  But I was, however, quite odd.  It took me almost 4 years to accept that diagnosis.  But when I did, WOW!  Not only did my life change, but the lives of everyone around me have changed.

I am very high-functioning, but I have insights to the Autistic world that seem to be uncommon.  The biggest life-changing perspective came about 2 years ago.  I had been working for nearly 3 years with a friend who was helping me to understand emotions.  We literally spent hours and hours everyday talking about feelings.  She would say something, ask me how I felt about it, and then go through a list of emotions.  I would listen until she struck on the one that would hit something inside of me and then we would talk about that emotion.  Sometimes I didn't know what the emotion was that she was naming and so she would put it into a picture for me.  Things like, "I feel like a kid whose kite is really flying for the first time when suddenly the string snaps and the kite is blown away."  From that description, the word "disappointment" began to mean something to me - it became more than just a word.

After years of this, I had some amazing, personal experiences that helped me learn to open up my heart again.  Wait.  Did I say again?  Yes, yes I did.  I have gone back over my own life as well as tested this theory on every "handicapped" person I have met; it has yet to be proven untrue.

As a child, the reason I would get out of the room as quickly as possible had nothing to do with anything the others around me could see.  It was what was unseen that bothered me.  There wasn't too much color, too many patterns, too much noise, too much music, too much activity.  It was the emotions in the room.  My "meltdowns" were not caused by one of my 5 senses being overly stimulated.  It was the over stimulation of something that most mother's would never think of.  I could feel everything, every emotion that was in that room.  Of course, as a little child I was not conscious of my own emotions and was even less so of others'.  It would have been impossible for me to come to understand my own emotions amidst the jumble of the other emotions all around me.  The meltdowns and shutdowns are survival techniques to keep from literal insanity.

Imagine being 3 years old.  You walk into a room with maybe 7 people in it (including you).  One person is angry because dad wouldn't let her take the car.  Another person is sad because her boyfriend is 20 minutes late.  Another one is trying to psych up his energy before heading out to his wrestling match.  Another is so tired because he didn't sleep much the night before.  Maybe someone is elated because the girl he likes wants to go out with him.  Someone else is feeling stressed and overwhelmed by all of the school projects due tomorrow that have been procrastinated.  You are feeling very calm and happy, having just seen a very beautiful flower in the bed outside.  Now add to that, upon entering the room and feeling all of those things, your own new additional feelings: bewilderment, frustration, stress, fear, anxiety. 

Put all of those emotions into one container and feel them all at the same time.  Can you understand it, make sense of it all?  Imagine what it must be like to try to understand those feelings as a toddler who doesn't even understand his/her own emotions yet.  I did the only logical thing to do.  I decided my "feeler" was defective and shut it down.  Then (again this is only my theory) the neuro-pathways that had been used to discern and understand emotion were reassigned elsewhere, much as a child who is born deaf or blind.  The brain says, "Okay, those links are no longer being used.  Let's not waste some perfectly good neurotransmitters.  You and you are reassigned to logic.  The rest of you, focus on ...."  And the reprogramming of the pathways begins. 

It has taken years of conscious work to learn to reopen my heart and have access to it again.  I still cannot tell you how I feel at the drop of a hat.  It has to work it's way down from my head to my heart.  I still get confused about whether what I'm feeling is my own emotion or if it belongs to someone else.  I still have days where I will be in a funk for several hours before I realize that it isn't my "voice" for that emotion.  Meaning, the picture of that emotion is not something I would ever feel, not in that way. 

Each emotion carries a little of the attitude and personality of the person it is coming from.  Sometimes I know exactly who it belongs to the minute I feel it, other times I spend days trying to figure out what is going on.  It is not easy, but it is often very miraculous.  When I am in large groups, instead of thinking about "meltdown" I start to think about how to ground myself.  I focus on feeling my own feelings or if I am there with someone I know, trust, and who knows me well, we have a signal.  That signal means I need contact to help me get grounded.  I find my own feelings first.  Then, standing next to a friend and having some sort of physical contact with them allows me to pick up on their feelings more than anyone else, it's sort of like turning up the volume.  After a short time (moments to minutes depending on the environment we are in), I am able to continue and interact.  But without that time, bring on the meltdown!

I guess what I am trying to say is that most people who have a "special needs" label are just more aware of what is unseen than those who are "normal."  I have also found that the more severe the inability to interact with things on the physical plane, the more attuned that person is to the things that are unseen.  I am currently working with a child who is aware of the feeling of not only the people around her, but the earth itself.  She can feel how everything feels and it directly affects her body.  She got sick out of the blue.  She had not been exposed to anyone who had been sick, there was no reason for the immune system to be down (normal sleep, supplements, eating, etc.).  There was found that a small water pipe directly in front of their home had a crack in it.  The day it was fixed, she was well.  Again, no explanation as to why...no change in anything except the pipe being fixed.  I have since tried other things with her.  The day they mowed the lawn, she had a very hard day.  When it was raining, she was ecstatic, and then she got a stomach ache.  As we walked outside she would pause occasionally at different vegetation.  She would walk up to a tree, put her foot at it's base and her hand on it's trunk.  She would stand there for 3 minutes.  Then, off she would walk again.  A bush.  She would back into it, sit on the ground, and rub the leaves back and forth over her face, as though she were letting the bush hug her.

And this is just one girl on one day.  Some people call me crazy.  Some people think I'm "out there."  Some people think the whole thing is a lot of nonsense.  But I have been on a crowded subway in New York City, standing room only.  Felt an emotion that made me feel like I was angry at God, feeling betrayed by God.  I knew I wasn't feeling that way when I got on the subway.  So I borrowed the foot of my friend standing next to me.  With my shoe touching her's, I was able to ground myself.  Then I started looking around the car.  I zeroed in on a woman.  She was smiling at people, even offered me her seat when we made eye contact.  Her eyes smiled, not just her face.  She bore not one sign of feeling the emotions that were overwhelming me.

But I've done this enough to trust what happens.  I sat next to her when the seat opened up and began a conversation with her about the book in her lap.  I waited for some indication to know what to say to her, how I could help her.  We came to the northernmost stop of the A train.  We got off.  She started up the stairs and I asked if she was in a hurry.  She said no.  I asked if I might have a few more minutes to talk with her.  She came back down the few steps and I began saying things that I had felt.

Up to this point in my experiences with people, it is my "disability" that allows me to know when someone needs help.  What comes after this is not me, my "disability," or dumb luck.  It is the Spirit of God working through those who desire to help His children find Him and find their path in life.

I told her that God was real.  That he did hear her.  That the answers she was seeking seemed to not be coming, but that if she would keep her heart open, they would come.  If she would seek for God, He would give her answers in places she did not expect them.  I told her that God knew that what she was going through was very hard, even seemed impossible to face.  He knew her anguish and her struggle to find Him in all of this, and He heard her prayers.

After I said all of that she began to cry and brought to our attention that her eyes were closed when I began to speak to her on the train.  I said I had almost not begun talking with her because I thought maybe she was trying to sleep.  She said, "No.  I was praying."  She told us how she had just then prayed and told God that she really wanted to believe.  She just felt so alone and abandoned by Him and there didn't seem to be any answers coming.  She told Him that if He could just give her some way of knowing that He did at least hear her prayers, that she would try to keep going.  Then she told us about how she had just recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  How it was affecting her life and her fiance and all that they hoped.  She spoke of doubt, discouragement, disillusionment, and fear.  By the time the conversation was over she had faith, hope, possibility, and courage.

This woman was a total stranger to me, someone I have never before nor since laid eyes on.  When we learn to work past the stigma of the weakness and turn to our Creator for direction, He truly does magnify us and make weak things become strong.  That which was my greatest sorrow as a teenager has become my greatest joy as an adult.

I have a gift, not a disability.  It comes from God, not from a defect.  It is part of my mission, not a handicap.  It is a blessing and a privilege to use, not a curse and a burden to carry.

I'm a person who can feel the feelings of those around me.  The physical world is not as real to me as the ethereal world is.  When I meet a person, I couldn't tell you the color of their clothing let alone the color of their skin.  But I could tell you about their eyes, and their heart; their greatness and their sorrows and pains.  And why can I do all of this?  I'm an Aspie and I see the world through God-colored glasses.



*This is a blog about my own life and my own experience.  If you choose to follow anything written here, you do so without any claim on me for problems or complications that may arise.  I am not a doctor.  I have no degree.  I am not a professional.  This is my perspective and experience, that's all.  If you don't think you should do something on here, then don't.*