Autistic Autonomy 

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The Social Learning Theory basically suggests that people learn by watching other people do things. Typically, we observe and imitate others’ behaviors. This is seen with in almost every facet of society, from adults at a bar for the first time to toddlers in the toy kitchen.

But what do we do when there are people who can be in the same room as other people or even be very physically close to them and not notice them at all? What do we do when  there are people who have to be taught how to observe behaviors? Why do we feel like we have to teach them to be like us?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with people on the autism spectrum. A few of them are labeled as “non-verbal” so my definition of communication has been stretched more than I thought possible. I’ve had to learn to understand what that longing look means. It has taken work to figure out why they smile when they hear certain sounds.

It is interesting how much external motivation plays a role in our everyday behaviors. I never realized that until I wanted to motivate a child who didn’t notice me in the room. It left me frustrated at the beginning until I reevaluated the situations. After changing my perception and my focus, I gained an appreciation for their ability to completely escape whenever they want to. I learned to be comfortable when they distanced themselves when they were only sitting a foot away.

In reality, I wasn’t frustrated because the kids didn’t listen. I was frustrated because I wish I could live in a world where no one could influence me to do or be something I didn’t want to do or be.

So many times I have done and said things or NOT done or said things because of the social implications of being rude for not speaking or for speaking.

I’m the educator and I have been all of my post pubescent life. I always learn from my babies. So, I’m taking a page from my newest children. I will do what I want. I will not do what I don’t want, regardless of social implications.

I’m looking for the autistic autonomy.

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It would be easier if…

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Here we are, me and my littlest boo (let’s call her Five because that’s how old she is) sitting in the basement building a puzzle. She was so cute stacking the pieces of her anatomy puzzle. You see that pic at the top? The pieces stack according to how our bodies are made from the inside out. 

About halfway through it, Five decides to start stacking the pieces and trying to put them in the spaces at once. So instead of placing the muscled leg, followed by the organ leg, then the skin covered leg and finally clothed leg one by one she stacked each leg together and tried to put them in the spot. Logically, that makes sense. Realistically, it was a hassle. By the time she’d get it to the spot some of the pieces had moved around so she had to jam them in there. Then move some around so they would finally fit. After she tried that with one leg, she did the next leg the same way and one of the arms. 

Finally, after watching Five struggle, I chimed in “You know, it’d be easier and more efficient if you’d just place one piece in at a time.”

She looked up at me and said “No, it won’t.” and she continued to struggle to do it her way for a few more body parts. 

I watched her struggle. Inwardly, I shook my head and got frustrated that she didn’t take my advice. As I retold my advice, I heard Holy Spirit say “Look at you. That’s how you act sometimes. You have to do things your way even when it’s not working and I’ve told you there’s a better way.”

That was a sobering moment. I can’t even remember everything that went through my mind after He said that. One thing I’ll share is that I had to ask myself why I do that. Five loves me. She trusts me. We have a great time together. And in that moment, I could tell that she knew I was right, but she insisted on struggling through it by finishing it her way. 

Why do I try to skip steps to fast forward to end? I do it my way and it ends up taking longer because my way ignores the fact that there is a process. Five was supposed to be able to see how each piece fit on each other. She thought she had figured out the point of the puzzle and decided to jump ahead and she missed key elements and in turn took longer than she would have if she would’ve just gone step by step.

To get to the finishline, it would be easier if we would just learn to listen to the One who loves us and be faithful to the process. There is something to be gained at each point.

Footprints

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 There was a day back in March when we had a really big snowfall here in Michigan. A couple days later we got rain and sleet and it made a really weird shimmering sheet of ice to cover the snow. The ice was kinda thin. When I stepped on it, it gave way and it had a sound and sensation that reminded me of how it probably feels when someone is ice skating on a frozen lake and they there’s a thin layered spot. 

Anywho, I was walking my girls to school one morning after that rain came. We walked across the lawn because the driveway was pure ice. With every step I’d hear and feel the ice give way as my foot sunk down through the 8 inches of snow beneath it. My oldest kiddo, who’s 8, was just trudging through it ahead of me. My little one, who’s 5, was falling with every step. She had on all her winter gear and she was having fun so I didn’t trip. But eventually, I noticed that she was catching up to me. Just when I noticed she called out to me and said “Claricha, I’m walking in your footprints.” 

I could hear the Holy Spirit talking to me through her words. After I dropped them off, I took a moment to ask the Lord what He was saying. He took me to this scripture

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭6‬ NLT)

He began to explain to me one of the things He meant there. My little one was falling because she was trying to create her own path, but she was ill-equipped. When she looked up, she could see the a safe path was already made for her. All she had to do was walk in it. And that’s what the Lord is saying to us today. Just as He told His disciples that day, He’s the way. He has already paved the way. If we would stop trying to do things in our own strength and look up we will see that the way has already been made for us. All we have to do is look up and walk in the footprints. 

The funny thing is when we came back she started making her own tracks again and falling again. Then I reminded her to just walk in my steps. She got back on track and she was fine. The Lord is saying that to you today. Even if you’ve made a misstep, you have time to get back in line with Him. 

OhCAE?

Kanye, It’s Not Just George Bush

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“In 2011, more than half of the children entering foster care in the U.S. were children of color.
Black or African American children are disproportionately more likely than other children to be reported, investigated, substantiated, and placed in foster care.
Twenty-seven percent of the children in foster care are African American, double the percent of African American children in the population in America.
Children of color, especially black children, and often American Indian children, face significant disparity within the child welfare system. They are more likely to have longer placements in out-of-home care, are less likely to receive comprehensive services, and are less likely to reunify with their families than white children.” (I can’t find the exact source of this quote, but it comes from this site which focuses on defending the rights of children.)

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I had this one professor who always talked about her children. She talked about her four “homegrown” children as well as her four adopted children. From the way she described their relationships, she loved them all the same.
She is white. Some of her adopted children are not. She has a sister who could not conceive so she too opted to adopt. She told us that her mother loves all of their children, but when she introduces them to others she makes sure to differentiate between her biological grandchildren and adopted ones. It doesn’t bother her much, but her sister hates it.
Of all the children they adopted between the two of them, seven, none of them are Black. And according to her this was on purpose.
She said that she would love them just the same as she does the ones she birthed. She would have held them to the same standards as her other children without question. So I had to know why she had not adopted any Black kids because according to the stats, there’s a much larger pool.

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The answer was simple, although she’d love them wholly, her mother wouldn’t.
Families like this can help us to shine the light on a problem we try desperately to ignore. Americans, on the whole, don’t like Black people.

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Do you think I’m being too harsh when I say that?
Well… Let’s take the lesbian couple that made a big splash earlier this year when they sued a sperm bank because they got the wrong sperm. One of the partners was impregnated and they wanted the children to be biologically related to each other and for one to be related to each of the partners. So they contacted the bank so that the other partner could get impregnated with sperm from the same man, but they found out it had been mislabeled and the sperm they had received came from a Black man. According to what I’ve read, they totally love their biracial baby, but they are upset because 1. That’s not what they paid for. 2. Now they have to move because they know their rural town is not going to accept a Black child and they want to be around ppl who can help with things like her hair and culture…
#Pause you’re telling me that this close minded community accepts a lesbian couple, but will have problems with a biracial child?

Ok. Maybe you’re still not convinced.
You do know that the KKK still exists, right?
You do know that White people are more likely to use and possess illegal drugs, but people of color are more likely to be in prison for it?
You do know that White on White, Latino on Latino, any race on that race crime is just prevalent as Black on Black crime, right? But “Black on Black Crime” is the only one that is a term that you actually hear.

If you don’t believe me still just go on Facebook and read the comments on any article or video about race. The trolls will show you that racism is alive and thriving and that Black people are often the target.

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Here’s an entire article dedicated to showing how White SUSPECTS are treated better by media than Black VICTIMS.
We have to stop denying the existence of the prevalence of negative thoughts about Black people. Our communities are suffering. Our country is suffering. Our children are suffering. Shine the light on this issue so that we can deal with it. Too many babies have been born into families that courts deem unfit for raising them. Let’s give them a fighting chance and adopt them. Give them a home. You’ve seen the horrifying statistics and when these kids age out of the system, the stats say that things only get worse for them. Be the change. Share the love. Adopt a child.

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Just Jump

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In August, 2013, I was taking a much needed vacation. Everyone had left the hotel and I stayed back just for some alone time. That day, I watched a little girl jump from the side of the pool into her mother’s arms. After a couple tries, her little sister did it too.

I thought that was pretty cool because they both tried something new and they were successful.

In that moment, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Don’t you wonder who’s waiting for you to jump in and swim? I’m waiting to catch you.”

And I imagine that that is not just for me. If you know The Lord has asked you to do something, even if it seems crazy, dive in. He won’t let you drown and you’ll look back and see others who are willing to jump because of you.

People are waiting for someone to be brave enough to do something extreme. Someone has to be first. Why not you? Be willing to step out on faith. I know it’s scary. I know the unknown can be daunting, but you have to try. When you let fear drive your decisions instead of faith you are preventing others’ breakthrough as well.

Take a lesson from the little girl in the pool. Just jump. You don’t have to trust your ability to jump. You just have to trust that your Daddy is going to catch you. Your little sister is watching and getting strength from seeing you.

So just jump. OhCAE?!

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