All posts by bearfamily4

About bearfamily4

"Goldi" is my autistic daughter. She gets her nickname from the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Not only does she have golden hair but with it her autism begs for things to be just right. This is her way.

A Story to Keep Part 2 : The glory of Mud

In exactly six days, spring arrives. Currently the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is a drip drip dripping of the snow that fell yesterday. The days are getting lighter. So spring- it’s calling. That means robins, warm weather, tulips, crocuses, and of course – MUD!

Mud. It’s brown. It’s wet and it’s glorious! Youth make mud cakes and mud pies. It’s squishy and dirty. Yes, at times, it can look a little like animal doo doo. But it can also look a little like chocolate cake batter.

Mud. It’s glorious! It’s what involved in what happened next in the story of the blind man. Jesus played with mud!

Once upon a time, when we was walking along the road with his friends, He saw a blind man. He told his friends that this man was blind so that he could show God’s glory. He said he was here as the world’s light and that while it is day – he needed to do good work! Then, he made mud.

He spat into the dust and made mud. Then, he put it on the blind man’s eyes. ( more like smeared it ) and then he said: “Go wash”.

The blind mind didn’t say anything. He couldn’t see Jesus But surely he could hear him. It is my opinion that when one or more of our senses is taken away, the others become stronger. So, I think that even if Jesus stood a few feet away, that blind man could hear him loud and clear. He heard him say “I am the light of the world. He heard him say “This man was born blind so that he could show the glory of God. I have work to do while it is still day.”

There he stands with mud on his eyes. He probably saw more darkness than before. God says to him, “Now, go and wash.”

The blind man was told to go to the Pool of Siloam. It had some clean “purifying” water in it. It was the center of Jerusalem. After playing with mud, I washed too. In the bathtub with soap! The water turned brown after washing off the mud. My skin was all clean and smooth and I could touch things again because I was clean.

I am not sure the Pool of Siloam was a bathtub. More like a pool of water in a rock. I don’t know why the water was purified. But like your mother tells you to wash up before dinner, Jesus told this blind man to go wash!

And he did. Then, e came right back. He came back to the place where he stood blind. When he was blind, he was probably begging because he had been reduced to nothing but a beggar. But this time, he could see!

I wonder what he was thinking when he first could see. The light must have been overpowering after having seen darkness for so long. The colors, the people, the whole wide world was really there before his eyes. He now had all five senses!

Wait a minute! Wait a minute? Wasn’t this the guy that was sitting and begging? ” asked one.

“Nah! he looks like him. But no.” said another.

“No, it IS him.”

“Hey! Aren’t you that blind man? You used to beg? ” Someone asks him.

“Yes, I am that man.” the ONCE blind man said.

“What’s happened to you? How come your eyes are open? How come you see? ” another asks. His mouth is probably hanging open.

“Well, the man named Jesus made mud and anointed may eyes with mud. “

Then they all stand and wonder- Annointed? That’s for really holy people like the priests. That’s for people that belong to God. And certainly that wouldn’t do for something like Mud?

But that is the word the blind man uses. He doesn’t just say Jesus rubbed mud on his eyes. He says anointed. It’s like he doesn’t see mud on his eyes as being a ridiculous thing. He sees the mud that Jesus put on his eyes as something glorious. Like he was touching him with mud and it was glorious because Jesus was getting him ready for something glorious!

“He told me to go and wash. I went and washed. Now, I can see!” He shouts. He jumps three feet in the air and kicks his feet together. He takes someone near by the hand and does a little dance.

And this all came from mud. Glorious mud. Because Jesus was playing with it. And something glorious came from it. Oh glorious mud!


A Story I keep- Once upon a time – Part One

It starts with Once upon a time. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s a true story. I don’t need to wish that a story like this really happened. It did. On a certain day, in a certain place, in a time life of this world, it happened. It’s a story I keep for many reasons.

Once upon a time, a man named Jesus was walking along with his friends. It was a hot sunny day. There was dust flying everywhere with each step taken. They walk at a good pace but not too fast because as they walked along, they could see everything around them.

” Boy that pot she’s carrying must be heavy.” said someone.

“Oh! Look! He’s got a new donkey! Looks like a sturdy one!” said another.

“I smell homemade pita!” said another, “When’s lunch?”

Jesus doesn’t say anything. All of the sudden, they see a certain blind man.

“Oh! I know him! That’s Bart.” said one.

“No! HIs name is Sam!” said another.

“You are both wrong! His name is Toby.”

“Yes, Toby! Poor old Toby. Just look at him. He was born blind. Now he’s just a raggedy old beggar. “

“Jesus, do you know why Toby was born blind?”

I don’t know who asked the question. But I have the same wondering question. Why was our daughter born with autism? Why are people born with no limbs? Why are people born deaf? Why did anyone have to suffer cancer and die? Why? It is a wondering over a question that sometimes, we don’t ever find an answer for, but we ask it anyway.

Sometimes, I think I know it all. Just like Jesus’s friends.

“Oh! I know. Was it because he sinned or maybe was it because his parents sinned?”

Sin. That is the ultimate answer. There is sin in the world. That’s why. If it is a question that pierces your gut- then the answer to the Why is sin. No matter how different the circumstance, when it comes to those awful things that make us ask and ask and ask until we are blue, the only answer I can come up with is – sin.

“Right Jesus? Sin. We just need to remember there is sin in this world.” they say.

I forget. We are not writing the story. God is. And it is all about Jesus. So, he doesn’t nod his head or praise them for being so smart. He answers first with: “No!”

“Huh? What do you mean: “No!” You can’t tell me I am not right. There is sin all over the world. ” says one.

Jesus said, “No, it’s not because the man nor his parents sinned. It was so that God could show his glory in this man. ”

Jesus’s friends stopped in their tracks. They couldn’t hear a clip clop of a donkey or the whistle of a young man hammering away at some carpentry project. All they could hear is Jesus’s words: It was so God could show His glory! ”

Do you know what glory is? You could wonder about that word for the rest of your life. Our brains think of great things. Things we let our mouths hang open over or look at with wide eyes. But that’s not the glory that Jesus was talking about.

Put God in front of glory and you have something bigger than the Grand Canyon. More than a whale jumping out of the ocean. More wonderful than seeing the Northern Lights. Even the most grandiose thing in the world that is there for us to see- God’s glory is even better. You just can’t pin down glory when it comes to God. It is inexpressibly more than we can imagine.

If I had dwelled on finding answers to why our daughter had autism, I would still be on a life long research project. What is genetics? Was it the fact that she was born two weeks early? Was it because my placenta was unhealthy? Did I not eat enough fruits and vegetables? Did I not follow the Manuel? Was it the results of some vaccination?And if I did find all the answers to why, what am I supposed to do with all of that information now? Sometimes knowing the answers only bring you to more questions.

For over 15 years, God saw to it that He displayed His glory and still does. Just like He always does in any other life.

When asked what color is your jacket, our daughter said “Turquoise” . Turquoise was one of her list of 20 vocabulary words at age 3. God displayed His glory. Fast forward a few more years, and she is writing her version of Princess and the Pea to be used for a neighborhood play. God displayed his glory. Fast forward some more years, and she’s making pictures that look like they could be used for a children’s book, an art gallery, or some animation. God displays His glory.

To see God’s glory that’s why. That’s why for all of the why’s of life. At least the ones that sting us. That’s why we have to keep our eyes open all the while on this journey. Because if we are too busy looking for Venus lining up with Jupiter or a waiting for a flower to bloom before our eyes, we might miss other unexpected things that God does “just for fun” all in the realm of displaying of His glory.

Now, what comes next in the story is not so glorious. It involved mud. But even mud is glorious.

A Misfit, A Minor, A minute, A Manger

On Christmas Eve, the wind howled. The snowfall was fast and furious. Everything had been cancelled from flights to Christmas Eve Church Services.

I heard this voice coming from long ago. I am ashamed to say it wasn’t a bible verse or from a dear long gone grandparent. It was the voice of Santa:

“I am sorry folks, everything’s been cancelled. There is no way I can get my sleigh off the ground.”

Somehow my mind drifted into that silly sentimental Christmas Special. Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer, is made fun of and labeled a misfit. Santa realizes he actually needs him. You know the song: “Rudolph with your nose so bright. Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight? His red nose that glowed, the thing that made him the misfit, was what made him the hero in the end. Christmas, at least in the childlike secular sense, happened.

I looked out the kitchen window to watch the blizzard perform. The manger scene glowed under the layer of snow that trimmed the top. I could see the baby Jesus and Mary. But Joseph wasn’t lit up. He was nearly buried in snow. Whether you are reading Matthew or Luke, Joseph doesn’t seem to be on the scene much at all. After he and Mary find Jesus in the temple talking to all the other smart men, his name isn’t found. He seems minor compared to Mary in the grand scheme of things. But he married Mary, the mother of Jesus. He took care of both of them. He provided for them. The young boy Jesus had a father and a mother who raised him. God chose him to be Jesus’s earthly father. Something major accomplished through a minor character.

O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. I was glad for the Christmas music to accompany the snowfall. I don’t really know much about Bethlehem except that the city to most, seemed to have been so minor. There is a major city within walking distance. It’s name was Jerusalem. it still is. Around it was a Great Wall. A wall to protect the city so that it could thrive. In the book of Nehemiah, we are told that the wall was in need of repair. So many men pitched in. Malchijah was one of them. You will find him in Nehemiah 3 verse 14. This is what it says: Malchijah the son of Rehab, ruler of the district Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors and its bars. Malchijah repaired the smelly, disgusting, Dung Gate. Not the Tower of Ovens, not the Fountain Gate, not any majestic part of the wall. He repaired the Dung Gate. Because he did, the wall was strong and the city was strong! Jerusalem was the city where Jesus preached and taught. It was the city where Jesus died. Did Malchijah wonder if what he did would be important? Who knows? But if he hadn’t done what he did, the wall of Jerusalem would not have been as strong. The wall is strongest if all it’s parts are strong. If Jerusalem had fallen, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, a city so much smaller than Jerusalem, and walking distance from it, would have certainly fallen too. Two cities liked together for an important reason- all pointing to Jesus. Something so minute can be so important!

After wind, snow, and a streamed candlelight service, all there was to do was sleep It wasn’t going to be a silent night. We would continue to hear the wind but we trusted the morning would come and we would celebrate. Each Christmas we look for him. We look for him not in a display of a palace. We look for him in a creche. We find him not in a crib, but in a manger. The angels announced the Savior’s arrival with song. Shepherds saw and heard them and ran to see him. What did they find? A baby in a MANGER. A weak and helpless baby in an animal feeding trough. No room in the inn but there was a manger. A baby who would was really a King was sleeping in a manger. This was the Savior of the world. The Shepherd minors came to see someone so major though he was born in a manger. And in faith, they rejoiced.

The misfit, the minor, the minute, and most importantly the manger are part of my Christmas. The weak and humble are strong. Amazing somethings through something unexpected. May we all be on the look out for the misfit, the minor, and the minute experiences. There is where we find these miracles and purposes far behind our imagination and understanding.

A sign

“I really want to meet someone who is deaf. I want to practice my sign language.”

Goldi shared this one afternoon. We had been watching sign language videos and enjoying the art.

“Good night,” Goldi signs at 9 pm. She brings her fingers to her lips and then bringing them down to the palm of her hand. Then she stretches her arm out and lays one hand over the other. It’s like the sun has set over the horizon. I sign back and close her bedroom door.

Signing is an art. It’s an amazing finger dance. Some do it so quickly. Some do it so gracefully. Most who are deaf do it just as easily as they do breathing, Because they have to breath in order to stay alive.

In the morning, Goldie lifts her fingers to her lips again and then brings them down against the palm of her other hand. Then she takes her arm and stretches it across her and raises her hand up over her other arm. It’s like the sun is rising up over the horizon.

“Good morning,” I sign back to her, “What would you like for breakfast?”

Goldi brushes two fingers up and down and against two sides of her hand. Kind of like buttering two sides of a slice of toast.

She makes her own breakfast and for awhile, except for the clinks of dishes or the pop of the toast, there is nothing but quiet in the new of the day. Yet, we have been talking the whole time.

Neither of us is hard of hearing. ( At least one of us isn’t yet) Neither of us is fluent in sign language. But deep inside of both of us, there was a desire to know another way of expressing a message. We know how to talk and write. We know how to sing and play an instrument. But now we know how to dance with our fingers. And sometimes it’s the only thing we want to do when it comes to talking.

Sometimes there is a special reason for this finger dance. Sometimes, Goldi is upset and doesn’t want to voice anything. Sometimes wants to share this “secret language” with only one. Sometimes it is just so fun to finger dance while hearing someone else talk or read or sing a song.

“What is the first thing you might say when you meet someone who is deaf?” I ask.

Goldi looks away as she often does when she is thinking. There could be a hundred and one thoughts running around in her mind. What would she say to someone who is only able to say anything with their hands. What if she made a mistake What if she said “You are smelly instead of You are sweet.” What if they said something back to Goldie and went so fast, she couldn’t understand. There would be a different kind of silence that may be difficult to break.

“Well, ” Goldie finally says “How about this-”

She takes one hand and places it palm up in front of her. Then she takes the other hand palm down and slides it across her other hand. Then she brings her two index fingers together. Then she points one finger out.

“Of course! That’s just right! I bet they will say “nice to meet you too! And I bet you’ll make a new friend.”

Goldi does the sign for friend. It looks like two fingers are hugging each other.

I nod my fisted right hand. ( That means Yes)

“So when do you think I will make a friend who is deaf?” she asks

I make a circle using my index finger and thumb ( kind of like the ok sign) and touch it to my chin. Then I cross both fingers on each hand and wave them.

“What does that mean?” Goldie asks.

“Soon, I hope.” I answer.

Flower in the crack

I saw it and it made me jump. Just like the name of the flower. It certainly earned its name this time. When I watered the flowers in the flower boxes for the first time, there it was. It wasn’t planted there. It just jumped up out of the crack in the patio. It was a miracle.

Miracles may seem few and far between when it comes to the journey of autism or for any day of life for that matter. Or are they? If I think carefully, even the smallest of things can in fact be miracles. It’s a miracle that Goldi is now surpassing me in height considering she was born two weeks early which may have contributed to her development and readiness for life in this mixed up world. It is a miracle that she is eating what is on her plate rather than just a menu of just five foods. It’s a miracle that even though she is shy around a new face or even a familiar one, she read an entire poem in front of a whole group of kids. It is a miracle that she petted a Golden Retriever once when she always watched her from afar because she was afraid. It was a miracle that she went to sleep all on her own one night, after I simply said :”Good night”. A miracle that after speaking in tongues for so long, she is speaking in the same language I am and reading and writing in it too.

I won’t blabber on and on about miracles. Because if everything that has happened on this journey was a miracle, then it wouldn’t be so miraculous. What’s more, my life is miraculous, but isn’t yours too?

A miracle is something supernatural. Something that doesn’t follow the laws of nature or science or whatever law that has been written that says that if it doesn’t make sense it’s either nonsense or a miracle.

It certainly didn’t make sense that the flower jumped up from the crack. I didn’t plant it. I didn’t water it. It’s not even a weed. It’ a genuine flower! What’s more, it’s only gotten bigger.

Goldi is in a point of transition now. Next year, she will be in high school. It’s a miracle we have come all this way. Maybe you too are saying the same thing, in the midst of your transition. With them, come things we hope for, things we expect, and things we fear may happen. I have no idea what will jump up in the future.

“Mom! Do you want me to pick and put it back where it belongs?” my son asked when he noticed it.

“No! It should be right where it is.” I answer. “It’s a miracle.”

Someone’s Story

So many have autism. And so many times, the story is full of challenge, hopelessness, bitterness, and just plain despair. They say that if you have met someone with autism that you have just met someone with autism. It’s not as if you’ve met one you’ve met them all! Each one has a different story.

Maggie was first grader. She was lively and energetic. She cried as though the world was caving in when she lost her hat. She couldn’t write her name without it looking like chicken scratch. Her belly laugh bounced off the walls right in the middle of a spelling test. She could read way past the first grade Little Bear books.

But one day, she was Goldilocks in our first grade play. We performed it for the second grade. One of the second grade girl’s mother had just died. The girl laughed every time ‘Goldilocks” came on the stage. At the end of the play, Maggie took a bow and everyone applauded loudly. Maggie, the one who made the girl laugh, was someone with autism.

Henry could yell, laugh, scream, and groan. He had to be watched like a hawk or he might run away or grab something he shouldn’t. There was never a word that came from his mouth. One day, a caretaker was reading to him. . He let out a few grunts and giggles. Did he understand what he heard? The caretaker had no idea. Maybe just the sound of her voice was enough. When the story finished, Henry put his hands on his caretaker’s hands. He groaned. He let out a YIPE! “YAH!”

“What is it Henry? What are you trying to tell me? ” asked the caretaker.

“YAH! WA!” Henry said. .

“YAH! WAH!” Henry said.

At that moment, his caretaker knew. Henry wanted what all children who have just heard a story that they really liked want and was saying what they would say- “Read it again!”

I wish I knew to this day what story she had been reading. I wondered if I would say ‘read it again’ just like Henry did. Henry is someone who has autism.

She used too speak in tongues and still does sometimes. She’d rather have the wind comb her hair than a hairbrush. She cares little about matching her clothes and looks the other way or digs her heels into the floor when she sees someone she knows. To this day, she cannot add 2 plus two in her head. She has a handful of friends and seems to “live” in story land sometimes.

One day, she was eating lunch in the cafeteria. Her friends began to joke.

“Don’t you think I look like Jesus?” a friend asked.

She should a picture that she had drawn. She had written her name at the top, then crossed her name out and put ‘Jesus’.

“I don’t!” one girl shouted.

Later in class, the girl who shouted “No”! wrote an email.

If you really want to know who Jesus is. Then just ask me. I will tell you. Please don’t make fun of Jesus.

That girl’s name was Goldi. She is someone with autism.

I’ve learned it easy to believe that Maggie, Henry, Lilly, Goldi or any other someone with autism is not just someone with autism but a great someone– because they have autism.

And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 

Because of Autism

At age 3, we waited several months to have her evaluate and spent a great deal of money to know the results. At age 4, she went to preschool and began speech and occupational therapy. At age 6, she started kindergarten and worked with an autistic teacher. Why? Because of autism.

We never drove to the carwash with her in the car, and still don’t. We cut every tag off her clothes. It took years for her to finally eat a hamburger instead of just the bun. We went through a year or two of poor sleeping habits. She still looks away in the distance when meeting someone new and even when not. Why? Because of autism.

She thrives on routine and appreciates knowing ahead of time of any changes. She would rather have the wind comb her hair than a hairbrush. She flaps her hands when she is nervous or excited. She has a few friends not many. Why? Because of autism.

Because of autism, all of this and more are challenging. We live these days knowing that for the rest of our autistic daughter’s life, there will be trials not common to the typical person. Why? Because of autism.

‘Because’ is a word we use a lot. “Because I said so, because I am busy, because it’s raining, or just because. That’s it. No other word to use. Because there is no other word to use when you simply don’t know why. And there are times we ask ourselves, Why autism? The answer seems to always be because – period.

But there’s another “Because of autism,”. It makes us smile. It is exciting. It’s a ‘because” that removes the period and puts the ellipsis. Because……..

She sees the needle in a haystack and remembers things like holding the 2 thousand dollar check when talking into the bank and therefore didn’t loose it. She remembers the last name of the very nice girl that we met at church She sees the living room transformed from winter decor into spring even with subtle changes. Why? Because of autism.

She offers someone her bag of her favorite potato chips at lunch even though she was looking forward to eating them herself. She draws characters with eyes that say ‘Hello! It’s so nice to meet you’ and we want to know about them. She forgives and forgets in a wink if someone has wronged her. She knows the name of every character of every story that she has ever known. Why? Because of autism.

She can let out the biggest belly laugh and light up the room. She can be excited about seeing the mallard duck arrive every spring. She changes the bath tub in her doll house into a bed for a doll, or a storybook picture page into a place where tiny doll figures play. Why? Because of autism.

Because of autism, there is both hindrance and hope. Why couldn’t we just have the latter? Because- period.

You have been able to do that because God’s Holy Spirit is in you. He is more powerful than the spirit that belongs to this world. 1 John 4:4 Easy English Bible Version

Jet Pack Man

Once when the sun was either shining on the white snow, or the green grass, Goldi and her cousin were sketching. Goldi made long strokes back and forth. While her cousin made quick ones all around. As I watched, I was reminded of those artists in the courtyards of some European city who whip up a masterpiece in moments for touristy passerby’s.

This story is conjured up mostly from my imagination, using a character from someone else’s. That someone else was Goldi’s cousin. It has the heart of the two people, Goldi, and her cousin, that gave life to this character invented in minutes. This is the story of when Jet Pack Man was invented.

“Who is that?” says Goldi with her eyes popping.

“Jet Pack Man!” Her bearded cousin flicks the penciled sketch.

Goldi rubs her hand across the paper and then hands it back.

“Who is that?”

“Well, you see Jet Pack Man moved too slowly. His mother told him he needed to get to school on time. So he got himself a special backpack. ”

“Well, school starts at 7:35. ” informs Goldi.

Her cousin threads his fingers through his thick , long, brown bangs.”Well, he wasn’t getting there until 7:52. So, his mom got him this special backpack. ”


“Why? You mean why is it special?”

“Yeah.” Goldi says looking closely at the picture.

“Well, it can carry all kind of things like books, pencils, erasers, …”

“What about fidgets and a water bottle? Goldi interrupts.

“Oh yeah, for sure. But here’s the thing- ” He raised his pointer finger. His bushy eyebrows go up too.

“What?” Goldi’s eyes pop again and even sparkle a little.

“Jet Pack Man can fly!”

“He can?”

“Oh yeah! See here, there is this strap on the end of his backpack. All he has to do is pull it and he just takes off like a real jet. And it makes it a whole lot easier to carry all his stuff to school!”

Goldi puts her hands to her cheeks and squeezes them together. Then she flaps her hands a little. She is excited but a little scared at the thought.

“That would be too loud.”

“What? Nah! It’s not loud. It’s fun. He can fly up to the clouds and see all kinds of other kids dragging their feet carrying their heavy backpacks to school. He gets to fly to school. And his mom is happy because he gets to school on time. “

“What grade is he in?”Goldi is interested in more of the story.

He taps his bearded chin with several fingers.

He looks at her trying to remember what grade Goldi is in.

“Uh maybe 6th grade?”

“Hey! I am in 6th grade! Goldi jumps up and down. “But I don’t think he goes to my school. ”

“Well, maybe you haven’t seen him on the ground. But you can look up in the sky to see him. ”

He smiles so big his eyes squint.

Goldi stares into the distance. Her faces matches her cousins.

“Wait. What color is his backpack?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe blue or red.

“Or both?” Goldi’s voice goes up.

“Yeah both! Probably both.”

“Hey! I think I have seen his backpack before!” Goldi jumps up and down again.

“Really?” Her cousin’s voice goes up too.

“Yeah! It was both red and blue.”

“Did you see him?” He is on the edge of his seat as if Goldi had possibly seen Superman or something.

“No, I didn’t. ” Goldi’s voice goes down a bit.

“Well, you still might. You just have to look up in the sky. “

“I don’t think I’m going to see him. I am scared anyway. ” Goldi puts her head down and talks in a soft tone.

“Don’t be scared. Jet Pack Man is a really nice guy.” Her cousin shows his big wide smile again.

“Well, he is in 6th grade just like me.” Goldi says flapping her hands.

“Yep! That’s right. And you are not scary. ”

“No, I’m not scary!” Goldi says laughing.

“Here keep it. ” He hands the picture back to her. “Then you can always remember what he looks like. Just remember he really is a nice guy.”

Goldi takes it and puts it against her chest.

“Okay, thanks.” She smiles.


Goldi sketches on a new piece of paper. Her cousin continues on a fresh page too.

A new character was invented, and a simple story to match. One that may live a long time in one’s mind and heart. We don’t know where that sketch is right now. We keep looking. We’ve looked in many places where drawing after drawing is kept. Maybe we should look up in the sky. Maybe…

Thanks Jet Pack Man. For feeding the imagination with a story.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. Since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

Autistic Alphabet

An alphabet of unexpected words to express things about the world of autism.

A is for amazing. There are many autistic people that have amazing gifts and talents. Do you know that there is a guy out there in the world who is autistic who knows the name of thousand stars? And I am sure that you know there WAS autistic person out there that provided evidence for the automatic theory. And there are so many other amazing autistic people out there.

B is for because. Because your child has autism you think before you act. Because you went ahead and did something you thought at first you would not do, your child is better for experience.

C is for communicate. Did you know that there are special ways to get nonverbal autistic people to communicate? Have you seen those tablets that when you press a button, certain words are voiced? Have you ever sung a song so many times or read a story so many times that all of the sudden, they are singing it or saying words from the story too?

D is for Dream. Dream about all the possibilities. Even if they may seem impossible. For you never know . One day, they may be possible. And even if your dreams never come true, the act of dreaming might change your probably nots to maybes. Maybes can keep you going on those dreary days. And when there a lot of maybes, sometimes, there is a dream come true.

E is for everyone. Everyone will at some point in their life, come to meet someone with autism. We are so lucky!

F is for Friend. Everyone needs a friend. Including and especially those with autism. A friend who enjoys their autistic friend, who cares about them, and respects them. And a friend who gets something back from their autistic friend and knows it and wants more of it.

G is for GO! GO on with life. Don’t stop in misery and doubt and fear. Go with your autistic child. and see and do. Go as far as your courage and their courage will take them for the moment. Even if you don’t go past your front door, it is still somewhere. And it is the first step to somewhere else.

H is for Hero. Anyone with autism is a hero. Because they have been given a special purpose in this world that no one else has. It is a battle to fight and even conquer. Because the One who made them is the ultimate hero and He is fighting the battle with them and has already won.

I is for Impossible. Sometimes it is impossible for the autistic person to stop moving or making noise. It is impossible for them to drive through the car wash without going ballistic. It is impossible to get them to eat a spinach leaf. But in whatever seems totally impossible – what may never be- is something else-more possible and even better.

J is for Jump. Yeah, a lot of them jump. The one I know jumps because she is excited. There are all kinds of reasons to be excited. Our girl jumps when she learns that the next day is Christmas Day but she also jumps when she knows that we have marshmallows to put on the hot chocolate or that the parakeet was swinging on his new perch. Big things or small things. There are reasons to jump!

K is for kid. The kid in us will always be with us whether we like it or not. That kid in us stays there for an important reason. If you are like me, I see that kid all too well, when it comes to someone with autism. Especially persons under the age of 18. And we often wish that kid away so that the grown up can hurry up and arrive. Yet, it is the kid, with the energy, youth, imagination, and freshness that makes life feel like a new day over and over again.

L is for learn. Learning is for life. Don’t think that after all these years of raising a child with autism or knowing a child with autism that you have learned all there is to learn. There is more to learn and the teacher isn’t necessarily the more “normal” one – that is you the non autistic one. The learning goes both ways. And so does the teaching.

M is for miracle. They happen each day. The Divine Hand on a day that seems so stormy and black. The Divine hand on the day that seems so ho hum. The Divine Hand on the day that is sunshine and blue sky. On any given day, they happen. Notice them. They happen and will happen in life. Autism does not chase miracles away. They are for that day only and if you don’t notice one, your vision will be blurred to see any others that are sure to happen.

N is for Normal. Normal is totally overrated. It is the label that means most everyone or fitting the standard. “Everything looks normal,” said the doctor when listening to her heart. “Just another normal day – get up, eat, get dressed, go to school, eat dinner, go to bed. Blah Blah in between. When someone is labeled the opposite of normal, don’t think of it as being the death sentence of life because the standard isn’t being met, and that someone is not included in the everybody part- think of it as the path to NEW!

O is for Outside. On the outside, it may look like autism. They might flap. They might pace. They don’t look at you in the eye. They withdrawal. They don’t color in the lines. They may not even comb their hair. But.. that’s just the outside. The outside is NO indication of the treasures hidden inside.

P is for person. Horton knew for sure. We all need to realize and remember what he knew all along. Through thick and thin, he stood strong. A person is a person no matter how small – he said. In other words in the autistic world, a person is a person, no matter how autistic.

Q is for quiet. There are all different kinds of quiet when raising someone with autism. There is at the finally falling asleep kind of quiet. There is the stop yelling and just breathing quiet. There is the warm breeze kissing your face kind of quiet. No matter, quiet is so refreshing.

R is for Remember. Sometimes, yesterday and five minutes ago seem so far away. You wonder if what really happened even did. Maybe it’s not for you to remember. Of course there are things we DO remember. Do you remember when your child was first diagnosed with autism? Do you remember when your child laughed or smiled? Do you remember when you took your child to a public place and something embarrassing or even horrifying happened? Do you remember when you held your child after a meltdown and you felt that they needed your arms around them just by the way they didn’t break loose from your arms? Those are the things to remember!

S- is for sun. Sometimes, it plays hide and seek in the clouds. Sometimes it is hidden by the clouds. Sometimes it is so strong that you wish maybe a cloud or too would appear. No matter, the sun always shines somewhere. When it isn’t shining, look for the sunshine shining in your autistic child. It does shine there somedays just like the sun shines in the sky some days. It could be as simple as a laugh, a smile, or even crying sweet tears. It could be a song they hummed or the time they take your hand and hold it.

T is for time. There will be a time for messy, loud, sadness, and horribleness. There will be a time for neat, soft, happy, and wonderful. Maybe in raising an autistic child, time can only be described as one or the other. But either time, there is a time for it. And it happened for a good reason. So it must have been a good use of time.

U is for understand. We must understand one thing and that one thing is this: You will not understanding everything about autism. There will always be something that will be a mystery.

V is for Voice. They have one and so do you. You might feel you have to be the voice for your autistic child. But they have a voice too. I don’t necessarily mean a loud, articulate one. Maybe it is expressed another way. It could be a smile, a grunt, a moan, a song. We have to make sure they are free to voice a message that needs to be said. If not, there is only silence.

W is for wish. I wish that there was no autism. Or do I really wish this? If our child did not have autism. She would not be who she is. Who she is – zealous, compassionate, creative, energetic, innocent, bright, friendly, – Who she isn’t – normal, logical, developmentally equivalent to her age, an orator, mathematician, typical, – So what I do wish is for our daughter to wish what we wish for- happiness in what could be!

X is for Xenium. I didn’t know this word existed. Maybe you didn’t either. How many words do you know that start with X? I went to the X page in the dictionary. Well, this one means to offer a gift to a stranger. Intriguing to me. Because knowing many autistic children, and raising an autistic child, I have come to see that they offer many gifts to total strangers. And sometimes, they don’t come in a. box and they are given when you least expect it. But they are offered no strings attached. All we have to do is receive them.

Y is for yes. When your child is diagnosed with Autism there are a lot of “no’s”. No, there is no cure. No, there is no one answer for what is the cause. No, You can’t solve all the problems that are going to come along. And for some, it gets even worse, No, your child will never graduate, drive a car, and maybe even talk. No, your child will never live independently. Are there any Yeses in this world of Nos? Why Yes! Yes, your child is a living, breathing, human being with a purpose for being in this world. Yes, they have unique talent that was given to them. Something only they can do. Yes, you are going to see blessings along the hard, rugged, journey. Yes, they are yours and yours to love and yes, in some ways, they are going to love you back. If you think pause and think, there may be more YESES than Nos.

Z is for zealous. I can’t think of any autistic person that I know of that lacks this trait. They jump, flap, spin, sing, shout, cry out, stomp, dance, run, laugh, – need I list more? When I see anyone whom I know is autistic, do any of those things- I think to myself, there is someone who is bound and determine to say “I’m alive!”

Where will she be?

Where will she be? 

When Goldi and her brother were little, and it was too cold or wet outside to play, the two of them would play hide and seek. I was sometimes a little hesitant to let them have free reign of the house. I wasn’t sure what the house would look like in the aftermath of choosing to race around wherever to find the ideal spot to become “invisible”.  Nonetheless, the kids played and played, and the time passed away more happily erasing the complaints of boredom. 

Goldi chose to hide behind doors or under bedspreads. Her brother chose to hide in the cupboard or once inside the dryer! It took a lot of time to finally find her brother. It didn’t take much time to find Goldi. 

Fast forward 10 or so years, and it sort of seems like hide and seek again. If we were to go out looking for Goldi’s brother in the adult world of life, we might find him on a community basketball team and working as a CPA in a reputable accounting firm or maybe as a sports announcer on a major network, or maybe running for Congress. The boy has straight A’s, he’s a jock, and the BMOC.  (Big Man on Campus) The possibilities are endless for him. Maybe he’ll end up selling dryers?  Goldi will graduate most probably with a certificate of completion. She sings in the choir and draws constantly between school and sleep. She has a small circle of friends who will one day wander off into where they will be. So, Goldi in the adult world of life, where would we find her? Will it be in one predictable place because that is the only place a girl like Goldi could be? 

Recently at an IEP, which is the yearly plan for where kids with special needs will be, her goals were discussed. All were related to schoolwork, responsible habits, and being social. All fine and good. But then the matter of her future came up. Her future after she graduated from high school. What were the possibilities? Where would she be? Someone suggested “working in a coffee shop.” 

 Goldi does know how to make coffee. She made some for her dad recently and he said: 

“This is the best cup of coffee I ever had!” 

I couldn’t make coffee if my life depended on it. The last time I made a cup, it was for my grandmother, now years in heaven.  It was too strong, and it spilled over the top. My grandmother drank it anyway, but I am sure she had indigestion afterward. Goldi puts the filter in, measures, scoops, and pours in the right amount of water. A few minutes later, presto! Success! Is working in a coffee shop where she will be? 

I looked into the fuzzy future.  I saw her dressed in a pink cap and apron. She is moving fast but carefully. There is a line of customers wanting their morning fix. She is doing what she has learned to do and can do in her sleep. Filter, coffee beans, water, perk, repeat twenty thousand times. Except maybe a little different, they may need sugar, cream, or frothy or hazelnut or frappe or whatever coffee snobs know and ask for. 

“A coffee shop?” I ponder and sigh. 

“Yes, she is totally employable in a setting like that,” said a staff person. 

That is good that she is employable. But I didn’t expect her being employed in a coffee shop. I find myself dreaming bigger dreams than that. I see her as an artist illustrating children’s stories and writing them too. I see her making cartoon animations. I see her singing in a choir. I see her writing her own music. I see her sharing arts with others with special needs more severe than her own. I see her shining Christ’s light in a weary, sick, world. A coffee shop? I can’t see that in my dreams. But I do have to be realistic. 

“That could be,” I say, “I mean she can make coffee better than I can. And she will earn money. And she will socialize with customers.  “ 

I was still unsettled with that thought. I just wasn’t sure that’s where she will be. 

I can’t say that I am strongly confident of a glorious future.  I can’t even say for sure, that Goldi won’t work in a coffee shop. Being realistic is probably the better way to play this game of hide and seek. This is where she can easily be. It teaches her about life. The job security is endless when it comes to coffee. No doubt she’ll see some that really are satisfied working at a coffee shop. Maybe she would be too? 

But why am I dreaming of something else? Where else could she be? What could she be doing where she feels God smiling at her using the gifts He gave her? Where could she be where she feels like the person God made her to be? If you asked Goldi, she  will tell you where she might be. They range from being a singer, to children’s illustrator, to cartoon animator, to being in plays or musicals, to being an author, to raising parakeets, and this might change tomorrow.   But never, have I ever heard her say “When I grow up, I want to work in a coffee shop.” Nor do I want to hear her say “Okay, I guess I should just work in a coffee shop,” simply because she has been told there is nothing else for her 

Because unlike some who might dream of such an opportunity, she doesn’t. She dreams of something else. And as far as we are concerned, we want her to keep dreaming of possibilities. For all of us have been created on purpose and for a purpose, and with God, all things are possible. Maybe even one of those BIG dreams. 

“Whatever Goldi does,” I finally say, “Whether working in a coffee shop, or making a dream come true, Goldi will not just be one of the employed and contribute to her community.  She will enrich people’s lives with her God given gifts. Just as she does now and will continue to do so. “

There was silence. Then a few nods and an agreeable hum. You know one of those hums that tell you that what you said hit a chord in the heart. 

Where she will be? – She will be doing exactly where God wants her to be, using the gifts that are hers, using them the way only she can, glorifying God in a way that only she can.