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.

Once upon time, in a woods starring Goldi

Our woods sets the perfect stage. There are worn down paths for Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks to walk to their respective houses. There are tiny wildflowers for picking to delay Red Riding Hood’s visit to Grandma and lead Goldilocks further from home. There are tall trees for the wolf to hide and then pop out for his encounter with Red Riding Hood or his “Blow your house down warning” to the Three Little Pigs.

Aside from the perfect woods, Goldi has proven a capable star. Her expression is easily engaging. Her skip down the road is graceful. Her flower picking shows an appreciation for the wild. (Just stay away from the trillium. It is endangered and our state wildflower)

There are several productions a night. All are performed on the wooded stage. Goldi, the talented actress that she is, is often cast as the starring role. Dad, naturally is the perfect Papa Bear and Big Bad Wolf. (Also because he is willing to run and chase) Brother is a good fill in for any other necessary parts. Although once, he asked to be the guy with the garbage truck in the Beauty and the Beast Production and we had to take a brief intermission for further thinking on that. I tend to be the narrator. For it is I, who feel well versed in fairy tales.( Almost as good as Goldi)

‘Ladies and Gentleman,” she announces as she stands on a fallen tree trunk, “Today’s show will be Little Red Riding Hood. On with the show.” She has worn her director’s hat and assigned all roles. She takes her place and the story begins.
“Daddy, please hide behind that tree, I will be coming this way and you will jump out in front of me,” she instructs.
“Why, Grandmother, what a big nose you have,” (Just to her own poetic license touch to the script.)

There are giggles and shrieks when either Red Riding Hood is captured, the house is blown down, and The 3 Bears wake up Goldilocks. I did say there are several productions a night.

We all bow and applaud each other. My husband and I find ourselves a log and attempt to take a breather. This acting stuff makes us want to hire a stunt person or an understudy. After chasing, climbing, and jumping out, our old bones tire fast. Maybe I should just consider it a good work out. But even before we can even think about a breather, Goldi is already announcing the next production and assigning parts. She doesn’t skip a beat.

“It’s bedtime!” I announce.
“Let’s just do one more!” cries Goldi.

I am half willing and half wanting to stick to my word. Summer’s beckoning has made our wooded stage so hard to refuse and so hard to leave. And while Goldi is on stage she shines and she is transformed. She can be who she wants to be. She does it well. All who watch applaud her. It’s like a fairy tale come real. She can escape her worries and stresses and live in the fairy tale as the star who knows exactly the way to “happily ever after”. She wants to seize it again and again and stay there.

Once upon a time, in a wood, Goldi brings to life what might not be seen on any other “stage.” But nonetheless, it’s her moment to shine like a star. And one day in that “Happily ever moment” of life forever with the One who made her a star, she will forever shine like one. Once upon a wood, always starring Goldi.

Not Knowing and Going

You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink. I can drag Goldi into a new adventure but I can’t make her excited about it. The first realization of this came when a friend invited us over for a horse ride. I read and heard that horses were therapeutic for kids like Goldi, so I readily agreed. It was going to be a sunny day. Goldi would sit tall on a beautiful shiny brown horse. They would glide across the open field. She would feel the wind caress her face and the warmth of the sun would make her hair glow. Little did she know, it would be a wonderful new experience.

When we met Dusty or Chestnut or China or …I’m sure of the horse’s name. If it were my horse, I would have named it Patience or Grace. For Goldi immediately protested at the sight of it.

“No, No! ” she shrieked as though I was about to make her pet a crocodile.
“I want to go home!” she screamed as she clawed my leg.
“I can’t do that!” she yelled.
“I will hold you. We can do this together.” I told her. “It is such a nice horse. See, look we can pet her. She is so soft.” I said.

I tried to say things to put her at ease. I tried to say it in a way that those beautiful gals on “Price is Right” would say with their hands when presenting a can of tuna. I tried to say it in a way to bring about some hopes for enjoyment and gladness that we went on this adventure even though we were deep in the unknown. My image of pleasantries was soon interrupted as quickly as an arm on the record player screetching the music to a hault. It is one of those noises I hear often in those “Not Knowing but still Going Moments.”

There have been many moments with Goldi like that. Moments of new experiences that we know and believe she will enjoy, but they come with protest. Moments of pure work for a simple pleasure. Moments of necessity to help her learn and grow and adapt to this world. She does not know what to expect and we go anyway. She does not like the sound of a pep talk to do something outside her realm of familiar. But forward we go.

I held her on that horse as we were led by her owner across an open grassy field. It was indeed warm and sunny, – a perfect summer day. Screams and shrieks surrounded me. My “It’s okays” were drowned out completely. If you could read a speech bubble above that dear horse, it would say “Do I get an extra carrot for this ride?”

Goldi didn’t know what a horse ride was all about. But I made her go anyway. When that horse received his “Whoa” command, (probably thinking to himself “Woes me” ) that hault put an end to the unknown. Goldi had ridden a horse and now she knew. She knew the smooth glide. She knew the soft silky feel of its back. She knew the view of the world from atop a horse. Well, at least a little bit- if her face wasn’t buried into my shoulders she might have seen more of it. She knew that it was a gentle, calm, journey across a wide open field. Slowly and surely she began to know.

“I rode a horse!” she told the owners as soon as she dismounted. “I did. I rode a horse!” she says again with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. She tells her dad at dinner, her grandparents, and even friends.
Looking back, I am glad we went. Maybe Goldi was glad too. And if “Grace” was that horse’s middle name, the horse was glad too.

Those “Not knowing but still Going moments” will be frequent with Goldi. But that is what life is all about.
Even though we know little about the journey and life ahead, we will still go forward. And in going forward, we take what we do know with us. And there is one thing we do know that we always take with us. It is our Guide. The One that knows all. And that is all that matters. With that- not knowing and going anyway will always be worth it.

Dreams of Somedays

Eileen Spinelli’s Someday is a delightful expression of a child’s dreams in the now of youth filled days. Like the child’s face looking up at the Someday Sky of Dreams, I’ve begun to think of dreams fulfilled someday for Goldi. As one would suspect, her Someday Story is different.

There are certain images of day to day dreams:

Someday, she’ll glide along the sidewalk like a swan on a clear glass pond. Now she bounces and paces, from one end of the house to another, between bites of food.

Someday, she’ll wear a silky dress with a hair in curls and ribbons for a Sunday Church Service. Now, she’s wearing only pink tagless ones, with the wind to comb and trim her hair.

Someday she’ll be taller than her Daddy and we’ll be asking her to reach for the vase on the high shelf. Now, Daddy bends over for a kiss on the cheek.

There are dreams more ambitious:
Someday she’ll bring the house down as the star of Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, or Cinderella. Now she’s rehearsing them in her favorite “Once a Upon A Woods” stage.

Someday she’ll be a college student strutting her smarts gathered up all along her school aged years. Now, she’s getting her first taste of the long learning journey ahead.

There are Someday dreams that will seem more like battles won:

Someday, she’ll taste an artichoke, mahnti,(it’s one of my favorite Armenian dishes) or turkey with all the trimmings. ( had to throw in something all American and familiar) Now, she’s learning to trust the sights and smells of things as scary as a banana.

Someday, she’ll walk up to a new friend and say “Hello, pleased to meet you.”
Now,she’s often given the script and the reminder to look at them with a smile.

I look for evidence of her Someday Dreams. She’s never uttered a word about her grown up days. She lives in the day to day moment. She lives out dreams in her play. Now, she’s making forts for hiding from the giant. Now, she’s telephoning the princesses and inviting them to her party. Now, she’s waving her magic wand and casting spells of wonder to somehow make this world a better place. She isn’t seeking a blueprint to her future. Instead she’s allowing her imagination to represent things real and true to her.

In attempt to read her heart, I see revelations that sometimes are slightly seen and sometimes softly expressed. Perhaps one “A little more Grown Up Day” Goldi might share:

Someday I will go to Disney World and meet all the princesses. Now, I just watch them on YouTube and imagine that special little girl hugging Cinderella is me.

Someday I will have a real friend who knows who I am and enjoys who I am. Now, I am on the look out for that someone.

Someday, I will express my thoughts so eloquently. Now, I must clarify and accept correction.

Someday I will be brave and step through those open doors not knowing what is on the other side. Now, I may drag my feet but a held hand is encouraging.

Someday I will be a real princess living happily ever after. Now I am working hard to conquer the wicked witch named Autism.

Ultimately there are the Someday Dreams that are more than hope filled notions of day to day life, more than a list of ambitions, and more than battles won. The grandest dreams are prayers lifted up to the One who by His Spirit- put the thoughts there in the first place:

Someday she’ll meet her Creator all Grown up in His Glory. He will rejoice over her with singing because the good work He began in her will be complete. Now, she’s offering simple prayers and thus beginning to dream of that Great Someday.

Mentors

I watched her one Fourth of July with her severly autistic son. He screetched and flung some spaghetti around. He ate off the ground. She slowly and carefully tried to wipe up his red sauce mouth. Then she calmly led him to a large tree swing where he turned from somewhat of a terror to a happy go lucky boy.

Though she was a few years younger than I, she looked tired and more aged. She had so much knowledge about autism, it surpassed any certified expert. “You have to keep at it.” she said. “I don’t have much time for fun. ”

Another was a teacher friend. With her energy and dedication, it was amazing that there was more left to attend to her oldest autistic son. Many a time during conversation she had some “If onlys, some “how am I ever going tos” and whys?. I just listened and nodded.

She had watery mascara at times. Her hands were marked up. She had more knowledge than any educator I knew. “Sometimes things get so kooky.” she’d say with a sigh. “But we’ll work it out.”

These moms are strong,wise, patient, hard working, and determined. They cope with life’s disappointments and still managed to say “Life is good.”

Examplary moms like those are an inspiration. You learn so much from those who battle life with such accomplishment. Moms like that help you to realize “Life is what you make it.”
“Chin up. You can do it. ” is there motto.

For them, every cloud has a silver lining. I remember hearing that the mom of the severly autistic son would never comprehend a story. Upon a reading of one, her son laughed out loud appropriately. It was a moment of pure joy.

For every bump in the road, there was a smooth spot. I remember my teacher friend mom telling me that her son didn’t know how to be social and was worried he would never have fun with friends. He was heard singing on a Kareeokee machine one New Years Eve hanging out with some friends.

For every “pull your hair out moment”, there was compassion. I remember one mom holding her son on her lap smiling for a family picture. I remember the other mom kissing her son goodbye and he beamed. Never do those boys doubt their mom loves them.

For every mistake, there was wisdom gained. I remember one telling me, “I found all the food in the house gone!” Her son had eaten everything in sight. But now her son is cooking his own meals.

These are such inspirational Moms. Moms that stand out among many. Moms who were moms before I ever became one. Moms, who now are more than providing inspiration. When Goldi was diagnosed autistic, those two moms became my mentors.

It was those Mentor Moms that I turned to for answers and support. It was they that showed me that Goldi’s austism had not erased all dreams. They showed me that life would move forward and I would learn to know what being mom to this child I had been given as a gift was all about.

These Mentor Moms, who are farther along on the journey, are still demonstrating perserverence, patience, and determination. These Mentor moms still experience more about setback, struggle, and a just plain “throw in the towel” life than I’ve ever known. And there is One True Mentor, the One who is able to turn their “hard beyond hard” life into more than something good. He makes everything into a greater glory. All I have to do is look at those Mentor Moms’ example. And with that kind of Mentorship, this Mom’s journey of raising Goldi is destined for nothing but amazing.

When winter turns to spring

We realized spring had wandered far off,  the day snowflakes covered much of what moved and breathed. Goldi wondered at the first signs of winter. Though much of life was asleep,  she knew an adventure in winter wonderland awaited.

“Can we go sledding?” she asks.

“Let’s go” I answer.

“Can we make a snowman?” she asks

“Let’s do it.” I answer.

Fun had endless possibilities. Everything was white and bright. Though all the world was  sleeping, we were awakened with the change of season.  There were times of just laying in the snow and staring at the silvery sky. There were times of making a snow fort. There were new experiences of snow shoeing which energized us when our spirits were just plain tired of the season.

After a few months of winter, Goldi seemed to strip down in desperation when she’d return from school. The heavy weight of clothes and the repeated on and off, was pressing down and crushing her footloose and fancy free spirit. Being surrounded constantly by four walls and a ceiling was like prison. But the bitter cold warned us that winter was not done. It came and came again.  It was overstaying its welcome.

Goldi looked out the window one day and stared at out into the world.  It was dark, gray, and quiet. Though the meaning of the word “dead” is not  in this bouncy girl’s vocabulary, she realized life was at a standstill.

“Mommy, we have to turn winter into spring!” she said racing for her wings and magic wand.

She tried various wishful words to make it happen.

“Mom, it just doesn’t work out that way.” she sighed.

Spring became a far away hope. So far away, it was hard to see. How could barefoot in the grass, picking tulips, chasing butterflies, riding a bike spring ever be again? How can we be sure of something we can only faintly see in our memories? The more it snowed the more blurry the memory of spring.

Goldi became confused as the storms kept coming.  Each day was different. School was on or school was off. Too cold at times to even go out. Goldi was unsettled. She began to pace up and down in between bites of her dinner. Goldi felt confined. She wanted to swing, turn upside down, climb high, and move about as much as possible. But it was sit and be still time after time.

Then winter brought sickness. The flu hit just on the brink of when winter was actually leaving. The germiness of winter hit Goldi and she is worn out, annoyed, uncomfortable, and frustrated. It is enough to kill all life in her. There has been crying, screaming, and numbness to anything that once made her smile.

Goldi needs spring.  She needs to have the wide open space to run and feel the wind comb her hair. She needs to look around and see the wonderful differences only spring can bring. She wants the “fly a kite, do somersaults in the grass, blow bubbles on the driveway, play hopscotch “spring.  Winter is threatening to lock up this girl’s  zealous, dreamy, bouncy girl’s spirit.

So with mustard seed faith, I muster up hope that I cannot see. The hope that spring will come as promised. ( even here in Michigan) I say – See Goldi  tiny shoots are coming up.    See Goldi- the sun is shining today.  See Goldi- the snow is almost all gone.   ( a HUGE accomplishment I might add)  See Goldi- I see a robin hopping around.

Soon Spring will arrive with all its newness to color our days.  Goldi will fly her kite. She will run barefoot in the grass. She will swing as high as possible. She will race around on her bike. She will smell tulips. She will burst out the door and relish in the arms of the sweet smelling air.  When Spring finally arrives, Goldi will be full of life again!

With mustard seed faith, the promise of that New Great Day,  when the Life Giver appears and the snows that wash away life, will forever disappear,  Goldi will be made new. Goldi will only have spring,  without the germs of her autism.  No more restlessness. No more screaming. No more crying. No more confusion. No more confinement. No weighing down. No gray. Goldi will be made new.  On the brink of spring arriving, I hope for what I cannot see. Without hope,  I am doomed forever in winter’s dormancy. It is a hope that I look forward to, on that New Great day, when winter turns to spring.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Goldi’s Way

God puts a night light in the sky each night.  Goldi and her brother notice a  glowing, white, round, brightnening of the darkness. It’s a wonder that inspires Goldi.  It’s noticed nearly every night and early morning.  God displays light in the darkness.  It’s possible.

“Daddy, could you please get that moon for me?” Goldi asks her Daddy.  It’s right out of  Eric Carl’s story.  Goldi has heard and read it with me a dozen times. The day she asked her Daddy for the moon, she was serious. She wanted the moon. She had hopes for the impossible.

“Shall I get my rope and lasso it down for you honey!” Daddy responded lovingly.

“No, get your ladder and climb up and get it.  See it’s right there.” Goldi tells him while pointing up.

“Well, I’d better get the biggest ladder I can find. ” Daddy says  in “It’s possible tone”.

Knowing the story so well, she must figure something so impossible must be possible. It’s as easy as getting a ladder.   What would Goldi do with the moon? The girl gets her moon in the story and dances with it. Then she flings it up to the sky and it is out of her hands once again.  Having the moon in your hands wasn’t really practical.

When we learned Goldi had austim, getting the moon seemed like just a dream. An impossible dream.  All the “she’ll nevers” came to  mind.  All the excuses one puts out there when there is a forever obstacle in the way were all too automatic.

If I  thought as Goldi did.  Getting the moon would not be out of reach. It wouldn’t just be a dream never to come true.  If I thought like Goldi did, getting the moon would be possible.

“With God all things are possible! ” she says often with strong expression.

I realize her soul felt belief in this and I am in awe.  She’s believed that the “Sky is the limit” for her and that  the impossible can be possible! Even for her.

She’s had big victories worth recounting. At a family reunion, she shared in front of 20 people.  She’s adjusted to a whole day of kindergarten. She’s conversed with the beauty parlor gal just like a regular customer. No flinching during the haircut.  The things I thought impossible have proved a piece of cake. Things like having a two way conversation with her,   standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people and singing, riding a bike on two wheels, and going to the dentist without any screams. I thought  how in the world this could ever be? They happened. All things are possible. With her heavenly Father as the Light in this deep darkness of a world, all things are possible.

“Daddy, please get the moon for me.” she asks her Earthly Daddy.

“Daddy, please get the moon for her!” I ask my heavenly Father.

Someday Goldi may just hold the moon in her hand and dance with it.

 

 

 

She’s a Child

“Well, Mommy what spell do you want” Goldi says in her angel wings and magic wand.  Waving and twirling, she confidently grants my wish with her own magic spell. She talks and acts like a child.

“Will you please pile the pillows for the pea to go under.” Goldi says grabbing her favorite satin lined blanket.  “There! Now, I must pass the test.” she declares referring to the Princess and the Pea story. She imagines and dreams like a child.

“Mom, tell Santa not to come tonight. Mrs. Claus can come instead. ”  she states. She draws up her covers and will not close her eyes until her request is certainly granted. She reasons and thinks like a child.

Goldi is nearly seven years into her childhood.  Her thinking, speaking, and reasoning are childish.  Each and everyday, she is a walking, talking, pretending, child.

Lucky for me Goldi is delayed. Yes, I said lucky. Because of her delay, Goldi will have a childhood. She will have time to play, pretend, storytell, imagine, be silly,  be innocent, and dream. She will have time to be a child. We will see to that.

Without her childhood, there would be no play, no dreams, no laughter. Without her childhood, there would be no innocence and no memories of endearment. She  needs her childhood to equip herself for the complications of adulthood. She needs her childhood to shape her and mold her to the masterpiece God is molding even now. She needs her childhood to humble us, the adults, and realize we have so much to learn and are still growing as well.

Goldi’s delay is unlucky too. This Hurry up World  is attempting to erase the child in childhood.  Hurry has had a lot of influence. Hurry and get that child’s name on the list of hockey players because it’s the begining of an academic letter for college. Hurry and read a chapter book.  Preferrably at the end of kindergarten so that you could maybe just skip first grade. Hurry up and learn your times tables so that  you can take advanced calculus in 4th grade. Some children are so gifted. They can do all those things at such a young age. Hurry up helped them along. Go figure.

Hurry came from out of nowwhere. Perhaps since the launching of Sputnick. Perhaps because the empty nest syndrome has run havoc. Perhaps since the age of technology. But it’s there and it’s not for Goldi.

Hurry says there is no room for play.  Instead, it says get involved in soccer, dance, football, piano lessons, science class, hockey, running club, and anything that spells activities instead of play.  Play is Goldi’s prerequisite to work.  So Goldi is acting out fairy tales with different customes. She’s making birthday soup with food coloring. She’s playing hide and seek with her dad. She’s playing tree doctor in the woods.

Hurry says don’t wait. The time is now.  So give them an X box, or take them to a PG movie.   We’ve always been mindful of appropriate timing.  She’s learning Nursery Rhyme songs. She’s seen G movies at home. We’ve waited on video games. We’ve not taken her to exciting, whistle and bell places.

Hurry has a voice. It’s a lippy, mouthy, and way over the head.voice.  Did you ever hear Hurry’s microphone talk through the mouth of a child? It might sound something like:  “Don’t mess with my fingernails, I just had them painted and  they are ready for my trip to Florida. I want to look pretty.” We try to silence Hurry by watching  DVD’s chosen very carefully instead of TV. We watch what we discuss as adults in front of our kids.  We explain things like how it rains, or what happens to garbage  in easy to understand vocabulary.   We are not lippy towards her and she follows suit.

“Could we please make a swimming pool for me so I can practice being a mermaid?” She asks. She pretends and dreams.

“Let’s have a book picnic with lollypops!” She announces on Saturday. She creates and plays.

“Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lilly,” she starts. Goldi stories.

Goldi is a child. She thinks, reasons, and acts like a child. At the right time, she’ll give up her childish ways, strengthened and well equipped for adulthood.  Then again, Goldi is a child. A child of the Heavenly Father, who will ask her to come as a child and live with Him forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy, could you please get that moon for me?

God puts a night light in the sky each night.  Goldi and her brother notice a  glowing, white, round, brightnening of the darkness. It’s a wonder that inspires Goldi.  It’s noticed nearly every night and early morning.  God displays light in the darkness.  It’s possible.

“Daddy, could you please get that moon for me?” Goldi asks her Daddy.  It’s right out of  Eric Carl’s story.  Goldi has heard and read it with me a dozen times. The day she asked her Daddy for the moon, she was serious. She wanted the moon. She had hopes for the impossible.

“Shall I get my rope and lasso it down for you honey!” Daddy responded lovingly.

“No, get your ladder and climb up and get it.  See it’s right there.” Goldi tells him while pointing up.

“Well, I’d better get the biggest ladder I can find. ” Daddy says  in “It’s possible tone”.

Knowing the story so well, she must figure something so impossible must be possible. It’s as easy as getting a ladder.   What would Goldi do with the moon? The girl gets her moon in the story and dances with it. Then she flings it up to the sky and it is out of her hands once again.  Having the moon in your hands wasn’t really practical.

When we learned Goldi had austim, getting the moon seemed like just a dream. An impossible dream.  All the “she’ll nevers” came to  mind.  All the excuses one puts out there when there is a forever obstacle in the way were all too automatic.

If I  thought as Goldi did.  Getting the moon would not be out of reach. It wouldn’t just be a dream never to come true.  If I thought like Goldi did, getting the moon would be possible.

“With God all things are possible! ” she says often with strong expression.

I realize her soul felt belief in this and I am in awe.  She’s believed that the “Sky is the limit” for her and that  the impossible can be possible! Even for her.

She’s had big victories worth recounting. At a family reunion, she shared in front of 20 people.  She’s adjusted to a whole day of kindergarten. She’s conversed with the beauty parlor gal just like a regular customer. No flinching during the haircut.  The things I thought impossible have proved a piece of cake. Things like having a two way conversation with her,   standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people and singing, riding a bike on two wheels, and going to the dentist without any screams. I thought  how in the world this could ever be? They happened. All things are possible. With her heavenly Father as the Light in this deep darkness of a world, all things are possible.

“Daddy, please get the moon for me.” she asks her Earthly Daddy.

“Daddy, please get the moon for her!” I ask my heavenly Father.

Someday Goldi may just hold the moon in her hand and dance with it.

 

 

 

Teacher Tells Teacher

” I just don’t know what to do with this kid. I know how to help them if they can’t  read. I know how to help them if they can’t  add or subtract.  But I don’t know what to do with this autistic child.  They’re just exasperating!”

This is what the teacher told me me , another  long time teacher, who recently became a parent of an autistic child.  Those are the words that would have been minor way back when.  I would have actually echoed those words.  But when autism became one of my” life and breaths” of daily living,  those words  were piercing and painful , bringing me to tears.

“You are talking to a parent of an autistic child!” I declared. The teacher offered a blank stare and a shoulder shrug.  I was silent and numb. If only I had the choice words to reverse the spell.   With one deep breath, I  walked back to my classroom.

My silence was noised with thinking. I  thought of  bright eyed Roberta, whose world fell apart when something was not in its place. I thought of Sally Sue  who told me the ” ooooooo”  ghost  story all too often. I thought of Willie who flapped his hands and never looked at me.  Something was up with those kids. That something exasperated me. That something spelled autism.

When my Goldi was newly diagnosed, as teacher, I concluded that she would be like Roberta,  Sally Sue, or Willie. As a parent, I prayed for bigger hopes than what I offered those kids from my way back when teaching,   when autism was still  more of a “something is up” label.

Three years later I can tell that teacher and any teacher.  I have the words. I didn’t realize it but they’ve been with me for 23 years.  Let me tell you, teacher,– any teacher,  what to do with an autistic child.  It’s not rocket science. The most important thing to do is not something from special education experts.   It’s something that should come as natural as you as getting your morning coffee before the school day.

So you are Teacher to an autistic child?  Let me tell you. Plan your lessons and share with them your learning day. Be the conductor of your symphony. Practice the day’s pieces with everyone.   Make learning appropriate.  Make adjustments and take heed to implement different learning styles. Give crayons instead of pencils.  Guide them step by step.  Give praise. Make them laugh. Recognize their potential. Appreciate their uniqueness. Miss them when they are gone. Their unique contribution  will not be offered to that learning day.  Giving up is not the answer. A “Whew I am done with that child”at the end of the year is not acceptable. Let them know that you consider them a star that will always shine in the world’s sky and extra brightly in yours.  Let me tell you teacher, teach that autistic child- and every child. It’s what you’ve been doing and should be doing all along.

You must know that the autistic child will always be there. The gap of whose not autistic is narrowing. Look in your classroom and they will be there:  flapping with excitement, jumping for joy with anticipation, plugging their ears and straining to listen, pacing and needing direction, humming and needing a song,  stemming and needing comfort, expressing their amazing imagination and needing a smiley validation, watching the crowd and needing a friend.

What should you do with an autistic child? Let me tell you teacher, do what you have been called to do.  Teach. Do it well.

I thank our Great God for teachers like Sheila, who blogs at Sprinkle Teaching Magicand wrote  Dear Child with Autism. I am thankful for my Goldi’s teachers like Mrs. Wright and Mrs. VanGessell, who sweat,  get their hands dirty, and get exasperated. They all do it well for the sake of  the most shiny star life of the autistic child and for any child.  Let me tell you teacher, TEACH!

Princess Goldilocks

My little Goldilocks, who must have it always just right, has decided that someday she must be a princess. This fascination started when she twirled in her first beautiful dress.  We played beau-ti-ful music in the “well equipped for sound” living room, and she twirled with a few wipe outs. For Halloween she was a Princess along with her Hot Dog escort of a brother. At her fifth year birthday party, I began to think about her meeting a “real “princess. Fat chance we were going to spend five mortgage payments on a trip to Disney World. So, I asked a princess who happened to live right across the street. She came with her blue Cinderella dress, tiara, and long white gloves.  They twirled together and had a tea party. Recently,  the most climatic princess moment of her life came when we found ourselves  right smack in the middle of an ocean of girls dressed up princess.  (My little Goldilocks declined the offer to appear in public as Princess. )

The Disney Princess Ice Skating Show  was as close to meeting a real  Disney  Princess as we are going to get for awhile. There were sparkling dresses, floating on air dances, expressions of true love, and happily ever after endings. My Goldilocks bounced, smiled, and waved to all the glamorous gals who were the “real thing”.  To her, a Princess is synonomous with the “most beautiful in the world.” A Princess is the best friend anyone could ever have. A Princess is the reminder that dreams can come true . Yet Goldilocks ,at this time, is a princesses wanna be. Because for her, the ever present “everything must be just right ” part gets in the way .

After the show, I took a tip from someone about an actual princess correspondance. Disney thinks of everything. If you write to a princess, they will write back.  I thought it would be the perfect follow up activity.  But, if a  princess correspondence could really go my way, I wouuld wish for a correspondence that goes beyond a quick hello and an autograph.  My dreamwish that my heart makes,  (come on think Cinderella opening scene)  for the perfect princess correspondance would  read something like this:

Dear Princess,

My name is Goldilocks because I have golden hair.  I love to run barefoot and free in the woods.  I want to a beautiful Princess.

from Goldi

Dear Goldilocks,

   I’s sure your hair must be beautiful.  Do you like to wear ribbons, flowers, bows, or crowns?

from the Princess

Dear Princess,

Bows and crowns are too pinchy. Ribbons are to slippery.  Flowers smell too much.  Can I still be a beautiful princess?

from Goldilocks

Dear Goldilocks,

Do you have any beautiful dresses for twirling? They are perfect for the dances at the ball!

from The Princess

Dear Princess,

I have a golden dress but it is too scratchy. I have a blue dress but it is too tight. I think my pink dress is perfect! I can twirl in that one! Can I be a beautiful princess?

from Goldi

Dear Goldi,

Pink is very beautiful. Can you wave like a fluttering butterfly?  Can you float across the floor when  you dance?

From The Princess

Dear Princess,

Yes, I can wave really fast. I also flap my hands  when I am excited. Sometimes when I dance I jump not float.  I still want to be a beautiful princess!

from Goldilocks

Dear Goldilocks,

What kind of music do you play for dancing? I love music that sounds just like birds singing!

from the Princess

Dear Princess,

I like tip toe music. It is very gentle.  Some music is too clangy. I will plug my ears  when I hear it.  I want to be a beautiful princess.

from Goldilocks

Dear Goldilocks,

The tip toe music sounds beautiful.  The music must be just right for dancing. Do you like to wear shiny necklaces?

from The Princess

Dear Princess,

Necklaces are too heavy.  Please tell me how to be a real princess.

from Goldilocks

Dear Goldilocks,

I want to tell you a big secret.  To be a princess, you don’t need a sparkly dress or even tip toe music. You don’t need bows in your hair or shiny necklaces. You don’t need to wave like a butterfly. You don’t need to dance as if you are floating.    

From the Princess

Dear Princess,

Goodness Gracious me! How can that be? What is the secret?

From Goldilocks

Dear Goldilocks,

 The secret is that on the day you were born,  the One who made you desired more than anything, for you to be a Princess now and forever. It is a Princess, He made you to be!  You must believe it in your heart. When you keep on believing, then the dream that you believe in your heart will come true. ( yes, another reference to Cinderella’s first song)  And you shall live forever as Princess Goldilocks in a kingdom that is  better than a happily ever after kingdom. It is a kingdom ruled by the King of all Kings. It is a kingdom of better than forever happiness. It is a kingdom of glory. In glory, you will wear a crown that is not pinchy. In glory, you will wear a dress that is not scratchy. In glory, you will wear a necklace that is not too heavy.  In glory, there will be the perfect music for dancing.  In glory, Princess Goldilocks will live in a Kingdom that is beyond just right. It is glorious forever after. 

From The Princess

One day, we will receive a Disney Princess response to her letters. One day ( several ones away mind you)  we will shake hands with a Disney Princess.  But more than ever, my dream, my wish, my prayer, is that one day, she herself, even with just mustard seed faith, will know that she is a real princess in the King’s eternal kingdom. Long Live Princess Goldilocks!