Thursday, December 29, 2011

Autism Recovery Story!


Here you can read about an amazing testimony of a boy named Desmond and his recovery from autism. I can't say it enough...prayer changes things.

Please be encouraged. 

Blessings, love, and Happy New Year!  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Judgment


Hi, Friends.

Even though we are coming along in getting the word out that autistic people are capable of doing anything "normal" people can do, judgment is still a big problem in our world.

Therefore, I want to remind everyone that although negative opinions and thoughts of people with autism might seem innocent and even understandable at times, judgment is still judgment. And if what you say or believe is something you really don't want to reap, try to eliminate the sowing. We'll all be better for it.

Blessings this holiday season! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

True Value


Over the last few years I've had the opportunity to meet numerous (and wonderful!) parents of autistic children. They are full of questions but the one usually asked is:

 Do you have any friends? 

The answer is yes, but I have to be honest. I've been looking to these friends to give me a sense of worth in my church and community that until a few years ago I never really had. 

Thankfully one of my newest friends recently caught onto my "value system." She lovingly reminded me that an object is only worth what another is willing to pay for it. 

Friends are great to have, but they do not determine my value in society no matter how much of a success I am and might become. My worth comes from Jesus who paid for my life with every drop of His precious blood.

Your autistic child doesn't need a large social network to be happy. In fact, our tension and anxiety often develop from trying to understand why you do not understand that we are content with what we already have and who we presently know.

And I know Jesus. For me...that's everything...and who could ever have a better friend than Him?  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Autism & Touch



In the life of any individual exposure to healthy touch is vitally important. Yet for people with autism, the desire to be touched seems almost nonexistent if not downright fought against.  I have wondered, therefore, if sensory deprivation could be the result of the lack of touch in an autistic child and if so, does this explain, or at least contribute to sensory overload/problems seen in autistic people as they age?

Tactile stimulation, according to Dr.'s Conrad Baars and Anna Terruwe, is at the bottom of a sensory pyramid, so to speak. Touch, taste, and smell are the most primitive of the external senses (Healing the Unaffirmed, p. 49), while sight and hearing are considered higher senses. In other words, if the tactile sense does not sufficiently develop, then theoretically, all the other senses, including sight and hearing will fail to develop properly as well since they successively build on top of one another.

I am well aware that to most people the fact that autistic children need but reject touch is a no-brainer. However, in my case, the issue wasn't whether or not I wanted my parents to touch me. I did. The problem was that their own bodies were something of a sensory nightmare to me. Had they made some simple changes, I believe that we would have been able to connect with each other emotionally through physical contact. 

Here are just a few things I recall: My father always shaved, yet his 5 o'clock shadow felt like miniature razor blades digging into my face when he hugged me. That really hurt! And both my parents loved (and I mean loved!) to wear wool sweaters in the winter. Can we say itchy? And my father's aftershave? Well, to my nose, it's like he took a bath in it, so oftentimes when he held his arms out for me, I turned and ran the other way. 

My life was not entirely devoid of touch, however. I can think of a few people who were able to break through and hold me for long periods of time. I am thankful for those people because in my opinion, they made all the difference in the world. 

I know there are those who place weights in vests and quilts to help autistic children feel better, but if at all possible, I think it's best when skin to skin contact is made between people. Positive emotional connection (communicated through touch) changes brain chemistry. This in turn may possibly alleviate the symptoms of autism as the child gets older. 

I'm not saying you have to hold your child for hours on end to see some sort of positive change. This can be abusive, actually. But what smells good (lotions, soaps, deodorant, aftershave) to you may be nauseating to your child. And what feels good on your skin, in terms of clothing, might make your daughter feel like she's trying to warm up to a cactus. Changing some of these things, as well as quieting yourself down when you hold your child, may produce some of the results you are hoping for. 

Embracing others and being embraced is healing. I love to give and receive hugs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Pain of Healing



Healing is a wonderful gift of mercy from the Lord. When we seek healing, we have the opportunity to be set free from so many problems that have plagued us for years or even throughout our entire lives.

Yet many people remain unaware of the cost involved in the healing process. While the Holy Spirit is efficient and can improve a condition dramatically in just minutes or hours, for those who have been severely emotionally traumatized or have an illness such as a cognitive disability, the need to receive ongoing prayer is usually more the norm than the exception here.

Opening up to people week after week to share your old wounds can be and is often painful. I mention this because even in the natural, the healing process usually hurts much more than the injury itself, yet the pain of healing is often overlooked. So when people unexpectedly encounter pain, they retreat from what could be an otherwise rewarding experience, not wanting to go through more hurt for fear their pain will not be alleviated.

The road to freedom is bumpy, but prayer changes circumstances and the hope only Jesus brings transforms lives. Do not allow the pain of a slow recovery or old trauma force you to turn around and go back where you came from. Finish the journey. Make the sacrifices you need to make in order to heal. If you stay on track, your life will be radically changed in ways you cannot now imagine. You will not be disappointed.  

Be blessed today.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

James Durbin Rocks!


I'm totally rooting for James Durbin to win Idol this year. Besides the fact he's an awesome singer, the reason I'm pulling for him should come as no surprise to anyone (but just in case you live under a rock, James was diagnosed with HFA and Tourette Syndrome when he was 9) .

His courage to get up on stage and be the man he was born to be reminds me that it is necessary for me to follow suit. We all need to. Every single human being is born with gifts, and it is our responsibility--not just a privilege--to use our gifts for the benefit of other people. 

I'm not a singer (yet). I'm scholarly. Call it whatever you want. Nerdy. Geeky. Bookwormy. Whatever. I love words. Love to study. Love to learn. Love to hypothesize. In short, I love to think and I believe it is what I was born to do. Still, I've realized that knowing what my strengths are and having the confidence to use them are two different animals. And I admit, I have trouble with the latter sometimes. But I'm working on it!

Thank you, James, for pursuing your dreams. You give the rest of us permission to do the same. 

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 

~Hebrews 10:35 & 36

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joanne Heim Update


Last month, I posted a prayer for stroke victim Joanne Heim. At the time she was in a coma with severe swelling in the right side of her brain. The expectation of any significant recovery was extremely low, and her prognosis looked pretty grim.

But prayer changes things.

This is the note she wrote for her husband to post on her blog today. Are you ready to see a miracle? Here you go:

My Dear Darling Bloggy Peeps,

Ask anyone in the hospital (except maybe Pierre who is in charge of maintenance and such) and you'll unanimously hear I have the best room in the joint. And it's true! I am literally surrounded by love and prayers and God's word that you have sent so generously. One can instantly feel the difference--how God uses us to love each other on his behalf.

Joanne

Not bad for a woman who for one thing wasn't supposed to be able to communicate in any way, shape, or form, but here's the kicker...she's not even in rehab yet!!! The other day her husband stuck an iPad in front of her, and to his shock and surprise found she could legibly write perfectly complete and (obviously) complex sentences on it! How great is our Savior and Healer, Lord Jesus!!!

But for those of you who come here to my blog to read information on the healing of autism and find other stories instead, please forgive me. I include testimonies of healing from other injuries or illnesses especially those that concern the brain since it is the brain that autism affects so profoundly. Know that if Jesus can heal the brain of a stroke or shooting victim (I'm referring to Ms. Giffords), autism is no exception. He can heal anything.

But next time I post, I would like to address the issue of faith. Some, if not many of you, don't have the faith to believe the Lord for the healing you or your child needs. Is this a problem for Jesus? Should you feel guilty? The answer to both questions is a resounding NO. So relax. Let yourself off the hook. We'll talk about it later.

Cheers!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Part of the Trust


Last Sunday, while joking around with a friend who has cancer, I pointed to my watch and asked if he was counting down the minutes to the Super Bowl.

He unexpectedly said, "Nope. Don't wear a watch anymore. That's part of the trust."

Ever since he said that, I can't get it out of my mind. How many of us live by the clock? Minute after minute, hour after hour? How many people feel like failures if certain goals are not met by a certain age? Why do we do this? 

My friend is learning to live by a different standard. One that is not dictated by a calendar. He is trusting God to give him time. To be his time, even. 

I have to confess, milestones are a big issue in my life. Too big. I have achieved some of the same successes as my non-autistic peers, but much later in life. And it's the later in life part that has made me more than a little self-conscious. Except the focus on myself and not on the Lord has shaped me into a somewhat thankless person, as embarrassing as that is to say. I complain too much about being behind.

By admitting this quality about myself, I am sure to ruffle a few feathers. But this is how I operate. I like to shed light on my faults. This motivates me to change or to at least allow the Lord to refine me further, which is pretty much all I care about in life when it's all said and done.

I'm not ready to take a hammer to my watch, but I have taken it off and put it away. Healing comes in God's time. Answers to prayer come in God's time. All things come in God's time. Whatever you are praying for today, don't be discouraged. Don't be afraid. The Lord is with you, and He loves you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More, Lord.



More, Lord.

I've always had trouble praying that prayer. The honest truth about it is I've been ashamed to want more. Thinking I didn't deserve more of anything, especially in light of all I've been given.

But I've been waking up to this world and noticing the people around me finally. Their comings and goings, ups and downs are no longer nonsense to me. Things are making sense to me now. We, humans, were made for our hearts to be knitted together with the hearts of others. And the heart, I'm learning, understands things the mind will never, ever know.

The heart feels, and I...I have been feeling a lot this week. A friend prayed for me...for more healing for me, and as she did, I had this faint fluttering feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I thought, "What is that? It's like...like--wait. Am I going to cry?"

Not the kind of crying that stems from frustration. And not the kind of crying that comes from a deep sadness that only makes the wounded feel worse when the tears are gone. I'm talking about the tears that fall from an overwhelming sense of gratitude and relief that words simply cannot express.  

And yes, I did. I cried. Emotions I didn't think I had sprung to the surface of my heart for the first time in my life. I will be 40 this year, so to say that this ability to feel on such a deep level was a shock to me is a total understatement. But it is another testament to the Lord's ability to heal us as well as a reminder that we should not give up praying for our healing, regardless of our age or circumstance.

I saw people with new eyes after that moment. Like I stepped out of one world into another. And now I want more. More understanding. More love. More compassion. More of an ability to understand those around me. It is possible. All things are possible. Thank you, Jesus.

And thank You that by Your grace, we can come boldly before You and pray for more.

Amen!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Prayer for Joanne Heim's Healing


Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Joanne Heim. Perhaps you haven't either, so I'll fill you in.

She is the author of The Simple Wife as well as a few other Christian books. And last week, at the age of 38, she suffered a massive stroke.

She survived but the right side of her brain continues to swell. Doctors are doing all they can to keep her in a coma until the swelling subsides. In the meantime, her family is calling on you--all of you who pray for healing, to please get down on your knees to lift this sweet woman, her husband, and two young children up to the Lord.

Lord Jesus, there is nothing I can say in terms of trying to understand what You want to accomplish through all of this. In fact, when You say the laborers are so few, I sometimes wonder why You don't do more to protect those who do love to serve You. I say this with a trembling heart, knowing full well You are sovereign and indeed watch over Your flock with a loving and protective gaze. I also know You will stop at nothing to bring glory and honor to Your name, so please forgive me for the questions that live on in my heart, O Father. Despite my confusion, I still praise Your Holy name, Jesus.

Gracious Lord, I lift up Joanne Heim and her entire family to You now. I ask for You to allow them to see Your signs and wonders in this situation. I ask Lord for You to perform miracle after miracle, so that they may never forget the good works You have done and will continue to do. I ask that You sustain this family in practical ways--that You somehow give them rest, financial security, food, and the peace that only You can bring.

I ask, Lord, for the impossible. I ask for You to reduce the swelling in Joanne's brain and for You to restore the brain tissue in her head as it was before the stroke. I ask that there be no further threats of blood clots. Please restore all of her vital signs to normal. Allow her to maintain her speech and mobility, Father.

I further ask, Jesus, that You would prevent further attack against the head and brains of your children. This area of the human body seems to be a target of the enemy right now, but we bind him by the power and authority of Your name, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray for Toben, Joanne's husband, that you preserve him perfectly throughout the remainder of this journey, Lord. You can do it. There is nothing You cannot do. Nothing at all. Let Toben feel Your love for him. Let him see Your face and the faces of the angels, Lord, who are already there ministering to him. Loose Your love, O Lord.

I pray for Joanne's children, Lord. Bring loving women into their lives who can stand in the gap for Joanne right now in terms of lovingly meeting their physical and even emotional needs so that they may know Your love for them, Father. You care for this family. Thank you, Jesus. And in Your name, I pray all of these things. Amen.

If you would like to know more about how you can help the Heim family, please click on the badge on the top right of my blog. It says, "Praying for Joanne" and is the same picture that is featured in this post. Thank you and God bless you all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ministry & Autism


The comment I most often hear from parents of children with autism is, "I would like to go to church, but my son/daughter tends to be disruptive so we stay home."

And in the case of adults with autism or Asperger Syndrome, it is not uncommon to find that we simply do not fit in with our Christian peers so we tend to avoid fellowship, too.

I think about this problem often because healing usually takes place in church. And healing ministry for people with autism, I expect, is shortly going to be a dire need if it is not already.

Years ago, I met a mother who was embarrassed to bring her deaf son, a teenager, to church for fear he would cause a scene. Her refusal to let him be around other people upset me. I asked her to let him come anyway, and after a good long while she relented.

The very Sunday this boy came to church, while standing next to me, he began to shriek (so he did make a scene) while the rest of us worshipped. I asked (on paper), "What's wrong?" He wrote, "Nothing! I just heard the words God and Jesus in that song. That's all." Well, that was a scene worth making.

God opened up his ears just for a moment, but a week later he (perfectly) spoke his first words after being able to hear for a day. About a month later, after receiving more prayer, he was able to hear permanently.

There were times when Jesus went to people in order to heal them, but most of the time people sought Him out. They went where He was. I think the same is true today. The Holy Spirit can meet us where we are without us seeking Him, but most often if we want His touch, we need to go where He is.

People with autism and their families need to be in church. They need to be able to talk with prayer ministers trained to pray for people with cognitive disabilities. And finally, they need to be able to attend healing conferences curtailed to some of their differences so they have the chance to fully experience all of the wonderful happenings that take place at such events.

In Jesus' day, women and children were considered the dregs of society. The children, especially, were rebuked when they tried to get close to Jesus. Instead of getting upset, however, the Lord said, "Let the little children come unto me." He wanted to hold them and love them.

Today, regardless of age, people with a diagnosis of autism are now treated like the dregs of society in a church atmosphere. This must change. Jesus has His arms stretched open wide for all of the lost and hurting, and He is longing for us all to walk straight into them.

If you are a parent sitting home on Sundays, my heart is with you. Be encouraged and also remember to be willing to forgive those who do not understand. Overcome evil (exclusion from church) with good. The Lord will reward you. He will meet you where you are.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Autism & Vaccines


So yesterday, or maybe even the day before, Dr. Andrew Wakefield's research linking autism with vaccines was found to be an "elaborate fraud."

Forgive me for being out of the loop, but I thought this was determined months ago, if not longer.

At any rate, I have to say the new findings please me. While I do believe the anecdotal reports of parents who have seen their childrens' behavior change after they received a vaccination, I do not believe it is the vaccine itself causing the problem.

What is frustrating and heartbreaking to so many of us is that it is not likely that autism truly has a singular cause. I think a combination of a number of genetic factors as well as environmental ones create something of a perfect storm in a child probably born with a brain already predisposed to neurological anomalies.

In other words, I see the development of autism something like a gun, a bullet, and a trigger finger. Separately they cannot do damage. Put the three together, however, and you have an entirely different story.

Additionally, here is something the scientific community and lay people alike tend to overlook when trying to explain the rise in autism.  In fact, I've never heard anyone mention this, but thirty some years ago the world's population was about 3 billion. Now we are pushing 7 billion.

Scientists now know that autistic people get married. They have children. It therefore stands to reason that if the world's population is growing, so is the population of autistic children. Even if parents are not autistic themselves, I would be anxious to see if at least one of them has ADD or perhaps other neurological issues such as dyslexia or narcolepsy. Combined with the genes of the other parent, I think these conditions can worsen in the next generation, even if it is just one parent with a diagnosed neurological disorder.

I am not indicting anyone here. I want you all to know that. Also, I am not opposed to science in any way whatsoever. The issue here, concerning vaccines, is that even if Dr. Wakefield had been a little (or a lot) more credible, his experiment (which really had nothing to do with vaccines) still should never have been considered valid. The sample size in his study was simply much too small. It never should have been published.

Unfortunately, science is not immune to pride or greed. There is a race to find a cause and a cure for autism, and in this case the person or people who are able to do that will go down in history. They most certainly will be some of the most famous scientists to have ever lived.

Try to keep these things in mind when looking over the newest research. I'm not saying to avoid feeling encouraged if you see something that can be helpful for your children. Just remember to guard your heart and your child's heart, too. Sometimes the treatments and therapies can be as traumatic as the condition itself.

Be blessed today. I know this is hard and perhaps you don't feel like you will ever get out of the desert. My heart is with you. I am still wandering in it, too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!!



So it's another new year, and today I've got two things on my mind. Can you guess what they are?

Being real and loving one another.

The first thoughts came to life the other day while reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. She (Ehrenreich) goes undercover to see what it takes to land and keep a plush corporate job and in the process she learns that landing that big, beautiful dream job means she has to tell a boat load of lies about herself to get it. 

We wonder why people have very little intergrity today, but why do we wonder? Even beginning in childhood we are taught that if you want to get ahead, you have to be anything but yourself. Not even a better a version of yourself. Just someone else entirely.

Uh, nope. Not interested thank you. I want to be myself. What about you? Do you know who you are or what's inside of you, or have you fashioned yourself into the image someone else thinks you should be? Think about it.

As for loving one another, it's simple really. Jesus said if we loved Him we would keep His commandments. And He commands us to love each other.

Up until a few years ago, however, I loved no one at all. I was a Christian, but I just didn't care. Still, I had an intellectual understanding of the Bible and one day, 1st Corinthians 13 really began to bother me. The truth of it resonated deep within me. If I didn't love others, I was nothing before God.

The thought of this made my blood run cold.

In response, I cried out to the Lord to give me compassion for His people. He answered on the spot. I was only able to love just one other person then, but it was a start. And He's been building on that foundational prayer ever since.

The lesson here is this: A diagnosis of autism does not mean you cannot or (dare I say) even should not have a heart of compassion. Regardless of what's going on in my brain, if I understand what the Lord's word means, I can pray for everything I lack to be added to me. When we ask, we receive. I know I do.

Yesterday I had lunch with a new friend. He said, "When I first met you, I thought you were really, really nice. Seriously. Well, either that or you are on Xanax (I assured him I am not). I wasn't sure which (he has no problems with honesty), but you never know these days."

Jesus makes us look different to the world. Okay, so the world thinks we are on anti-anxeity medication in order to explain the difference, but I'll take it!

Anyone, regardless of who you are, or what you've been through or have even been diagnosed with, can be changed into the real you by the love and power of Jesus Christ. And in turn, when you are transformed, then you can go into the world and help others become transformed, too! That's how you love in the Name of Jesus.

May you all seek your healing this year and find it abundantly!