Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas for Champions


I know about Christmas and the birth of the Son
Who changed the world with a breath, He was the long awaited One

I know about Shepherds and Angels and Kings
About animals and mangers, and the carols we sing

I know about Santa, and his reindeer in flight
The tale we imagine on Christmas Eve night

I know about Frosty, his eyes made of coal
How he cheers young ones up, he's a happy ol' soul

I know about children who can't wait to tell
Santa their wishes and sing Jingle Bells

But some children I know, who are beautiful and bright
Struggle to find the words that are right

Loud noises and people make them anxious and scared
They're not fond of changes or white beards and hair

Their parents might ponder during this season
Did they do something wrong? Could they be the reason?

Their child is special, they know this for sure
A blessing to them with a soul that is pure

They've learned how to care, how to give, how to cope
They see with eyes of love, and that gives them hope

These parents I know face challenges each day
Lack of sleep, IEPs, they will make a way

For their child to succeed, and be all they can be
Their focus is clear, they love endlessly

My prayer is for families, who face this blessed time
Of year may they experience true peace of mind

Knowing God has a plan for their daughter or son
These parents are champions and the race they have won

So this Christmas my wish 'tis noble and true
God bless these Moms and Dads and their precious children too

© 2011 Donna M Cooper

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reading is More Than Words...

While weeding out Jonathan's bookshelves for our upcoming garage sale, I found many books that brought back such precious memories.  I used to spend hours reading to my son.  He loved books, and they were a bridge to his world in so many ways.  When I read, he calmed and focused.  He allowed me to cuddle with him.  We shared laughter and love.

The other day Jonathan said, "Books are boring".  Since he used to be passionate about reading, this statement made me feel sad .

I realized it had been quite a while since I had read to him regularly, and determined to change that.  Tonight I picked one of his favorite humorous books from long ago, and also a chapter book (plan was to read a short, funny, book from his younger days and then a chapter each night on something more age appropriate.)

What a wonderful time we had!  He remembered and talked of these books as if they were long lost friends.  He showed great episodic memory!  His eyes danced as he shared memories of cherished books he loved. He was delighted with our new project.

So, we're reading again.  Sharing.  Loving.  Making memories.  I'm hoping that this will re-establish his love of books and will also find new connections on our journey into imagination.  Actually I forgot how much I missed our times together!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It Makes Perfect Cents!

I wrote this poem for my dear son who often can only see things from one perspective.  I guess we all have trouble with that from time to time, don't we?  I color coded this for clarity:
Red: Person A
Blue: Person B
Black: Both together

I hold up a quarter and ask what you see?
The face of a president is looking at me.
He was brave and wise and served our great land.
It's so obvious to me what you hold in your hand.

I look at the quarter and I am quite sure.
The picture I see is more like a bird.
An Eagle is posing, he's bold and he's strong.
Agree with me so we'll both get along.

I'm thinking that glasses may help you to peek.
George Washington has no feathers or beak.
But surely, my friend, you notice the wings?
How could a president be seen with such things?

It's a bird!
It's a man!
We can't understand.
We look and we see,
But we see differently.

How can this be?

I get it!  I know!!  We are both right my friend.
Now I'll explain so this disagreement can end.
The coin has two sides, I tell you, it's true.
Just flip it over, you'll see what I do.

On one side a man, our first president is there.
The other side, an eagle, with arrows to bear.
We each thought the other was out of their mind.
It was clear, we knew we were so right this time.

But some things have two sides that are right.
And two ways of looking doesn't call for a fight.
Each time you can see a quarter in view.
Remember some people see things differently than you.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raising a Responsible Young Man

Always trying to think of ways to help Jonathan be more responsible, so I came up with a great idea! Every time he does something spontaneously responsible, he can put a mark on the white board....and I'll pay him a dime for each mark at the end of the day.

Explaining the plan to my son, along with some examples. Things like...closing a drawer after you open it, putting away your dishes after you eat, putting your trash IN the trash can (rather than leaving it on the lid of the trash can). Those kinds of things. 

He thinks it is a great idea.  Dollar signs flashing in his eyes. What an awesome motivator!!  Surely this will make a responsible young man, even if I need to bribe him a bit.

He goes over to a filing cabinet, looks at me with a mischievous grin. He opens the drawer and closes it. Then repeats it laughing. And again, adding "Chi-ching" each time. After he does it 100 times he stretches out his hand, and with a twinkle in his eye says, "$10.00 please."

My boy. Gotta love him.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Will Never Forget the Way You Made Me Feel

                                         Can you see the love on his face?

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  Maya Angelou
This morning while trying to encourage my son to get ready for school, he instead, was glued to the pictures (snapshots of himself and his sister) on the wall in the hallway. He was using phrases like, "Ah, a trip down memory lane" and "A good time was had by all". (Whoever heard of a 10 year old boy say that says those kinds of things?) So I was somewhat amused at his comments. Then I heard him say, "I miss her sooooooooo much!" I immediately knew he was speaking of Ms. Z his Kindergarten teacher. 
He ran and hugged me and said, "Do you know what I want most for my birthday?" (which is April 12th)   
"Of course I do! Jonathan.  "The DS Pokemon White game you've been talking about, right?"  
To which he replied, "No Mom...I want one more hug from Ms. Zino."  
What an impact this woman made on my son. He is almost 11 now. Kindergarten was half his life ago, yet he still remembers her love in his life. Kudos to the educators that pour their love and life into our kids. They really can make a difference. And this young woman sure has.  He still thinks about her and yearns for her touch on his life.  He had a different Kindergarten teacher in the beginning of the year. That teacher was not inclined to make accommodations for Jonathan because he needed more time and energy than the average child to be included successfully. The first K teacher really could not be bothered.  Ms Z, however,  became fully involved doing whatever it took to help my son not only be successful but thrive in her room.  He was blessed to remain her her class the following year as well.   We both got pretty attached!
So grateful today to the men and woman who love our children and have life-long impact on them.  Their dedication profoundly effects, not just the children but the families as well. I know my son will never forget his Ms. Z. 

You can read more about our AWEtism experience by clicking: 
AWEtism....Life on the BRIGHT SIDE of the Spectrum

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rated "E" for Everyone

For some unknown reason, my son has shown a great interest in reading Video Game Ratings lately. He feels compelled to read and alert us to each one, and also explain what the rating means. Sometimes this is humorous, because he often will be very animated as he is explaining the details of the rating.

He came to me today with a new idea.

"Mom, I just figured out something."

"What is that son?" I inquired.

"Jesus' forgiveness is rated 'E' for EVERYONE"

Be still my heart!

Yes are so right. 
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Another "Jonathanism". 

And another visual aid to remember just how much God loves us.  I think whenever I see an "E" as a rating, I'll always remember that His forgiveness is rated "E" for everyone!

You can read more about our AWEtism experience by clicking: 
AWEtism....Life on the BRIGHT SIDE of the Spectrum

Friday, March 18, 2011

Where Would You Go On Your First Date?

From time to time I play Family Feud.   Occasionally, Jonathan will join me and we'll take turns answering the questions.  

The question came up:  "Where would you go on your first date?"

I answered, "Movie".   57% of those polled also said "Movie". 

"Good answer, Mom!"  he said with a high 5.

Jonathan's turn.

"I'd take her to my bedroom."

"WHAT???  NO!  Son!!  What in the world???  You NEVER EVER take a girl to your bedroom, Jonathan!!  Why would you take a girl to your bedroom???   (Knowing my son is still very innocent in anything to do with the birds and bees, I was really quite curious.  Had I misjudged his naivety ?)

"Why not, Mom?? That's where the video games are!"

"Ohhhhhh, of course!  The video games!!   

"But don't worry Mom, I'd let her win sometimes.  Then she'd keep playing with me."

Wise young man...

So much for that game of Family Feud.  I think we got sidetracked.  : )

You can read more about our AWEtism experience by clicking: 
AWEtism....Life on the BRIGHT SIDE of the Spectrum

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

He's a Poet and he Didn't Know It! (Neither Did I...)

My son decided to write some poetry tonight.  He just kind of whipped out the verse...giggling as he made it up:

"Gilbert was such a greedy glutton, as he gnawed upon a leg of mutton.
He couldn't believe his sea-blue eyes, when the leg kicked him by surprise.
Now he only eats rolls and bread, because he knows that they are really dead."

It rhymes...that is good.  I'm also impressed by his vocabulary. And his creativity.  But what strikes me the most is his seemingly planned humor.  I just love it!

And "they" told me he might never talk.  

"Look Mom, I'm writing poetry, and it makes people laugh"

What a guy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Team Player?

First let me start out saying that I LOVE MY SON. He has some wonderful qualities that I find absolutely intriguing.  I can promise you that life is NOT boring in our house.  If things seem mundane, in a minute or two it will change, without a doubt.

My son has come so far on this journey through ASD Land.  Once he was very much a loner, unhappy most of the time, unable to communicate even the simplest of needs. But all these things have changed.  He now yearns for friends and enjoys playing games and interacting.  He is no longer unhappy!  He is a funny kid, and enjoys life.  His joy often overflows to others around him, as he shares his latest joke, or amuses us with a crazy antic.  He's also able to share his thoughts as he's learned how to express himself, first with PECS and now with words. He is now conversational, with some word retrieval difficulty, but he manages to let us know (probably more than we want to hear!) what is on his mind and his likes and dislikes.

One thing, however, that my boy has not had great success with, is being part of a team. He's good with a few kids, but the complexity of actually functioning as part of a larger group escapes him.  He will typically zone out and not participate, or he will do "his own thing" without consideration for the others participating.  

Jonathan, much to our surprise, made a request to be on a soccer team.  He's not really very sports minded, but he was sure he wanted to play.  I contacted a few Soccer Teams trying to decide what would be the best fit for him.  Ended up registering him for an AYSO team.  Their focus is on fun, good sportsmanship, and everyone playing. Not so much on competition and winning.  This is not a special needs league, but they are aware of Jonathan's "Quirks and Perks" and were very accommodating to include him on a team.   Due to some clerical errors, we started late, so he only had 2 practices before the first game.  

With very little experience in playing, I wasn't sure what my son would do during the first game. My hope was that he would not run the wrong direction and score for the other team.

Amazingly, Jonathan was totally into the game.  He enthusiastically played, congratulated others when they made a good play, he focused on the ball, successfully passing it a few times to another player,  and did his very best for the entire game.  He did not even have a melt down that his team did not win. Even more of a shock was that he's actually pretty good at playing Soccer!  Here are some pictures from the game:

When we were leaving, several boys called him by name and said they were looking forward to seeing him at the next practice.  He ran over to them, gave them a high 5, and came back to me with a smile.  He's part of a team!

We've faced many issues over the past 10 years, and have found ways to conquer or adapt or learn to cope with things that are not "natural' for my son.  I think the "team" thing is on the docket for this year.  Soccer is the tool to learn how to be part of a team.

Life is teamwork.  Being part of a team is a good thing. A very good thing.

You can read more about our AWEtism experience by clicking: 
AWEtism....Life on the BRIGHT SIDE of the Spectrum

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Holy Scrubby?

A Holy Scrubby.

I promise this is not one of those “seeing Jesus in a piece of toast” proclamations. But this is my son's recent explanation of some of the spiritual things he's been contemplating.

One night after Jonathan had his bath, and was tucked into bed, he came out to the living room where I was typing on my laptop. My first impulse was to tell him to go back to bed, but there was something he really wanted to share, and I decided to give him permission. I'm so glad I did.

He started by telling me that he was in his bed thinking about Jesus. (That is a good way to get my attention!) He continued by asking me what I called the thing I used when I washed dishes.

A scrubby? (I really wasn't sure)

That was indeed what he was referring to.

He said, “I was thinking how Jesus is like a Srubby. One side is rough, and one side is soft. Sometimes, He can be hard on sin, you know, like the Bible Story about the men who were selling things in the temple. But there is another side of Him that is soft, like when you need a friend or you're sorry you've done something wrong.”

My son, the little boy with autism, who did not understand a word I said until he was 3, is now thinking deep thoughts. I wondered if he would ever understand anything about God's love. Now, he is able to think and express his thoughts about God's love with me. Profound insights. Awesome truths.

Yes, Jonathan, Jesus is like a Scrubby.

For me, washing dishes will never quite be the same again.

You can read more about our AWEtism experience by clicking: 
AWEtism....Life on the BRIGHT SIDE of the Spectrum