Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Cret and I have been reading a lot about wisdom together lately.  We have been praying for wisdom for our lives, our marriage, our family and for Jacob’s future.  Issues came up recently with Jacob’s insurance that left us uncertain about therapy for him.  For now, insurance has granted us 6 more months of full-time therapy and indicated they would begin cutting hours after that.  We don’t know what the future holds for Jacob regarding his education and functioning, so it’s hard to have a concrete plan. 

Jacob is very bright and soars through his goals at the clinic.  They are asking me what our plan is for him when he graduates from ABA.  He is so smart, but the hard thing is that his behavior and his anxiety (selective mutism) are his main obstacles.  That causes our decision for either public school, private school, home school or an autism school to be very difficult to determine.  It’s hard to know what’s right for him and to plan accordingly.  He is growing and becoming more opinionated, which is good because it's typical, but hard because he still lacks a sense of danger. 

Saturday, we had a day full of soccer.  Jordan and Tyler had a huge tournament and Cret was the coach for both teams.  It was supposed to be a pleasant day, but it turned out to be really hard.  At our first game, I had Jacob and two chairs as we walked out to the field to sit down.  The wind started blowing hard and it upset Jacob terribly.  He started to wail around and make bloodcurdling noises.  Then he wouldn’t walk or let me hold him and started dragging his head on the ground.  It was a tantrum like no other.  I tried to calm him down and talk to him, but the wind kept blowing and he kept screaming.  Finally, I had to drop everything and sit down right there on the ground by the parking lot and hold him in my lap squeezing him while he screamed for 5 minutes.  I can’t even imagine what it looked like to all the people staring at us, but no one offered to help carry the chairs.  They all just stared.  I really don’t blame them, the noises coming out of Jacob were something from a horror movie.  However, it did make me think about how nice it would’ve been in that moment if someone had offered to carry our chairs to the field.  His behavior carried on into the day as the wind would pick up.  He tried to rip off his shirt, kick me and kept rubbing his head on the ground.  But the worst was when we were walking to the parking lot after a game and tons of cars were leaving and he darted away from me as fast as he could to head in between two cars towards the road.  His hand slipped out of mine and in a panic, I leaped at him and fell, but just in time I caught his foot and he tripped and hit his head on the concrete.  We both got pretty scratched up and I hurt my knee, but I was able to grab him and hold him as he cried from the fall.  He would’ve been hit by a car and I am so thankful God protected him.  He didn’t even get a scratch on his head because his massive headphones took the pounding. 

It was a challenging day.  Part of me just wanted to go home and cry.  I got in the car and prayed for our service dog to come soon.  I can’t imagine life with a dog that could help Jacob to function in public and remain safe.  It will certainly be a blessing to us.  

With all the choices, and all the major decisions coming up, and all the stressful situations we are in, we know for sure that we need God’s guidance and wisdom.  In Proverbs, it tells us wisdom is something that we need to gain and seek continually.  Through reading scripture, prayer, and understanding we ought to seek wisdom so that we can keep our mind and our actions focused on God.   We have to hold tightly to wisdom.  Wisdom is one of God’s gifts to help us walk the straight path and prevent us from stumbling.  I need wisdom to focus more on God and less on me and Jacob and upsetting situations that are inevitable.  I need wisdom to help me from sinning and living in worry and anxiety and to have real peace regardless of stressful situations.   I need wisdom to be a better witness for the Lord.  It’s really hard for me to stay focused on what’s important, especially when things get rough and my knee gets all busted up and insurance tries to ruin our lives.  But, all of those things seem really small when God reminds me of what I need to concentrate on.  

Today, amongst other things, I am praying for God’s wisdom in our lives as we navigate it all.  I pray the Lord will guide us to make good decisions that honor him and to help us walk in a way that is pleasing Him.  I am so thankful for the peace that God gives us when our minds are fixed on Him.

Proverbs 3:1-8
1My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success[a]
    in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh[b]
    and refreshment[c] to your bones. 
Proverbs 3:13-18
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called blessed.
Proverbs 4:1-9
 Hear, O sons, a father's instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain[a] insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father,
    tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
    keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;
    she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Guest Blog by Kelly Tatera from Action Behavior Centers

Mom and Nonverbal Son with Autism Win Jimmy Fallon’s “Say Mama” Video Contest

[Guest Post for Allison Hill]

Jimmy Fallon is known to engage his fans with his video contests, and his latest contest winner brought light to a topic that deserves more attention: nonverbal autism.

The video competition challenged viewers to send in the most adorable videos of their babies saying “Mama.” Fallon and staff likely expected to receive exactly what they’d asked for, but one unlikely video submission stood out among them all: Kate Swenson and her 7-year-old son, Cooper, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

In the video, Swenson explains why her son couldn’t participate in the video competition in the same way as other children, but how he is just as special.

“He loves trains. He’s smart and he’s funny and he’s loving, and Cooper is also autistic and nonverbal,” Swenson says. “I was told at a very young age that I should prepare to never hear Cooper’s voice, and that’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to expect.”

Swenson believes that her son’s voice would be just as sweet as any of the other babies seen in the video contest. She showcases her son’s speech device – the Proloquo2Go system for iPads from Talk to Me Technologies – and Cooper pushes a button which recites “Mama” in a computerized voice.

Being nonverbal is common among children with ASD, but it doesn’t mean the speech delay will last a lifetime. In fact, one study found that the majority of children who are nonverbal at the age of 4 go on to overcome their severe language delays.

The study looked at a sample of 535 children with ASD and categorized them into groups based on whether they had the ability to speak in only single words, small phrases, or more fluent phrases. After analyzing data on these children, the researchers found that 70 percent of the kids achieved simple phrase speech by 8 years old, and almost half of the sample (47 percent) achieved fluent speech.

For parents with a nonverbal child on the spectrum, these findings serve as a science-backed beacon of hope that they may one day hear their children communicate verbally.

Swenson’s number one goal with her video submission was to show the world a more positive side to autism. She says people often express sympathy after hearing that Cooper has autism, but she doesn’t need the sympathy. “I say, ‘No, he’s the coolest kid you will ever meet.’”

“I just really want autism to be a part of the conversation,” she says. “I want the world to see that it’s not scary and it’s not sad.”

(Please click on the infographic to get a better view)