6+ ways to help your child when they can’t communicate (Autism/special needs)

6 ways to help your child when they can't communicateHow do people; therapists, family, teachers, and friends view our child who is nonverbal? Do they truly understand our child? How does our child feel when they can’t communicate what they desire or need? Can you imagine the frustration of not being able to tell someone you’re hot, hungry, want to go to a certain restaurant, play with a certain toy, that you can’t find your favorite blanket? Can you imagine?

What is it like to parent a child who is constantly misunderstood and underestimated?

Over at Emma’s Hope Book, Ariane wrote an important piece about one of her daughter’s experiences when Emma couldn’t communicate. Problem was, the teacher should have known what Emma desired. You can read about the situation in the post, Picture Day Moments. It’s a great read and you can share it with others to help them understand Autism.

In that post Ariane writes, “Teachers are trained in a definition of autism that is incorrect.  A definition that assumes intellectual disability which is connected to an inability to make oneself understood, low IQ, problematic behaviors, unable to read aloud and therefore cannot read, a whole series of assumptions are being made daily about Emma and kids just like Emma, but

those assumptions are based on a false premise.”

When we attended our last Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting, I asked the school therapists and teacher if they could imagine NOT being able to communicate. I shared how frustrating it would be to not be able to tell anyone what you wanted or needed. They didn’t have much to say, either because they’ve never had parents ask them such obnoxious questions (I am the Queen of questions), or because they didn’t understand what I was saying. Most therapists and the teacher in the room are fantastic with Jeremiah, but I wanted EVERYONE in the room to understand why Autistic kids demonstrate “behaviors” (I strongly believe many “behaviors” are linked to the inability to communicate).

There was a specific person in that meeting I was trying to reach. Because of the “therapy” she did with my son, he stopped signing one of the only words he’s ever signed, and did so consistently before she “therapied” it out of him. He also stopped using a word (one of the very few words he’s ever used) we’d been working on, well, for years. You can read more about that experience here.

Kindly educating others helps them see the beauty in Autism
In that IEP meeting, I was making an effort to educate the educators on Autism and my son. We need to share what we learn and what we know about our child with everyone in our child’s life. We don’t have to be the know-it-alls, but we are the ones living it and researching it (share articles and pages from books you read), we didn’t sit in a room and learn from a speaker or text-book, and others can gain insight from what us parents have experienced.

Share everything you can about your child:

  • Stories about what they’re doing and interested in at home.
  • What your child is playing with.
  • How their play/behavior is changing.
  • What behaviors they’re displaying (discuss what you think is causing the good and the negative behaviors).
  • What your child likes.
  • How your child is communicating and changes taking place. I mention the word “changes” a lot because our children are constantly in transition, what was true yesterday or last week may not be true today, so it’s essential that we have constant open communication with everyone in our child’s life.

In the end maybe we can avoid those Picture Day Moments Ariane wrote about.

My hope is people would learn more about Autism, understand more about Autism, and accept Autism. My hope is that strangers, acquaintances, friends, therapists, family, and teachers would understand our children and people who are nonverbal. Sharon Draper wrote an awesome book, Out of My Mind LINK, that I think everyone should read, it was an eye-opener for me and showed me so much about individuals who are nonverbal.

Emma’s Hope Book is a great resource for parents of Autistic children, and a great website to share with others who are involved with anyone who has Autism.

———
You can receive every post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.

my thoughts on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – Autism

my thoughts on ABA
*The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and based on our experience.

When the words “Your child has Autism” are spoken, most parents begin searching for ways to help their child. The psychologist offers advice, doctors suggest medication and therapy, friends refer to characters in movies or geniuses, other Autism parents recommend solutions that worked for their child. But one of the most common therapies you’ll hear about is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Autism parents invest tens of thousands of dollars per year on ABA, and many children spend thirty to forty hours per week in this intense therapy.

When I learned what true ABA is, I wasn’t a fan. Many therapists sit children down in a chair across the table and work intensely with the child. They will also focus on one skill such as putting a shirt on dozens of times in one session. This may work for some kids, but what about the ones who are constantly on the move, e.g. my son, Jeremiah? Jeremiah has learned to sit for longer periods of time, using fidgets* and routine, but working on something he’s not interested in (there aren’t many things at this time) would prove futile.

Some therapists use a reward system to get the child to perform, they may say, “After you put the puzzle together you may play with bubbles.” Jeremiah wouldn’t have been able to follow a similar direction until very recently. Even at this time he’s not quite there. Directions that are part of his daily routine are more at his ability level right now.

For example, because we’re working on “First/Then”* concepts at home and at school, he’s grasping what it means. I can take his doodle pad (which he loves and always has with him), and say, “Eat your snack first, then you can have your doodle pad.” But, to have him engage in an activity he doesn’t like, most anything besides puzzles, work boxes, peg boards, or coloring, you would have a meltdown with a crying, screaming child.

Frankly, I don’t want my child crying and screaming because someone wants him to learn his colors, look through a book, or get himself dressed. We push through on certain hygienic rituals like brushing teeth and taking a shower whether he’s crying or not, some things have to be done. The world can thank us later.

But, him crying and screaming because someone is making him learn to put his pants on or be involved in a group activity is not what I want for my child. I agree with constantly working with a child (with plenty of uninterrupted free play in between), we do this. We could work on education more, such as talking about colors and the like, however, we work on letters, shapes, and numbers on his doodle pad that he always has in hand.

Every time we get him dressed we walk through with words what he needs to do (in the beginning we used a lot of hand over hand teaching and less words), “Shirt over your head, arms in,” “Put your pants on, lift your leg, put your leg in.” It’s taken a while, but he is now helping to pull his pants on and has been taking them off for quite some time. 🙂

This is Jeremiah’s childhood and I want him to enjoy it like any other kid. I don’t want him miserable, working on the same skills over and over, hour after hour. Many ABA therapists will repeat the same skill over fifteen times in one session and I believe I’m being conservative with that number.

all children deserve a childhood

A family member recently asked me if ABA can work for some and not for others. Sure. ABA can produce skills, but in our case it hasn’t. We’ve used a modified form of ABA, but more on that in a bit. The true, follow the guidelines ABA has actually caused our son to lose skills. I’m sure many parents who stand behind ABA are shocked to hear this. You could say it was because of regression that he stopped using these skills, but he lost two, and they’ve never resurfaced.

When Jeremiah entered preschool he was using the sign language for “more” and saying, “maw” in the correct context. We shared this with his teachers, aides, and therapists, and most of them fostered his skill in the right way.

However, the speech pathologist did not.

Every time she worked with him, which was one day per week, she would do so at snack time. She would withhold his gold-fish crackers from him, and require him to use the sign for “more” and hand him ONE fish if he did. She would repeat this twenty or more times every time she worked with him. Because gold-fish crackers were highly motivating for him, that’s all she focused on.

Do you know what her tenacity resulted in? Jeremiah stopped signing and saying the word “more.” Completely stopped.

As for the modified ABA I mentioned, our amazing Behavior Specialist is the one who’s helped us with the adaptation. She’s not a fan of ABA in it’s true form either, but she will modify it for a child.

Here’s an example of modified ABA in a natural setting. We worked on something that Jeremiah was doing that we wanted stopped; he was hitting the t.v. during movies (sometimes because of excitement, other times seemingly just because). Lia* suggested we pause the movie each time Jeremiah got too close to the t.v. At first we pushed “pause,” walked up to him and gently moved him back the distance we wanted him from the t.v., and calmly said, “Scoot back,” as we moved him. Once he was a certain distance from the television, we pushed “play” and praised him, “Thank you for scooting back.”

As he learned what pausing the movie meant, we didn’t need to say anything (only praised when he did what was expected) because he moved back on his own. Lia also reiterated how important it is to…

focus more on his positive behaviors

…like praising when he does move away from the t.v. [ABA isn’t wrong, but I do think it’s taken too far], and when done in such a way, it’s taking childhood away from so many children.

The article, Would You Accept This Behavior Towards a Non-Autistic Child takes a look at how we treat those on the Spectrum. I highly suggest reading it and taking a look at how your child is treated at school, in your home, and in therapy. Ask yourself that question:

Would you accept this behavior towards a non-autistic child?

Next week I’ll be sharing some professionals thoughts on ABA as well as perspectives from adults on the spectrum and a mom who’s had a magnitude of success with her son (he’s fifteen, in college, and on track for a Nobel Prize) and hundreds of other kids with Autism whom she’s helped share their voice. Here is that article: more perspectives on Applied Behavior Analysis

*Jeremiah is 4 1/2 and nonverbal.

*Fidgets – sensory type tools used to calm a person. http://www.developmental-delay.com defines fidgets as tools that have
-Interesting tactile composition such as squeezable or spiky massagers
-Heaviness or pliability of the product
-Movement opportunities it provides our hands (can the child squeeze it?)
-Does Not make any noise, so it not a distraction to others
-Several different ones that are small enough to put in pockets”

 

*First/Then is simply having the child do an activity, and afterwards they get to do something they want to do. It can also be used to notify a child of an upcoming event. “First we are getting our pajamas on, then we will read a book.” Or if your child needs to leave an activity to do something they dislike, you can say, “First we’re going to wash hands, then you can play with the iPad.” Once learned, this phrase makes transitions easier, and works best if used in all their environments.

*Names changed to protect privacy.
————-

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.

your child can hear you (Autism/special needs)

your child can hear you
I recently watched a video on Autism, and in that video moms are shown with their children, meltdowns are taking place, some kids are hitting their parents, you hear the babbling of nonverbal children (all trying to make their voice heard), kids that are too big to be carried clinging to mom, vying for her attention.

It’s real, and sometimes it’s the exact life I live. However, many of the moms in that video don’t realize their children can hear what they’re saying about them, nor do I feel they see the qualities their children possess. I don’t feel they’re trying to hear wheat their child is saying when they make a noise, hit them, or fall on the floor in a meltdown.

For this post I will focus on the first point. Our children hear what we say. Even when it looks impossible, like our child doesn’t understand the world around them, they CAN hear us.

I was surprised by what the mothers in the video were saying in front of their kids. At the same time, some of it sounded familiar because I’ve been there, saying very similar things. I still find myself making comments that I shouldn’t.

The moms in the video were saying:

  • This is so exhausting. (Referring to taking care of the child.)
  • She wants all of my attention.
  • He’s so difficult.
  • She’s like a baby.
  • He can’t be left alone for a minute.

My son, Jeremiah, is nonverbal and it took me a while (too long) to come to the realization that my son understood far more than what I thought he did. When I saw Jeremiah smiling in response to us talking about what he’d done, I started to recognize what he understood. Then he began to laugh at funny things he was doing, or funny things we said and it continued from there, me realizing what this kiddo understood, and how much I didn’t. Some of you are shaking your heads, saying, “Duh.”

When your child doesn’t obey simple (or so they seem to us) requests, it can lead you to believe they don’t understand anything you’re saying,

and that just isn’t true.

We also need to treat those with special needs with respect. Maybe you would say those things about a typically functioning child, but many wouldn’t. Stress makes us do things we normally wouldn’t.

It’s also really important to recognize that meltdowns are a child’s way of communicating, so are most other behaviors. And one woman, when describing her hand movements (stimming), said it was the song of her heart. She was communicating through her hands. When individuals are nonverbal everything is tucked inside, maybe it sounds obvious now, but I feel the fact is easily forgotten.

Let’s remember to be careful how we talk to, and about our child when they can hear us. Here’s another good post to help remind us how we should treat our kids, and how we should expect others to treat them: Would You Accept This Behavior Toward a Non-Autistic Child?

I also highly recommend everyone read the book, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It gives us a glimpse into the life of someone who is nonverbal, but has much to say. It’s an easy and quick read, but so much can be gained from reading about Melody’s world.
————

You can receive every post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner, you can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.

Out of My Mind – including special needs

Last week I wrote about inclusion. Why do I care about inclusion? Because of how much it’s helped my son, Jeremiah, who has nonverbal Autism. Another thing I love is the school he’s attending (which happens to be the only inclusive elementary school in our district, and is so close, I can SEE it from my house)!

Because MV* is an inclusive school, they make exceptional efforts to educate children in the realm of special needs. On the hallway walls hang words such as Autism and Dyslexia, with explanations and photos of famous people who live with those disABILITIES. Staff and students have the option of purchasing shirts that promote acceptance of disABILITIES, they have sayings like, “At MV, we see your disABILITY.”

out-of-my-mindLast week was the kickoff for their One Book, One School. The book they chose: Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. The Denver Post says of Out of My Mind: “If there is one book teens and parents (and everyone else) should read this year, Out of My Mind should be it.”  At present, the book has been rated by 1,094 readers on Amazon and has a five-star rating! I’ve read some phenomenal books, and none of them have a five-star rating. And although our elementary school is promoting the book, it was written for young adults.

Here is a synopsis of the book: “Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button.

She’s the smartest kid in her whole school –

but NO ONE knows it. Most people – her teacher and doctors included – don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows…but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind – that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice…but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.”

At the school’s kickoff, there were various activities throughout the school which taught kids about what it’s like to live with special needs. At one station they needed to move a wheelchair from one point to another, at another they fed someone while blindfolded, they dressed someone whose arms and legs were straight out and completely stiff, they had to communicate their desires with a PECS board, and they learned about therapy dogs. We are so fortunate to be part of a school that’s focused on helping the students and staff learn about special needs.

Educating children about special needs will only make a better society.

inclusivesocietyI leave you with this quote from the author Sharon Draper, “I was fiercely adamant that nobody feel sorry for Melody. I wanted her to be accepted as a character and as a person, not as a representative for people with disabilities. Melody is a tribute to all the parents of disabled kids who struggle, to all those children who are misunderstood, to all those caregivers who help every step of the way. It’s also written for people who look away, who pretend they don’t see, or who don’t know what to say when they encounter someone who faces life with obvious differences.

Just smile and say hello!”

Does your school include special needs? What efforts do they make to teach children in the school about special needs?

*initials are used for school name to protect privacy.

Some other posts that may be of interest:
what is inclusion?
great special ed teachers = priceless
the board’s decision overrides

You can receive every post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more helpful information and links. Please feel free to share this with other educators and anyone you feel would benefit.

be positive for the little people – part 2 (Autism)

photo taken by knightsbridge photography
photo taken by knightsbridge photography

Yesterday I wrote about being positive for the little people – part 1 (if you haven’t read it, go ahead, we’ll see you back here in a bit). Now for the second installment that I promised.

I believe that families are like those bouncy-ball toys that light up. If one family member is lit up, the whole family is blinded. If you can help that one, then everyone benefits. So, here are some ideas to help you stay in the right frame of mind and kick the negative outlook to the curb.

  • Notice your child’s positive attributes and actions and praise them for it (even if your child is nonverbal). Although our son, Jeremiah, is nonverbal, as he has gained more understanding, he smiles and sometimes laughs when we say specific things about him or talk about something that happened to him.
  • Set your expectations a little higher. I don’t mean expect a child who’s never sat at the table for a meal to one day sit for the entire event. Work into things, but don’t let them slide without expectations. For example, Jeremiah is not really affectionate, but he does better than many other kids who have Autism. We’ve a made a point to hug and kiss him several times a day, every day. He’s much more attached to his Dad, so my kisses and hugs were less acceptable. I kept at it and he finally smiles and lets me give him a kiss before Dad puts him in bed. It took four years, but I won! A child knows when we have higher expectations for them.
  • Be aware of your words and your facial expressions when you’re around your child. This should be obvious, but I don’t think it is. I’ve been working on this recently. When it comes to my two kids, I am completely different in what I say aloud about them. Because my son is nonverbal and has less understanding (although this area is really developing lately) I fell into a trap of complaining about his behaviors when he was within earshot. Yeah, I know, not cool. One of my big issues was commenting on how difficult he was on certain days.
    In Be Positive for the Little People (Part 1), I mentioned Joanna’s article. Her first point really hit home with me. She says, “Just because someone is unable to communicate verbally, it doesn’t mean they are unable to hear.” It seems so obvious when I write it out or read it, but it’s so easy to forget when we have a child who can be trying.
    Even parents who don’t have a nonverbal child can fall into this habit, it’s difficult to find time with your spouse, and when you do, you don’t want to be a dump truck, so you may complain about your kids in front of them.

*****

There are many views on Autism, just as there are many personality types, varying forms of Autism, and different people. Some people can see the amazing and wonderful capabilities the person with Autism has. And some find it problematic, maybe their child is nonverbal, has no social skills or emotional connection, or has a commorbity such as Angelmans syndrome.

What I do know is that we all have to work at focusing more on the positives and kicking the negatives to the curb, and I know in one day there can be hundreds of negatives.

In case you missed it, here is the first post in this series: negativity is contagious

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to be more positive with your child. If you have ideas, please share them with us, we can all benefit from other’s experiences and insight into the special needs world.

If you know someone who has a child with Autism, or even a Grandparent or friend who would benefit from learning more about the subject, feel free to share this with them. You can receive each post made here by subscribing in the upper right, and you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

viewing my nonverbal child differently (special needs/Autism)

respectnonverbal

My son, Jeremiah, has something to say. Problem is, he can’t. He has nonverbal Autism. I’ve known he wants to communicate; what he wants to eat, what he doesn’t want to do, what movie he wants to watch. How do I know? Because he’s learned how to use body language (not sign language) to show us some of his preferences. He has also shown us what some of his likes and dislikes are through behavior. When I was in a meeting with his therapists a little over a year ago, I came to the realization that our children, even neurotypical ones, communicate through behavior.

It was an eye opening (or now I’m recognizing they were only half open) moment for me. Even when our children have negative behaviors they are trying to tell us something. Since that juncture I’ve made great efforts to decipher what Jeremiah is trying to say to me, but I still fall short. A perfect example was when he walked up and whacked me on the leg a few weeks ago. My response was a firm, “Ow, be gentle.” My husband, Justin, said, “He’s saying, ‘Hi.’”I still tell Jeremiah to be gentle, but I say “Hi” first.

Wow! The idea that when Jeremiah smacks us on the arm or leg, he’s greeting us, completely changed my view of the encounter and my response. A little background on the hitting; along with being nonverbal, Jeremiah also has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). For him, SPD takes on many forms, but most of the time he needs a lot of intense sensory input. This means he jumps with intensity on hardwood floors, hits tables, chairs, his head, and his knees to get sensory input. Basically he’s not gentle, so he’s not going to come to us and place his hand softly on our cheek to say “Hi” or “I love you,” he will do it with intense fervor as he does everything else.

In the past three weeks I have encountered opportunities to learn about Jeremiah’s nonverbal world, and in turn I share them with you. One was when I talked to Bethany from The Golden Hat Foundation, she brought insight to the nonverbal world of Autism. She was telling me about the movie A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism. Keli, a boy with nonverbal Autism, had learned to use a letter-board to communicate. When he was nine, he wrote his first sentence, he communicated his true thoughts for the first time. He wrote, “I am real.”

Those words floored me. I would imagine Keli’s words aren’t exclusive to him, I nonverbalthink many nonverbal people (don’t forget the children) don’t feel the world sees them for who they are. Bethany added to Keli’s words saying, “They have a favorite color, favorite food…”

Tears sprang up in my eyes (which were opening a little more). My son, Jeremiah, has a favorite color! I know he has favorite foods because his diet consists of three things, I know he doesn’t like some of his clothes because he takes them off, and I know he loves his magna-doodle because he’s always carrying it. What I didn’t realize was, Jeremiah has a favorite color, a favorite outfit, and SO much more. I only know of the things that I can study in him; his favorite toys, activities, whether he likes to be warm or cool (and since there is often a bare bootie running around here in the winter, I’d say he doesn’t mind the colder side).

The second time that nonverbal Autism came up was in a post written by Joanna Keating-Velasco on www.special-ism.com. Here’s what she had to say in Eight Ways to Show Respect to an Individual Who Is Nonverbal:

Not being able to speak is NOT the same as not having anything to say! Following are eight strategies to foster a relationship of mutual respect when interacting with an individual who is nonverbal.

In & Out of the Loop
Just because someone is unable to communicate verbally, it doesn’t mean they are unable to hear. Include them as part of your conversation dynamics. DO NOT talk about the individual as if he or she is not there. Unless the individual is specifically included DO NOT talk about their care needs, challenges or behaviors. Avoid gossiping about others or talking about inappropriate subjects. Also, take opportunities to advocate for them by encouraging others to be considerate

You can view the rest of the article here. I really encourage you to check it out, Joanna has some great points.

————
Jeremiah is only four, and his comprehension is expanding, but there have been times when we felt he didn’t understand what we were saying. But, maybe he did, he just wasn’t able to follow through with our request. No matter what a nonverbal persons level of perceived awareness, they deserve our respect.

If you know someone who is nonverbal are there any changes you can make to how you treat them? For me there are points the author of the post above makes that I need to work on, such as waiting for Jeremiah’s response, and not talking about him or his behaviors negatively when he can hear me. What do you think of Joanna’s points?

*The Golden Hat Foundation is an exceptional organization that exists to “change the way people with autism are perceived, by shining a light on their abilities and emphasizing their great potential. With proper education and career training, these individuals can truly realize their dreams…”

Share this post or blog with anyone you know who would benefit from knowing more about the nonverbal world. The more that awareness is spread, the more people will be understanding of special needs.
You can also subscribe to this blog on the upper right side to receive the posts in your inbox. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to receive other helpful links about Autism, adoption, and foster care.

hardly typical (reposted from Moved by Mercy)

I found this beautiful post on Moved by MercyI have previously written about our daughter, Payton, and how, despite her setbacks, she has always been amazing with her brother. As I read this post I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Dave’s words describe so much of who she is. She has been dealt a blow in life, but her ability to intuitively assist her brother in many aspects and the compassion she shows is just what the author of this post says, she’s hardly typical.

The following is reposted with permission from Moved by Mercy.

*********
Hardly Typical
by Dave Muirhead

I just learned that today, April 10th, is National Sibling day, a day set apart to celebrate brothers and sisters. The siblings of special needs kids are often referred to as “typical” siblings. Their lives are anything but typical and they, themselves, are anything but typical.

The truth is that typical siblings play a role in families with disabled children that sometimes looks more like a parent than a sibling. They change pull-up’s, help with dressing and feeding, protect against all manner of dangers, serve as Mom’s and Dad’s lookout, and more. Sure, they do those things because its helpful to Mom and Dad, but they also do it out of love for their sibling with special needs.

Typical siblings live in a world that seemingly has a gravitational pull towards their sibling with special needs. They sometimes feel forgotten and often have to settle for Mom and Dad “left-over’s”. Their activities are often constrained by the availability and cost of special needs child care. It’s not an easy life in a lot of ways.

My experience from meeting a number of typical siblings of special needs kids is that, despite all of those challenges – or perhaps because of them – these children are unusually compassionate, patient, accepting and forgiving of others, and kind-hearted.

Maybe the struggles and heartaches they’ve experienced from an early age forestalls the tendency toward self-focus, indifference and hardness of heart.

This is my favorite “typical” sibling, my daughter Shelby, now age 12. What a sweet heart!

Moved by Mercy 1

Shelby is the typically-developing sibling of her 7-year old special needs brother Jack whom we often call “Jack Jack” for his seemingly “super” ability to be creating catastrophes in two places at once (ever see Jack Jack Attack?)

Moved by Mercy 2

She endures looking at big machines…on TV…in person…for hours…

Moved by Mercy 3

From a very young age, Shelby has been one of Jack’s biggest protectors, advocates and comforters.

Moved by Mercy 4

Shelby loves the Lord and is a real prayer warrior. I’m always blown away when I get to listen in on her conversations with Jesus.

The other evening, Shelby handed me a short essay she wrote about what its like to be the sibling of a child with disabilities. Some of it was hard to read, to be honest.

The essay ended in “typically” Shelby fashion, though. She wrote that she has decided to start a sibling support group as part of the special needs ministry that my wife and I are starting at our church. She wrote that she would get other “typical” siblings together to pray for one another, talk about their struggles, enjoy one another’s fellowship and go do fun activities.

Hardly typical, but I wasn’t surprised. That’s just Shelby.

********

Do you have a neurotypical child that has amazed you? Do you feel they are special because of what they’ve gone through having a special needs sibling?

*My thanks to Dave and his willingness to share this post with lovin’ adoption’.

You can find out more about Dave’s ministry and see more of his writing at Moved by Mercy.