Finding Your Childís Way on the AUTISM SPECTRUM...
Discovering Unique Strengths,
Mastering Behavior Challenges
A wonderful thing about Lauraís book, is that she knows first hand the challenges and victories of raising a child on the autism spectrum. She is a biblical counselor, former psychologist, and most of all, an experienced mother of an adult son with disability. Wherever your child is on the autism spectrum, you will find helpful information here. And even if your child has a mental disability that isnít described as autistic, this book is very helpful! There are families and professionals who do not advocate physical discipline for special needs children under any circumstance. We totally respect their view. In the same vein, we also respect the opinion of families who do choose to lovingly use non-injurious physical discipline, as a means to train their child with special needs. Each family must search for themselves for the right path of making a difference in the sometimes obnoxious behavior of a child who may not understand totally verbal admonition.
It has been our observation, over the last 16 years, that families who are lovingly consistent in their discipline (which ever method), have reaped a blessing in the behavior of their child. Some families, who have neither the tools nor know-how to help their child learn self-control, have sadly had to place their child in residential care or in another home. At age 8 - or older, they donít have the strength to fix their childís long-standing bad behavior. Many times it is not even safe to have them in the home. We want to emphasize that now is the time to train and teach our children to listen to our quiet words. Consistency is very important. Donít give up! Order the book on-line from www.amazon.com or your favorite book store.
The following are some excerpts from the book. We highly recommend getting the book for yourself.
Problem Behaviors: Recovery or Acceptance? Page 34
Autism spectrum parents disagree about what to do about problem behaviors. Some see them as deficits that must be remedied so their children can fit into society better. These parents hope that science will find a reversible physical cure for their childís condition, and they pursue treatments that offer hope of a cure. Their goal is to find something that will make their child like everyone elseís.
Others take the opposite tack, considering their childís condition to be unchangeable. These parents insist that their children canít help themselves and shouldnít be expected to. They work to increase societyís acceptance of their childís condition so they can be accepted without having to change, as people with vision or mobility challenges are.
Both of these positions are motivated by a love thatís willing to make extraordinary sacrifices for a childís well-being. Itís unfortunate that these two parental camps have become somewhat polarized in recent years. The recovery group accuses the acceptance group with being defeatist or unwilling to sacrifice, and the acceptance group accuses the recovery group of not accepting their children. Are we stuck with irreconcilable differences on the subject of problems behaviors, or can we find some common ground?
What does the Bible Teach? Pg. 34
The Bible doesnít leave parents of typical children in the dark about how God wants them to be raised, and its principles shed light on nurturing your autism spectrum child, too. I already mentioned three of these truths in chapter 1: God designed your child while he was still in the womb, He has a plan for him (Psalm 139:13-16). And the plan is good. Romans 8: 28). Letís add the truth that, as a human being, your child is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27), just as you are. This means that, in agreement with the acceptance group, thereís nothing wrong with your child. God made him the way he is, and He has a good plan for his life.
On the other hand, the Bible also teaches that your child has inherited a sinful nature as a result of Adamís fall in the garden of Eden (Genesis 5:1 - 3), just as you have. Because of Adamís sin, he wasnít born innocent and naturally good (Psalm 58:3; 51:5). Godís word commands you to correct his behavior (Proverbs 19:18). It promises benefits for him if he is corrected and consequences if he is not. (Proverbs 29:15). The Bible even says that if you love your child, youíll correct her (Proverbs 13:14). In agreement with the recovery groupís beliefs, these verses tell us that your child is not fine the way she is; she needs to change.
Of course, the Bible teaches that we arenít fine the way we are either. In fact, thatís the whole point: our special kids need a Savior just as much as we do. Using discipline as a tool to help them grow to trust Christ is just as essential for them as it is for our typical children.
But my Child is Different! Pg. 35
But wait, you may be thinking, my spectrum child is different! Do the Bibleís commands really apply to her the same as to my typical children? At first glance it may seem as though this canít be so, but the Bible assures us that it is. People with various challenges are described throughout Scripture, so their presence among Godís people is assumed, but the Bibleís only special commands about them are not to take advantage of them (see, for example, Deuteronomy 27:18). We can therefore conclude that God has given one standard for challenged and typical people alike. And, really, doesnít this make sense? Your spectrum child was born with a sinful nature, like your typical kids. She sins, the same as your typical kids (Romans 3:23). This means that she needs a Savior, just like all the rest of us. (Romans 3:23). This means that she has more in common with us than we may have realized.
Our spectrum kids require the same sort of nurture that our typical ones do. They need to be taught to love and to obey God, and to love others as they love themselves. Pastor Tedd Tripp refers to this nurture as ďshepherding a childís heartĒ but although the Bible doesnít exempt us from shepherding our spectrum childrenís heart, the tools we use may be very different than those that work with our other typical kids. This is training them in their way - finding means to apply biblical principles to teach those who donít learn in the usual manner.
How to Discipline Pg. 41
Itís very important to discipline in the right manner if your child is to learn the right lessons from your correction. You should only spank after explaining what rule was broken. If your child has limited understanding, you may need to use very simple words like ďno hittingĒ to explain the rule, and use the same words to repeat the rule each time to discipline. Even Coco (our dog) was able to obey simple commands this way. Your child can learn this, even if his function is very low, if you keep it simple enough.
Itís important to teach only one rule at a time to your spectrum child. Trying to teach several at the same time will confuse and frustrate him. Once heís thoroughly mastered the first one, you can introduce another. Itís also important to discipline for every instance of disobedience to the rule youíre working on. If you arenít completely consistent, he may not understand what youíre trying to do. Because spectrum kids are easily discouraged, this could lead to his giving up and just ignoring you. And donít forget to enthusiastically praise him each time he obeys!