Mr. T: Who would have thought?

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0267.Who would have thought I could be so blind, I mean I do have a strong glasses prescription but It goes deeper than that.

I was aware of Autism, but at the same time I wasn’t. Here is a kid full of energy just like every other kid. Here is a kid who loves to laugh, and have fun just like every other kid . Here is a kid who is just as smart if not smarter than any kid his age. Mrs. Em explained it as “ your mind and your body being on two different pages”. My first thought, well I must be Autistic because my mind and body are never on the right page. I finally met Filbert and just by looking at him, you wouldn’t guess just by looking at him that he is autistic. When you see Filbert, all you see is the 7 year old kid.

Filbert has this way of making your lowest, slowest day fast and upbeat. When I enter the house and he sees me, he darts for the bedroom, and he does it everyday. He has a huge heart, and he wants to actually keep getting better and improving.

When I started working out with him, it was a bit of a struggle, mostly for me because Filbert is practically a freakish athlete. I never actually worked with someone before, where I made the workouts and then trained them, but it was so dope. When we first started, Filbert’s body was so tight, and his core and upper body wasn’t as strong.  

As weeks go by, our trust and faith in one another grows. When I come Filbert knows I believe in him and want to see him succeed I know Filbert wants to get better and succeed. As I see him progress more and more, I just notice more and more how he’s just like every other person.

Now that I have been working with Filbert for a while and have a more of an understanding about autism. It’s sort of like a decathlon, so many different aspects go into, and can have an effect on it. Filbert has a great team behind him, and the way Filbert’s motivation level is setup, there is no doubt in my mind that we will be breaking that decathlon record.

Who would have thought a 7 year old could do algebra? Who would have thought a 7 year old would help me make a career choice ? Who would have thought Team Filbert would help change my life ?

Autism: Classical Conversations & RPM

philrrMy son Filbert is 8 years old, diagnosis of severe autism, and is able to communicate verbally for wants and needs.

We decided to join a Classical Conversations Community this school year as the program just makes so much sense.

Here are the reason I feel it works for us:

  1. Our community is inclusive, kind, respectful, loving, and ask wonderful questions about my son; treating him with the upmost respect. They see him as God’s amazing creation just like their own kiddos. —so appreciated!
  2. Music and movement help any child remember information including mine. Even if he cannot do all the actions or say all the words he is hearing them and learning them. I hear many things I never say aloud that I remember — I imagine you do to. Same for my boy, so there an abundance of info in his brain from cycle 1.
  3. Being with other children his age for community day, once a week, is great balance as it requires lots of work for him to keep his body controlled. He gets to practice this, but does not have to stress about that daily.
  4. Love using the Classical Conversations memory work to build lesson plans off of for him to spell via RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) his responses.
  5. His community class has been patient and respectful as he spells parts of his presentations via letter board for them to see him communicate — like a dream for me!
  6. Classical Conversations provides Filbert with a well-rounded education including fine arts – he did well with the tin whistle, loves making art, and has really enjoyed the music. Love that he is learning more that just the core subjects.

Filbert like all children everywhere is capable of learning. We just have to find the best way to teach. For Filbert and all nonverbal or limited verbal autistics I have seen Rapid Prompting Method does work! It requires practice and patience as you both learn it, but getting to know my child and seeing him have the education he deserves makes it all worth it.

Shout out to our CC community. I could not feel more abundantly blessed by you all! 

Guest Post: Learning to BE

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Heartfelt words from a fellow momma raising a child with autism:

Getting an autism diagnosis for your child is a heart-wrecking incident in your life. It shakes you up completely and as a parent you hear only negative comments initially from doctors, therapists, friends and family. It seems like your life is ending with this incurable condition. You grieve over it and then you grieve some more. Then you realize that you cannot give up on your child. Your child is still the same child he was before you heard of the diagnosis. You start researching like there is no tomorrow. Soon your life becomes PhD study of diets, supplements, treatments and protocols for improvement. You become possessed by Autism recovery. You feel like there will be light at the end of the tunnel and you put in all your energy and resources into helping your child. You forget the rest of your family and just have laser focus on your child with diagnosis.

Continuously reading on FB, talking to only moms with special needs and therapists becomes your life. You work so hard without any breaks and soon it takes a toll on your health. After DOING so much, the gains don’t compare and then you start losing your optimism. You go through anger, guilt, frustration, not being enough feelings. There comes a point where just leading routine life starts becoming a burden. You realize that no matter how hard you try, things will work out only when your child is ready. You can make the best of efforts and the results will come when the timing is right. It’s not easy to surrender like this since one part of you says you cannot give up on your child, the other part says let it go and just accept life as is.

Finally after huge internal battles, I have chosen to just BE. To be happy with what I have, to be grateful for every small change I have seen, to look back at how much progress is made instead of how much more needs to be made. This LET GO has given me so much peace and relaxation. It reflects on my son and he is making progress even without me stressing about it. He still has a long way to go, but now I have decided to just BE instead of DO all the time like a non-stop robot. I have begun to love myself first and spend time in myself and do things that make me happy. Only when my cup is full, can I give me son my best. I have decided to judge my success as a mother based on how I present to him every day. I have to accept him for what he is instead of expecting him to be what I want him to be. This is hard, but I am making a conscious effort to surrender any thoughts that divert me from this intention.

Why am I sharing all this? It took me 6 years to get here. If sharing this can even help one mom, I feel like my mission is accomplished. There is huge learning curve on this journey. I guess our kids have come into our life to help us dive deep inside us and realize how much power and strength we have inside us that was just dormant. We are not just healing our kids, we are healing ourselves at the same time!! We are ordinary human beings and its normal to go through all these emotions. It’s important to forgive ourselves and continue to LET GO as we move along. I am very fortunate to share this journey with your rocking moms who teach me so much and are always supportive and inspiring!!

Ms C. shares: asymmetrical quilt

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I’m the kind of person who sews every part of my life together like a precisely measured and prepared quilt. Things in my life have to make sense. There is a reason behind my every action, and it typically relates to the question, “What’s in it for me?” Coming into Team Filbert in the fall, I had a plan. I would get community service hours for class credit while doing something that interests me. It made sense; it was practical. Then, at the end of the semester, I was presented with the opportunity to do RPM with Filbert. It would be a bigger commitment and a lot more training than what I had planned. It didn’t necessarily make sense, but I took the opportunity anyway, and my life has been changed ever since.

Filbert is teaching me that life doesn’t need to make sense all the time. I can do things just for the sake of doing them. I can do something because it makes sense for another person’s life. I can cry happy tears for another person’s accomplishments and achievements, and in a nonsensical way, it all makes sense. 

Before RPM, I would say Filbert’s life was upside down and our efforts to help merely helped him balance in the handstand position. Through RPM and other focused efforts, we are now slowly helping him turn his life right side up. I can now see the physical implications of his growth toward normalcy. Through RPM, we can “hear” his voice, enjoy his humor, and give him an education. Before working with Filbert, I had no awareness of the implications of autism. I was nonjudgmental and open toward people with autism, but I simply had no idea what it meant. Filbert has taught me that people with autism cannot be grouped; each person has their own personality behind the autistic body, and his personality shines bright. Filbert has a love for learning, a mind filled with deep thoughts, a heart for God, a contagious smile, and a desire to be always improving. He is nothing short of inspirational. It has been a privilege to be along for the ride, witnessing the miracles within Filbert daily. 

One of my favorite memories with Filbert was during a lesson about Abraham Lincoln. At the end of the lesson, I wrote, “Abraham Lincoln was known for putting an end to the Civil War. I want to be known for ________________.” Filbert spelled out “sitting,” a word that made sense within our relationship. During lessons, Filbert stands on his chair, runs across the room, or slides off his chair only to crawl out from under the table. This response was our first open-ended communication and it meant the world to me. Filbert wants what I want; he simply can’t control his disobedient body. It meant so much that he spelled out a word that was pertinent to our time together. While he still typically does not sit through the whole lesson, I have found that sitting is not what is important. What is important is Filbert’s desire to sit and learn. After the lesson, I sat on the floor with Em with smiles from ear to ear and tears in our eyes. We shared this moment of joy for Filbert’s newfound method of communication and his clever, handpicked responses. 

Filbert has taught me to put my heart into relationships with others. I am a very logical person, and before getting to know him, I could sympathize, knowing and understanding what that person was going through. I am learning through this experience to do more than sympathize; I am acquiring the ability to empathize, feeling what others feel rather than just comprehending. It is a vulnerable thing to put your heart into relationships, but I am discovering that sometimes, it is worth the risk. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” My experience with Filbert has taught me to do this. 

My time with Filbert is like a zigzagged, colorful, asymmetrical quilt piece that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of my orderly and matching quilt pieces of life experiences. It doesn’t make sense and I love it that way. I have learned to give up control of my life-quilt making to God. He is the potter, shaping my life, and He is the quilter, carefully sewing all of my experiences together. Filbert has a radiant quilt that warms the hearts of so many people. I am blessed to be a part of his intricate and ever-growing quilt. 

Autism: 3 Years Later

Today marks three years since my precious little boy, Filbert, was diagnosed with severe autism. Its been quite a journey so far. The initial shock that something may be wrong with the little person you love so profoundly, followed by fighting and using your intuition as to what is best for him environmentally, diet wise and therapeutically. Loosing all but our two sets of best friends as we buckle down, isolate, and weather the grief as we search for answers. Humbly asking for help from everyone we know to get involved in play therapy and being overwhelmed by the loving response we witnessed; it was as though our love buckets over flowed. Regaining a new sense of normal as we decided to love our son for exactly who he is in each moment with the full hope that he could accomplish anything. Read more