“Without Him we are disabled.”

I love this quote from one of the leaders of our school’s Mom’s in touch prayer group. Today we focused on God being our enabler.

I laughed when I first heard her say that, not because I don’t think He is, but because we, as a society are constantly told, “don’t enable them.” This, of course refers to the need to not help out people in such a way that it allows them to remain in their bad habits. God definitely does not do that, quite the opposite as a matter-of-fact.

When I explained my sudden outburst of laughter, our leader said the title phrase. How true that is! And when you live with a medically-identified disability, you can appreciate that phrase even more.

I truly would be able to do virtually nothing in society if it weren’t for Him enabling me. Neurotypical people are not able to do anything worth anything eternally without God’s help, but they are able to do a lot that is looked at as good, useful by the world.

That is one of the blessings of being disabled by the world’s standards. There is no chance for me to get confused about how the good that I do has come about – it can’t be me, so it has to be Him!

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Fisher’s of Men

Last week I couldn’t resist clicking on the Yahoo! post promising to list the 10 most dangerous jobs. Particularly intriguing was the note in the teaser that the most dangerous job also paid the least amount of money. Wow, if that isn’t an unfair situation!

When I discovered that this very underappreciated job was fisherman, I wasn’t terribly surprised – I had heard that statistic before, about fishing being one of the most dangerous jobs.

But what really got to me is the fact that Jesus promises his followers that he will make them “fishers of men.”

When I think of fishing, I think of a quiet time on a calm lake in a little aluminum fishing boat with a few of my favorite people, just holding a line over the boat and trying not to lose to much bait while at the same time hoping to catch at least one keeper crappie before the sun sets.

I guess introducing people to Jesus can be like that some days. But I think he wanted us to think more along the lines of the commercial fisherman, who risk life and limb to tell people (catch fish), who really don’t want to know at the time. And not only is the audience often not interested at first, there are many powers arrayed against our work.

I am thankful that He is making me into something, and that He promises to hold me when the sharks bite!

Do people with Asperger’s Syndrome know right from wrong?

I would give a resounding, yes, to that. Now, people with Asperger’s Syndrome do not understand all of the little cultural nuances of what is right and wrong in every little social interaction. For instance, I had to be told not to discuss fishing during a Easter dinner when I was old enough that most children my age would have known better.

And it does take children with Asperger’s longer to realize that adults feel physical pain just like them. To all children, adults are seen at first as these amazing individuals who are impervious to any hardship. But most children realize early on that adults, though hardy, do still feel pain when jabbed in the side with an elbow. An elementary child with Asperger’s has to be told this, since they still believe that the adult will react to them as he or she did when the child was a toddler when the child, now much larger decides to jump on their leg.

So why do children with Asperger’s Syndrome (and some adults, too) cause terrible pain or damamge to someone or something, even after they are told not to do something like that, even after they know that what they are doing is going to cause pain? Often, in the moment, they believe that that person or thing has offended them in such a way as to warrant such behavior.

The problem for people with Asperger’s Syndrome is that they do not have the ability to regulate their emotions like a typical person does. People with Apserger’s Syndrome are often fine, or furious; happy or depressed. There is no, “I am happy, but I can feel that I am starting to feel a bit unhappy, what should I do about it.”

Anyone who feels furious has a difficult time thinking clearly. But neurotypical people have time to think about what they might do, should their growing feelings of anger become fury. An Aspergian, doesn’t have that time. What I have had to learn to do is manage myself, even in the midst of great fury. As my family can attest, I have not always handled myself well, but I am getting better.

Basically, when I start feeling furious, I have to try to get myself to think about what is going on: why am I furious, is it reasonable that I feel furious, how can I deal with this situation constructively? Sometimes that means that I will tell my children to go to their rooms until I can calm down and figure out what needs to be done next. Sometimes I excuse myself to the bathroom or to a quiet place to read, if my husband is home and can manage things for a bit.

I am glad that the research out there is helping to give kids with ASD a break. Because when they are preschool age and younger, they really don’t realize what is right and what is wrong, often. However, I want people to know that the child may have known that they were doing something wrong, so help them find other ways to handle it, don’t just assume that they didn’t know what they were doing. They are smart enough to use that as an excuse to cause trouble, and they won’t learn how to handle things properly, causing them great trouble when they are adults.

Asperger’s and Pain

So often I have read that people with Asperger’s Syndrome, and other ASDs do not respond correctly to pain. It is true that we do not respond typically to pain. It is often assumed that we must not feel pain at the same level that others feel it. We definitely do have a different way of integrating our senses than others. But the thought that we do not feel pain as strongly as others, I believe to be untrue.

Here is what is really going on (at least for me, my son and other biological relatives of mine who do  not think they have an ASD, but probably do). We sense the pain, but we do not want anyone else to know that we are sensing it. To let someone know means that they will start asking questions, and they may start pressuring us to treat our pain. We fear the treatment, because it may involve  even more pain, and there is often no 100% guarantee that the treatment will treat the pain. There is often a tiny percent possibility that the pain may actually become worse, or that even if the pain goes away, some other horrible side-effect will remain.

We have seen how life can work, we are generally not optimists, so we assume that the worst will happen to us. Therefore, we would rather stick with the current known pain and its familiar circumstances than trade it for a lot of unknown circumstances, that could include a lot of social interactions with a lot of unknown people in a lot of unknown places that could result in even more pain and unknown complications.