Back to the Beginning #3 – Easily Frustrated

People with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) are easily frustrated. It comes from our black and white view of the world.

If things aren’t going well, then they are going badly. If things are going badly, there is no guarantee that they will go well again, so we get very frustrated, because this bad situation is what we may be stuck with from now on.

Our black and white thinking is reinforced by (or is it created by – I do not know) our poor muscle planning. We know that if we get into a bad situation, it is not going to be easy for us to quickly get out of it. Our body does not naturally know how to jump out of the way of a ball flying at our head, or a hammer coming down on our finger.

Also, we know that it is going to be harder to learn a new physical skill. And if it is a physical skill that has many parts that are all performed quickly, such as a golf swing, we feel overwhelmed.

In neurotypical people, mirror neurons in the brain allow one person to watch someone else do an action. The person watching is then able to copy that action immediately, and is able to practise that action in his or her head. It has been shown that for neurotypical people, practising the motion in their head is just as effective is practising the motion physically.

This is not so for people with ASD. The mirror neurons do not function properly in an ASD person. An ASD person must consciously train his or her body to do everything (except, of course to jerk in surprise at loud noises!).

Because everything is so difficult to learn, this makes learning new things more frustrating for the ASD person.

Also, it has been found that people with ASD do not have a natural continuum of emotions. They go from being fine, to extremely frustrated instantly, with no gradiation. With training, they can learn to control the external manifestations of those instant emotions, but those emotions will always threaten to come.

Thankfully, with prayer and leaning on God’s love, people with ASD can learn to give their extreme emotions to God, and let Him show appropriate Christian self-control through them.

God can use these intense emotions for His purposes, too, when the person has learned to respond to them properly. For instance, God abhors many things in our current culture. People with ASD feel this same abhorrence so intensely that they cannot ignore it, as can so many others who are able to feel at a lesser intensity.

This intense emotion can then keep someone with ASD consistently working against these abhorrent things, while others just go along with them, not realizing the harm. The key for the person with ASD is to let God channel that intensity into a loving, merciful response, rather than the natural rude, hurtful response.

Lord, I need more help in speaking the truth in love.

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This is a Kingdom of Hearts

It seems that many Christians agree that the persecution of Christians in America is coming.

Several weeks ago a Christian friend and I were having lunch and got onto the subject of persecution. She told me how important she thinks it is for resistance fighters to have weapons in order to be effective. Something didn’t seem right about that thought, but not being someone who is good at thinking on my feet, I just listened quietly, deciding to ponder that idea later.

On my drive home I talked to God about her ideas, and this is what I believe he reminded me of.

The resistance fighters she was thinking of were people who were fighting for the earthly treasures of land or political rights. As Christians, we are not (or at least, should not be) fighting for land or any other earthly possession.

We should be fighting for people’s souls. We should be fighting for the truth to be heard and accepted.

If we truly believe the truth of God’s love for us, then our own lives and possessions are worth nothing to us, so dying and loss should be no big deal (terrifying to us as humans, though it may seem).

Therefore, the only thing we are fighting for is the souls of our friends and persecutors. So to kill the body of the one we are trying to reach is 100% counterproductive.

There may be people called to bear arms, but I don’t think so – I don’t remember anyone in the early church defending themselves against persecution.

Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:

 5Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth. 
 7Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy. 
 9Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 

 43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you. “

Lord, those are difficult words. Please help us be  perfect as you are perfect.

Thoughts on the release of the Libyan bomber

Micah 6:8

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

I cannot imagine the pain endured by the families who lost loved ones on the flight that was allegedly bombed by the Libyan recently released from the Scotland prison. But from what I heard of the Scotland leader’s speech, the leader understood and respected the above Bible verse. His country had acted justly in imprisoning the Libyan, but now they were loving mercy and walking humbly with God by releasing the Libyan to his family.

The Good News about Autism Spectrum Disorders

Once we (people with Autism Spectrum disorders) believe something, it is very hard for us to change our mind, no matter the information put in front of us. So if we believe what is right, we won’t be easily swayed from it.

 The things that are important to us are always on our minds. We are driven to focus on those things and are not easily distracted by what we consider to be trivial. So if the things of God become important to us, everyone around us will know.

 We have heightened senses and are not easily able to block out the input that we receive. So if God is talking to us, we have a hard time not listening.

We are very literal. So if the Bible commands that we do something, we are not at rest until we are at least trying to fulfill that command.

We have an excellent memory. So we are good at knowing what to pray for by recalling what God has said and what others have shared with us.

As with all strengths, when not used for God, these very strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. So, quite frankly, the only thing I have found to consistently work when parenting my son, and encouraging myself, is prayer for God’s strength.

I pray for strength and courage for all of you to follow God today – loving the unlovable, caring for those who would be orphans if it weren’t for you, and may He provide joy in places where there couldn’t be without His miraculous power.

Are there really more kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders today?

I do not know anyone with a severely austic child, and I don’t know anyone personally who has a child that seemed 100% neurotypical until 2 years old and then lost language skills, so maybe those sorts of ASD cases are on the rise.

But I have found that among the “almost normal” kids on the Autism Spectrum there seems to be at least one parent that also exhibits Asperger’s symptoms, and often there is a grandparent. 

In my child’s case there is a parent (me), a grandparent, two great-grandparents, at least one great-great-grandparent, an uncle, a great uncle, several great-great aunts, and some cousins both in his generation, as well as several generations older.

So is it on the rise, or is the speed of our society such that it is just more obvious that people have a hard time with transitions?

Also, when I was a child, school was very orderly and eveyone did their own work. Now that the focus is on group work, people who have a hard time working in groups are going to be more obvious.

I think it is excellent that students are required to learn in groups, as that is required to survive as an adult. It just makes kids with ASD more obvious, which is good so that they can get the help that their older relatives didn’t.