Doing The Write Thing

Monday was my first solo session with my new client whose mother speaks very little English. Over the weekend, I was thinking of things I wanted to tell her, but I’m not to the place yet where I can verbally express all of that in Spanish. Then the thought came to my mind that maybe I could write her a letter, and so I did.

These are the basics of what I told her.

-I thanked her for the opportunity to work with her son.

-I told her I thought her son was intelligent and that he has much potential.

-I explained that I’ve been a therapist for 6 years and that I believe that ABA(applied behavioral analysis) is effective.

-I concluded with the fact that I believe in the power of prayer, I serve a God who does miracles and that I would be praying for her son and family.
So when I arrived at the home, I told her that I wrote her a letter, and I gave it to her. She read it out loud while I stood there, smiling some and shaking her head. I asked her if she understood it, and she did, and said “Es bonita.” Then she started talking fast Spanish, most of which I didn’t quite grasp. I did catch her saying that she had seen a little progress in her son. From there I just began to set up for the session, and soon the client and I were engaging in a game of Candyland. About halfway through the session when my client, his younger brother and I were in the middle of a game, the mom came in and started asking me something about a text that was on her phone from her sister. It was in English, and she wanted me to translate it into Spanish for her. Ay yi yi! 😳 I translated the first line, but brain freeze set in, and all I could say was “No sé.” I did end up telling her about Duolingo, and I helped her download it on her phone.  At the end of the session, I was able to tell her that next week I would be on vacation(Pacific Coast Camp-Woo hoo!) and I would be back at her place on the 27th. She understood and thanked me for my help.

I pray that I at least was able to plant a little seed yesterday.

In the meantime, it’s back to studying verb tenses and asking God to touch this middle aged gringa mind. 👏🏻

Now I Have To……..

speak Spanish! I am being assigned to a client whose family is not fluent in English. I’m sure they know some, but they prefer a therapist that can speak Spanish. I’m not fluent in Spanish YET, but I  have been studying it on my own for almost three years. Thursday and Friday I will be shadow training with the other therapist on the case, and then on Monday, I am on my own. I am a little nervous but mostly excited. Right now, I will only have this client one day a week, but it is a foot in the door, and for that, I am grateful. Oraciones, por favor.😳 Muchas gracias!!🤓

Tricky Trap House

 

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I have a client who is rather fond of the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat, and Jerry is a mouse.  Having grown up in a home where we had a television, I am familiar with these characters that have been around since 1940. One day several weeks ago when I arrived at my client’s house for our afternoon session, I noticed a new toy sitting on the small table where we sometimes do our work. It was the house you see in the picture above. My client’s older sister explained to me that it was a tricky trap house that Tom uses to try and catch Jerry. Upon inspection, I noticed some of the cleverly disguised traps that were part of the house, such as a porch swing with a crack down the middle that you can’t see very well, a grand piano with three good legs and one wobbly leg that you can easily kick out and a chandelier that can be ejected by a button, causing it to fall and become a mouse trap. We use this trap house sometimes during play time to provide my client with opportunities to learn how to be flexible. Sometimes I will purposely interrupt him in playing, maybe by rearranging furniture in the house or saying that I want a turn to play with Tom and Jerry. I then take data on whether or not he was flexible. If he’s not flexible, we make a note of it and teach him how to respond in a way that is more acceptable than raising his voice in protest, screaming or throwing a fit. We are also using the trap house to try and help him gain an understanding of prepositions. For instance, I will take the Tom figure, place him in front of the house and ask, “Where’s Tom?” We prompt him to say “in front” until he can get to the place where he can tell us independently.

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a Sunday school teacher for so long that I have a tendency to see object lessons in things around me. I’d like to think that it is God trying to show me something. Whatever the case, I think this trap house has a spiritual application which I put in the form of a poem.


 

Satan has a tricky trap house

He’d like you to enter in

Though it has been called many things

It’s original name is sin.

 

He’ll tell you that it won’t harm you

Indulge a little, and all will be well

Don’t be fooled, his real intention

Is to damn your soul to hell.

 

Temptation can look so appealing

Appear to be harmless and fun

Consider not Satan’s slick offers

But from his enticements, run!

 

To God you must first submit

If ol’ sloughfoot you plan to resist

Then when that deceiver comes knockin’

The Lord will be there to assist.

 

And when the devil is beat at his game

For him it will be such a bummer

With God’s grace you will have become

A victorious overcomer!

 

I’m thankful that through Jesus we can have the power to recognize and overcome the temptations of the enemy. Satan, you’re kingdom’s coming down. No April fooling!

 

 

Self-Monitoring, God Monitoring

As most people that read this blog know, I am a behavioral therapist that works with autistic children. I have been in this line of work for six and a half years , and most days, I really enjoy what I do. Currently on Friday mornings, I work with a sometimes rambunctious little girl that is very high functioning. On occasion, a therapist will have a clinician or associate clinician come by either to observe a session, do an evaluation on a therapist or introduce new programs for a client. Today the associate clinician on this particular case was there, and during this session, she introduced a new program called self-monitoring. The goal of this program is to increase the client’s rate of compliance and make being compliant something that is reinforcing for her. The associate clinician made a colorful, laminated chart for the client where we can write down her scheduled activities for the day. These can be things such as work time, game, therapist’s choice, snack, pretend play, etc.  Once we complete an activity, there is a space on the chart where the client can evaluate herself on how she did. The 2 questions she answers (by circling  “yes J” or “no L ) are “Did I follow instructions?” and “Did I use my big girl voice?” This little girl has a tendency to mumble a lot, although she is capable of speaking clearly. Once she answers these questions, then I, the therapist, have to answer these questions about the client.  If she puts down yeses and I agree and say yes too concerning these 2 questions, then she receives praise and an extra minute or two of play time or whatever we have agreed upon as a reward for that day. It worked very well today. My client completed 3 activities and had all yeses. However, I know it’s not always going to go this well. There are going to be days where she says yes to these questions, even though she knows she hasn’t followed instructions or has been mumbling, and I will have to be honest and say no and explain why I said no.

 

When I was driving home after my session, I started thinking about the importance of self-examination when it comes to our walk with God. The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians:

 

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Cor. 13:5

 

We have to be willing to take inventory of our relationship with God and see how we are doing. However, the Bible also tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. We can lie to ourselves and say things are fine when they really aren’t. Perhaps that’s why David said in Psalms:

 

“Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Psalm 26:2

 

If we ask the Lord to examine us and reveal what’s in our hearts, He will do it and be honest, for He cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) Primarily, He does this through the preaching of His Word. He will show us what areas of our lives we need to get right with Him, and do you know why He does it? It’s because He loves us, and He wants to be good to us. If we will follow His instruction when we need to be corrected  and we repent, one day we will have the ultimate reinforcing reward of spending all eternity with Him!

 

Oh, monitor my heart, Lord Jesus.

Incremental Victories

A couple of years ago, I was priviliged to hear a great man of God preach a message entitled Incremental Victories. At the time, this really ministered to me and helped me a great deal. The Lord has brought it back to my mind a time or two since then. The basic gist of the message was to keep our focus on the progress God has given us, even if it seems like only a little bit. I can remind myself that I may not be everything I want to be in God, but thank God, I’m not what I used to be! We may not have baptized 10 people this month, but thank God for the one we did baptize! Etc. etc. The enemy of our souls would like to discourage us and make us feel like failures, because we may not see BIG results, but we need to thank God for every bit of ground that we do gain in Him.

I have endeavored to apply this to myself not only in my Christian walk but in my work experience as well. Many already know that I work with autistic children. This week I celebrated my 3rd year anniversary at my present job. Oftentimes, seeing progress in my clients can be slow, but I have learned to appreciate and celebrate every little victory that I see them attain. Victories for these kids can be things that we are used to taking for granted, such as the ability to respond to a question, saying a new word, being able to take turns appropriately, asking for something you want or need without having a tantrum, etc. Today I worked with a little tyke who counted to 10 without any prompting from me. That was a victory that was exciting for both his parents and I!

I just feel thankful in my spirit tonight for incremental victories in my personal life, for incremental victories in my family and for incremental victories I am witnessing in the lives of people at church. God is good, and I don’t want to fail to give Him glory for things both great and small!

Reconnecting

First, I want to say thank you to those who prayed in response to my last post. I did have my therapy session with Anna on Saturday, and it went okay. The first thing I did was give her a short PECS Bible study that I put together. I tried to put in as many pictures as possible, because I’ve read that a lot of people with autism think in pictures instead of words. I really don’t know how much of the Bible study that she understood. It’s hard to know, because Anna does not speak when she is in front of people. The only time she is verbal is when she is on the phone. Anyhow, Anna seemed really tired. She actually feel asleep part way through the session, so I had to cut it short. I found out later that she was given some medicine on Friday that makes her drowsy.

Sunday morning, she came to church with one of our new converts, whose children have been friends of Anna for several years. She was sleeping under a pew during worship service. I went and sat by her during the preaching. At one point, she got up and went and sat on the back pew. She started reaching up to an electrical outlet on the back wall and was trying to pull out a plastic protector that was inserted into the plug part. I put my hand up to block her and she stopped. She sat there for a few minutes and then went and layed down underneath the pew in front of me. At one point, I looked at her, and she was looking directly at me. I held her gaze, and she kept looking at me, which is great, because she hardly ever looks anyone in the eye. Then she reached out her hand toward me.  I was going to reach out my hand to her, but I decided to put my Bible down by her instead. She picked it up and held it for a few minutes before putting it back down. I took the Bible back. She reached out her hand again. I put my hand next to hers but did not touch her hand. I wanted her to be the one to initiate the touch if this is what she wanted. She poked my hand lightly a couple of times with one finger, and then she rested her fingers on my hand. The preaching was going on still, so I just held her hand and prayed quietly but very earnestly for her. It was probably about 7 or 8 minutes. She had fallen asleep again. I let go of her hand when the altar call was given and went up front to pray. So………………………………………I don’t really know what was accomplished, but I still can’t help but feel that Anna, in her own way, is reaching after God. Hopefully, I will be able to talk to her sometime this week and see what she has to say about what happened. In the meantime, I will keep praying and believing God for great things. I know He is more than able!!

***God also answered another prayer of mine this weekend. The new convert from our church who is friends with Anna also has a son that is autistic. He had not been to church with his mother, because he was worried that he might not be able to handle the noise. I have been praying, and I know others have too that God would just put a desire in his heart to come.  He came on Sunday morning. Thank you, Jesus!!

A Testimony And Prayer Request

It’s been almost a month since it happened, and I am still in awe and wonder ever time I think about it. I won’t reveal her name for security reasons, but she touched my hand. She reached up from underneath the pew and put her hand on top of mine. I knew it was something major when it happened, but I didn’t really realize the true significance of it until yesterday.  An autistic teenage girl did something that was totally out of character for her when she reached up, touched my hand and let me pray with her. I knew she had an aversion to touch. I don’t completely understand it, but there is something about touch that causes her to feel physical pain. I found that out the first time she visited our church. It was on New Year’s Eve. Our service had ended. She was sitting on the back pew with her body turned away from everyone. I was going to ask her if she wanted to come in the back and have some refreshments. I lightly touched her on the shoulder, and she about jumped a mile.

The last time she came to church was the weekend of our 8 year anniversary. She was there for our anniversary service that Saturday, and she was in both services on Sunday. The miracle happened on Sunday night. The visting minister was up to preach, and he was talking about Joseph of Arimathae and how he came before Pilate and beggted to have the body of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a rich man. No doubt, he had fine clothes, nice living quarters and probably fared sumptuously. Rich people are not accustomed to begging for anything. Some rich people can become downright arrogant because of their wealth. For Joseph to beg for the body of Jesus would have been out of character for him, but something about his appeal moved Pilate, and he released Jesus’ dead body to him. The preacher went on to mention how the word that was used in the Greek for “beg” is also the same word that is used for ask in a lot of verses that deal with prayer. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone and maybe do some uncharacteristic “begging” in our prayers if we really want something from God. This was not the preacher’s entire message, but this was the basic thrust of it.

After the preaching was over there was an invitation given to come to the altar and pray. Many were at the altar, but not all. I want toward the back to pray with a young mother. While I was praying with her, out of the corner of my eye I could see Anna(not her true name)looking up at me from underneath the pew. Anna can only sit still for so long, then she will lay under the pews for a bit. When I was done praying with the young mother, I went and sat down on the pew behind her. Anna was underneath the pew where I sat. As I was sitting there still praying, I felt Anna’s hand touch mine. I knew something special was happening. I didn’t want to move for fear that I might scare her, so I just prayed earnestly……………for her. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and peeked down at her. Her eyes were closed, her lips were moving, and I could see tears on her cheeks. I took my other hand and put it on top of hers. She did not move, did not try to pull away. I am guessing we prayed for about 10 minutes. Later I found out what she said to her mother over the phone about the incident. She told her, “Church lady pray for me. I grab her hand. It hurt, but then I feel better inside.” I truly have no other explanation for her touching my hand than God. It was a God thing!

Through communication with her mother(mostly through texting) I have found out that Anna has always had an aversion to touch. She can tolerate a firm hug but not a touch. it has something to do with her nerves. Her mother told me that Anna has never one time reached out and held her hand. She thinks maybe I have a special bond with Anna. I believe Anna in her own way, probably without even fully understanding it, was reaching out for God, and reached out to somebody who was praying so that she could connect with Him.

Anyway, I shared all of that to really ask for prayer. Anna is going to be out here again this weekend to visit her friends who go to our church. I have agreed to do a therapy session(ABA) with her on Saturday. I really need God’s wisdom and direction to know how to help her. I know I cannot do it on my own. Also, please pray that when she is in church that she will be able to “connect” with God, and that she will truly know that there is a God who loves her and understands her. I truly appreciate your prayers.

The Power Of Praise

As I was driving home after running an errand, I saw a sign out in front of a local chiropractor’s office. It said, “Give more praise and watch the miracles happen.”

I began thinking about this saying, and I believe it rings of truth. I have seen the benefits that come first of all from a person either praising, complimenting or encouraging someone. I know in working with autistic children that praise can be  motivating, and when I see one of my kids make even the smallest amount of improvement or progress, I try to sincerely praise them. Saying things such as “Great job! Good work! or You did it!” can have a positive effect. There are plenty of people in the world that can criticize, discourage or point out faults. (I’m not talking about constructive criticism. That’s totally different.) I want to be an encourager and sincerely offer a word of praise and encouragement at the right time, because it can go a long way.

The 2nd kind of praise that is really important is the praise that we offer to God. The Bible tells me that God inhabits the praise of His people.(Psalm 22:3)There is something about praise that gets God’s attention. We can read in the Scripture of how God unlocked the prison doors for Paul and Silas after they praised Him.

Act 16:25

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Act 16:26

And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

Their praise led to the miracle of the prison doors being opened and everyone’s chains being loosened and later to the miracle of the Philippian jailer and his household hearing the gospel and receiving salvation. I’m sure it was not easy for Paul and Silas to praise God. They no doubt were in pain after having their backs beaten and thrown into prison, but they still praised God in spite of their circumstances. Most of us have probably never been incarcerated, but there may be times when we are “imprisoned” by depression, anxiety, fear, etc. If we will begin to praise God and focus our attention on Him, He can deliver us out of our personal prison. The neat thing about the story of Paul and Silas was that their praise not only affected them but everyone else who was imprisoned. Everyone in that jail had their chains loosed. When we praise God in the sanctuary, it can cause others to want to praise Him too and get the deliverance that they need. I think God just wanted to remind me today to keep on praising Him, no matter what. Thanks for the reminder, Lord. 🙂

of Israel. hepraises

O Happy Day!

I had an incredible session today with one of my clients, whom I will refer to as JC. One of the things I work on with this boy is manding, which is basically getting him to  properly request to have an item or do an activity. Since it was Valenine’s Day, I brought some little heart shaped boxes that each contained a little treat. I showed him the hearts one by one and would wait for him to request to have them. A couple of times, after receiving a heart, he said “thank you.”  JC had never independently thanked me for anything before this time.  Also, later on in the session after his mom gave him a piece of gum he said thank you to her. She expressed surprise over that.

Another thing we work on is having JC take a walk around the block, staying on the sidewalk and keeping close to his mom. As we were walking out front, he began to get a little ahead of us and was nearing the corner. His mom spoke out and told him he needed to stop and wait for her when he got to the corner. He listened, and did what his mom said. There have been timeswhen he has gotten ahead of us and then tried to bolt away, but he did not do that this time. His mom and I praised him highly for that, and he also stopped and waited another time on the walk.

Finally, we were playing the children’s version of the game Sequence. I have never seen JC so focused on a game. He always knew when it was his turn and did not have to be prompted at all to take his turn today. On his last turn, he had his chip which he could put down on one of two spots. He put his chip down on the right spot, giving him four chips in a row, which is what is required to win the game. When he put his chip down, he exclaimed “BINGO”!  His mom and I both started laughing. He did not need to shout out Bingo, but it showed me that he understood that he had won the game.  I left my session feeling very thankful for the progress I had just witnessed. JC was the very first client I was assigned to when I first started working as a skills trainer with autistic children in September of 2009. This is the last month that JC is eligible to receive services from our company. I am thankful to God that I have been able to work with him all this time and see how far he has come.  I believe with God’s help, he will continue to progress, and I’m believing God has good things in store for JC and his future!

Little Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about litte things for the past few weeks. I think it started when I read Unlocked and saw how the main character, Holden Harris took little steps in coming out of his private, autistic world. It really gave me a greater burden to pray for “little” breakthroughs among the young clients with whom I work.

Also, I read a post recently by an evangelist friend of ours which spoke volumes to my heart.  You can read it here.

There have been some little improvements recently that I have seen in my clients.  The past 2 times I went to JC’s house, he spontaneously asked for the bowling pin game without the game even being in sight and before we had even started our “manding time” where I try to entice him to ask for toys or different objects of interest. Last week, when JC was sitting at the table working on an activity, he suddenly got up and started walking toward me. I got up and stood in his pathway and made eye contact with him. He said “Going potty?” to which I replied,  “Oh sure, you can go potty!” He has never asked me before if he could use the restroom, so that was another small victory.

After not being at JV’s house for over 6 weeks, I was scheduled to have a session with him. JV is one of the most difficult clients I have because he is very busy and just all over the place. One of the first things he said when he saw me was “peek a boo”. That helped me to know that he still remembers me, because peek a boo was something special that I did with him.

I have a new client, AB, whom I started working with last week. We were instructed to just do what is called “pairing”(basically playing without putting any demands on the child)for the first week to give him a chance to get used to us. One of the things AB really enjoys is bubbles. On Wednesday, I was at his house, and I was blowing bubbles for him. He gives good eye contact when I do the bubbles. Suddenly the thought came to my mind to pause with the bubble wand at my lips and just give a wide eyed look to AB. He looked at me and said “bubbles” to which I said “good asking for bubbles.” I did this a couple of more times with him and he was still saying “bubbles.” Then without any prompting, he slowly said “I want bubbles.” He did this several times in between laughs and the popping of bubbles.

While I am thankful for the little victories I have seen in my clients, I am even more grateful for the little breakthroughs we are seeing in the spiritual realm. God is definitely doing things in our midst, and it seems like the presence of God in our services is getting stronger. I know this is first of all because people are endeavoring to pray just a little more and then witness a little more.  I feel like God has great things in store for us in 2011. 🙂