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Nathan Teaches Himself Phonics

Reading is not on top of our teaching list yet, because we want to prioritise helping Nathan lengthen his interactive attention span, gain social confidence around people, verbalise deep thoughts and carry out meaningful conversations.

But it’s interesting how Nathan is wanting to learn phonics on his own. He picked a word and he decided that he wanted to change the first letter and listen to the different words it turns into. Moments like this give me confidence knowing that Nathan, in his own time, will choose to learn and excel in whatever he decides he wants to do in life!

Praise God for the gift of peace and confidence in His guidance over Nathan!

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Retained Baby Memory

As a toddler, Nathan was able to learn sign language. However, there was a turmoil after age 2 as Nathan regressed until he got his late autism diagnosis at age 4. He “slipped away” and lost all his words, songs, focus and attention. He became severely autistic.

It’s interesting now that we are on the road to recovery, Nathan might have “lost memory” during those turmoil years but his memory from toddler years is amazing. He has been recalling things we used to do at age 1 to 2 like sign language for water, milk, bread, giraffe, lion, etc.
How to get on the road to recovery? Simple as it may sound, but come to think about it, the key is playing silly games like you see in the video…the Son-Rise® way! There must be large truths in laugher being the best medicine even for #AutismRecovery!

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From Zero Attention Span to Perfect Bonding!

When Nathan was 4 years old and regressed deep into autism, he was so withdrawn, it was as if no body else existed around him. He didn’t respond to his name. I didn’t even know if he knew I was his mom and if he knew that I loved him so much. Up to age 5, he had not intentional speech. At that time, in the lowest point of our autism journey, I thought he had no future.

I was so wrong. Thanks to Son-Rise® I found a way to “reach” Nathan and manifest my love for him. This boy, once severely autistc boy, with zero interactive attention span, can now engage with me. We had a long blissful interaction this morning. He “stayed” interacting with me for longer than 30 minutes. I have to break up the video I took, so watch out, there is more to come!

“Lovey Dovey Hugs” or squeeze hugs, btw, help Nathan regulate excess energy he has brewing inside. That excess energy used to result into tantrums and biting (me, his sibling or himself), but hugs and Son-Rise, in general, has helped Nathan regulate and be the sweet boy he was intended to be.

Praise God for the gift of healing! #AutismRecovery here we come!

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The chicken or egg question

What precedes grace?

Does God want us to be good first (i.e. follow His Law of 10 Commandments), so that He will reward us with grace after?

Or does God give us grace first, because He knows that by receiving His grace, we will have the strength to follow His commandments? 

I have my answers from the parenting truths that He reveals to me:

When I want my child to follow me, like when I want Amor not let go of my hand and run across the street, I have 2 options:

1. Give Amor “my rules” and maybe even add a dash of fear by saying “Do not cross the road, the cars might hit you!” But good luck with that! This I-will-do-everything-you-tell-me-NOT-to-do Daughter that I love, just tests my authority all the time 😉. I though maybe if I up the fear, she might follow…but the look on her face when I do that let’s me know I have unnecessarily used fear to move her.

2. Or I can give the Amor GRACE FIRST of celebrating whenever she is good at following instructions. I actively look for times when she listens to me and celebrate it. Like when she holds my hand, I cheer, “Thank you for holding my hand good girl!” When she stops at the traffics light, I cheer, “Wow! You are so good at following instructions! You even stop behind the yellow line on the ground!” As a result, of constantly verbalising and rewarding her good deeds, Amor proudly follows my continuous instructions. In the end our trip to the playground is safe and fun! That is so different from outings we used to have when I used to ask her to follow my rules first.

Disclaimer: I give “my rules” as a guidance to help my children understand safety precautions, but I give “my grace” FIRST to give them strength to know that they can follow “my rules”, despite their urge to break the rules (isn’t it a human urge to do what we are asked not to do 😉).

Giving GRACE FIRST to my kids have enabled Amor to overcome her sensory issues and irritability. Her diagnosis is Global Developmental Delay (GDD). When she was younger, but way past terrible 2s…3s, 4s, 5s, even 6s, she was always throwing tantrums on the ground or running away from us. We even lost her at the airport 😥. My heart would always leap if I didn’t see her. I needed to hold her hand when we were out. Because I now understand the gift of GRACE FIRST, Amor is overcoming her delays (even if experts consider it a life-log condition). She is picking-up responsibilities that I never though possible. I can now ask her to follow my rules and know in confidence that she will gladly do so.

Just as God has given me answers through my experiences as a parent, God gives us answers through scriptures. 

When Pharisees presented a woman to Jesus who was caught in adultery, what helped her move on in life to be a better person? The rules of the gift of grace first?  

Jesus chose not to condemn. Since the people insisted for justice against the woman sinner, Jesus did not condemn but let the sinless man be the first to throw a stone. None could do it because none were able to fully follow the 10 commandments. When no body threw a stone, Jesus blessed the woman with the no condemnation, the gift of GRACE FIRST. I’m sure that that gift, more than anything else, enabled that woman to “go forth and sin no more” as Jesus asked.

GRACE precedes GRACE!  Receive the GRACE that He has freely given us FIRST, so we go forth and bless others with our obedience to God.

In the photo: Me and my princess. Because of her prematurity and other medical conditions, Amor could have easily been an irritable/angry child. But by the grace of God, the grace that He has taught me to use, the sweet child that Amor was meant to be shines! #MyMiracle

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Teach by not teaching

In Son-Rise®, we never really “teach” a child. We simply enjoy being with the child, which is the best way to encourage children to look at us, engage with us, and “learn” from us. Because the decision to engage is the child’s, learning is exponential and permanent!
Amor in particular, does not like being taught. When her sensory issues kick in, or when the fear of not being able to follow becomes a challenge, she starts scribbling on her work, almost as if to test my patience…but I know she is just trying her very best despite challenges.

Amor’s Son-Rise Volunteer, Zirah, sat and drew with Amor in a way Amor enjoyed. As a result, Amor kept on looking at Zirah, copying what she was doing, and taking advise to improve her drawings. Zirah is also blessed with amazing talent and has so much to share to help Amor!

At the end of the session, without really “teaching” Amor, Zirah “taught” Amor different styles of drawings that I know will enhance the artist in Amor! By the way, Amor has always had motor challenges. Because of her love for drawing, her motor skills have greatly improved.

Praise God for helping the artist in Amor blossom!

Last night as we prayed, Amor said, “Thank you Lord for Zirah, who drawed 😉 with me.” ❤

In the photo: Zirah being with Amor in a way Amor enjoys. I guess Amor was keenly watching Zirah because it looks like she replicated her art!

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Twin conversation 

Nathan: Amor is maganda (translation: beautiful)Amor: (looks and smiles)

Nathan: Amor say Amor is maganda please

Amor: maganda

Nathan: Amor is maganda

Amor: thank you!

Nathan is playing his echo me game and Amor is having a conversation with him. 😁 ❤

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Fear is Real for each of us 

Because Amor is highly verbal, she tells me how she feels. Many times she confirms to me how Son-Rise® understands and helps special kids.

Yesterday afternoon, Amor seemed ok, in fact fantastic, as we took the train ride home. At the end of the day she was narrating everything that happened and even inserting lots of humour in her story making both of us laugh at her crazy ideas…

…then all of a sudden Amor cried. It seemed like a cry of pain/fear. Amor hardly cries. She has always been my strong fighter despite her special needs. So when she does cry, I know it’s serious. 

I asked her why. She said she was afraid of the announcements at the train. Amor had lots hearing sensory issues when she was younger. While she has overcome many fears associated with sounds, I wouldn’t be surprised that she was still affected by noise in public, crowded places. Now I know how serious it still is for her, even if she showed no signs of fear throughout the whole day.

When Amor cried, I didn’t dismiss it by telling her it was nothing to worry about. I acknowledged her fears. I allowed her to cry and gave her that assurance that we would be there with her even if there were sounds that bothered her. I gave her my shortcut to overcoming my own fears (see Fastest way to overcome fear)

I would have never known how deeply affected Amor was by something so ordinary as train announcements, if it hadn’t been for her now being able to amazingly express herself. I feel blessed that she does tell me and we can work on it together.

I’m sure Nathan’s speech will continue to progress and he too will be able to tell me in detail, all the things, ordinary to us, but bothers him so much and diminishes all his efforts to try to come out to autism and interact with us. 

In the photo: my brave Amor in the train, mustering all her courage to contain her sensory issues so we can commute back home uneventfully…I smile as I remember how she used to throw tantrums and throw herself on the floor many times in public places and I couldn’t understand why. Now she can tell me.
 

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The truth about God 

Scholars can debate about the right interpretation of scriptures, religions can debate about who holds the truth about our creator…
…but there is a simply way to understand the truth about God…

God created us in His image. From His love for us, springs our love for our children. 

If we understand the power of our love for our children, magnify and purify that love, we will be able to understand God’s love for us. 

If we, who are imperfect, can use our imperfect love help our children flourish, what more Him who has perfect love for us?

I have twins with special needs. My Daughter, Amor, was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay, her twin Brother, Nathan, has cerebral palsy and severe autism, a life-long condition characterised by lack of social skills…says Doctors, Therapists and other experts in the field. Nathan used to be so withdrawn, it was as if no body existing in the room. He was without intentional speech and he was becoming more violent and aggressive. I didn’t even know if he knew I was his Mother and that I loved him.

Praise God, I was led to a non-conventional therapy (The Son-Rise Program® for autism), that taught me to love my children unconditionally. 

It taught me how I can manifest that love in a way that my special twins could understand. It taught me not to fear their “different”, repetitive, exclusive behaviours but to join them and enjoy the fact that those sensory pleasures help them cope with their challenges.

It taught me to enter their world of autism first, and that was the best way they could understand how much I loved them.  

It taught me not to look at their deficits but to celebrate all their achievements big or small!  

It taught me that if my children ask and I grant it with excitement 🎉 they learn that their words are powerful and keep trying to use words, even if their speech is impeded neurologically.

It taught me that if I give them “full control” instead of discipline, they will chose to follow my guidance out of their own convictions and not out of fear or pressure to comply.

Today my Daughter blossoms. Once her weakness of hearing sensory issues is now her greatest strength and she sings and performs solo for school events. My Son with autism, now speaks spontaneously and persistently. He craves for my social attention. His hugs shows me he loves me. Nathan was once so withdrawn, I didn’t know when I would get hugs from him. Today, I bask in his hugs and love. See photo.

Love indeed conquers all. If I, an imperfect parent, can allow love to heal even neurological impairments, what more God’s perfect love for me.

Just as I learned to “join” my special twins, He sent Christ, to “join” us so that He could show us His love in a way we could understand.

Just as I learned not to fault my children but to celebrate their goodness, Christ came, not to condemn, but to give salvation to the sinners and to heal the sick. 

Just as my granting my children’s desires have helped them flourish, Jesus promised, “Ask and you shall receive!” 

Just as I learned to give my children “full control”, we were given free will. And with my free will I choose to Love my God with all my heart and all my might…but the truth is, all my heart and might came from His love for me first! 

The truth about God is in each one of us!

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The Rant 

Sunday rush to church…I was a bit upset that Papa chose to work in the morning, thus less hands getting the kids ready. We were late.

Amor was getting irritable. Sometimes, it just feels like her irritability is contagious as the boys too got cranky too….or maybe even, they were all feeding off my cranky mood.

In the taxi ride, Nathan started to cry, yell and bite his arm. Papa tried to massage and relax him, but it seemed to trigger more yelling. I told him where he was going wrong and how to approach Nathan’s crying, just to get a snapped back at me. Papa too must have caught the cranky.

Nathan has come a long way from being so violent to becoming so gentle. But days like this remind me that there is so much more to conquer in this autism journey. I took a deep breath, sighed and tears just rolled down my eyes. Tired. Another one of those days when it would just be easier to give up…

The taxi driver must have been keenly observing the family dynamics, because he almost bumped the bus in front of us…twice. Could things get worse? I was in a dark moment, just when I was thinking about difficulties and giving up, death became apparent! 

I was reminded about the time when Nathan got his autism diagnosis. After many experts (Doctors, Therapists, online autism resources) gave such dim prognoses, my death seemed like the easier option. But of course I wouldn’t do anything crazy and leave such a huge burden on my Husband.

My rant didn’t stop there. As I pulled out my wallet to pay the taxi driver, I was reminded that this month, I have spent over my allocated budget because I kept buying softer shoes/slippers to support the pain I’ve been feeling on my knees and heels. As I got Nathan off the taxi, the driver said, “Have a nice weekend, don’t be upset.” He probably saw the tears rolling down my eyes. “Damn,” I thought, as more tears ran down my cheeks. Now I wished I had a paper bag to wear on my head, because the want-to-be strong woman in me wanted to cover up my feelings.

In the taxi ride, I was thinking, if I died at that moment, would God be condemning? Or would God still love me the way I know He loves me? From all the times to rant, why pick the getting-ready-for-church time?  

Despite the heartaches that morning, I knew the God of perfect love would keep loving me and protecting my family, even if I behave like a rebellious teen sometimes. Yes, giving up life was an easy option, but there are so much more to live for. 

I was wondering if there was something in the Sunday message that would speak to me….

Towards the end, the message was: We were created to go through life at camel’s speed (slow yet with the confidence of God’s provisions, even in the most arid deserts) not at the stressful pace of a cheetah.

I agree with the blessings that comes with enjoying each step we take in life, instead of rushing to catch up with our material needs. And yet I made the morning rush, even the rush to get to church, take control of my whole day. If I just took that morning to stride a camel’s pace, maybe all the rant could have been avoided.

Or maybe things were perfect just the way they were…The rant helped me realise which speed my life would truly benefit from.

Be blessed with life at camel’s speed!