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Finding her comfort in a sensory-filled environment.

Amor has super power hearing. While we can easily block off background sounds like the horns blowing, doors opening and closing, people coming in and out the bus, people speaking, aircon blowing, etc., Amor cannot filter those sounds. She exhibits this challenge through her irritability.

However, Amor finds amazing ways to help cope with overwhelming background sounds. She always picks to sit near the pole in the bus so she can tap it frequently. The tapping sound and sensation helps her focus on just that and block all the other sounds that bother her.

She’s doing the best she can and coping very well! She’s turning one of her biggest challenges into her super powers!

In the photo: Mom and Amor date, next to her favourite bus pole 😉

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Nathan heals himself

I love how Temple Grandin puts into words what Nathan might be feeling and how amazing he copes with his challenges.

As a baby, Nathan was always scared of sudden sounds. It did not just startle, it really scared him. His face looked like he just watched a horror movie.

Even I started to hate the sudden sneezes of Papa or Grandfather because I didn’t like the corresponding fearful face on Nathan. If I could stop all of the sudden sneezes, I would have!

But all on his own, my genius boy figured out how to overcome his fear. Through the years, Nathan has been enjoying what I call our peek-a-boo game.

Nathan picks a chain of words for me to echo back but expects me to say it back with a peek-a-boo twist at the end. He knows he will get a surprising loud word at the end but instead of fearful surprise, Nathan waits with happy anticipation for me to say it while looking closely at my eyes and lips. He bursts into laughter after I loudly utter the surprise word. I love this game and the laughter it brings us!

Sudden sneezes sounds don’t bother Nathan anymore. Through the years his peek-a-boo games have have helped his overcome this fear!

God is good! I always used to blame myself for the premature birth of my twins, Nathan’s brain injury at birth, and that I over vaccinated Nathan and he regressed deep into autism…but regardless of what we have done in the past God continues to heal. In fact, from the beginning, He already gave each of us intuition to heal!

#JesusHeals

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Having a conversation with Nathan…

Nathan says “under”, his Son-Rise volunteer echos, “under.” He says “Piccachu”, his volunteer repeats, “Piccachu.” He says words as random as “Hotel”, “Chips” and “Flashlight”, his volunteer happily complies and returns each word back as Nathan requests.

To the naked eye, the exchange might make zero sense. They might even ask, “Between the two, who is autistic again?” 😜

But if you examine it closely:

1. For a good 30 minutes, Nathan looked straight at his volunteers eyes. As he spoke each word, he anticipated her response.

2. He anticipated her response! He maintained his happy demeanour towards her for the whole 30 minutes.

3. The whole echo game was initiated by Nathan. He wants to play with people!

4. At some point, Nathan practiced asking questions like, “Do you want more chips?”

5. In several occasions, if the response did not meet Nathan’s expectations, he patiently guided his volunteer to say the word correctly (note no tantrums). It’s amazing watching Nathan teach his volunteers his autism language!

Nathan has all the elements needed to be able to hold a conversation: eye-contact, initiation, engagement and flexibility. Yes, his language at this point may be far behind…but it’s not bad for someone who did not have intentional speech age 5. Praise God we found The Son-Rise Program® and Nathan learned to speak.

Some people might say this child will never be able to hold a proper conversation…I say he already has the foundations for it! It’s only a matter of time.

#byGodsGrace!

Photo: Not the best photo from a one way mirror…but there he is, having a conversation with his volunteer!

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“Mama, take off your shoes please.” Sometimes Nathan asks for the strangest things, but I had a realisation as I gladly complied with his request…
…now that Nathan is so good at verbalising his desires (be it as strange as me taking off my foot ware), imagine how much internal conflicts he has been avoiding. 

When he was unable to speak, he must have desired so many things but just couldn’t do anything about it.

Behind every tantrum that I could not understand, behind every bite/aggression that I could not explain, was a desire that Nathan could not verbalise.

So today I 🎉🎉🎉celebrate 🎉🎉🎉 every “odd” request that Nathan makes because I know that internally, Nathan has avoided another “volcanic eruption”!

#byGodsGrace!

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Believe

I used to think I that out of all the people in the world, I believed in my daughter the most…

…until Son-Rise teacher Gerd Winkler came over for Amor’s outreach.

I was teary eyed seeing how much he believed in her.

“Believe in your child so much more than her belief in herself…she will start believing in herself.” 

Thank you Gerd! In just those 2 days of outreach, it feels like Amor’s potentials just exploded! 

At the end of Amor and Nathan’s outreach, I love that Amor does not hesitate to show Gerd how much she has appreciates him and asked for her hug ❤️

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Too blessed to be stressed!

What an amazing outreach with Gerd Winkler!
Call me crazy, but I thought that after inviting a Son-Rise® teacher to review our home-based program, I would end up with the difficult task of needing to pull my act together to get my part-time program to go full-time…yes, I’m guilty…I was the one who put most pressure on myself and my program.

It’s amazing how Gerd took a good look at everything we do with Nathan and simplified it even further…yet I know that out of this simplicity, big changes will happen! 

I am excited to move into 2018, with an even easier program!

#tooblessedtobestressed

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We want our child with special needs to be able to make friends…

But our child, who already has a social handicap, is likely not in optimal situations for them to learn make friends.
For any child to make friends, they would first need someone who is:

– willing to be a Friend,

– willing to see through the child’s “queer” behaviours and understand the child,

– willing to spend time to get to know the child better, and

– willing to discover the child’s desires and unfold what will help the child flourish.
With such tough pre-requisites, how can we ask a child to learn to make friends?

We can’t…
But we can recruit and teach Son-Rise® volunteers who are willing to be our children’s friends first, then encourage the child to take the next step.
We have been blessed that Son-Rise showed us this direction and God continues to bless us with amazing volunteers!

In the photo: Nathan and Amor and 2 of many amazing volunteers in our lives, Albert and Yang, who have chosen to be Friend first! 

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The magic of explaining

Sometimes we forget to explain because our kids with autism don’t speak much. But explaining has been a magical tool for us.
Doctor’s visits are not the best. I always dread waiting periods and possible tantrums.

So this morning I explained to Nathan that after lunch we were going to the shoe doctor to get “robot shoes” made. That’s what we call ankle-foot brace, which will give him more stability when walking.

An hour later he came back to me saying, “I want to go to the foot doctor.” How awesome is that! He’s getting a sense of schedule and planning!

On the taxi ride I explained that it was going to be a long ride (in other words, no need to tantrum just wait and we will get there 😉)

All was good. As soon as we got there, Nathan felt the clinic ambience. He was all smiles and wheeling his wheeling chair back and forth while I was getting the long registration process done.

The “shoe doctor” was happy Nathan sat still and swiftly made his foot casts. 

All was well! Explain knowing he completely understands! 

In the photo: selfie while waiting for the shoe doctor 😉

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“Let’s go to the playground!”

I asked Zirah to help me bring the twins to the playground. I walked ahead with Nathan while she walked behind with Amor. 
Nathan kept turning back looking mesmerised that Zirah was walking to the playground with us. So I modelled words to help Nathan…he looked back at Zirah and shouted, “Come on Zirah! Let’s go to the playground!” ❤️ 

At the playground Nathan kept looking at her and asked her to play his “Eco-Me” game. See photo. Happiness!
Zirah used to volunteer for Nathan and is understandably business with school these days, but still manages to visit us and play with the twins once in a while. When she does, Nathan is always happy when he sees her! 

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Parenting the button-pusher

What to do to discourage unwanted behaviours, like writing on the wall…
When we tell our kids “DO NOT DO THAT!”…and if they are like Amor…they will do it in anticipation the attention that they get and the “exciting” look on your face. That’s Amor, my button-pusher. The daughter I love so much! 
So what do we do?

We do not give vague reprimands or demerits, but we do give a consequence that is closely related to the unwanted behaviour. Example, she wrote on the wall, so she has to clean it and cannot leave the wall until all writings are cleaned…yes, even with permanent markers. See photos of her erasing her drawings.

Another example is when she says unwanted words like “stupid”. That word is never used in the house. Likely she picked it up from YouTube. When she tests our reactions to her new words, we remind her that all words that we use (as a family) are to edify and not to hurt people. She has the wisdom to know the difference. But since she’s choosing to use words that hurt people (and enjoying the shocked looked on our faces when she does), we simply turn off the computer or have no computer for the rest of the day and explain to her that we don’t want her to pick-up more hurtful words. Not watching such videos will help her avoid unwanted words. That has really reduced her use of unwanted words and button-pushing. Yes, once in a while she will try, but soon understand that her tactic is not working.

One important thing that we do is not to add big, “exciting” emotions, like using a big voice or an stern face while giving her consequence. That attention gets her to keep pushing buttons. We tell her about her unwanted behaviour and provide a consequence using a slow, boring, matter-of-fact voice. 

And for the cream on the cake, we always acknowledge all the good things Amor does. At the end of all the rubbing and scrubbing, here’s how we celebrated her:
Me: Thank you Amor for being responsible and cleaning the wall.
Amor: You know I’m not going to write on the wall the again. 😉 (works like a charm)

In fact, celebration is such an awesome technique, Amor boomerangs it back to us a lot! A few minutes later, she celebrated, “Mama, you are so good at helping me clean up.” 😜 (charming me to keep helping her. I had to help her scrub hard since the eraser couldn’t get all the writings out).

We learned all these great techniques from The Son-Rise Program:

Use consequences directly related to the unwanted behaviour and explain why.
Instead of using emotion-filled response to the unwanted behaviour, move slowly in a boring way.

For wanted behaviours, acknowledge and CELEBRATE so they keep doing things we like! 

#SonRiseRocks, it has really helped us become better parents for Amor and all our kids! 
#byGodsGrace