I really enjoy the book Ido in Autismland, a collection of essays written by Ido Kedar, a non-verbal autistic boy who wrote about his experience of being autistic between the ages of 12-15. It was the first book I read that resonated with how I felt my son to be like. Ido got his start in communication through Soma’s RPM. I have since bought many copies of the book to give to family and friends so they could understand Philip better.
In August, my in-laws came to visit from Albuquerque, New Mexico. They both read the book while they were here. After my father-in-law read Ido’s essay “Trust, Aura, and Communication” he wondered if Philip also sensed people’s auras. In the book, Ido talks about how people give off a colored glow which, depending on the color, causes him to be either relaxed or tense. This, in turn, affects his ability to point and communicate with people with his letterboard. When he is relaxed, he is better able to communicate.
I decided to ask Philip about this. I didn’t bring up auras, but instead asked him if different colors could be used to explain certain personalities. “Y,” he answered. Together we came up with a list of colors and corresponding personalities and people who might fit that color. Philip’s responses are in CAPS.
Blue: CALM- MOM, ANA, SOMA, NELSON
Yellow: EASY GOING- CARLOS, LIA, ME (Philip)
Orange: FRIENDLY- GRAMS, TOMMY, KIANNE
Green: ENVIOUS “Who’s green?” I asked. ANY PERSON. “You mean any person at some time can be green?” Y
Purple: ROYAL- LOLA, DAD “Why would you say they are purple?” I asked. THEY ARE IN CHARGE.
I’ve since noticed the connection between the “blue” personality and Philip’s ability to spell well with them. One time my older two kids Ana and Carlos were sitting with Philip at our table while I held the board as they talked with Philip. Ana asked, “Why can you only spell with Mom holding the letterboard?” “SHE IS PATIENT,” spelled Philip. “If I practice with you, would you be able to spell with me too?” Ana asked. “Y.” “What about me?” asked Carlos. “N,” answered Philip. Just so you know, Carlos is not known for being patient. However, since that conversation in August, I have noticed Carlos becoming more patient and bonded to Philip. I believe it is because Philip has gotten better in communicating. It would be interesting to see if Philip still feels the same way.
Though some people are more naturally patient than others, I think everyone can cultivate this quality. Here is a case in point. I have two friends, Nichole and Debbie. To me they are very orange and outspoken. In fact neither would call themselves calm or patient. However, they have always paid special attention to Philip and treated him as a regular kid. When I told them about Philip’s color-personality link, they excitedly wanted to know what color they were. For each one, Philip spelled “BLUE.” We determined it was because they were patient with him and he felt calm around them.
Today I asked Philip if we could talk about patience. “Y.” I read to him some definitions of patience in the dictionary. Then I asked him how he would define patience. “STAYING CALM IN A DIFFICULTY,” he replied. “Why is patience important?” “PATIENCE IS IMPORTANT TO HELP PEOPLE ATTEND TO NEEDED TEACHING.” “What happens if someone is not patient?” I asked. “I WILL STOP TRYING.”
As I think of my experiences as a parent to all my kids, it strikes me how important being patient is. Just last week, I remember using an annoyed voice with Carlos to take out the trash. It didn’t do anyone well. “I’ll do it at the commercial,” he replied in a sluggish, equally annoyed voice. A half hour later, I had to remind him again. This shouldn’t surprise me. Even I do not want to listen to someone who is impatient with me.
When we realize just how hard it is for our autistic kids to communicate, it should make us want to be more patient. I like reading Philip the encouraging responses we get from our blog. Today we got an email from a mom in Maryland thanking Philip for sharing his story and helping her son more than he knows. Philip had this advice for her son: ADDRESS COMMUNICATION. IT IS HARD WORK BUT A SO NEEDED GOAL.
We have to remember, not only do we have to be patient for ourselves, we have to model it so our kids can be patient with themselves. As difficult as our journey is as a parent, theirs is exponentially greater.
I leave you with these quotes I like about patience.
Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success. –Brian Adams (author)
Our patience will achieve more than our force. –Edmund Burke
Love is patient. Love is kind. -1 Corinthians 13:4