Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Autism and Trials

Recently Philip has had to remind me on several occasions to keep telling his story as I have gotten a little lax on keeping up with the blog.  He wants to educate people about autism.  Today I asked Philip what he wanted to blog about.  He spelled, “Autism and Trials.”

This is a difficult subject.  While most of the time I choose to look at the beauty of autism and the wisdom derived from learning a new perspective, the reality is that there are some very very hard things about it.  I do not know if Philip will ever feel completely “at home” in this world.  The bombardment of his senses by our modern society gives Philip little rest.  And when it comes to Philip’s education, it has been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  We have yet to find the perfect balance to accommodate Philip’s special way of communicating, his gifted intellect, and his uncooperative body and impulse control.   
Today’s post took about an hour for Philip to write.  Though he chose the topic himself and wanted to finish it in one day, Philip often got upset and had to run off to take a break or cry.  I was not always able to get more of an explanation on some points and I feared pushing would increase his upset.  I mostly allowed Philip to write uninterrupted until he signaled he was finished by spelling “the end.”

These are Philip’s words on the trials he experiences daily:

“I am in pain all the time. 
I hear every sound at one volume.
I see people’s taunts and I am fearful.  (When asked what he meant by taunts, he spelled “angry faces.”)
I am each day made to feel like I am not intelligent.
I am each day made to feel I do not matter.
Often I am so terrified of senses too aroused.
I am tired of attacking stims all the time.
I each day have strong emotions that affect my relationship with each person.
I each day need someone so patient to work with me.
Each day is so hard.  
The end.”

Philip’s words, so honest and heartbreaking, are important to hear.  His words give me a much better understanding of his actions and a greater compassion for him and others like him.  The greatest gift communication gives is the ability to be known.  Knowing that Philip suffers makes me want to alleviate his suffering.  It takes my mind off my own perspective so I can put him before myself.  

I take comfort, and I hope Philip does too, in several scripture verses in the Bible.  These verses show that suffering does not negate blessing.  2 Corinthians 4:8-10 reads, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”  It has been a God-given miracle to witness Philip being rescued from his silence.  I am confident God will continue to work mightily in him as he grows and matures.  

James 1:2-4 reads, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  I am in constant awe of Philip’s maturity for his age, especially when it comes to spiritual matters.  I believe Philip has an even more intimate relationship with God than I do.  He has told me that during the years he was silent to the world, he always had God to talk to.  For that I am extremely grateful.  Philip teaches me every day.  It is from his trials and sufferings that he has gained such wisdom.  I am confident God does not waste an ounce of pain.  He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28) and uses the experiences we have to prepare us in the plan He has for each of our lives.  

    At the Filipino-American Association Christmas Party

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