Monday, June 28, 2010

Perservate / Perservation as well as Israel's history and Temple Grandin

Random title from the randomness of my mind

Perseveration: Uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.(cited within an ASD forum 2010)

Yup. I'm currently doing that. As you can probably tell from looking at my posts, I cycle through topics. They do link rather well to circumstances I'm facing at the time, so this whole blog is an interesting look at the history of my life. I guess that's what personal blogs are for. Anyway, my latest fixation or object of my perservating is Temple Grandin. I watched the movie trailer of the HBO movie that bears her name several times tonight. I've also watched some of her speeches and interviews over the last few weeks for educational purposes. I've thumbed through the Animals Make us Human book and read her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic. There's something about someone else walking down the path of a certain disability that gives me hope. Looking back, I was fixated on Helen Keller for the longest time. Other fixations would override that, but I would always gravitate to the movie The Miracle Worker and had parts of it burnt into my brain.

With this fixation, I'm letting God into the crazy world of Katie's brain. I haven't done that before. Some of my fixations have resulted from my need to escape the reality I was living in. The Helen Keller fixation partially arose because I would dream about running away to my favorite teacher (of that year)'s house or at least getting more one on one time with her if I couldn't handle being at home. God has revealed to me that this latest fixation results from these things: I wanted her mother who still spoke of her lovingly in spite of her behaviors & autism. I sympathized with Temple with living in the dark-ages of development (For me, they hadn't figured out some of the sensory deprivation issues kids face coming out of orphanages. For her, it was the unknown of what caused and how to treat autism.), and I long for a future where God will use my weaknesses and shine through them. I know it's promised in the Bible, but I need a tangible example: someone I can see and read about that has gone before me. The downsides of this fixation is that I can compare my life too much to Temple's life. I can think of her as the ultimate authority on autism and what to do with related issues rather than seek God.

Tonight I read the story of Joseph's journey to Egypt that ultimately preserved the nation of Israel during the famine. I was reminded that God's people look at examples of the faith. In the psalms, God is often the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or any variant of that title. The history of Israel is repeated over and over in the Bible. When the Israelites put their hope in history alone, battles were lost, eventually they took God for granted and got punished for not following Him. However, when David was in a bind, he repeated Israel's history over and over in his head and in the psalms to remind himself of who was behind it. That's what I must do when Temple's story gets repeated over and over in my head. I must not cling to her or to her story too tightly. If my life doesn't follow her script, it will let me down. But if I cling to God who has given her and I life and use this opportunity to pray for her to come to know Christ as her His salvation and His hope, He will not disappoint. He will walk me down the path of my own story, He will show Himself as Savior to her, and both of our lives will be a reflection of His power.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

He is Exalted

Exalt: to raise in rank, power, or character; to elevate by praise or in estimation (glorify)

Througout Israel's history kings and rulers are described as being exalted – raised up by God usually by being appointed king or by having some sort of victory. The Word is clear when a king's exaltation was from God. Whenever a king exalted himself outside of God's will, dire consequences resulted. David laments that his enemies exalt over him, thus they view themselves as having a greater power or character than David. This exaltation of kings culminates in the exaltation of the King of Kings – Jesus. The Father appointed Him over all things (Col 1) and He humbled Himself to die on the cross to redeem Creation which He will rule over when it's His time.

In a fallen world, we exalt ourselves by our accomplishments. We also condone sin (exalt or praise it). Certain sins are especially esteemed in certain cultures and sub-cultures that take pride in going against tradition or God's Word. For example, in this culture relativism is prized above someone saying that he/she has absolute Truth. Even in academia where the scientific method is still based in the philosophy that there is a Truth that we must find, relativism is valued as a concept to be taught to students.

All this background on exaltation validates my thoughts that I've had about the Shane & Shane song "He is Exalted." I've been listening to this song repeatedly as I've undergone my recent assessment. God has made it clear that He is to be elevated above my accomplishments and strengths that are shown through this process as well as be the power that drives me in spite of the weaknesses that I have. He has used me to speak Truth to my evaluator and He is reminding me that my worth is not in falling somewhere in the bounds or normal or near-normal, but my worth is in Christ alone. Any accomplishments I have in spite of my limitations are from Christ, and it is Christ who will use my limitations to help or inspire other people. This indeed is humbling, and I pray that He always reminds me of this Truth.

He is exalted / The King is exalted on high

And I will praise Him

He is exalted / Forever exalted

And I will praise His name

For He is the Lord

Forever His Truth shall reign

Heaven and earth

Rejoice in His holy name

He is exalted / the King is exalted on high


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jesus Your Love has No Bounds II: ASD and Compassion in Christ (my thoughts)

Thanks to writing academic journal articles, my titles can get lengthy. I mean, some titles take up two whole lines of text when cited in APA format... anyway, grad school musings aside, I was thinking about the ability to have compassion versus the ability to express compassion, especially for people on the autism spectrum or have autistic-like traits.

Why do I bring this up? Recently, it's been pointed out that I do possess some autistic-like traits. Whether they are enough to warrant a diagnosis on the spectrum, or they are remnants of deprivation and trauma in my early-development is yet to be seen. At any rate, I've been thinking about this a lot since a roommate is dealing with a serious illness in her family, and I am helping a single-mother headed family in my church with babysitting. In both these cases, I do feel compassion for both parties. I want to help and be useful to them. However, I know that I may not always show compassion the way others do, or I may not show it in as elaborate ways as I think others show. For example, I might be able to cry along with a friend in some cases, in other cases, I might clam up if I can't think of anything to say. In other cases, I might over-analyze a situation thinking that I'm being helpful when I may just have needed to listen. I may listen, but I might not make eye-contact or seem as attentive as others.

There is this article written by author A.J. Mahari who is a mental health professional and advocate for people with ASD that addresses her observations that people, especially women on the autism spectrum do in fact feel empathy and have noticed improvement in their ways of expressing it. I agree with her that the impairment in compassion can be more in the expression of compassion and love than in the feeling. However, I think that if someone is truly much more impaired in the basic theory-of-mind functions of: Others have emotions, Emotions in others are a consequence of their circumstances, than maybe their sense of compassion may be diminished. I think about what Temple Grandin has described in her writing in wanting to be loved, but unable to express it. She writes about having an aunt that would hug her in a way that would overwhelm her in a sensory way, but yet she longed for her aunt to express love to her in a way that she could handle. Especially after the use of her squeeze machine, she began improving in her ability to express emotions and compassion to both people and animals. Being a master's graduate, I will probably have to hit the academic journals just to see what they say (expect part III of Jesus' Love has no bounds).

Apart from Mahari and Grandin's writings, I think of the line in Phil Whickham's song "Jesus Your Love has no bounds." I was reminded of that tonight as I prayed for the single-parent family. Did I know exactly what they needed? No. But I knew that God did. I know that He gives love and compassion beyond what I can do. Therefore, the most loving thing I could do is pray. And when the mom came home, I was able to chat with her to the best of my ability. She cried just having someone there, and it struck me that I was able to give to her. I am not suddenly devoid of being able to share love and concern just because I'm realizing that I might not always do it the typical way. This is 2 Corinthians 4:7. I am a broken jar in which God has filled with compassion and love beyond what I can hold. He tips me over, and it pours over and out - through the cracks also - but the promise is that God and not this little broken jar will be seen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Jesus Your Love has no Bounds

Blogger notes: You know you're getting into some serious blogging when you realize, "Hey I have another blog! I have to update it." and you filter which thoughts go into which blog. Also note, I am updating these from 2 email addresses, hence why there seems to be two authors. Nope. Just me & myself haha! ;)

My roommate and I were blasting some worship music while we were cleaning and we were listening to Phil Whickham's "Jesus Lord of Heaven."

Your love is deeper / than any ocean
Higher / than the heavens
Reaches / beyond the stars in the sky

Jesus Your love has no bounds / Jesus Your love has no bounds

Oh yes, I wrote about this in my journal :)

from my journal
Jesus' love has no bounds. Even when we can't feel it perfectly - when sin gets in the way or our own development gets in the way. 

These thoughts continued
When we study emotional availability, a lot of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have difficulty responding to parents' love. But does that mean they can still feel love? Temple Grandin has written about how her difficulties in expressing love had caused others to withdraw from her, so she had that drive to feel that closeness somehow. After calming some of her sensory issues, she was more able to express / receive physical affection, and thus emotional affection.

Recently, I have wondered how to share the Gospel with people affected with ASD. I am growing in showing and receiving love and affection, but because of my past attachment and developmental history, I struggled in that area. Sometimes I find it is still hard to love a God that's both imminent and transcendent, yet has only appeared in physical form from 0 - 33AD. Yet, this song shows that it is Jesus who first shows His love to everyone - those with typical struggles and those with a bit more challenges. While we were all sinners He died for us. One of my dear friends compared trusting in Jesus to getting up out of what we were trusting in and sitting in His lap. What a cool analogy to share that is concrete and speaks to physical tactile needs! I must always trust in my own life and in others' that Jesus' love has no bounds!