An Autistic Manager Makes a Team Better

Almost one in three young adults with autism is not involved in volunteer, community, or educational activities.  They do not interact with friends, nor are they invited to join social activities.  This data comes from a nationwide survey by Drexel University’s Autism Institute.  The survey focused on what happens when autistic youth transition into adulthood.

Research findings such as this may lead to the mistaken assumption that autistic adults could care less about participating in social and recreational activities.  However, more often than not, they simply need to be invited and the community needs to adapt and accept their differences.

In November of last year, I decided to coach a group of third and fourth-grade boys as part of something called Upward basketball.  Upward basketball is a Christian-based sports league, with more than a million participants and volunteers.  My own church, Brook Hill United Methodist, is one of the 2,600 churches that participate.

Upward’s mission is what got me thinking about coaching again; winning wasn’t emphasized as much as Christian values and character development.  Unfortunately, I came to find out that games were held on Saturdays, which is the same day my wife or I typically visit our son each week.  I didn’t want to miss that precious time with him, so I started to think about whether he had any interest in being our team’s manager.

When I asked my son Jimmy if he was interested, his first question was, “What would I do?”  Once I broke it down for him, he said, “SURE!!” I then had to clear it with the head of the league as well as our pastor.  Both were extremely supportive.

Before the first practice, I emailed the parents, letting them know that my son Jimmy would be our manager and described his role.  I simply described him as an amazing middle-aged man who happens to have autism.  That was it.

Jimmy was the manager of our team (The Mustangs) on game days during January and February.  He held my clipboard, handed out wristbands to each of our players, and huddled with our team.  Also, he was our biggest cheerleader.  I thought Jimmy would make our team “better,” and indeed he did.  While he didn’t attend practice (he lives about an hour away and works at Walmart during weekdays), we would talk about him quite a lot during our mid-practice huddle, particularly when we discussed the Upward “curriculum” for the year, which focused on courage, kindness, and patience.  Jimmy sat with the team, was accepted by the team, and endeared himself to the players’ parents and grandparents.  Further, Jimmy taught us valuable lessons about life, God’s Word, and priorities.

After our last game, the team surprised Jimmy by giving him a “Mustangs Manager” tee shirt, created by a very supportive group of parents and signed by each of the players.  And Jimmy gave each of the players a thank you card.  He signed it himself but since his writing is not all that legible (he has mild cerebral palsy), he dictated the rest to my wife and she typed what he said word for word:

Dear Athletes,

Thank you very much for having me as the Mustang’s manager.  I’ve been enjoying staying in the special room [where we met before the game] and watching all you guys get stars from my father and Mark [assistant coach]. I also enjoyed watching you guys play basketball and also giving all of you hand bands each period.

Your manager,

Jimmy Bucher

 

Please note: I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my son, my two daughters and wife as well as friends and professionals are included throughout.  It’s a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published later this year.

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Autism 101:  What First Responders Need to Know

A while back, my wife made reservations for the two of us and Jimmy to fly to Vegas to visit family.  Pat requested bulk-head seating so Jimmy would not kick the passengers in front of him.  When the airline agent began to hesitate, she explained that Jimmy had a disability known as autism, and used Rain Man as an example.  But this made matters worse.  The agent, worried that Jimmy might lose control, felt it was not safe to have Jimmy on the plane.  At that point, I got involved, talked to the agent’s supervisor and we eventually worked things out.  When I recall this incident, it brings to mind the familiar adage, “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.”

Recently, I read about training for first responders who might come into contact with children or adults with autism.  Police, firefighters, paramedics, and other professionals are beginning to receive much-needed training in the area.  Imagine a crash course in Autism 101.  They’re being taught clues that point to autism, what to expect if this is the case, how to respond, and safety tips.  While lectures, videos, group exercises, and power point presentations are a start, I would recommend that first responders also spend some time with someone like my son Jimmy and other members of the autism community.

Take police.  According one recent estimate, autistic individuals have seven times more contact with law enforcement over the course of their lifetimes than the larger population.  Many of these encounters involve people on the autistic spectrum who are elopers, meaning they tend to wander off and put themselves in danger.  If and when they are found, they might very well react to sounds, lights, and noise differently.  Instructions may be difficult for them to process.  For example, if police officers encounter my son, they might mistakenly assume his reactions (ignoring them, nervous laughter, lack of eye contact) are a sign of disrespect.  Or perhaps they might think he’s on drugs.  And in a stressful situation, they are apt to find it extremely challenging to communicate with him.

When it comes to training, the tough thing about autism is that there is no checklist.  When you encounter one person with autism, you encounter one person with autism.  While some have sensory sensitivities, others do not.  While some do not maintain eye contact, others do.  While some may find it difficult to communicate during an interrogation, that’s not true of all by any means.  While some act like Raymond (from Rain Man) or Shaun Murphy (from The Good Doctor), the vast majority are much more different than similar to those characters.  Autistic people do not act and react a certain way; rather they act and react in diverse, often unpredictable ways; just like the rest of us.  And there is no one tried-and-true technique for calming an autistic person who may be having a difficult time holding it together.  What first responders do to provide assistance might not work.  If that’s the case, they should try to be as calm, patient, and understanding as possible; and persist.  That in itself is a lesson worth learning.

Please note: I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my son, my two daughters and wife as well as friends and professionals are included throughout.  It’s a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published later this year.

 

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Empowering with a Push

At a recent lecture by Dr. Temple Grandin in my hometown of Frederick, Maryland, a father of a local high school student with autism shared, “People with autism have the same desires as anyone else, and those can be squashed if the doors aren’t open to them.”  True enough, but Grandin finds that this is not enough sometimes.  Parents, caregivers, educators, therapists and others need to push, stretch, and nudge autistic children and adults through these doors in order for them to take advantage of opportunities that are increasingly opening up.

In her book, The Loving Push, which she co-authored with psychologist Dr. Debra Moore, Dr. Grandin addresses the fact that youth on the spectrum are apt to be overprotected.  As a parent, I can certainly relate to this.  Growing up, I knew what my son Jimmy would encounter when he played with the kids in the neighborhood and went to school.  I knew some would befriend him, some would ignore him, and some would take advantage of him.  I knew he would be in situations where he would be tormented, teased, ostracized, and probably bullied.  Once he got out on his own, I knew that sticks and stones could break his bones, but names might be just as lethal.

Grandin and Moore say the purpose of their book is to “help parents let go and give careful, loving pushes to get their child to try new things.”  Really, when you think about it, that’s what we try to do that with all children.  In The Loving Push, Dr. Grandin describes how her own mother, Eustacia Cutler , stretched her beyond her comfort zone.  We pushed Jimmy as well.  Compared to our neurotypical daughters, Jimmy’s pushes tended to be more deliberate and calculated.  For his own safety, he needed more intense supervision for a longer period of time.  He still does, and that is one reason why we or his sisters visit him at his group home every weekend.

Jimmy absolutely loves his routines.  For Jimmy, these routines are usually safe, functional and comforting.  Trying something new means changing his routines, which is extremely difficult for him and the rest of our family.  As a child, we introduced him to new things in small, incremental stages.  As an adult, we’re doing the same thing but it’s less often.  At the same time, we respect his discomfort with newness.

In her lecture, Dr. Grandin gave a loving push to the entire audience.  She spoke of empowering individuals with autism, saying she saw too many autistic kids “become their label;” a point that needs to be shared and taken to heart.  In other words, don’t let the label define one’s future.  Labels don’t define us, our potential, or are dreams.  That’s true of Jimmy and that’s true of the rest of us.

 

Please note: I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my son, my two daughters and wife as well as friends and professionals are included throughout.  It’s a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published in the not too distant future.

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Rain Man:  Then and Now

The movie Rain Man hit movie theatres on December 16, 1988; almost 30 years ago.  Our son Jimmy was 12 at the time.  Who would have guessed a movie about an autistic savant would become a box office hit, grossing over 354 million worldwide?  Rain Man bought autism out into the open.  For my wife and me, Rain Man was emotional and therapeutic.  We no longer felt alone.

For the first time, we saw a character named Raymond, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, who was like our son Jimmy in many ways.  Maintaining his routine was of paramount importance to him.  He was often anxious, naive, and avoided eye contact.  He wasn’t scary, nor was he unapproachable.  Unlike our son, Raymond was an autistic savant, he spoke in a monotone voice, he made a habit of rocking back and forth, and he never started a conversation.  But to us, the most important thing about Raymond was not his quirks or exceptional skills.  Rather, here was someone you could love, and someone who could love you back, just like Jimmy.

Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate Rain Man for other another reason.  Namely, it is less about understanding autism and more about relationships.  Looking back, the relationship between two brothers, Raymond Babbitt and Charlie Babbitt (played by Tom Cruise), is what made the movie so special to our family.  Charlie is a self-centered pain in the ass.  Raymond is the brother Charlie didn’t even know existed, until he came to find out that his father left a $3 million inheritance to provide care for Raymond; while all Charlie got was a 1949 Buick.

From there on, the story line revolves around these two brothers getting to know each other as they take a 6 day cross-country road trip because Raymond refuses to fly.  It’s not always easy; actually, it’s hardly ever easy.  Communication is a challenge to say the least.  So is Raymond’s routine.  Nevertheless, Charlie and Raymond get to know and appreciate each other.  Charlie changes and so does Raymond.

Barry Levinson, Rain Man’s producer, talks about the uniqueness of Raymond’s relationship with his brother.  Think about it.  Charlie is a wheeler dealer, but Raymond is totally disinterested.  Charlie is into material things, while Raymond could care less about glitz and glamour.  Charlie is a con artist, Raymond is totally honest.  Charlie is a smooth talker, Raymond is anything but.  According to Levinson, “many audiences like gizmos, plot things, cops, and all kinds of shit, in which I’m not interested.  If I can show the autism for what it is and understand it – show the frustration and humor – if I can make the relationship work with these two guys on the road, then that’s enough for me.”  For our family and many others, you did that and more.

 

Please note: I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my son, my two daughters and wife as well as friends and professionals are included throughout.  It’s a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published in the not too distant future.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/DiversityConsciousness/ to read current articles and view insightful videos relative to Diversity Consciousness.

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A Debt of Gratitude

Bernie Rimland , along with his wife Gloria, have a special place in my heart.  Twelve years ago this month he died.  Mr. Rimland was an ordinary parent who lived an extraordinary life.  More than sixty years ago, his son Mark Rimland was born.  When his wife Gloria gave birth to Mark, Bernie sensed that something was drastically wrong.  Mark looked fine, but he made a habit of screaming, wandering around, and did not want to be held or cuddled.  Their pediatrician could not make sense of Mark’s symptoms, despite his 35 years practicing medicine.

After her son turned two, Gloria remembered a psychology text she had read in college.  The author discussed children who did not act like other children; rather they acted differently, like Mark.  Her husband went out to their garage and started digging through a pile of dusty old boxes.  There he found the text; Mark had something called autism.

Rimland, who had recently earned his Ph.D. from Penn State University in the field of psychology, proceeded to find out everything he could about autism.  At that time, knowledge about autism was in its infancy and parents were frustrated by doctors who didn’t know or didn’t care.  Dr. Rimland had found his passion.

In 1964, Dr. Rimland published Infantile Autism.  Sales of his book soared, and parents throughout the world wrote him, sharing their suggestions and seeking his advice on how best to help their children.  To help with his work, many parents completed the checklist found in the back of his book and mailed it back to him.  Soon, Dr. Rimland and a small group of parents established the Autism Society of America to spread information about the treatment of autism.

Rimland was not afraid to question medical doctors and Ph.D.’s.  He was not content to simply study autism research; rather, he critiqued it and found fault with much of the data.  His book offered new theories and research.  He questioned the idea that autism is a disease.  Unlike many professionals of his era, he did not blame the parents of autistic children; he knew better.  Up until the wee hours of the night, he responded to parents’ email and discussed treatments on the phone.  He even found time to be a technical advisor for the 1988 movie, Rain Man.

To quote Dr. Stephen Edelson, Director of the Autism Research Institute, Dr. Rimland brought “hope to an entire world of children once dismissed as hopeless.”  He also disproved the ridiculous but widely held theory that parents’ shortcomings and child-rearing practices were responsible for their children’s autism.  Lastly, he and Gloria raised an amazing son, who is now in his 60’s.  Besides being an accomplished writer and artist, Mark likes listening to music, has a great sense of humor, and loves to get out and visit friends.

 

Please note: I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my two daughters and wife as well as other friends of Jimmy are included throughout.  It is a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published in the not too distant future.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/DiversityConsciousness/ to read current articles and view insightful videos relative to Diversity Consciousness.

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Where Are the Fathers of Autistic Children?

For the last two years, I have been immersing myself in the research on autism.  One area of interest to me is what research can tell us about the role of fathers in raising children with autism.  A few observations:

  1. Researchers tend to gloss over or totally ignore the contributions of dads.  This is a big mistake.  While a great deal of research has been done on moms, the same can’t be said for dads.  This bias is rooted in a society that still equates parenting with mothering, even though gender roles are changing considerably.
  2. As researchers slowly show a greater inclination to examine dads, they are becoming more aware of the many ways in which all family members are interconnected. For instance, there have been numerous studies that examine stress and depression as they relate to mothers of children on the autism spectrum.  Recent data shows stress and depression taking its toll on dads as well.   To no one’s surprise, a couple’s ability to cope with stress is significantly related to marital satisfaction.  In turn, satisfaction with one’s marriage impacts a dad’s relationship with his autistic child.  And now, research is finally examining the critical importance of relationships involving siblings and extended families.
  3. In addition to doing wonders for mom’s mental health, fathers who are actively involved in raising their autistic child make a huge difference in their child’s development. For instance, studies show that autistic children’s ability to learn words and communicate is very much tied to the involvement of dads .  To illustrate, I loved reading to Jimmy, and there were stories we knew by heart.  Altering the words to the story and getting him to giggle was one of the things I enjoyed most.  Over time, I could clearly see the difference I was making in Jimmy’s development – emotionally, educationally, and physically.
  4. Research shows that men and women tend to have different strengths, and take on different roles . As an example, I was much more apt to engage in physical, rough-and-tumble play with Jimmy.  I used to constantly throw him high up in the air, so high that his head once bumped the ceiling.  Also, I would carry him on my shoulders and behind my back, punch him playfully, and wrestle, both inside and outside.  We spent hours walking, swinging on the swing set in our backyard and at the playground, creating our own obstacle course, and playing soccer.  Something I began to notice is that all of this exercise helped Jimmy deal with his anxiety, and it had a calming effect on me as well.  Perhaps most importantly, it was FUN for both of us.  Regardless of the skills he was learning, this was our time together and we looked forward to it each day of the week.
  5. Certainly, the involvement of fathers is not all positive, nor is it necessarily easy for the family as a whole. When both parents take an active role in child care, studies indicate that conflict can result.  For instance, my wife and I are very passionate.  We both feel very strongly about the right and wrong way to raise a child.  Fortunately, we are in agreement most of the time.  When we are not, we have had to come up with strategies to find some common ground.  I think the most difficult challenge was communicating while we were also dealing with the built-up sheer exhaustion of caring for our children, and particularly our son.

Regardless of a father’s experiences, we need to study it and learn from it.  How can we help fathers, some of whom have more than one child on the spectrum, learn to cope better, get the support they absolutely need, and become more aware of the positive difference they are making?  Dads of all races, cultural backgrounds, perspectives, and lifestyles need to be studied.  Otherwise, we are missing out on all of their wonderful talents and insights.

 

Please note: I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my two daughters and wife as well as other friends of Jimmy are included throughout.  It is a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published in the not too distant future.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/DiversityConsciousness/ to read current articles and view insightful videos relative to Diversity Consciousness.

 

 

 

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Forest and DT: Bringing Out the Best in Each Other

Forest, Mississippi is a small southern town with a population around 6,000.  One researcher, using Census data and science to rank the most economically and ethnically diverse cities in the state of Mississippi, put Forest on top.  People of many different faiths can be found in Forest.  Average family income is about $26,000, with almost a quarter of the population below the poverty line.  Forest’s residents are roughly 40% white, 50% African-American, and 18% Latino.  Nearly 13% of its residents are 65 years of age or older

Everybody in Forest pretty much knows one another, and Don is no exception.  Donald Gray Triplett, or “DT” is one of Forest’s senior citizens.  He also happens to be the first person ever diagnosed with autism.  As a retiree, he still enjoys reading his morning newspaper, driving his 2000 Caddy around town, and playing golf.  And he loves to travel in the U.S. and abroad.

His remarkable life is discussed in some detail in the book, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism. With the exception of a short period of time in a nearby institution, where he was sent by doctors at 3 years of age, DT has spent his entire life in Forest.  The book’s authors, John Donvan and Caren Zucker, traveled to DT’s home town and spent some time with him.  They describe the culture of Forest as predictable, slow-paced, tranquil, and safe.

DT’s mom played a critical role in his development.  She constantly sought to find out more about her son’s condition and what she could do to help him.  She helped him learn to communicate, connect with others, and take care of himself.  DT attended the local high school.  Then, once he graduated from nearby Millsaps College with a bachelor’s degree in French, DT returned to Forest to work at the local bank.

In spite of overwhelming odds, DT ‘s life story is one of adjustment and hope.  Unlike most autistic adults, DT lives on his own.  One neighbor had this to say about DT, “I don’t think any of us has ever thought of him as challenged.  He is simply unique, just like the rest of us who live here.”  What a refreshing perspective!!!

DT and his inner circle of friends and family deserve a great deal of credit for his success.  But so does Forest.  To quote Donvan, “If we can bottle whatever Forest, Mississippi did over 80 years of his lifetime, and export it to the other communities, the world would be a better place for everybody (my italics).”  I couldn’t agree more.

 

Please note:  I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my two daughters and wife as well as other friends of Jimmy are included throughout.  It is a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published later this year.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/DiversityConsciousness/ to read current articles and view insightful videos relative to Diversity Consciousness.

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Siblings and Autism:  A Key Piece of the Puzzle

Harriet’s younger brother, Archie, was diagnosed as insane at a young age.  Because of that diagnosis, Archie would spend the vast majority of his life in cold, sterile state-run institutions.  Institutional staff considered Archie untrainable.  He was housed with adults, and did not have any friends to speak of.  Harriet visited him regularly, took him home for dinner, and took advantage of Archie’s passion to tidy up her home.

Many years later, when Harriet read an article about autism, it clicked.  Thinking Archie was in fact autistic, she had him re-evaluated.  Harriet’s suspicions were confirmed.  Archie was sent to a group home, where he spent the last years of his life.  He had his own room along with a semi-private bath.  Archie developed hobbies, took trips, and learned to take care of himself.  Through it all, Harriet continued her visits and never gave up hope.

Archie died at the age of 83 in 1997.  Had it not been for his sister, his life would have been drastically different.  In that respect, Archie is like a lot of autistic individuals whose siblings play a major role in their lives.  Often, that role comes with considerable responsibility and tough choices, especially later in life.

“…I know I’ll have to marry someone who will help me when it comes time to care for my brother.  I don’t know the options.”  “I would watch him but there is no way I can do it alone.  I need people to help me.”  “Having my brother living with me would put a tremendous strain on my relationship with my spouse.”  “Now I wonder if I could handle giving birth to a disabled child, knowing what I know now.”

These concerns, almost verbatim, come from different siblings who have a brother or sister with autism.  Often, as siblings grow older, they find themselves worrying about the future; and what will happen when their parents’ health fails and they pass on.  When Pat and I were raising Jimmy, this was the last thing on our minds.  But as we become senior citizens, we find ourselves thinking more and more about how Jimmy’s sisters, Katie and Suzy, will be impacted “down the road.”  Right now, we are working on overcoming our reluctance to talk about this, and putting plans in place.

Actually, we have been planning Jimmy’s future for some time now.  In addition to Pat and me, there are three other key components to this plan.  When we are no longer able to oversee this process, his sisters will step in.  In no uncertain terms, Katie and Suzy have told us they want to do this, together.  Secondly is Linwood.  Linwood operates a nearby group home.  Since he was 21, Jimmy has lived there with two other autistic men, and live-in staff.  Simply put, it is Jimmy’s home away from home, and I don’t see this changing anytime soon.  The last big component of this plan is Jimmy himself.  Pat and I, and Suzy and Katie constantly visit Jimmy, check up on him, and seek his input.  He is more than capable of expressing his needs and wants to us; with others it can sometimes be a challenge.  Any decision about Jimmy’s future rests in large part with Jimmy.

“What happens when we die?” is not a question that keeps Pat and me up at night.  When we leave this earth, we know that Jimmy will be fine.     Katie and Suzy have made that very clear; with Jimmy’s input, of course.

 

Please note:  I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my two daughters and wife as well as other friends of Jimmy are included throughout.  It is a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published later this year.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/DiversityConsciousness/ to read current articles and view insightful videos relative to Diversity Consciousness.

 

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Autism and Jimmy’s Loud Hands

  1. Difficulty making eye contact
  2. Difficulty dealing with changes in routine
  3. Hand-flapping and other repetitive behaviors
  4. Meltdowns or tantrums

According to findings from one recent study, these autistic symptoms and behaviors are primarily responsible for the social exclusion experienced by individuals with autism and their families.  Given this data, many professionals direct their attention and interventions to changing the behaviors of autistic people.  However, as a sociologist and a father, I have also learned to look at attitudinal barriers and social norms in the larger society.  And at myself.

Hand-flapping is a good example of a repetitive behavior.  We know that people with autism communicate in a variety of ways.  Yet, many assume that because someone is non-verbal, they do not speak.  Jimmy, like many autistic people, is verbal, but he also communicates by flapping his hands.  He tends to do this when he feels passionate about something and gets excited.  For instance, when we take him to church with us, he will start waving his hands and slapping them together when he hears a song that moves him.

Recently, I read a book titled Loud Hands.  The book, written by over a dozen autistic adults from diverse backgrounds, defines loud hands as speaking and doing what comes naturally.  It means not letting social norms stifle one’s behaviors.

When Jimmy flaps his hands in church, I used to be concerned about the noise and movements coming from my son.  I was more concerned with Jimmy being a distraction, than with Jimmy praising the Lord and just being comfortable.  When he started flapping, I would “tolerate” it for a while, but if it continued, I would gently rest my hands on his shoulder, letting him know that this behavior was not acceptable.

Loud Hands helped me realize that the issue is not Jimmy’s hands; rather, it is my hang-up with showing “proper” decorum in church, whatever that means.  Indeed, our pastors (present and former), who are part of the book I am now writing about Jimmy and his family, told me how much they enjoy hearing from Jimmy during the service.  Now, when Jimmy feels the music and expresses himself as only he can do, I smile and enjoy all that he brings to worship.

Yes, Jimmy has developed the ability to quiet his loud hands while he works at Walmart.  But at home or church or on our long walks together, he enjoys communicating with his hands.  And it sounds beautiful.

Please note:  I am currently writing a book about my entire family and how we have grown over the years, in large part because of Jimmy.  My son Jimmy is a middle-aged adult on the autism spectrum.  The voices and perspectives of my two daughters and wife as well as other friends of Jimmy are included throughout.  It is a real, uplifting, and remarkable story; one which I have wanted to share for a long time.  The book will be published later this year.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/DiversityConsciousness/ to read current articles and view insightful videos relative to Diversity Consciousness.

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