“After the wise men had gone, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him." That night, Joseph got up and took his wife and the child to Egypt” (Matthew 2:13-14)
Hello everyone. I've missed you, and I hope you've missed me too. Anyway, I’m back and today I’ll be writing based on a scripture from the Bible.
Recently I was at a training in Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s called “Hands on Autism”, organized by Autism South Africa (a:sa) and Johannesburg Hospital School (a school for children with autism). We had the opportunity to see different children on the spectrum, with ages ranging from 3 to 21. Of course the children were in different classes based on their ages and level of support needed. We had the opportunity to observe the “morning ring” (circle time) of a class that had children of ages 5 and 6. That experience inspired this article.
Back to the Bible story; Jesus had been born and I’m sure his parents were happy. In fact, one night some wise men came visiting and brought wonderful gifts for their new born baby. How glad the parents would have been. But that night, Joseph was told that someone wanted to kill his son (his precious child). Does that not sound like when a parent hears that his/her child has autism, or any form of special needs? What could he or the child have done to deserve this judgement of death? What could a parent or the child have done to deserve autism?
Well, Joseph didn't sit there crying and wishing away the judgement. He had to do something. He got up and hurriedly took the child to a safe place. That seems exactly like the story of the parents of the children we saw in Giraffe class in JHS. These kids were pretty independent. It was amazing watching them communicate using words and sign language. They showed good turn-taking skills, as each child had to wait for his/her turn. The truth is that at their age, they still had some challenges caused by the autism, but they had really come a long way from how they were when they resumed at the school for the first time. This experience taught me that EARLY INTERVENTION CAN NEVER BE OVER-EMPHASISED.
So Dear Parent, I know it might be hard to take in the news of your child’s autism. In fact, you think I can’t imagine how you feel right now (Maybe I can’t). But can you GET UP and HURRY? You don’t have to be in Lagos or Abuja to get help for your child. Well, if it means going there or anywhere that has a center to find out how to start helping your child, then by all means, GO. But don’t sit there and wish away autism. Do something.
Sometime this month, I shall share with you the story of Temple Grandin who was born with autism AND is now a doctor of Animal Science in USA. On October 19, I shall share “letter to Bubu” which was written by a mother to her child on the autism spectrum. These stories tell us about mothers who decided to GET UP and HURRY, regardless of the challenges they faced or how they felt. So please watch out for these stories.