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Monday, February 17, 2014

Autism Fireside Review

What an amazing night! I wanted to share some of my favorite things from last night for those who missed.  There were three amazing speakers.

Sister Christoffersen
She is a speech pathologist and told some amazing stories of children she had worked with in order to give us a better understanding of Autism.  One thing she talked about is how Autism effects speech. She would work with children who literally could not communicate with words.  My favorite story was about her dream.  When she wakes she can remember exactly what she dreamed about! (cool right!?) One night she dreamed that the children she was working with were talking with her.  Using their words like she had always hoped.  This of course made her sad to realize that was not their reality but gave her so much joy to think of the potential in the next life when they can say all they have been waiting to say.

Sister Grasteit
She used a really beautiful analogy about rainbows and Autism. She talked about the spectrum of different rainbows. Some are bright. long, dim, double,  dark, light.  This spectrum applies to children with autism.  There are a variety of ways that it can present itself.  Some you may not even realize have autism where there are others that it can't be denied. But just like rainbows each is beautiful in its own way.  One of my favorite tips was to state the what and why for every expectation.  So if a child is in your primary you may need to explain what you expect from that child during singing time, what the consequence will be if the do or do not do what is expected and why you expect them to do it.  They need to understand what you want them to do, and then follow through.

Brother Jacobs
He talked about his struggles with a disease he was born with that is in the realm of Muscular Dystrophy.  His father's approach was to call him a "freak" and tease him.  While his mother on the other hand loved him and pushed him to accomplish his goals.  She knew the delicate balance of how far he could be pushed, which was always more than he thought possible, but not too far. Obviously his Mother's influence gave the wanted results.

There was also a violin musical number by Sister Badal
She is a mother of a Son with Autism.  She told a story about singing I am a Child of God in sacrament meeting.  It was shortly after her son had been diagnosed.  She sang I am a child of God and so my needs are great.  She realized that her son's needs were in fact great, greater than she had ever planned on.  But in the chorus it taught her how to deal with his needs.  It wasn't to yell, be ashamed, hate, it was to lead him, guide him, walk beside him.  Then in the following verse it said I am a child of God rich blessing are in store. This gave her so much comfort.  She knew there were so many amazing blessings in store for him, whether it is in this life or the life to come.

The spirit was so strong at this meeting.  I felt so inspired to be a better person, mom, teacher, friend.  It reminded me that these children are really Heavenly Father's children on loan to us, and that he expects us to love them as he does.  There may be difficult children in our primaries but they are children of God.  They have something to contribute and learn.  We just need to remember to be patient and loving. I bare you my testimony that I know Heavenly Father loves all of us, not despite our imperfections but because of our imperfections.  This is the true gospel, and I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

If you were at the fireside I encourage you to share your experience.


  1. It was a really great night. I thought a lot of it applied to not just children with autism, but all children. Every child is different and all need help and love in different ways. Every child is a child of God and we should love them as such. Something that stuck out to me was that they talked about how behavior is communication. I think if I paid more attention to the autistic children's behavior in our primary I will be able to help them participate more.

  2. I thought it was a great fireside. Wonderful information. I think we could benefit from another one that might be a little more panel like. With questions and answers. But wonderful information.

    I will definitely try and implement a schedule of sorts into my singing time. Having a routine and schedule for what we do will help all of the children in our primary, not just those with Autism. I just don't know what that will look like quite yet.

    I loved the musical piece by Meggie and Lisa Badal. What a wonderful piece to inspire us all to see all children and our Heavenly Father's children. Thank you!!!