Archive for the ‘Autism’ Category

The Bad Boy Chair

Well, school seems to be going well for J.J..  The reports we get from the staff are very positive and Uncle Vince tells us that he seems to be the star of the class.  Apparently, he regularly has the staff in stitches, even to the point where some of them have actually had to leave the room to contain their laughter.  He does impressions of the different teacher’s aides and will even treat them to fully choreographed renditions of Veggie Tales silly songs (you should see him do “The Belly Button” song).  But we’ve learned that little Mr. Stand Up Comedian has a dark side, as well.

Sometimes, J.J. is just not in the mood to do school work.  It happens with “normal” kids, I know, but my J.J. has a way of making it clear that he doesn’t want to work.  He calls it fighting with his teacher.  We asked him what he does when he fights with his teacher.  J.J.’s honesty is usually quite refreshing.  He told us that he writes his “y”s upside down.  Or he’ll write his letters really big when he’s supposed to write them small.

“So what happens when you fight with your teacher?” I asked him.

“I have to sit in the bad boy chair.”

I wonder if that’s where he comes up with his funniest material.

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J.J.’s Journey

I know, internet safety first.  To this point, I’ve not used my children’s names on this here little blog (they’ve been affectionately labeled The BBQ Kids), but with my cyber-inactivity, it doesn’t appear that many strangers come by regularly anymore.  We get about 40 hits a day now here at the BarBeQuethMinistry! world-wide headquarters, which would be a tithe of the Famous Dave’s Campaign glory days (wow, I really miss my free BBQ).  Almost half of the hits are from search engines.  I get a few crazy ones (know what I mean, Jen?), but also a bunch of folks looking for ministry resources.  Well, why not add a few more helpful posts here and there?  And even a brand new category!

Our oldest son, J.J. (the offspring formerly known as BBQ Boy I), has autism.  He’ll be 14 this spring (doesn’t that make you alumni feel old?), loves Spam with rice (chip off the old block), tornadoes, Veggie Tales, Iron Chef America, and walks on the beach (really, he does).  Walking and fine motor skills were markedly delayed, but he learned to ride a bike in less than ten seconds (braking is still an issue, though).  He is just learning to read, but has a photographic memory that can often be described as amazing (he can recall with stunning detail places and events from when he was two years old!).

He communicates almost exclusively through questions.  He greets people with a question (but never with an unprompted “How are you?”), converses with a series of questions, and usually bids farewell with a question.  As is the case with most autistic children, J.J. doesn’t pick up on social cues that tell the rest of us when someone is uninterested, embarrassed or annoyed.  He normally dominates any social situation he’s in.  Not everyone is comfortable with this.  There are many who get quite frustrated with his persistence and repetition.  This has drastically changed our ministry.  How to minister with the added concern of raising a special needs child has been a definite challenge.  I’ll possibly address this in a future post.

Then there’s the challenge of educating J.J..  Early on, it was public school.  Then it was homeschooling through a satellite dish.  Soon after it was homeschooling on DVD.  Then it was homeschooling using the Lindamood-Bell learning system.  Brenna (the spouse formerly known as My BBQ Honey) has done a tremendous job with him.  She’s done literally thousands of pages of reading, attended many hours worth of seminars and workshops, and has even had lunch with Temple Grandin, arguably the most famous/influential autistic person in the world.

But smack dab in the middle of Trigonometry and English Literature, they kinda hit a wall.  Okay, it was actually more like basic shapes and the ABCs, but it was exciting progress, nonetheless.  Progress we actually never thought we’d see.  But it became clear that another change was necessary.  We struggled and prayed for some time as to what to do.  Then God began to reveal to us how He had been working to provide what we needed.

Turns out that there is a non-public school specializing in Autism education just three miles from where we live.  Though it’s on a major thorough-fare, we never drive by this area.  It is highly unlikely that we would have ever heard of it without God’s intervening care.  You see, we have a relative who works for the Leroy Haynes Center, which started and runs the Haynes Education Center School for Autism.

Isn’t God good?

J.J. started school just over a week ago.  Every morning he complains about how “different” the people are in his class and declares that he needs a day off or even a vacation.  But it’s a different song upon pick up in the afternoon.  Pretty much everyday he tells Brenna that he really likes his school and even thanks her for taking him there.  His uncle has had the chance to visit him in class and see how they’re working with him and how he’s reacting.  It’s such a blessing to be able to get eye-witness reports from someone who knows him and understands what we’re looking for.

Isn’t God good?

Then there’s the money issue.  Private education isn’t cheap.  And we’re not rich (comfortably taken care of by our blessed Lord, but there’s no private jet waiting on us).  You’ll never guess who’s paying J.J.’s tuition for this non-public school (which includes breakfast and lunch everyday).  Ready for this?  The public school system (our local district)!  You know how stingy they are with their money?  Especially the big bucks they get for special education?

Isn’t God good?