Joy in the Journey…Justin prays in Primary

Through the years I have had my moments of being fearful of the future with Justin, of listing all the “never going to happen” with him, and my fair share of pity parties.  Most of those moments were concentrated in the early years and before we had a diagnosis, but I remember them very well.  And those rough valleys we went through make moments like today worth celebrating!!
Justin has not enjoyed attending church since he was 3, and allowed to play with toys the whole time.  So we’ve had about 6 years of chasing him through the halls, having him burst into tears(sometimes as early as just pulling into the parking lot!), and numerous in-and-out-of-the-car episodes, just trying to find a way to teach him to enjoy—or even tolerate church.  In the past month, we had a breakthrough with Justin in teaching him to “wait” and that he has to do things “our way.”  We downloaded an iPad app called iPrompts, which is a visual learning prompt program.  It allows us to create visual schedules for Justin for him to follow, and also allows us to create a visual timer.  For example, if Justin needs to sit at the table to complete a worksheet, we can put a picture of outside on the iPrompts scheduler and set the timer for 5 minutes.  Then we tell Justin he has to wait until the timer is done to go outside.  It is amazing!
My husband has been using this program with Justin for the past few weeks and we have seen a lot of success!!  He’s been able to sit for 10 minutes in his class with his peers in Primary, and about 10 minutes during singing time with a group of children in the past weeks.  However, this week he sat with his class and Primary group for almost the entire 90 minutes.
Today, Justin was scheduled to say the closing prayer in Primary—in front of a group of 40 children between ages 8-12.  He wasn’t in the best of moods at the point when it was his turn, so my hubby just had him say the prayer where he was sitting instead of going to the pulpit.  Justin folded his arms and repeated word-for-word the prayer as my hubby told him what to say.  He finished it by saying loudly, “Amen.”  He did it!!!!  My hubby, who is not a crier, said it was quite emotional for him as he felt the Spirit as he listened to Justin pray.  He wasn’t the only one who felt moved by the experience as some of the kids tried to clap, but then refrained;).
It is moments like these, where I feel the Savior’s love so powerfully, where time stands still and all the worries and fears about Autism no longer exist.  It is in these moments that my testimony of how eternal our spirits are, and how temporary this life is, grows immensely.
And it is moments like these, that give me the strength to keep fighting the fight until the next moment of joy arrives.  Today was worth fighting for!!

The man wants a cookie!

We downloaded this great iPad app called Proloquo2go which allows us to choose icons that he likes and organize them so that he can choose what he wants and request it independently.  There is an audio voice that speaks the name of the picture icon and so the iPad will speak the sentence Justin creates, like “I want-Sprite.”  You can choose what kind of voice you want as the default so it can be male of female.  We have a male voice programmed as the default and it is similar sounding in style to the Movie time listing male voice you get when you check the times on the phone.  And if you are too young to know that movie times used to be checked on the phone, please don’t tell me!  Anyway, this Proloquo app is AMAZING!!  So I picked up Justin from therapy the other day, and on the way home I was daydreaming about all the things I needed to get done and all of a sudden this electronic “man voice” from the back seat says, “Cookie!…..Cookie-Cookie!  I want….I want Cookie-cookie-cookie!”  I could not stop laughing.  What an amazing blessing this little iPad is to give my little cookie-monster Justin a voice and the ability to request his needs.  So great!