Her image

“Given the enjoyment that typically developing children… derive from such engagement [with mirrors], the loss of this opportunity in autism might potentially contribute to further impairments in the development of a sense of self.”
~An interesting study on autism and sense of self


I feel a little silly writing about this. Such a small thing. (Only not).

Rhema has been looking at herself in the mirror.

Years ago, I tried to introduce her to herself.

Holding a mirror in front of her and pointing to her reflection, I’d say, “See you? See beautiful you?”

But such an activity requires joint attention, which until recently has been severely lacking for Rhema. Additionally, we’ve been working on eye contact for years; if it’s uncomfortable for her to look someone in the eye, perhaps it’s more so to look into her own eyes!

When she was two, I was encouraged by an SLP to do “mirror work” with her. I’d sit her in my lap, hold up a mirror, touch her nose and say “nose”, and practice making funny sounds. She would never look directly into the glass, she’d always squirm away.

She was so isolated, so hyperactive. I wondered if her disconnection from us and from her surroundings even extended to an utter disconnection from self.

Does she even know who she is? Can she recognize her own self? How can she ever relate to the world, to others, if she cannot relate to self?

This has long been a concern of mine. I blogged about it three years ago and listed some of the things, the most important things, I hope to teach my daughters about themselves:

I am created in God’s image and therefore blessed by Him (Gen. 1:27, Gen. 5:1-2)

God’s hands formed me and made me, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 119:73, Ps. 139:13,14)

The Lord has a purpose for me and He will fulfill it (Ps. 138:8 )

God loves me so much that He calls me His child (1 Jn. 3:1-2) and He sent His Son to die for me so that I could live with Him forever (Jn. 3:16)

When I am weak, then I am strong. Christ’s power rests on me in my weaknes, and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9,10)

I belong to God. I am precious and honored in His sight. God loves me and I am created for His glory (Isa. 43:1,4,7)

I am fiercely valued and forever loved by my family


At some point over the years Rhema figured out that the glass reflects her. Still, she avoided looking in mirrors, as if offended by the reflection. I would hold her in front of the mirror, and sometimes she would glance in its direction. But she never looked for more than a second, never tried to interact with it, or babble or touch her image. Unlike her sister who beams and swirls in the looking glass, Rhema derived no pleasure from seeing her own face.

Until now.

The other day I came upon her looking in the bathroom mirror. Her eyes were so focused, and she stayed there for several seconds. It was so unlike her, so new… it was like we were both seeing her, recognizing her, for the first time. I held my breath, not wanting to interrupt the moment. My baby is growing up, making so many connections. She is discovering who she is.

She continued to gaze into the glass.

And then she smiled.

At herself.

She socially interacted with her ‘self’, and she liked it!

Today I got out the same little mirror I used with her when she was two years old. See what she sees:


See you? See beautiful you?


The apostle Paul wrote this of the Lord’s return: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)



22 thoughts on “Her image

  1. she is so beautiful and precious! (loove the braid, and the missing teeth gap) 🙂

    So glad she is interacting with her mirror self , she never ceases to amaze me, with what she can do!

  2. don’t feel silly; that is awesome; love the verses! have yu read her the Father’s Love Letter? just posted the link on Facebook. He is the source of our self-esteem and so many have to re-learn to accept His love (including yours truly). I rejoice that Rhema can get it right from the get go–she’s gorgeousl!!

  3. I agree — don’t feel silly! Every milestone is precious. I love the verses you posted and want to share and pray these over my kids.

  4. She is so beautiful, I’m glad she finally wants to see it. We really do *not* have this problem with Pudding. Her teacher bought a mirror for her to have in the classroom. Don’t know where she gets her vanity from!

  5. She is SO beautiful. So happy for you. And I agree, it’s a small thing but it’s not and I think that is one of the things that autism gives us, that ability to have so much joy in simple things.

  6. Glad you wrote about this, knowing who we are as His image bearers is a big thing…understanding it starts with grasping the small thing of beginning to know ourselves. I love that she’s found delight in her smile!
    (We are working on memorizing that Corinthians verse right now…the whole chapter actually. I’ll think of Rhema when we read it today:-)

  7. She is so beautiful, I love and pray for her often. Not just small steps, these are prayers being answered. Please kiss Rhama for me!!!!!

  8. Gorgeous, beautiful Rhema! What a precious gift to see herself and take delight in all she sees! What an accomplishment and definitely worthy of celebration! See Rhema, see beautiful miraculous beloved Rhema!

  9. Two things, this not-little-at-all milestone makes me think.

    One — how God must be celebrating with you & Rhema!

    Two — reminds me of when Casdok wrote a couple of months ago about how her 22-year-old son “C” only recently began looking in the mirror — and one day he left lip prints on it… we’re always growing, our kids are always growing, no matter what age.

  10. Yipee!!!!!!! Progress. I am so happy she likes who she sees. Once again, catching up because I am not getting updates. ugh.

  11. Beautiful photos and ideas!
    I am doing research on mirror therapies and self-recognition in children on the autism spectrum. It’s these special smiles that make it all so worthwhile.
    Dr. Shelagh Robinson
    Montreal, Mirror Read

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