Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
~1 Peter 4:8
I’ve been thinking about non-verbal imitation.
How we’ve been working on it since Rhema was two. Two. Her therapist would put a block in a bucket and try to get her to do the same. Or she would clap her hands or touch her nose and say ‘Do this!’ Trial after trial after trial. Week after week, month after month, year after year.
And it’s something that’s still very difficult for Rhema. It’s the foundation for other skills – joint attention, verbalization, play, social, emotional engagement, self-help. I’ve seen her lack of this non-verbal imitation, and it puts her in a totally different space… even from other children within the autism spectrum.
If you cannot hear or understand an instruction, at least if you can observe and imitate what you see, well you’ve got something there – a model. But just getting this sweet child to look… it seems she can barely even attend to what her teacher/coach/sister/peer is doing, let alone follow those actions.
How will she learn?
Today was one of those days where the beauty of God’s creation fills you full, and you cherish every minute. Ours was a day with no work or school, only inflatable play zones and lunch at our usual joint and beaches and walks on sand and ice cream with sprinkles (of course).
Then a simple dinner at home. Something happens when I see my children eating what I’ve made (ok I boiled some turkey dogs and warmed up canned corn): I get good satisfaction as a mama. They’re here, they’re happy and content, their bellies are full. Thank you Lord.
I look at their mocha legs dangling, Hope’s long hair on her back, the gentleness in Rhema even as she separates every piece of corn on her plate. The chatter and the hum, the late sun shining on them through the window. I am in awe at these little people growing before my eyes, I am grateful that God lets me see them, experience them, be a part of them.
In the afternoon Brandon and I had stood on the beach side by side for just a moment, watching Hope twirl and prance in the ocean while Rhema wandered and wondered as the light changed around her and she pressed her toes in the cool sand. How we never could have imagined these two the day we met over 15 years ago.
I put my arm around his strong shoulders, shoulders I know now I can trust. I am so thankful; there’s no doubt he will pray on his knees in the morning, bring flowers in the evening, love his wife ‘til it hurts, and give all that he has for his family, his girls. He read aloud this morning 1 Peter 4:8. Again, I know it’s all mercy:
“…Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy I’ve found.”
It comes to me then, how to teach Rhema. How to teach Hope.
Love him. Love each other. Love with a heart as wide as that beach, like God’s sea of forgetfulness where forgiven sins are cast. Serve it like a heart-satisfying meal. Love like Jesus and a Hope hug and a Rhema kiss – patient, a lot of deep breaths and holding tight, all in, poured out.
Keep doing this.