One day, Chris and I were out on a drive. He noticed people standing on a corner of a busy intersection. They were holding signs saying, 'honk if you love Jesus'. We were stopped there for quite some time. As the light finally changed green, we passed by these 'preachers of the word'. Little did I notice, they were holding megaphones.
Apparently, Chris noticed because a few miles down the road he asks, "Mom, why were those people yelling into megaphones". Of course, I'm driving and have ten million things on my mind; I had no clue who "those people", he was referring to were. My normal phrase when I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about is: I'm sorry, Chris...what?! He understood the phrase and digressed further.
"You know the ones who were yelling to honk if you love Jesus." (Chris)
"Oh, OK, yes, what about them?" (Me)
In a million years, I would have never guess his next retort...
"Well, if they love Jesus...why are they yelling at everyone who passes by?!"
I told Chris to give me a moment to process what he just asked. When it comes to Chris, nothing is ever just one step and done. I have to put myself in his shoes before attempting to answer anything. His shoes are definitely a different fit.
After careful consideration, I spoke very carefully, "The people you saw with big megaphones, yelling at everyone, are very passionate about Jesus. Meaning they really love him and want others to feel the same way. Since it is a really big intersection, they used a megaphone to tell people to honk if they believe in Jesus. It's kind of like if we were in a store and you went to one side. Then, I walked to the complete other side. Would you be able to hear me if I said hi?
Chris pondered for a second and said, "nope, you have to use those intercoms they have".
Now, some of you are probably wondering what association did Chris make? I will break it down as if I'm a street dancer 'bustin a move'.
When people were speaking into the megaphone, it was loud to him. He thought they were yelling. Chris associates yelling with a negative connotation attached to it. Even a raise in voice octaves means a person isn't happy. It can also mean someone has done something immoral or wrong.
Chris also looked at what they were talking about...Jesus. For him, Jesus represents a good nature, understanding, and calm man who cares for others. Jesus and people yelling are contradictory terms within his mind.
Obviously, Chris was able to ask me about something he didn't understand. That got me thinking. How many times did Chris make an association in which the terms contradicted each other? I'm betting he had hundreds like this one battling in his brain. This is why it is imperative to figure out how our children's minds work. Just as much as it is important to have our children feel understood.
My reply to Chris could have gone awry. He was thinking that people who loved Jesus were yelling at others. By understanding his logic; I was able to explain they were people who loved Jesus and used a megaphone so others could hear. In a manner of speaking, it was shouting out FOR Jesus, not AT others.
Feeling understood is what aids us in having bonds with others. C'mon, let's face it! Our special children don't develop bonds naturally. Titles such as: mom/dad/sister/brother aren't enough to make them feel a part of something. Saying, "because mommy or daddy said so", is far from accepted by them. We can't just state the obvious and expect them to understand.
I like using the example my son says when he is upset to explain the brain mapping. He will say, "you are not my son". What he is trying to say is, "you are not my mom". The reality of what he means is, "I'm mad at you". An A-Typical 'normal' child probably would have yelled, "I hate you" or slammed a door. As we know, though, our special children, have a different way of saying the same thing.
When we dissect what our children are asking or why they continue an unacceptable behavior; we might just find one of the keys to help them understand themselves. Understanding is caring. Someone caring for our special children means the world to them.
A mother of a special need child and advocate for all!