An Interesting Conversation About Autism as a Beginning

Our routine when we start working is to read a devotion and Jake comments on the letter board so I can write his comments in the lines below. Here was what we read and what his comment was today:

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  Mark 8: 22-23

Then we read how Jesus took the blind man outside the village to heal him.  Why did he take him outside the village?  Possibly because the environment was too negative, sometimes we have to break free from a negative environment that is holding us down to receive all our Lord wants us to receive.

Jake’s response:  I not limited by others, only by my autism.

Mom(Tara/Me):  maybe reframing how you’re viewing autism would be helpful. Maybe seeing autism as a platform for beginning instead of as a limitation would be a more positive way to think about things?

Today’s Activity Choice

So next I gave him 4 options to choose from for our work session:

  1. The secret lives of whales
  2. A psalm or proverb lesson
  3. Watch and discuss a video about another individual who spells to communicate
  4. Something else

Jake chose something else. I held out the letter board to hear his suggestion and the following was our conversation:

Our Conversation

Jake: Nice having an interesting conversation about autism as a beginning.

Mom:  Yes, that’s reframing our outlook on current situations as subject to change. Today, the present moment, is truly only a beginning to the rest of our lives. The use of our power in this moment is important in what we want to grow in our lives – the “fruit” we want to eventually see, or the “crop” we want to reap – we’re sowing now. That’s how God designed this life to work. That’s what I believe. What are your thoughts?

Jake:  Autism is the answer to having, only having, interest soul getting not real lost in hatred. I not have other interests having not abilities to do anything capable reality people can do. I need to be always love-minded. Have interest in helping others, not sure how to do that. I don’t like hearing about how others struggle soul hatred not even have autism. I can’t have more friends not being able to talk. So hard to have understanding of why people who can talk don’t have easier time than me.

(After that long stretch of spelling which took a great deal of concentration Jake popped up and started pacing, I asked if he wanted to continue the conversation or if he needed a break.  He verbally said, “break” so we took five minutes and then returned.)

Mom:  Everyone always seems to have some excuse to complain or be miserable or worried or unhappy at times, don’t they? The good news is the opposite is also true!  Makes me think of John 16:33. Do you see how there’s always the power to choose within you? How we all have that?

Jake:  Not easy to have truth at will.

Mom: That’s a good way to say it. You never know what is influencing your thoughts/emotions unless you think about what the truth is.

Jake: To see truth of different realities hard most having interest pleasing other expectations, but not able to.

Mom: It is a lot of pressure we put on each other, don’t we? We expect others to understand our perspective, but they are often totally ignorant of it. Communication helps, but it is a work in progress that has to be based on that truth we keep talking about. And YOU have the extra challenge of having to communicate without words, with the exception of being able to use the letter board at times now. That is an amazing accomplishment.

Jake:  I only wish not so hard to not have talking skills. I deal great anger at times. Makes me hate myself. Nice to most not hate myself and always remember I am doing capabilities best I can.

Mom: Absolutely! And I am very impressed with your honesty, your heart, your passion, and your sweet, sensitve side that is who I know you to be – super smart, super caring, super sensitve and observant.  And an expert listener! (the timer of our 70 minutes had gone off and I could tell Jake was needing to move)  Any last comments?

Jake:  Nice to live not hating having autism.




Jake McClintick is now 25 years old and has been learning to communicate using a letterboard since age 18. Learning the process of using a letter board through the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) was a gradual process that took several years. We are still working on expanding RPM and Jake’s confidence/skills beyond our “work sessions.”  Regardless, this low-tech alternative communication system has been an answered prayer for us both.

At the age of 22 he began expressing his very personal thoughts and feelings more fluently with me (his mom), and it was his idea to begin writing “The Story of My Life” one day. He is diagnosed with severe autism as well as intermittent explosive disorder. He has given me permission to share his story and our conversations.

Jake continually expresses his desire to “find purpose” to his life…I hope his willingness to share will help others learn about this misunderstood condition known as “autism” that has so much to teach us all.