It’s Yellow Ball Monday, and Missy Hartwell has the ball:
From age two, my son Michael has been mesmerized by Veggie Tales. When his autism made it difficult for us to capture Mikey’s attention or eye contact, the sharp-witted characters, zany songs, and up-beat scripts of Veggie Tales were there for him.
But sometimes Mikey’s obsession with all things “veggie” troubled me. Rather than seeking comfort in my arms, my son ran to plunger-headed Larryboy. Rather than seeking companionship from his big brother, Mikey found reassurance in the silly exchanges between Bob and Larry.
This past year, however, something astounding has happened. At first we thought it was a fluke or maybe echolalia. But it began occurring with regularity. Mikey was using Veggie Tales lines to respond appropriately to his surroundings.
In an a packed elevator on our way his annual EEG, Mikey cried out with tears streaming, “I’m soooo blue hoo hoo, blue hoo hoo hoo! I’m so blue, I don’t know what to do!” (Madam Blueberry). Then, at the doctor’s office before his shot, he announced, “I AM THAT HERO!” (Larry boy). In a situation he couldn’t make sense of, he closed his eyes and gently sang, “Tell me why? I don’t understand… Tell me why because I can’t see my way through.” (Esther, the Girl Who Became Queen).
I’ve even heard him giving himself a little pep speech. “God made you special and He loves you very much!” (Bob & Larry). “That’s right, Buddy!” I respond earnestly.
Mikey’s speech therapist calls this ‘copying and pasting language’. He’s using the emotional interaction between his veggie buddies to voice his own responses. It’s a breakthrough and we are ecstatic!
As I watch Mikey, I’m having a breakthrough of my own. Rather than turning to the latest Big Ideas production, I am learning to meditate on another script—God’s Word. Caring for a special needs child can be very overwhelming, disorienting, and confusing. But when I copy and paste God’s immutable truth into my thoughts and words, I find I can curb my own emotional reactions and respond more appropriately to my son, and the rest of the world around me. My prayer is this:
“My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.”
Missy Hartwell lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her wonderful husband Dan and her two sons, Joey (11) and Michael (9). When she’s not “vegging” out with her family, she delights in ministering to other mothers of special needs children and is currently a Chair Corp Local Representative for Joni and Friends Wheels for the World.
I’m so proud of my friend, Missy. She so beautifully exemplifies love of Jesus as she sacrificially and tirelessly cares for her precious son, Michael. Keep going, Missy. I’m cheering for you!
If you’re interested in having the yellow ball tossed your way, check out more information here.