English translation of previous article:

A Miracle To Believe In

In August of l996, Patty Wipfler told me the following about my son, O- , who is autistic: "His autism and retardation are patterns, and he will be able to discharge lots about them in order to fully recover his humanness." She also said that I should not try to help him do this by myself but that I needed to get together a team of about ten people. These people would work with O-. They did not have to be Co-Counselors, and I would train them. I loved what she said but could conceive of it mostly as a direction.

I am quite pleased with myself to be able to tell you that meanwhile this "direction" has become a reality. I have organized a team of five people plus my husband and me, and we all play with O- in a way that looks like "special time" and playlistening.

I have given all the volunteers a class in "playing with O- ." Basically he takes the lead in the play, and we follow and encourage him. In all play with children it is important to help them know that you are there, but it is particularly essential with a child who has autism, so I have added several simple ways of play that foster contact and connection.

Each volunteer plays with O- for two hours a week. When the volunteers are finished playing I give them the space to have a "session," which we call "feedback." I myself play with O- about two hours every day as well.

Once every two weeks our whole team meets together, and we discuss the progress, look at the new challenges, and celebrate the successes. These meetings really help the volunteers to feel a part of the whole process. We have an agreement that we do not judge O-, each other, or ourselves. We can make mistakes and call them experiments. I invite everyone to learn from each other.

I can't believe my eyes. We are taking on the battle against autism, and everybody is learning a lot along the way. We spend one hundred hours a month of playing with O-, and possibly even more if I can arrange it! After one month we have already achieved a lot. He is more direct and persistent in his contact with us. He talks more and has learned new skills, such as dressing himself, putting together a twenty-piece puzzle, drawing lines, throwing the ball up to the ceiling, playing a real game, counting the dots on the dice, imitating M - (his brother), and allowing himself to be caressed. He seems older, and I see glimpses of his intelligence. Maybe he is not "retarded" at all! All this is such a unique happening, such a dream, a miracle!

I have been working with the Option Institute in the United States. They have developed a program for families who have children with special needs. They offer complete guidelines on how to play, how to create play rooms, and how to bring in volunteers. The Institute's most important message is for people to believe in themselves and their children. I am so excited to be able to combine the ideas from the Option Institute with what I have learned in Co-Counseling about young people and playing with young people. I am able to give my volunteers real sessions and thus introduce them to the basic ideas of Re-evaluation Counseling.

The Netherlands
Translated by Truus Jansen
Reprinted from the newsletter of the Amsterdam, The Netherlands RC Communities

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00