Sunday, June 05, 2011

Whitecaps help look at autism a little differently

I used to lead my church's middle school youth group, and one of the kids in the group was diagnosed as autistic when he was a toddler.

You wouldn't have known it at first. He was just a little more challenging than the other middle school kids, which, of course, is saying something.

But I grew to understand – and appreciate – that he saw the world a little differently.

One night I planned a lesson to show that we can't see God, but we can see the effects of God. To illustrate the concept I set out on the table several scenes.

One had a apple with a bite taken out, another had a broken piece of glass and a opened Band-Aid wrapper, and another had my portable CD player next to an opened package of AA batteries with two missing.

The idea is that we didn't see someone take a bite of the apple, cut their finger or replace the batteries, but we can guess what happened based on what we found and what we know. And we don't have to see God to know what he has done.

I gave each of the students a reporters notebook and told them to write down what they thought occurred at each scene.

Most of them wrote down was you would expect. But my autistic member's explanations were a little different.

“Wasteful teenager leaves behind a perfectly good apple.”

“Careless person leaves his expensive CD player unattended.”

The middle-schooler, I realized, saw things just a little bit differently.

I thought of the boy Sunday when I attended Autism Awareness Day with the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Detroit Tigers' Midwest-A affiliate.

The team does a great job supporting some causes. We almost always attend Breast Cancer Awareness Day, when the Caps wear pink jerseys. They have special Star Wars jerseys, too, advocating for the defeat of the Evil Empire.

Sunday's special jerseys were covered in colorful puzzle pieces, intended to represent the ambiguity and mystery around the causes of the condition. Many early Autism Awareness campaigns used the slogan “Help Solve the Puzzle”

The Whitecaps had no problem solving the Cedar Rapids Kernels this day, a 10-3 pounding to complete a three-game sweep.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Horve said...

Great story!