Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Not the End of the World

Pamela's favorite phrase when feeling upset is, "It's not the end of the world!" While she does track news articles that interest her (Elizabeth Taylor's death), she has not kept up with the whole rapture hullabaloo (May 21, 6:00 p.m., pick your time zone). Some of my friends with autism spectrum children were not so lucky, so I thought I might share some strategies that may help you for the next doomsday prediction (December 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar ends). If you are not a Christian, you have it easy. Just tell your kid that another crackpot Christian prophecy didn't come true. For us believers, it's not as easy.

First, the man who made this prophecy has been wrong before! Deuteronomy 18:22 tells us, "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." So, when the man who hinted at the end of the world as possibly September 15-17, 1994 makes another prediction, stay calm! Not only that, Romans 16:17 says, "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned." Any prediction of the day and hour of the end of the world clearly runs counter to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 24:35-36. That is another reason to breathe easy.

Second, now that we have all survived the *ahem* rapture, it is a good time to give the children who spent yesterday in panic mode a little history lesson to be prepared for the next "end of the world" scenario. Do you remember the Y2K panic? We were living in Pennsylvania at the time and my friends thought we were crazy for spending Christmas of 1999 in El Salvador. They couldn't believe Steve was stupid enough to schedule a flight back to the States on January 3, 2000. I told them that, if we lost electricity because the power grid went down, I would rather be in a sunny tropical beach eating coconuts than freezing to death in a snowstorm. They still thought we were nuts. Y2K topped this list of top ten failed predictions of the apocalypse. And, if that's not enough, here's more.

Third, we can help our ASD children learn from our own experiences (such as Y2K) and learn from their own by making a special effort to code this into their episodic memory, something families doing RDI make a special effort to do. They can learn to pay attention to how you, their parents (their guide), react to situations and trust your response, which is what Pamela learned to do through this therapy. Children in the autism spectrum have a hard time storing valuable lessons from life in their memory in a way that they can retrieve it for future reference.
Memory is important for everyone in terms of learning, growing, and managing more complex social and emotional situations in life. We use our memories to build and strengthen relationships; to reflect on what we’ve done in order to make plans for the future; and to problem-solve based on past experiences. If we didn’t have memories to draw on, we would hardly move forward in life. Hence, developing meaningful memories is a critical skill for all people, including children with autism. Linda Murphy in her article Episodic Memory, Experience-Sharing, And Children with ASD


Stranded said...

I never thought of that, that autistic individuals may have been following that! How stressful eh?

I read that guy made a lot of money out of this nutty business.

Casdok said...

Good thoughts to prepare for the next time.

The Glasers said...

The funny thing is I no longer have to prep Pamela. She reads my blog and already knows the situation. On the way home from shopping yesterday, I asked her if she know what day of the week December 21, 2012 was, she said, "Friday. It's not the end of the world!"

I mentioned how people thought May 21, 2011 was the end of the world and they made a mistake. Then, she added, "Y2K!"

Good point, Pamela!