My son on the spectrum struggles greatly with OCD and perseveration (e.g. repeating a word or phrase, lining objects up for hours, or becoming fixated/hyper-focused on a certain topic) For my precious son, both involve repetitively saying the same string of words or asking the same question over and over again (and expecting an answer over and over and over again) until his mind tells him he will feel better, more comforted and relieved. Except soon he finds that these repetitive behaviors bring more torment than any sort of relief – an infinite loop of compulsive speech that wants to suck my child into its dark vortex.
These repetitive behaviors, when out of control, cause him to feel physically ill (headaches, stomach aches, sensory overload, meltdowns, etc.).
Each child is completely different of course with what will work, but I am a praying momma, desperate for God’s help and intervention in my son’s life, and if we walk in childlike faith and trust in Him then He promises to give us the right words and wisdom in our lives. This has been true and is true with my son.
Here are some encouraging and faith-building verses showing us we can trust God to help us when we ask:
“Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say” (Exodus 4:12).
“On that day I will make a horn sprout for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth in their midst. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 29:21).
“For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say“ (Luke 12:12).
“For I will give you the right words and such wisdom” (Luke 21:15 NLT).
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you” (James 1:5).
We can’t have an ABA therapist or helper with us 24/7 to help our children cope, but I believe if we lean on God He will guide us with what to do with our child on the spectrum though every issue and circumstance, though sometimes the revelations can come over time, little by little. With all my heart, the Lord has guided me with the right words and actions with my son – even when to stay silent in some cases.
When my son gets stuck in an OCD/perseveration loop, it’s best to help him right away. He (now) lets me hug him, so when it starts, I often hug and comfort him, and tell him I love him very much and that I am there to help him. I tell him that he needs to let me help him kick the loop’s behind or something to that effect. I ask him if he wants to feel better or if he wants to get worse (very ill with symptoms from the turmoil a perpetuated loop will cause). “Better” he says somewhere within his agonizing loop. Then, I give him a statement to replace the repetitive ‘lie’ that is is bringing him anguish with truth.
For example, he is VERY anxious about most things, often worried I won’t help him with something (which has no former factual basis because it’s usually something I have helped him with or will help him with). So, he might repeatedly say, “You’re going to forget to buy my chicken,” one-hundred plus times even though I always buy his chicken. So, I comfort him and ask him as above, and we replace “lies” with the truth – together with my love, calmness, gentleness, and grace. It’s NOT me calling him a liar, but refers to the ‘lie’ attacking and taking over his thoughts. So, I have him say, “Of course, my Mama will buy me my chicken. She loves me and takes good care of me.” It can take time to pull him from loops, but he is able to replace ‘lies’ with the truth and calm down enough to get out of the loop and prevent physical illness and pain to his body.
One of the keys to him cooperating is my staying calm and making sure my fruits of the Spirit are active…“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). <= Boy, do I have to pray for help staying calm when I am utterly exhausted, but I do because I know it makes a massive impact on my witness to my son and my effectiveness in helping him.
If the repetitive loop is a powerful one, we do use avoidance and distraction sometimes, “Honey, go to your room and occupy yourself with something funny or of interest so I am not with you to ask this question.” It can take awhile for his system to calm down, but he has no one to ask questions or say statements to and distraction and avoidance do work for him.
We have been able to put into practice God’s Word and principles to help my son…and Yes, it is hard work, very very hard work. It’s not always quick, but my son is learning how to better cope, and it is a miracle for our little family.
“Whatever is TRUE, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I am teaching my teenager on the spectrum to take these thoughts captive in Jesus’ name, too. He’s known the Lord since he was 4 years old, and I want him to know that Jesus is there for him and will help him when he calls on Him. My son sees God working in his life.
I praise You heavenly Father for all You’ve shown me over these past months and the progress in my son who wouldn’t receive any help just weeks ago. Lord, You answered my cries for help regarding my son, and we are seeing little miracles every day. Thank You, Jesus!