As the head of ChosenFamilies.org, a ministry for families living with hidden disabilities, it is my privilege to work with some amazing people. We do in the hidden disability category much of what Specialneedsparenting.net does for the broader category of disability concerns — we have writers who share their journey in order to encourage others.
This month I wanted to share with you a post by Joshua Hutchens, a husband, father, pastor, and Chosenfamilies.org board member. The Trampoline Catechism has already touched many and I thought it would speak to you as well.
I thank God He grants to us as parents the wisdom to teach His principles to the children He has given.
Autism or not, God has called me as a father to teach his word and his ways to my son. Fathers must “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4). God does not exempt fathers from this calling who have children with a disability. Instead, fathers like me must think creatively and teach at a level appropriate to their child’s abilities.
So in joyful obedience to this calling and privilege, I have developed what I call the “Trampoline Catechism.” Jude has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and he has very limited verbal ability. Having learned some basic principles of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy, I use Jude’s greatest motivator—jumping with me on the trampoline—to get him to participate in learning.
Here’s how trampoline catechizing works: I ask Jude a question or get him to sing a song. After he does it, I cheer for him, and then we jump together for a minute or two. Then repeat.
I try to keep things as simple as possible. After some trial-and-error, the Trampoline Catechism has come to consist so far of the following:
- Sing: The B-I-B-L-E (We only sing the first verse to keep it simple.)
- Me: Who made you? Jude: God! Me: Why? Jude: His Glory!
- Me: What is rebellion against God? Jude: Sin (We just started working on this one.)
- Me: Who died for us? Jude: Jesus! Me: Why? Jude: His Glory! (At first we tried to say “His Love” but he kept getting it mixed up with the previous “why” question. Since Jesus did die for his glory, we went with it.)
I hope that my experience encourages fathers who find themselves in a similar situation. Dad, Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs you to teach your children “diligently…when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” God summons us to pursue diligently paternal creativity. We must teach our children whenever and however we can even “when we jump on the trampoline.”