We're Family

By Dan Coulter Who’s in your family? It may be larger than you think. My wife, Julie, and I recently went to her annual family reunion. We showed a video there that we’d produced about several generations of family history using interviews and old photographs. We included a story about great-grandfather Rommie trying to drive his new Model T Ford for the first time. When it abruptly started forward and he couldn’t remember how to stop it, he clung to the steering wheel yelling, “Whoa! Gee! Gee! Haw!” as if he was driving one of his mules. His oldest son jumped up on the car’s running board and got it stopped. The older members of Julie’s family grew up together. As children, her father a

Generating Good Surprises

By Dan Coulter Damon Runyon, author of the play, "Guys and Dolls" once said, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet." Whatever races and battles you’re dealing with, life is full of surprises. If you’re raising one or more children who are on the autism spectrum, you’ve probably had your fill of negative surprises. That’s a given. But the positive surprises can more than compensate for the negative, if we keep ourselves in the right frame of mind to take advantage of them. I say, never take a positive surprise for granted. We have to be careful that training ourselves not to show disappointment doesn’t also block us from showing apprec

The Power of Apology

By Dan Coulter When’s the last time you apologized to one of your kids? Of course, maybe you don’t ever do anything that requires an apology. If so, you are a very rare person. I believe most of us can recall times when we’ve assumed something about our kids that turned out not to be the case. Other times, we may have understood perfectly well, but got frustrated and engaged in a bit of scolding overkill. I apologized to my adult son the other day after I jumped to a conclusion and assumed that he’d done something he hadn’t. I think there may be a tendency not to apologize to our kids (especially to younger children) as often as we should. Maybe we fear that admitting we did something wrong

What's Wrong With Your Child?

By Dan Coulter My wife, Julie, and I were in church before the service recently and a woman came up and told Julie how nice it was that she’d brought our son Drew to their Sunday School class last week. “You really can’t tell that there’s anything…” She didn’t finish the sentence, probably realizing how something like “anything wrong with him,” would sound. Her heart was in the right place, but her confusion demonstrates that we’ve got a ways to go in finding appropriate words and phrases to describe the challenges of people with Asperger Syndrome (which Drew has), with autism, and with similar conditions. I think, to her credit, she sensed that the word “wrong” wasn’t appropriate. And she w

Writing Kids Off Is Not An Option

By Dan Coulter If you’re a parent or teacher or coach or youth leader, have you ever been tempted to write a child off? To expect little or nothing and put your efforts elsewhere? For an hour or a day or even permanently? Have you ever felt justified because a child was uncooperative or disinterested or disruptive? This can be a particular temptation when you have other children or students who need you and show more appreciation for your efforts and make more progress. But it’s also an opportunity to be one of those special people who never gives up on a child. Who never mentally throws up his hands and says, "It’s his own fault, he’s not even trying." In John Elder Robison’s book, "Look M

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