Apr 19, 2013

I Am More Than Autism

We live in a world of labels. Some labels are good and helpful. Other labels make people feel like they are stuck in a box. Certain labels make you feel like a part of a group. Other labels can alienate and make you feel alone. We are all different, thus making a diverse tapestry that colors our world. Our brains all function in various ways. It seems simple, right? Yet, it takes time, effort and grace to learn about other people. How is Autism any different?  Individuals with Autism have strengths and challenges they face every day.

My name is Melissa Barbakoff, I am the owner of The Baked Equation.  I love to blog and bake for the love of my charity. In my family, we are all very different. My husband is super logical but sometimes needs directions on how to operate emotions. My son and I operate our emotions with ease, but we struggle in math. It takes patience for my husband to explain geometry to Jude. It also takes grace to understand that Dann doesn't always understand why we are upset or why anyone would cry during a movie.
One of things we do as a family is try to set aside time to have discussions about all sorts of topics. The past two weeks we have been talking about Autism. Do we know anyone? If we do, is there a way we could go about trying to relate better. Often we tell our kids to be nice, do not bully others, and other little nuggets of truth. I find that we have greater success when we engage Jude in a conversation about his interactions with others. While the puzzle may look messy, it can make perfect sense to someone with Autism. Take a moment. Take a step back and try to see it through their lens.
Need help? Here are some great questions to ask your kids:
  • Do you know anyone in your class that has Autism? What are they like? Do you ever talk with them?
  • If your friend has autism, do you know how to compliment them on their strengths and have patience with their weaknesses?
  • Do you know why they like to rock themselves back and forth or spin?
Strengths :
  • Attention to detail
  • Tendency to be very logical
  • Process better visually
  • Loyal
  • direct communication
  • Very Verbal
  • Independent thinkers
  • Understanding the big picture
  • Uneven skill set
  • Difficulty perceiving emotional states of others
  • Sensory Integration
  • Generalization of skills and concepts
  • Difficult to plan long term tasks
**For more information on Strengths and Challenges visit Autism Speaks.

Taking time to understand people helps you treat them with dignity and respect. Love is a choice. Love is also work. In the world we live in today most would describe love as an emotion that comes and goes with how one feels. I have always loved the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;   bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Who wouldn't want to be loved with that kind of love, right? But it takes an active choice of the will.  I must choose to love with patience and be kind. I must choose to not be provoked. It starts with me.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite songs. I will never forget when I heard for the first time while watching the Prince of Egypt with Jude. It's a song about perspective, even when life may not make sense.

Through Heaven's Eyes
By Brian Stokes Mitchell

A single thread in a tapestry
Through its color brightly shine
Can never see its purpose
In the pattern of the grand design

And the stone that sits on the very top
Of the mountain's mighty face
Does it think it's more important
Than the stones that form the base?

So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life

Look at your life through heaven's eyes

A lake of gold in the desert sand
Is less than a cool fresh spring
And to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy
Is greater than the richest king
If a man lose ev'rything he owns
Has he truly lost his worth?
Or is it the beginning
Of a new and brighter birth?

So how do you measure the worth of a man
In wealth or strength or size?
In how much he gained or how much he gave?
The answer will come
The answer will come to him who tries
To look at his life through heaven's eyes



  1. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is also one of my favorite versus. Love is one of the strongest words, when it is spoken from the heart. You my friend, just showered people with your love. Beautiful post!!

  2. Love this post, Melissa. I also love 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8! Beautiful words and cookies!

  3. Such a beautiful post! The cookie are wonderful. Melissa you are a true gem in this world :)

    1. Thank you so much, Melissa. I so appreciate your kind words.


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