On April 1, 2016, I was the keynote speaker at Ernie Els’ Awe in Autism conference in Jupiter, FL. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining, 80 degree weather, and a cool breeze. Life seemed perfect. Two days later when I returned home to Michigan; I was greeted by 27 degree weather and an ice storm. My cloud-nine experience was quickly deflated.
My journey with autism has been like Michigan weather rain, ice, and snowstorm days (my meltdowns from sensory overload and seasons of underemployment) but also sunny beautiful days (graduating from college with a Master of Divinity and marrying a wonderful wife).
On March 20, 2016 at 3:13 am, my beautiful daughter, Makayla Marie, was born. Four days later when we arrived home from the hospital the first copy of my book A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom was waiting for me. Another Beautiful day.
Due to sensory issues, life was not always filled with so many beautiful days, but autistic thunderstorms. As a young child, I had difficulty managing my emotions. When I became frustrated or angry, I would scream and bang my head full-force repeatedly against my bedroom wall. I also struggled with regulating my sense of fear and anxiety.
At five-years-old, I went with my family for the first time to the movie theater. During one of the movie previews, a hand began to expand. After the hand covered the whole screen, it suddenly exploded. The unexpected sound of the explosion caused me to have a meltdown. I screamed and ran from the theater. My mom had to take me home immediately.
My mom to help me reach my full potential quit her job as an art teacher and became a Ron teacher. She implemented art therapy using behavioral strategies to teach me social and communication skills.
She decided to help me refine my disabilities into beautiful gifts. When you walk on the hot pavement to the beach and your barefoot steps on a sharp jagged piece of glass and you shout out in pain that is what autism unrefined was like for me; jagged autistic quirks, unfiltered inappropriate comments, and relentless head banging, meltdowns.
Autism refined, on the other hand, is like walking on the warm sandy beach with the ocean waves and discovering a smooth piece of glass that has been refined by the power of the ocean. Such glass we put on display as art.
My autism was not always refined. Autism caused my speech to be delayed and my brother Chuck at seven years old bragged, “My brother sounds weird; he speaks Norwegian!” Through intense speech therapy I have overcome my speech impediment of mispronouncing words with the letters “TH” and “L” sounds.
My mom’s passion to empower me to succeed in life and unconditional love was my motivation for writing A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom. I desire to provide hope to parents with a child or children with autism and share the insight I learned from my mom. While writing the book I also interviewed over forty of the top experts in the autism field and also forty parents who have a child with autism.
I share the dark stormy days when I experienced horrible sensory overloads and teach parents methods to handle sensory issues. I also share the beautiful days getting married, having a baby, and setting the school record for the 3,200 meter relay.
Autism is not an illness to be cured but a different neurological way of processing information. You can’t cure autism but you can refine it. Autism refined is beautiful. With therapy and love, all things are possible.
 In 1980 when my mom began my art therapy there was no applied behavior analysis (ABA) was not yet known as an approach for teaching those with autism and related disabilities. At the time, my mom used methods like modern ABA therapy. In other words, she used behavior principles based on modern behavior analysis when doing her art therapy.
About the Author
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website http://www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.