My student climbed out of the van with hair all a mess, eyes wide, mouth chattering, and little brain unable to focus or make his body still. He’d had a sleepover the night before, and his friend had come with him to the farm that morning. There was a lot going on, particularly for a child on the autism spectrum. I picked up on my student’s emotional dysregulation and made a change of plans for the start of our lesson. “Hey Buddy, let’s go for a quick walk, ok?”
He followed me out of the barn and I asked him to walk next to me, our right and left feet in sync with each other, knees pulled high, marching like soldiers in a parade. Bum, bum, bum – the rhythm of our steps and actions were in sync the whole way to the chicken coop. We turned around, got lined up again, and bum, bum, bum, headed back to the barn. Our march sped up toward the end and finished with a sort of synchronized race – and giggles.
My student came back into the barn a different person. His body was relaxed, he had stopped his over-stimulated chatter, his eyes weren’t darting to and fro, and he was now looking to me for what was next, completely connected. All it had taken was a little bit of rhythm, movement, and laughter to start our lesson at a very healthy place, with both of our bodies and brains regulated and connected.
This experience with my student got me thinking about my relationship with God. Many days it is so difficult for me to sit down to move spiritually with my Father. It takes effort and regulation to be still and be in sync with Him. Too many times, I come to Jesus like my dysregulated student came to the farm: “Hey, look at this! Wait, what’s that? I want to think about this! I want to be over there!” I can just hear God calmly responding to me, “Hey Bri, let’s go for a quick walk, ok?”
On this walk, I learn how to step in sync with Jesus, how to move with Him and toward Him, how to focus, and how to regulate myself by borrowing God’s “brain and body.” When I am still, abiding in the Word, and spending time in prayer, I am moving and experiencing rhythm in my walk with Christ. The result is regulation, connection, and joy.
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