Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's All in a Word

per·sev·er·ate/pərˈsevəˌrāt/: Verb: Repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased

People often talk about the way kids with autism perseverate. They often seem to get stuck. They have this desire to continually line up objects, slam doors, twiddle fingers. I've heard this all before...that perseverative behavior gives children with ASD a sense of control of their world, and also may provide some positive sensory input; that it's a way to relieve stress.

The other day I was looking at that word and saw clearly the other word just within it: persevere. This was just after I read an article on some of the positive character traits people with autism possess (such as an inability to lie, or a lack of materialistic attitude). I realized that they should have added perseverance to the list. A person with autism will get an idea into his head and remain laser focused on doing whatever it takes to accomplish it. (Of course, the idea could quite possibly be finding a certain hidden food or toy, or figuring out a way to sneak outside, but let's let that rest for a minute). Someone with ASD will grasp onto an issue -- a request, let's say, and not take "no" for an answer. They cannot be deterred. They must get the desired result, and they will continue to talk about it, ask for it, demand it, until the request appears. It's funny, but when I think about this the first thing that comes to mind is the story in Luke, often called the parable of the persistent widow:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Jesus told them the story so that they "should always pray and not give up." Yet often we can be so easily discouraged away from prayer, from faith and trust. We don't see a result...or see what seems to be doors slammed in our faces...and quickly walk away, our tails hanging between our legs, defeated. If only I could have an ounce of that autism gumption, that doggedness, when it comes to spiritual things!

The judge said, "Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice." Perseverance brings about results. Kind of like the cookie you break down and give your child (with ASD or otherwise!) who just won't stop asking.

God, help me to perseverate, when it comes to prayer and keeping the faith. Help me to learn to keep on asking and not give up.


φ said...

Of interest might be the etymology of persevere and perseverate. The Latin perseverare—a modification of severus, which means strict— means to abide (strictly) by something. So even though we speak of perseverating behavior as repetition, since that's how it manifests itself in speech or discrete actions, it may also be seen as constancy or as steadfastness,—or as abiding.

"Abide in me, as I in you. . . ." I'll let you finish the thought.

Unknown said...


Jesus was very clear in what we must do in order to have Him ABIDE in us and we in Him.

He left this command for us in John 6:53-57, and it is the only place in Holy Scripture in which you will find it:

53 " Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (the taken away branch);

54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.


57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."

What does "Truly, truly" mean to you in verse 53? What does "unless" mean?

The body lives because it receives real food sustenance. Starve the body and it will die.

Just as the body needs real sustenance, so does the soul, else it will not bear fruit.

The soul lives by real Divine sustenance, the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.