Ellie and Imagination


As I have mentioned before, we are the parents of a daughter who is on the Autism Spectrum. We have been so grateful for how much she has grown and how God provided the right help at the right time.

We have done a lot of imaginative play with her in order to push her toward more communication. This has been very successful therapeutic model for our daughter. She enjoys imaginative play interacts best when we are engaged in an activity.

Just one problem, her imagination is stuck.

What I mean is that she has a very difficult time imagining what to do. Most of her playing involves mimicking what we do. I was reminded of this today when I was playing a game in which we were pretending to be asleep. She “woke up,” stretched her arms to the sky, and let out a fake yawn. Then she stretched her arms out a second time and yawned again.

Then she stopped. And I could see that she was trying to figure out what to do next. The wheels of her mind were moving, but she wasn’t going anywhere. She looked over at me for a moment and then stretched her arms out a third time and yawned again.

She simply did not know where to take the game.

It is the same wall she hits whenever we play. In fact, if you were to play “Hide-N-Seek” with her, there are only two places you would have to look.

But, Ellie’s imagination problems reminds me of an imagination problem we all have. Many of us, when we imagine possible alternatives to our current situation, hit roadblocks and give up. We quit because we think the change will cost too much money, time, or energy. We make excuses to keep things the same. We consider the possibility of changing, come to the edge of real change, then back off because the change is too difficult. We reinforce the status quo situation by making excuses. After all, what else could we do?

We are slow to recognize these blind spots in every area of life. Some fail to see where their marriages are headed. They fail to see where their children are headed. They fail to see where their wasteful spending and greed are headed. They fail to see where their choices are taking them. The pictures of their future are completely divorced from the reality of their present. They think somehow it will all work out. When they see for a brief moment, they justify the blind spots away.    

   Imagination is a powerful tool of transformation. But if we fail to use it, we will be stuck because we will fail to see ways out of our present problems. Our lives will become one big cycle of waking up, stretching our arms to the sky, and yawning.

Then one day we will what happened. We will say, “No one could have seen this coming.”

When you read this – don’t look at your current situation and say, “There is nothing I can do to change it.”

Get creative.

Think outside of the box.

Ask yourself – what comes after waking up, stretching, and a fake yawn?


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