Creflo Dollar - Autism
Hello. Welcome to "Your World". You know, parenting, though very rewarding, being a parent can be a stressful and challenging task, even with the best behaved of our children. Our guest today is a parent who understands these challenges better than most. She took her three-year-old son in for immunization and afterwards he suddenly stopped talking. He did not speak again for the next two years. His communication reduced to simple hand gestures. Her son was diagnosed with autism. In the United States, 1 in every 59 children are born with developmental disorders. Now, on today's program we're going to learn more about this condition and the challenges that parents face every day caring for these children. I'm Creflo Dollar, and this is "Your World".
Creflo: Our next guest has been challenged by raising an autistic son, while at the same time touring on the road with her husband as a popular gospel duo. Would you please help me welcome Kinderia Greene to "Your World" today. Hey. Welcome. Thank you so much for coming. Thank you for sharing your story today. What's gonna happen here is you and I are gonna come together, kinda like a tag team, and we're gonna produce an instrument that we're gonna send out to the world, and we're gonna prepare something that's gonna bless a lot of people. So, let's begin. I can't imagine what was going through your mind when you took Tiger, I think it was age three, and you got the news about the diagnosis. Take us there.
Kinderia Greene: I was in the military, stationed in Guam at the time, and went in for a regular checkup. His growth chart, you know how they chart it out and fill? He's doing good, and he's progressing and everything. Everything was good. After the immunizations, I have a daughter named Kayla, so she was right up under Tiger. Like, one year, Tiger, next year, Kayla, so doctors wasn't concerned because they were saying that I was doing a lot of baby talk, and so they felt like his digress, you know, when him falling backwards with not communicating or going backwards on the growth chart, was because I had another baby in the house. And I noticed that he just all of a sudden just stopped talking. It was the hardest thing for me because you go back and you start picking apart everything, you know? "What did I eat when I was pregnant? What did I drink, you know? How did this happen"? You're looking for answers on the Internet, you're looking for answers at church, but, unfortunately, to hear that your child have a lifelong illness, there's no cure, the way the doctors brought it to me, it was just devastating. I can't even begin to, you go into withdrawal. You might be in a room full of people, you might have a great support system, but you just immediately feel alone.
Creflo: So, were you tempted to find reasons to blame yourself?
Kinderia: Oh, yes. That was the easiest thing, to blame myself. Back then we were forced to take the anthrax shot, and so I was on my last series of shots, and afterwards I got pregnant, and so I'm, you know, anthrax, you know? I should have, you know, turned it down and just got out the military. I could have, you know, why did I do this to my child and...
Creflo: And that's hard emotionally, you know, 'cause it's like the enemy just does anything to try to get you to blame yourself for it, and I'm glad you were able to work through that.
Kinderia: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. So, they didn't wanna say that at first. They just told me that he wasn't talking. He was just repeating me. He was making the noises. Me and Tiger used to sing, "Itsy-Bitsy Spider". He used to sing, "Get back up again, Mom". Like, we fall down, but we'd get up. He's like, "Get back up again," and this was all up until three and then he just stopped, but the doctors told me there was something wrong with me. They said that "no, he wasn't talking. I don't know why you feel that he was". It was as if I was on a TV show, and they just say, "Well, you didn't go through this. You must have been dreaming. You must". So, they began to put me on pills. They began to put me on pills, and I'm blaming myself, and I'm saying, "You know, well, was he talking"? I'm going through looking at videos. We had a little book. He learned all his colors and everything. And so, I was married at the time then, not to my husband now, but he didn't understand it. He made it very hard for me to even receive it, because he's like, "My children are perfect," and you know as a man, you know, he has his name, you know? They were born on the same day, but he was just like, "No, I'm gonna force it outta him. He gonna talk today. You know, he's a boy. He gonna talk. He's gonna learn. No, he was saying this. No, give me the book. He gonna say it today," you know? And he was just really, you know, really forceful with him, and so that began to crush me in. And I'm like he can't do it, and I had to, you know, immediately become his defense. I had to immediately become the person, "You gotta go through me. I don't care who it is, you know? I don't know what's happening," so that was one of the most confusing times of my life, but still blaming, still blaming myself.
Creflo: What do you think the turning point was to get you out of that?
Kinderia: I was in my bedroom, and I was crying. Tiger, he came up to me, and he, you know, pushing me, and I'm like, "Tiger, go away. Go away". And he like, "Mmh," 'cause at that point he was just making noises. And he hit me on my shoulder, and he said, "Get back up again".
Creflo: Oh, wow! Yeah, that will do it.
Kinderia: And, you know, I began to say, "How selfish am I, you know? He's going through this. This is his battle, and I'm acting like it's mine, and I'm on the Internet day in and day out trying to find a way to blame somebody else". So then, you know, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, "So, if you do find who to blame, are they gonna just do a wand, and he don't have it anymore? What is more important"? I think we all have to get to that point. What is more important? Where I place the blame, or the process of acceptance and healing. And when he did that to me, "Get back up again," I knew that my son was still there and...
Creflo: That kinda, you know, I'm trying to be all like that, but that kinda, like, bro, I'm like grabbing, because what I think about is when you said that, this just came through my mind, "his grace is sufficient". His grace is sufficient for you. His grace is sufficient for Tiger. His grace is sufficient. Let me go back now a little bit. How did now this diagnosis, I know it impacted your routine, yeah, and you had to make some adjustments. You had to, take us through that.
Kinderia: I'm very stubborn. I know my mom and dad are probably like, "Yes," right now. I'm very stubborn, didn't want to, you know, receive it the way the world wanted me to receive it, so I became one of those I'm not gonna handicap the handicap. "No, he don't need to be around loud sounds," 'cause he start playing with his ears. And he's like, "No," so we sit by the drums at church every Sunday and, you know, every time we do it's like, "Okay, we're gonna get through this". And we can't take him to so many stores at one time because he'll start, you know, acting out. They were telling me, "Okay, we're gonna go to four stores today. We're gonna". So, everything that they were telling me that he couldn't do I purposely made it a thing for him to do it. And so, because I had a daughter right underneath him, if I give him a pass I gotta give her a pass, so I couldn't give neither one of them a pass, because after the divorce I was, you know, single for a while and, you know, she looking at her brother, and they're just like cohorts, you know? If he go up there and turn the TV and turn it all the way up, she right there behind him, like, "Mm-hmm, like, what you gonna do? What you gonna do"? So, immediately I had to say, "You know, I gotta raise them normal. As normal as I can possibly raise them, I have to," so the routine, they both got potty trained at the same time. They told me he was gonna be seven years old when he got potty trained. Four years old I got there. I mean, "No, no, no, no, I ain't changing diapers to you. No, buddy. I don't wanna see", Mm-mm, so...
Creflo: So, you went against the norm in a lot of things?
Kinderia: I went against the grain, and I purposely, "Oh, he can't eat nothing with skin on it because it's gonna.."., "Here. Eat. You ain't getting nothing else," and you know, and some people might look at it like, "Wow. You're mean". But, no, it was just, "I can't give you a pass because I got this little girl here, and if I give you a pass I know she gonna start cutting up," and so that was my motivation to say, you know, the routine is gonna be the same.
Creflo: So, what's the special and the different things that you see about Tiger versus all those other things that people heard and said and...
Kinderia: I mean, everyone say that he can't, and I see a lot of can. The thing about it, with autism, because I've been around so many different parts of the spectrum, Tiger is like right there snug in the middle. And I've seen the worst end of the stick, and I've seen the better end of the stick, and with him, his thing is he just does stuff. I don't know, and I know somebody probably understands what I'm saying, but he just does, if his tooth is hurting, he's bringing me his tooth in his hand, and it's like I can't remember pulling one tooth, and it's like, "You have got to stop pulling your teeth. Like, I cannot deal with this". So, I mean, it's stuff like that. "Like, Mom, here. It hurt," you know? You're like, "We don't do this. This is not normal". Tiger has this thing where, and I know a lot of kids this is the one common, but he can repeat something for 350 times in a row. "It's gonna be a good day. It's gonna be a good day. It's gonna be a good day. Gonna be a good day". His big thing is green eggs and ham. He will green eggs and ham me From Chicago to Atlanta nonstop, and it's like, oh, my goodness, but I never put him on medication. Never.
Creflo: How did he get along in school?
Kinderia: He has this thing about failing. He don't like to fail. He will ball up a paper if it got one x on it, so he's the champion. You know, he has to get everything right in his eyes. And so, when the teachers didn't understand autism, they were, I had to move. I literally just had to move because it was a hard time for him. He was hurting his self. He was upset. He was screaming a lot. You know, every time I go to the IEP meetings, the dreaded IEP, Individual Evaluation Program where they just evaluate him, well, he'll never have the mind capacity over a six-year-old. The things people say. You begin to really know how life and death lies in the power of the tongue, but not only in your tongue, but in the tongue of others and how you take it, you know? People were just calling him names all the time. I remember this particular incident. I let him go outside and play with his sister, and she came in, and she was crying. She hit the floor, and I'm like, "What's wrong"? She's like, "They're beating him up. And, Mom, they're beating him". And I'm like, hmm. I, you know, went outside and literally it was a sawed-off limb on a tree. His eye was stuck to that. They had pushed him. We had to call the paramedics and everything, and we got him in. When we went, the blessing behind it is when we went to the emergency room, you know, they had to turn the lights off, put the dye in, and pick everything out, and I'm just like, "Lord, just please help us". But he has perfect sight. It didn't affect him, but it still made me understand that the world is not ready to receive. He's so loving and at that age he was, you know, a little more loving than others, and so the guys didn't understand him, and so they was like, "He's gay, or he's this, and he's that, and he's gonna be a pedophile. Everyone that shoot up a school has autism. Y'all better leave him alone, you know"? And you hear this stuff, and it's like...
Creflo: Ignorance is bad. I read this comment the other day that said the most dangerous person is not the one with the weapon, but it's an ignorant person that has power. And what happens sometimes is ignorance can be just, man...
Kinderia: They're so mean and cruel and, you know, he used to have to have his game when he would sit still and now he don't. But, you know, we would go to churches in different places, and they were, "No, he can't bring that in here. No, we can't do that in here, and we can't". So, it's really one of those things where you're constantly on the defense. You're constantly trying to defend. He has echolalia, where he echoes something over and over a lot and that's kinda like Bumblebee from the Transformers. Everything, but it goes in the right place. Like, if we're at the store, and he gives the lady behind the counter some money, and she give him money back, and he was like, "Keep the change, you filthy animal," you know? Just like, "Tiger, you can't say that," you know? I mean, he's always right there in the pocket where it going. It's like he hears someone singing and everybody is quiet, and he's, "You're a sad little woman". "Tiger, you can't do this". Like, I feel like this tall, you know? "We can't do this, baby," you know? So, you know, you're trying to walk out all, "You know, I got him," and you out there laughing and cutting up with him, and it's just like, you know? So, I thank God for allowing me to see that, but I still have those moments, you know, and how do you get beyond those moments? Now he's 17. He knows he's supposed to be driving, and, you know, his granddad, bless granddaddy's heart, taught him how to drive. It's like, "Granddaddy, he gonna come there with you," you know? 'Cause I don't think Atlanta is ready, but I just don't, so I'm grateful. He's a two-time gold medalist for Special Olympics in track. I had to learn that I have just as much to be happy about than I have to be upset about, and I forget about the immunizations and not to say that I don't revisit that at times, but I'm just ready for the manifestation to take place.
Creflo: Yeah, you know, you started a foundation, correct?
Creflo: What was your motivation behind starting that foundation?
Kinderia: People, the ignorance of people. People just acting like they don't understand. I was like it will be a better life if we just all understood each other and that's why the organization is called B.L.U.E. We light it up blue, right, for Autism, so I gave blue an acronym: Better Life Understanding Everyone. And with that God has allowed us to, you know, reach a lot of different people and let them have a zone where they can be their self. If he wanna run around and do jumping jacks and splits, whatever, he can do it without judgment.
Creflo: Let's talk about the man that became your husband.
Creflo: Oh, she's smiling. When did you know he was the one?
Kinderia: When I saw his interaction with my children. They're a very tough bunch. He didn't shy away from it. Everyone always told me that I was gonna have a hard time having someone in my life because of what I was going through. They didn't feel like a man would step up to it, but my husband said, you know, "This is my son," and even though it's not blood I've watched him teach Tiger different things. I watched Tiger try to be like him. I've watched Tiger emulate and, you know, he's ready to learn. But David came in, and David, you know, kind of, added a little more structure to our world, and they loved him. I mean, at first, you know, my daughter Kayla was giving him a hard time, but she came around, and so, "You know, they're okay with you, you know? Come on in".
Creflo: You know what, though? As I hear your story, I'm pinpointing all of those places where the grace of God showed up, and I'm thinking about the definition. It's this undeserved, unearned favor. It's God favoring you where the world said it wasn't supposed to happen, or that's not gonna happen, or you're not gonna find a man who's gonna, and everything the world said wasn't gonna happen God's favor allowed it to happen. And, you know, to all the people who thought you didn't deserve it or thought it wouldn't happen, and look at Tiger now who knows how to drive, who's got two medals, who sounds like he's hilariously funny and a great personality to be around. I mean, you got me laughing at some stuff. Like, I'm sitting up here like, "Oh, my God," but God's grace is real, and I am thrilled to hear how your faith is still working. And although you got faith still out there working, while your faith is out there working grace is making it happen in the midst of it, you know, to do what needs to be done. So, I wanna take a break right now, but when we come back I wanna ask you about this gospel duo, what you guys do, man, and how you're blessing the body of Christ. And who knows, when we come back I may give you an opportunity to meet the Olympian, Tiger. We'll be right back.
Creflo: Hey, welcome back. You guys have a singing duo, and I imagine that really provokes the joy of the Lord. Tell me about the signing duo.
Kinderia: Well, Nu Purpose, N-U. I guess it was like acronyms: now understanding purpose. And a lot of times we feel like we know what we're gonna do in life, and we know the road we're gonna take. The thing is people already had us planned out, but Romans 8:28 says, you know, "And we know all things work together for the good," so even the bad work together for the good. Every trial that I was in worked together for the good and when I began to understand that it was challenging. Tiger used to just go missing. He felt like it was the opportune time. Soon as they're saying, "Here is Nu Purpose," you look out, you're like, "Where did the boy go"? He all back in somebody office playing on the computer, you know? You try to explain, "Please forgive us," you know? So, yeah, there's definitely been some challenges, but with Nu Purpose we've been able to minister to other people. Even in our, you know, lack of faith we have been able to give faith and give hope to others, and I think that that is just phenomenal for what we do.
Creflo: Wow! Well, I wanna thank you for sharing what you shared with us today, and we're just encouraged. I am, and we wanna thank Tiger for being here and, Tiger, would you stand? I wanna introduce you. Ladies and gentlemen, that's Tiger. Yes, sir. And we believe the best is yet to come in your life, and you guys have provided some understanding and some encouragement, because people that are watching this today and you may have a similar experience, the joy of the Lord is your strength. I didn't think we were gonna come out here and laugh this much, but I'm encouraged. It's like you have to begin to look at it through God's eyes. If you start looking at it through other people's eyes, it could probably become something that's pretty rough. To say that it wasn't a challenge, but at the same time to see a 17-year-old man who is now doing things that people said he would never do. That's the blessing of God, amen? You know, God's grace, I believe, is absolutely sufficient and when you trust the grace of God in your life, those challenges, those difficulties, they just fall by the wayside. I believe that. Now, we're not saying everything is perfect or there won't be more issues to deal with and all the things you may go through as parents, but the frustration, the problems, the grace of God, ladies and gentleman, has been and will be more than enough through all of those things that you go through. I wanna thank my guest today. Thank you so much. Listen, you have been a wonderful guest, and I have thoroughly enjoyed your company. Thank you so, so much.