“When people read my book, will they become more understanding of those who are nonverbal? I hope so,” Kimberly Dixon, author of Under the Silence is Me, How it Feels to be Nonverbal
By Ron Sandison
On April 29, 1985, Jim and Marilyn Dixon were filled with joy as God blessed their family with a beautiful red-headed girl they named Kimberly. Kim met all her developmental milestones at a typical pace. She was a healthy and active baby – full of joy and life. Her life dramatically changed when she turned six months and received her first dose of DPT. Kim quickly began to regress having severe cramping spells which her pediatrician believed were symptoms of colic.
After Kim’s loss of previous learned skills her parents were concerned with her listlesslessness. Kim was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed her with infantile spasms, a rare form of epilepsy. Jim and Marilyn share, “Kim’s allergic reaction to the DPT shot began our 31-year journey of seizures, hospital stays, therapies, diets, and doctor appointments from San Diego to Philadelphia. Through our journey we learned to trust Christ and rely on His strength.”
Jim and Marilyn enrolled Kim in an infant-parent program. Her progress was slow. She was non-verbal and seemed to be in her own world eventually leading to an autism diagnosis at age ten. She continued to have infantile spasms. These spasms progressed into other types of seizures including tonic-clonic seizures, grand mal, and ones that were so violent they threw her to the ground. In an attempt to help Kim overcome her seizures her parents tried many therapies including medication, anticonvulsants, brain surgery, a VNS implant, chiropractor treatments, and many others.
Finally in 1992, when Kim was six, a breakthrough occurred. After viewing a program on Prime Time Live about facilitated communication, Marilyn created a keyboard from poster board and begin teaching Kim to type words using a hand-over-hand technique. Kim quickly learned to type short sentences and express her thoughts. By age eight, she was writing creative stories. Two years later she would begin composing inspired poetry.
Kim has written over 100 poems and won many awards for her poetry. In 2013, Kim & Marilyn published a poetry/art book titled Under the Silence is Me—How it Feels to be Nonverbal. The book contains over 50 of Kim’s poems and many original art pieces. Kim writes about her book “When people read my book, will they become more understanding of those who are nonverbal? I hope so. My goal is to show that autism is not something to be feared, but instead something to be accepted.”
Some key themes of Kim’s writing and art include: the wonder of creation, birds, animals, God’s glory, Christ’s love, and experiencing life. Thomas à Kempis, author of The Imitation of Christ, writes “There is no creature, regardless of its apparent insignificance that fails to show us something of God’s goodness.”
In her first poem Kim shares her desire for friendship.
Friends Role of Love
“Friends dance across my life,
Answering my cries and strife,
I begin singing in my heart,
And naming all the friends I cart.
Opening vast oceans of love,
Being friends is like wearing a glove.
My friends hold me tight,
And keep me from fright.
Joy fills my life when friends are here;
I pray my friends will always be near.”
Kim’s greatest struggle in life were her frequent seizures. She experienced over a thousand of them and writes about them in poetic terms.
Moaning in the night
Really frightening dreams
Feel angry inside
Loony noises in my head
Flashes of light
Awful pain in my brain
These are seizures.
Kim experienced fear and anxiety attributed to her autism. Along her road she discovered comfort in Christ. Her favorite Bible verse is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Through poetry Kim expressed her love for God.
My Wonderful Savior
Great is my God
Full of mercy and hope.
Great is the Lord
Who is bringing me joy.
Great is the King
Who is king of my heart.
Great is my Master
Who loves me the most.
August 28, 1999
Poetry empowered Kim to find peace in a world that can be overwhelming and scary.
Roping the Moon
Suddenly you turned around and…
The people roped the moon,
And the moon slowly came to earth.
Men came to look for the moon that night;
But the Sky was free of the light of the moon.
Sounds of sadness echoed in the night.
Lonely and afraid, little children cried.
As the darkness filled the sky,
Young teens could not drive.
Old ones fell in the Street as they crossed;
Dear souls hurt and lost.
Mothers gave their children hugs
Calming their fears with love.
Dads helped their teens drive home,
And girl scouts aided the lost and alone.
Suddenly you turned around and…
The yellow moon had returned,
Bringing its light back to earth.
When you saw the glow, you wondered—
Had this all been real,
Or had time stood still?
Kim remained steadfast in her faith in Christ and desired for her life to bring glory to God through her poetry.
Kneel at the Cross
Bow at the cross when anxious you feel,
Awesome peace will flood your soul.
Sweet Jesus will comfort your heart
When before Him you kneel.
Great is His love for you this day
He hears your cries each night
Give him your cares and fears
Always His power will come your way.
August 16, 2015
On April 25, 2016, Kim wrote her final poem. Dr. Laurence Becker was visiting the Dixon’s family and a butterfly landed on Kim’s knee; later that day, she wrote, The Painted Butterfly, describing Christ’s power to transform our weaknesses into His glory. Two months later, during a seizure, Kim fell, hitting her head. She went into a comma awaking unto eternal life. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).
The Painted Butterfly
In the trap of a cocoon, a caterpillar is waiting.
All his energy is stored inside.
As he gives up his old life,
His new beginning is soon to arrive.
Instant change will open a new life;
Death of the old must happen first.
Popular caterpillar will go away
To be replaced by a creature so fine.
When the beautiful butterfly is ready,
He pushes his way outside his cocoon,
Gains his strength and flies away.
Painted butterfly has now joined the world.
April 25, 2016
Marilyn shares, “It was as if Kim knew her life in heaven was soon to begin.” Kim’s story will be featured in Dr. Laurence Becker’s upcoming documentary Fierce, Love and Art.
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 is a board member on the Art of Autism. 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 www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org