Never Fear

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God was speaking to Joshua who had been appointed as the leader of the Israelites after the death of Moses.  Joshua was at the threshold of a long journey.  Moses had the Red Sea to cross; Joshua had the Jordan River.  God intervened in both those crossings enabling His people to cross on dry ground.  If Joshua had gone by only what he could see with his own eyes, he might not have even led the Israelites across the Jordan.  He might have run back into the wilderness instead.

Joshua banked on God’s promise of his not walking alone across the Jordan and on to what would be one battle after another in the land beyond the Jordan.  It couldn’t have been easy for him at times.  Joshua was human and thus subject to Satan’s temptations to doubt God’s promise “with you wherever you go.”

The Jordan River was at flood stage.  The enemies beyond the River were strong in number  Their weapon arsenal impressive.  Based on sight alone, it was an uphill battle.  However, Joshua was going on faith instead of sight.  He sought God’s guidance and carried it out whether it made sense to him or not.  Such as the time Joshua had his people to march around an armed city surrounded by a wall for seven days.  This wasn’t your typical military strategy of conquering a city.  It worked though.  The walls of Jericho came tumbling down just as God promised.

We don’t have to be a military leader to relate to Joshua’s story.  One only has to be a member of the human race to know what battles are.  Life affords us many battles.  Sometimes it is a minor skirmish, sometimes a battle, and sometimes it feels like we are at war.

A battle can be sitting going nowhere in a hurry during rush hour traffic.  I used to have to deal with a 70-mile round trip of one and I confess I had plenty of days where I didn’t handle the battle well.  A battle can be profoundly more serious, though, such as the death of a loved one or coping on a daily basis with a lifelong illness for which there is no cure.

A daily battle of my own is living with my Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which I gave the nickname of Billy.  I am thankful to the Lord for Billy.  He can be a thorn but a blessing too.  It’s just some days I’m more thankful for Billy than others.

I don’t think the words spoken to Joshua long ago just apply to him.  Any of God’s children, including me, can bank on the promise Joshua was given.  I shouldn’t be afraid.  Why?  I couldn’t be in better hands than that of my Father in Heaven.


Booksmart vs. People Smart

My answer:

I wasn’t formally introduced to my constant and lifelong companion until after I turned 58.  Since then, I look back on my childhood years with another pair of lens.

I was the kid who never had to be told to do my homework.  I started working on my homework immediately after getting home from school still wearing my school clothes.  My typical study routine for a test was going over and over the material in my bedroom as if I was the teacher teaching the material.  I didn’t make straight A’s all the time, but it wasn’t an unusual thing for me too.

My top favorite high school memory wasn’t high school graduation and certainly not the prom since I had no date.  It was the moment when I astounded my high school history teacher with my memory during a history game where my answer of a month, day, and year of a battle put my team over the finish line.  I received applause from my classmates and as best I can recollect, it was the one and only time that happened.

I was popular with teachers but with my peers? Not so much. I went through my entire adolescence without a curfew since I didn’t leave the house anyway. I didn’t have my first date until I was 18 and it was awkward, to say the least. I had no phone in my room nor did I have a desire for one. Of the few parties I attended, my favorite spot was the corner of the room.  I still prefer the corner if I have to drag myself to one.

The spectrum isn’t a rose garden without thorns, but I am thankful for the roses. I am thankful for my smarts because I work at schools with children who have such learning disabilities that they may not ever write their own names or say their first words.

The Grass Doesn’t Grow Under My Watch

The above picture is that of my backyard.  Although I have no fear of being cited by the City for the grass being too high, I also am in no danger of receiving glowing compliments of having the greenest lawn in my neck of the woods.

It actually is my Mom’s backyard.  She has relinquished custodial care of it to me; however, the front yard is under my younger brother’s care.  His idea of when a yard needs mowing is absolutely counter to mine.  My Mom has to “edge” my brother to mow when it has reached a height beyond her comfort level.  He uses a lawn mower to do the job.  I would, too, but I don’t have the arm strength to turn the mower on, but the weedeater has a push button and off it goes.

I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) more commonly known as Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).  My explanation for the backyard not having a chance to sprout its blades is an ASD obsession.  I’m obsessed with gadgets and my weedeater falls under that category.

I am writing this while on summer break from school while the kids are out.  I’m on vacation but my weedeater is not!  The backyard has gotten a daily haircut since school let out.  Even before school let out, I often had a weed-eating date to recharge my batteries after a school day.  Giving the weeds a whack is therapeutic in a very odd sort of way.  The above picture is proof of that.

There is also the alley behind our house.  It is under my jurisdiction too.  My weedeater and I visit the alley once a week.  My section of the alley way looks like a piece of desert in the midst of the Everglades.  I’m just saying some of my neighbors seem content with tall weeds behind their backyard fences.






What is missing in an autistic person that a normal person has?

Someone asked this question on a website for asking/answering any number of questions on any number of topics.  I responded by first saying, “In my case, a social life.”

To put it simply, I have a social disability. Unlike those around me, family and friends, I don’t like to be around people much.  If I am with one person discussing a topic that’s right up my alley, I am talking that other person’s poor leg off.  But add another person or more to the conversation and I go into silent mode.

It is well-documented those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (my nickname for it is “Billy”) are not likely to be the social bufferflies in their community. I could manage better than those I know of going days in solitary confinement without going mad. Torture for me would be in the midst of people, strangers or not, around the clock with no break of lone time.

I shutter at the word “group”. It can be followed by the words “meeting” or “social” or “gathering” and I will have the same reaction of a frown. It is similar to the reaction I have at the smell of turnips cooking, or the bass sound of a loud stereo, or the glare of the bright lights. I’d rather be far away on another galaxy than sitting inside at a group session pretending to listen while hoping someone will volunteer to be the first to announce their departure.

Now if I am at the podium doing the speaking, it’s a whole different story.  Even better, if I am talking about one of my passions.  Now why I hate being in the audience but thrilled to be the speaker, well, I haven’t figured that one out yet.

The British writer, Alis Rowe, frequently writes about autism. One of her quotes that hit close to my heart: “I can be talkative and expressive when with a single person, but the more people there are around me, the less interactive and more introverted I become. Inside a group of people, I can’t contribute/function, and tend to ‘shut down’ because I find it all too overwhelming.”

My ASD is a constant companion and there are times when it slaps me right in the face. At family gatherings or other group settings, I can’t be like the others. I can’t join in on their chatter and laughter and enjoy it as they do. For me, such gatherings are draining and that isn’t going to change. The mute button will always come on.  I can ask why I have to struggle with this but everybody has something to deal with.  It isn’t so much what it is but how we cope with it.  The Lord is the One whom I turn to.  He knows all about my Billy.

I take heart in the bright side of living on the Spectrum. My passion for writing helps me to communicate with people in my own special way. It isn’t all dark on the Spectrum. Not at all. No one has it all after all. I try to remember that and appreciate what I do have going for me with Billy around.

It is so Hard

A visit from want-to-see relatives should not be a hard thing.  But strangely it is to me and perhaps to others who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
When I was told a couple of relatives were coming to visit for only a few hours, I said the appropriate things, “that nice…”.  But the inner expression was a big frown.  I can’t fully explain why since I don’t quite get it myself.  I fretted about it from the time I knew they were coming to when their arrival.
Immediately when they pulled into the driveway, my mute button came on as it usually does when I have more than one person to interact with.  My Mom and relatives did most of the talking.  What was running through my mind?  An image of being in a strait-jacket trying to squirm out of it.  I wanted to exit but that would have been too rude, even for me.  I wanted to “stim” like crazy!  Knobble my knees, or shake a leg, or pace the floor, but that would attract unwanted attention.
I did finally perk up!  I know exactly when I did too!  The very moment one of the relatives said, “We need to get on the road!”  My mute button turned off!  It took about 15 more minutes before they hit the road, but that was okay because I knew there was an end in sight!
They each gave me a big hug.  One said, “I love you…”  I whispered to her that I loved her too.   I meant that with my whole heart too!   The torment I had felt from the time they arrived was not their fault.   It had nothing to do with any ill feeling towards them because I felt no such thing.  It’s just Billy (my nickname for my ASD).
After they left, I got a little teary-eyed.  I did what I often do when my ASD slaps me in the face reminding me of its existence.  I prayed and had a talk with the Lord.  I said,”Oh, Lord, I wish a family visit didn’t have to be so hard for me!”
After my talk, I went out and had a date with my weed eater.  Yardwork is one of my ways of coping with such occasions.  Work sometimes helps!  After I had seen to the destruction of weeds, I then took a walk in a nearby park by myself.  The park is my recharging place and the walk did recharge me.
I’ll close with this scripture from Psalm 22:19:

“But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”


All in a Sub Day’s Work

I have the pleasure of being a substitute teacher’s aide in the school district where I was taught to read, write, add, subtract, and other such things.  I was writing this at the end of another school year.  It was hard to tell just who was more ready for the bell to ring for the last time of the school year – the grown-ups or the pint-sized ones.
Play Day is held by the schools around Memorial Day holiday.  It is usually an all-day event unless there’s interference such as rainfall or three-digit temperatures.
Several schools had their Play Day on the Friday after Memorial Day.  One of the schools did not have their best Play Day compared to years past.  The bounce houses were a no-show.  That’s like all the roller coasters at a park like Six Flags or Disney being out of order.  The company couldn’t deliver them on time since they overbooked and didn’t have enough workers to carry out all their obligations that day.  Just an example of the supply not equaling the demand.
I was at another Play Day that Friday.  I was subbing in a special ed class for a teacher who I consider one of my dearest friends.  She had a story to tell on one of her students who has a “stubborn streak”.  You won’t find this term in a medical dictionary, but I’ve heard teachers use that term.  Now stubbornness is a trait that anyone on the planet can have.  It’s just this youngster has maximum strength stubbornness.  Maybe it is worse of late because he’s approaching the pre-teen age.
The teacher escorted her student to the water slide.  He made it to the top and what did he do?  He just sat at the top and wouldn’t budge so much as an inch!  His teacher shouted and pleaded for him to slide down.  NOPE!  She told the other kids to go around him and slide down.  Before she lost her voice, she told the high school boys who were helping out to grab his legs and pull him down.  This took more than one boy since the student is a growing boy big-sized for his age.
Image result for school water slides
In the back of her mind, she was hoping there wasn’t a parent videotaping this on their cellphone commanding teenagers to pull a kid down by his legs.  Finally, he came sliding face down all the way.  He looks up with a smile on his face, spitting water right in his teacher’s face.
I did not witness this myself.  The teacher told me and one of her two aides about it later.  She was laughing as she told it.  I doubt it was funny at the time it happened though, especially the spit part.
The following week, the last week of school for me, I was subbing for a P.E. aide.  When one of the older classes was lined up to leave the gym and head back to their classroom, a boy raised his hand and I went over to see what in tarnation he wanted.  I had him repeat it four times since I couldn’t understand what in tarnation he was asking me.  (One of my autism traits is verbal communication.  It isn’t so much hearing that I ask someone to repeat something, but more about giving me time to process what I am hearing).  He finally spelled the word “r-i-g-h-t” before I realized he was asking me, “You are a girl, RIGHT?”  I found out he and a female classmate had been debating about whether I was a boy or girl.  I told the girl, making direct eye contact which I don’t often do, that she guessed wrong.
I have been asked this before and it won’t be the last time.  I assume my short haircut is responsible for this question.  I like my hair short so I can spend less time with the hairbrush that I am sensitive to.  This does make me wonder what else the students say about me in their chit-chats.  Some things I am better off being in the dark about and this is definitely one of them.

Watch Out for the Gray-Haired Lady on the Scooter

On a list of female Asperger Syndrome (AS) traits, I highlighted in yellow those that pertained to me.  It would have been faster if I had just marked those that didn’t.  One of the traits was “Is youthful for her age in looks, dress, behavior, and tastes.”  Maybe that explains why I at 59 1/2, I am spending a good bit of my leisure at the park or on a bike trail taking one of my brand new electric scooters for a spin.  

When I was growing up, I sometimes acted as if I had not gotten the memo that childhood comes before adulthood.  I had strong opinions on grown-up issues pertaining to religion, politics, and social issues.  This was when kids my age were riding bicycles, skates, and playing with hula hoops.  I preferred hanging out with the grown-ups listening to their adult conversations.  That is until the adults shooed me out of the room.  Now I prefer hanging out with the kids at family gatherings.

Another trait is obsessions and I have a long list of those.  Some have come and gone and some have not.  When I like something, I really, really like it.  There is no middle ground.  The same can be said of when I don’t like something such as green peas or merry-go-rounds.

Well, my latest craze began innocent enough.   I was subbing for a P.E. aide and was helping the coach set up for the first class of the day.  He put out some scooters which are a highly popular piece of equipment with the students.  They looked like fun to me just as skateboards and roller skates.   These were things I tried and fell for back in my younger days.  I mean “fell” as in landing on the floor in a painful sort of way.  My lack of gross motor skills is a common ASD trait I can lay claim too.

Image result for floor scooters for kids

On a dare, I got on one since it was just me and the coach and I knew he wouldn’t laugh at me.  How come?  His Mom is one of my dearest friends.  He knows I’d tell on him.  It only took a minute, if that, that I fell in love with the scooter.  I wanted one!  I immediately got on my cellphone and searched on Amazon.  After so many days of research, I decided that this was strictly a “kid” thing and is more tailored for the gym floor than outside at a park or on the sidewalk.  And, most importantly, it isn’t as easy as it used to be to get up from the floor.

But in my research, I discovered electric scooters.  Oh, my goodness!!!  After about a month’s worth of research, I bought not one, but two.  One is a folding electric scooter and the other is a Segway brand scooter, also called transporter.

It was an awkward beginning with both of them.  After all, I still lack in the gross motor skills department.  My big toe got the worst end of my first date with Pinkie (nicknamed cause its pink).  It took a couple of weeks before my big toe looked like it did before the fall.  Seggie did damage on my right hip and elbow.  I took the falls like a champ though.  NO FEAR!  I hopped right back on.  Piggie and Seggie weren’t gonna knock me down and get to sit in a corner taking it easy.

The scooters were my additions to my ever-growing obsessive collection of electronic gadgets. That’s why I had no interest in a scooter board that is moved by manual labor.  This over the board attraction to scooters reminds me of an obsession I had years ago that has since gone.  I once possessed a herd of “vacuum cleaners”.  They are electronic after all.  My apartment back then resembled a vac used store outlet.  At least, scooter riding is more fun than vacuuming ever was.

I also used to have a robot collection back in my mid-40’s.  I once took one I called “Billy” to work and the “adults” in the room were fascinated; however, I might have misunderstood their expressions and they might have been thinking, “what is a middle-aged woman doing living with toy robots?”  I have since given up custody of them to my nephews. 

Below are pictures of my two new toys.  In a town of one forty-three thousand something, I haven’t seen anyone on one of these toys or something similar.  When I take either to the park or trail, I suspect all pairs of eyes within viewing distance are pinned on me.  Most especially when I’m cruising on Seggie.  I do not make eye contact with those I pass by.  That comes fairly natural to me anyway.  I don’t care to see the expression that suggests “what is a gray-haired lady think she’s doing on that thing?”  However, I did appreciate overhearing a small boy who was wise beyond his years say, “That’s a nice scooter you have, Maam.”


Image result for segway mini proImage result for gotrax gliding scooter


A First Grader with Big Dreams

I am a substitute teacher’s assistant for my hometown school district.  One of the positives of my position is having a variety of assignments.  My favorites are special education and physical education (P.E.).  Depending on where I am and what kind of day the kids are having, it can be an uneventful day or it can be a six-ring circus.
Not too long ago I subbed for a P.E. aide for just one afternoon.  I honestly had FUN!  I didn’t mind the noise so much in the gym because I had something that occupied both my mind and body.  I got to play one of my favorite all-time games, tetherball.  My first competition was with a 4th-grade sweet young lady.  We didn’t keep score which was fine by me.  She was a novice and I was out of tether practice.  I did engage a 6th grader boy near the end of P.E.  I kept hoping the coach would blow the whistle for the kids to line up but wouldn’t you know it?  She blew just seconds after I threw in the towel.  He was a gentleman since he shook my hand afterward and said, “good game”.  That’s not behavior I’ve often seen from sixth graders.

In the midst of numerous activities going on in the gym, a handsome 1st grader was showing off his dancing skills to the P.E. coach.  I joined them and continued watching after the coach left since the music hadn’t stopped and neither had the blond headed cute-as-he-could-be 1st grader.  I felt compelled to keep cheering him on until the music stopped.  At the end of class, the boy came up to me and told me that when he dances, his brain is going like crazy.  He was so enthusiastic about dancing with his eyes as big as saucers when talking about it.  I told him he was a such a good dancer that I could see him one day making an appearance on “Dancing With The Stars”. 

At the end of the school day, I was packing up in the coach’s office and this youngster came up to the door.  He softly says, “It was nice meeting you.”  Oh, my heart did flip-flops.  I leaned down and shook his hand.  He gave me a high-five.  I told him again, “You’re a good dancer.  Don’t stop practicing!”  He nodded with a Texas-sized smile, promised he wouldn’t, and walked away. 
Such moments in a school day don’t happen often, but when they do, my job is worth more than words can say.

Dyspraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

According to the United Kingdom’s Dyspraxia Foundation:

Although Dyspraxia may occur in isolation, it frequently coexists with other conditions such as Aspergers Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, language disorders and social, emotional and behavioural impairments.

Those of us who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a marked difficulty with social relationships, social communication/language skills and imagination. These difficulties are often accompanied by repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. We who have Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), a subtype of Autism, are at the higher end of the autism spectrum and have difficulty with the non-verbal aspects of social communication such as gesture and facial expression. We also have difficulty adjusting our language and behavior to different social situations.

Some of us struggle with motor skills.  In theory a formal diagnosis of dyspraxia should not be made if a child has a “pervasive developmental disorder” (including autism). However in reality children are sometimes given both diagnoses, especially if their motor coordination is significantly affected. Where the autism is severe this should be given as the main diagnosis.

Most with AS and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have a history of delayed acquisition of motor skills (e.g., hand writing, pedaling a bike, tying shoe laces, catching a ball, opening jars, climbing monkey-bars, etc.), which is called “motor clumsiness.” This statement brings back many a childhood memory of learning later than my peers of how to tie my shoes. When I finally did, it was a crowning achievement and goodbye to just wearing shoes with no ties.  As for monkey bars, I was never caught near them.  Now that I am approaching the age of 60, I wouldn’t enter a contest of being the quickest in “opening jars” since my odds of winning would be slim and embarrassment high!

Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. AS and HFA children with Dyspraxia have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks. This can vary from simple motor tasks (e.g., waving goodbye) to more complex tasks (e.g., brushing teeth). Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder, and its severity and symptoms can vary from child to child. Also, it can affect individuals differently at different stages of life. Dyspraxia can affect many basic functions required for daily living, and is often broken down into the following categories:

  • Constructional Dyspraxia (i.e., establishing spatial relationships, being able to accurately position or move objects from one place to another)
  • Ideational Dyspraxia (i.e., multi-step tasks such as brushing teeth, making a bed, putting clothes on in order, buttoning and buckling)
  • Ideomotor Dyspraxia (i.e., completing single-step motor tasks like combing hair and waving goodbye)
  • Oromotor Dyspraxia (i.e., coordinating the muscle movements needed to pronounce words)

Dyspraxia often exists along with learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and other conditions that impact learning). Weaknesses in comprehension, information processing and listening can contribute to the difficulties experienced by children with Dyspraxia. These young people may also have low self-esteem, depression and other emotional and behavioral issues.

AS and HFA kids with Dyspraxia may experience several difficulties.

Younger kids have problems with:

  • Being sensitive to touch (e.g., being irritated by clothing on skin, hair brushing, nail-cutting, or teeth-brushing)
  • Bumping into things
  • Establishing left- or right- handedness
  • Learning to walk, jump, hop, skip and throw or catch a ball
  • Moving the eyes—instead, moving the whole head
  • Pronouncing words and being understood

School-aged kids have problems with:

  • Doing activities that require fine motor skills (e.g., holding a pencil, buttoning, cutting with scissors)
  • Phobias and obsessive behavior
  • Playing sports, riding a bike and other activities requiring coordination
  • Poor pencil grip and letter formation and slow handwriting
  • Sensing direction
  • Speaking at a normal rate or in way that can be easily understood

Teens have problems with:

  • Clumsiness
  • Cooking or other household chores
  • Driving
  • Over- or under- sensitivity to light, touch, space, taste, or smells
  • Personal grooming and other self-help activities
  • Speech control (i.e., volume, pitch, articulation)
  • Writing and typing

Early identification and intervention can greatly help an AS or HFA child with Dyspraxia. Depending on the severity of the disorder, therapy from occupational, speech and physical therapists can improve the child’s ability to function and succeed independently.

Three Strikes But Not Out

I was working with a 1st-grade girl with her bucket of class work in an autism unit.  The child is verbal and quite the drama queen.  She didn’t have to tell me she could care less about the bucket and its contents.  In between her crying spells, we worked on addition and subtraction.  Any time she got a problem wrong and I informed her of that, her head would plop down on the table and she’d shed more tears.  Finally, she was solving problems right and left without her sobbing commercials.  After finishing, she was rewarded with jump time on the mini-trampoline,.

I wholeheartedly empathized with her.  Failure feels like a stab in the heart.  If someone else points out something I did wrong or failed to do, it is an uppercut to the heart since I am oversensitive to criticism.  I do admit, though, failure is an effective teacher if I will go along with its instruction.  After all, it was the answers I got wrong on a test I remembered most; not the ones I didn’t.

There’s a character in the Bible whose failures were exposed as well as his successes. He is perhaps the most well-known of the twelve disciples.  He was not only one of the twelve disciples, but also would later become the leader of the early church.  However, despite his amazing successes, he was not immune to failure.  His most famous failure was when he struck out three times in a short matter of time.  I would imagine it was the darkest moment in his life.

 Jesus warned His disciples before he was betrayed and arrested in Luke chapter 26, verse 31:  “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ Peter spoke up as he usually did.  He wasn’t one to sit quietly in a corner.  He replied empathetically that even if all fall away on account of Jesus, he NEVER would.  The word “never” is a dangerous word for us to use and should only be uttered with the utmost caution.  I’ve had to eat my words of what I said I’d NEVER do.  

Jesus knew Peter would not live up to his proclamation of never.   “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”  Peter wasn’t one to doubt the Lord’s word, but this time, the Lord was predicting what he, Peter, would do and it was inconceivable to Peter.  He declared to Jesus again, “Even if I have to die with you, I will NEVER disown you.”  
After Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest, Peter followed at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to witness the outcome.  While sitting out in the courtyard, a servant girl came up to Peter and stated, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee”.  Peter stated he didn’t know what the girl was talking about. This was strike one.  
Peter went out to the gateway where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter denied it once again with an oath swearing he did not know the man.  This was the second strike.
Then, shortly thereafter, a group came up to Peter.  They stated, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”  Peter reacted even more strongly by calling down curses, swearing to those in earshot, “I don’t know the man!” This was the third strike.
I can’t imagine the pain that must have pierced Peter’s heart when he heard the sound of the rooster crowing after his third strike.  Just as Jesus predicted he would deny Him, the rooster crowed.  Three times Peter had denied knowing the Son of God.  He went outside and wept bitterly.  I would imagine he wept buckets of tears.  I don’t think there are words to describe the depth of Peter’s guilt.
Another disciple, Judas,  had earlier betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  He gave Jesus a kiss which was the sign to the conspirators that this was the man they wanted.  A fault of Judas was greed; however, upon receiving the reward, he tossed all the pieces of shiny silver to the ground.  The silver had become an eyesore; it wasn’t as valuable to him as it was before he betrayed Jesus.  He must have felt some guilt because he didn’t take the silver and run.  Instead of learning a lesson from his failure, he took his life.  He chose to die instead of getting up after his fall.
One disciple betrayed Him; the other denied Him near the end of His time on earth.  Neither disciple could relive it or change what either had done.  Judas gave in to his failure and took his life.  Peter took a different option.  He got up the next day and the day after, etc.
Peter crossed paths with Jesus after Jesus arose from the grave.  He told Peter not once, not twice, but three times to feed the flock.  Jesus repeating it three times hurt Peter.  Peter responded by saying he loved Jesus instead of blaming someone else for his three strikes.
Jesus could have told Peter “three strikes, you’re out.”  He could have given up on Peter for denying him in His dark hours.  But instead, He showed forgiveness and mercy to Peter.  That’s a lesson in itself for us.  Jesus’s forgiveness of Peter’s denials is another example to us to do the same unto others.
Just a thought.  Perhaps Peter’s colossal failure helped him with humility.  Peter would go on to feed the flock; all of whom had their own history of failures.  Peter knew what it was to fail miserably, he knew the enormous pain of guilt, and he knew about being given another chance.
Failure is a fine teacher as well as having a humbling effect.  I can learn from both failure and success.  Failure is really only terminal when one falls down and doesn’t try to get back up and try again.  I’d rather take Peter’s route than the one Judas took.