Embracing Autism, Again.

Embracing Autism Again

 I never really thought I'd have to embrace autism more than twice--that is, after I realized I would have to do it once, and then twice.  I was pretty sure I was done.

I have two boys with autism and I thought when I went through the acceptance stage of that years ago, that that was it. I was done. I thought of it like something that I already "went through" and now I am through: I'm on the other side.  As a matter of fact, that experience is partly why this blog was born. 

But it turns out that the "embracing" part of embracing autism isn't something that is ever finished.  Embracing is a present active participle that requires continual action. It is never "done".  

The realization of that comes as I find myself embracing autism, again.

As I learn more about what autism means in my boys, what their strengths are, what they have accomplished, I also have learned more about the severity of the deficits, especially in my 8 year old.

The rigid thinking, lack of cognitive flexibility, and hyperactive emotional and sensory system has led to severe bouts of explosive meltdowns.

 I wasn't really counting on that in my child.  I didn't expect to be reading books with titles like, "The Explosive Child". I didn't expect these explosions to continue to happen as he has gotten older. But not only has it continued to happen, it seems to have increased in severity.  That really was not a part of my plan. Not at all.  

I have a large basket full of unopened notices from the school, recording seclusions and restraints that my son required in order to stay safe.  I also have a stack of opened notices, and in addition, a chunk of notices that are filed away (back when I could keep on top of it). Until recently, it was a daily event--sometimes multiple times a day, that he had an aggressive meltdown.  We receive notices for each event, plus a phone call each day there's a seclusion or restraint.  

To be honest with you, I just couldn't keep reading about these never-ending incidents. It's like begin stuck in a horror movie, replaying the scene that was most traumatic-- except this time, it isn't the same scene...it's a new horrible scene each day, every day, over and over. I just needed a break from reading about it AND hearing about it every day

Mounding up beside all the school notices, are all the meltdowns that occur outside of school that have no papers attached to them to make them officially "count". No record of the number of times he had a meltdown attack at church, or in the car, or at the doctors office, etc.  There is no record of all the extra visits we have made to the developmental pediatrician to discuss ways to help him and keep us all safe. 

But all those things do count. Each one carries a weight that presses on  our hearts as we try to help him.  Each one impacts the 3 other children in our family of 6.

All of us have to endure the screaming and aggression when Stevie is attacked.  I put it that way, because it does seem to attack him as much as he attacks us considering the terrified look on his face, the turmoil in his screams.  I'm sure he is as much afraid of his out-of-control-ness as we are.   My mommy's heart wants to hold him and comfort him but his body won't let me near.  And I fear what would happen if I tried. 

Six years ago,  when I said "ok" to God and his plan for Stevie to have autism...well, I didn't mean this!  

As Beth Moore says in Whispers of Hope, "God wants us to surrender to His will, but we tend to want a blueprint of His plans so we can decide whether or not to surrender." page 5.  

It looks like I am guilty. I surrendered to his will with conditions I didn't realize I had. "If I knew this, I wouldn't have decided to surrender." is in effect, what I have been contemplating.  

Ouch.  

So lately I have been re-evaluating this autism thing, and the truth is:

 I have what (and who) God gave me and I can choose to believe His promises for Stevie: he is a blessing and a gift from the Lord, a masterpiece, he has an important purpose, and work to complete.

 I wouldn't want to deal with any of this without God.  

♥ I believe that God is good, and nothing passes by Him that He doesn't allow with good reasons and a great redemptive plan.

♥ I believe that God has a plan in this for Stevie.

 I believe God has a plan in this for us as a family.

♥ And I believe that His plans are good, even if I can't see how right now.  

So now that I've had my expectations adjusted and my paradigm shifted, I choose to embrace autism, again.

And I will intentionally be embracing autism on a regular, daily, present-active-participle kind of way as I trust the God who made him.

"For you created Stevie's inmost being; you knit him together in my womb.  I praise you for he is fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Stevie's frame was not hidden from you when he was made in the secret place, when he was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw his unformed body; all the days ordained for him were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts about him, God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand." adapted from Psalm 139: 13-18

To read the initial 3-part series, I Found Myself Embracing Autism click here. Or, click on "Embracing Autism" in the Treasury (on the left side bar) for a list of all posts on this topic.

I Found Myself Embracing Autism (Part 3)

 

I Found Myself Embracing Autism part 3I listen to her speak.

I listen to God speak.

Mighty To Save pours lyrics through my head, the music calms. Thoughts are shooting through my confused mind, the song organizes them.

Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me

Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

I need compassion,  unfailing love, mercy and forgiveness. I need kindness, and saving.  But as much as I am so deeply aware of this need right now, I am also becoming more aware of the repeated word in the song: Everyone.

Everyone needs it–not just me.  And my mind is opening to the realization that it’s not about “just me”.  It is about more that that, it’s bigger than I can wrap my mind around at the moment.

Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

He is able to save. He can move the seemingly impossible mountains. He can heal autism. He can heal me. He can choose to do either because He is God, and He is Holy.  He does what is right.  Whether he does what I wish for or not, He can do it.  And he is good.  Good no matter what He chooses–to heal or not to heal does not change the fact that He is good, He is holy.

So take me as You find me
All my fears & failures
Fill my life again

All my fears and failures are so plentiful. I have doubted God.  I have thought he tricked me by giving me so much.  But He takes me anyway-a heap on the floor, emptied at His feet. Ready to be filled again.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender (I surrender)

I give my life again to God.  I surrender my will, my child, my life.

I trust Him.  It’s bigger than me, so much bigger than me.  My hearts been broken for those who don’t know THIS God.  Those who don’t know, yet have to deal with all the nastiness this life can bring.

If God can do more to help them by allowing Stevie to have autism, than if he does not… If He is saying to me that He will use my life to help people know Him, because of my kids with autism…so they can rely on the same promises that have saved me…then it’s ok. It’s OK if Stevie has autism.

It’s ok.

God has a plan in this, too.  He is Mighty to Save.  He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has promised to help me. I am not alone in this.

With God, I can do anything. With God, I can do this.

I can raise this autism family, as hard as I fear it may get at times.  God promises me He is here with me; He will strengthen me and He will help me.

Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Shine Your light &
Let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory
Of the risen King
Jesus

This is what this life is about.  To let the light God has place in me shine for all to see.  For other autism families to see that light and have hope.  Hope that leads to Saving.  They need to know this God that is not overwhelmed by what overwhelms us, but who sees all that goes on and reaches his hand in and helps.

You’re the Savior
You can move the mountains
Lord You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
You rose & conquered the grave
Yes You conquered the grave

“I give him to You, God! I give him to you!” I cry out.

My voice paves a path for the Holy Spirt to reach down deep and pull up my will.  My voice hands it over to God. It’s not about my will. It’s about His.

As I consider that God really does keep his promises, and that what is too much for me, is not too much for Him, another song reaches my ears and I realize how I had put Him in a box and made him stay there.  On this weekend, God revealed to me some of his Bigness, and I have been blown away.  A complete paradigm shift took over my thinking and along with it, I realize how I had limited God in my mind.  The song is Be Magnified. It’s lyrics are the perfect prayer from me to God.  Humbled, I sing:

Be Magnified
I have made You too small in my eyes
O Lord, forgive me;
I have believed in a lie
That You were unable to help me.
But now, O Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong;
And in my eyes and with my song
O Lord, be magnified
O Lord, be magnified.
CHORUS:

Be magnified, O Lord
You are highly exalted;
And there is nothing You can’t do
O Lord, my eyes are on You.
Be magnified,
O Lord, be magnified.

Be magnified, O Lord
You are highly exalted;
And there is nothing You can’t do
O Lord, my eyes are on You.
Be magnified,
O Lord, be magnified.

I have leaned on the wisdom of men
O Lord, forgive me;
And I have responded to them
Instead of Your light and Your mercy.
But now, O Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong;
And in my eyes with my song
O Lord, be magnified
O Lord, be magnified.

A fresh memory floods my mind.  God reminds me of that day with Sage and Hope, when He showed me how perfect He made them.

And  again, this truth comforts me:  God knew all along that Stevie would have autism.  He made him that way on purpose, for a purpose. He is exactly the way He is supposed to be.

I haven’t lost anything. Stevie and Sage are here, made just as God intended.  I have gained everything.  I have gained fresh glimpses into a God so big no one can fathom it. I have gained more respect for how God made all people.

Society says this is good and that is damaged; this is perfect and that is ruined. Society says to me, “How sad that they have autism.” Society says this or that will cure them.  This or that will make them more like us.

But God says these are his work of art and He is making them more like Him. Ephesians 2:10  ”For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”

I choose to believe God and in doing so, I have gone from being afraid of the “signs” of autism, to loving the the quirks and the uniqueness of autism.

I find so much joy and treasure in the way God made these boys, and I can not wait to see some of His purposes–those good things he planned for them– fulfilled in them and because of them.

Then one day when I wasn’t looking,

I found myself embracing autism.

[Click here to read part 1 or part 2.]