Letters to New Parents of ASD kids: #1 I Believe You

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Dear new parent of a child with autism,

I'd prefer to be sitting across from you at a local coffee shop rather than sitting behind this glowing box tapping away on the keyboard. But this will have to do for now.

First of all, I just want you to know that I believe you! I believe everything you'd tell me about your child.  Things like those unusual behaviors  that when you tell your friends, family, or co-workers, they say:  "My child did that too, and he's fine", "All kids go though that stage." Or:  "Boys develop slower than girls do." , "Boys play different than girls."

I believe that you know your child best, and you know when there is something different.

When Stevie was first showing signs of autism (a little before age 2), all my friends told me that I was over-reacting. "He's too attached to you to have autism." But I knew. I saw the signs. I saw him dancing on his tippy toes and staring at the screw in the wall like it was the most exciting thing to cross his path that day; all the while ignoring all the brightly colored toys and siblings beside him.

I saw him in his crib, wiggling his fingers in front of his eyes, giggling.

I watched the sudden un-awareness of others around him.

I watched his progress in language and speech come to a stop.

I was there when he became afraid of his food.

I watched, helpless, as he went into high-pitched screaming fits where everything and anything would make the fits worse, and he'd scream for hours.  Sometimes up to 4 hours straight. Screams. And I'd sit helpless here behind this glowing box searching for help. For ideas. For anything that would help me be a better mom to him. To help him calm down; stop crying.

I knew this was not normal.

It's so hard to know in the depths of your soul,, and yet be told that it's normal; you are over reacting.  I learned to just nod yes, and leave it at that. I knew. He was my child and I just knew he had it.

Mostly, I knew because my first son also has autism. I had already been through this once before.

So hang in there. God gave you this particular child for a very specific purpose. You are the best parent for him (or her) that there ever will be.

God knew. God knows. God has this whole thing planned out.

So don't give up, ok?  God is here with you. He will help you in your time of need.

Until next time,

Merri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Caught

One of the first things I remember thinking was a little odd regarding my older son, is that he didn't seem to be aware of my coming into a room, or leaving it. He was immersed in doing whatever he was doing--usually involving close inspection of electrical outlets, or opening and closing a cabinet door--that he just wasn't aware.

It wasn't that he didn't care if I was there or not, he very much did.

I remember one time when we had him and his twin sister stay at a friends house for a few hours while we went out to eat (those were the good ole days).

Sage was having so much fun discovering all there was to discover with the giant fluffy couch and shades, that he didn't respond when we said, "Goodbye!", even after multiple attempts.

While Sage was busy checking out the new house, Hope ran to us, crying, and didn't want us to leave her.

We didn't think Sage cared if we left or not.

The babysitters later told us that about 45 minutes after we left, he started crying and would not calm down, until we arrived.

It was not an attachment issue, as some writings on autism may lead you to believe. It was simply that he wasn't aware of what was going on in his surroundings.  Although he could hear the auditory information around him, he had no way to process it in a meaningful way.

He acted as if he were deaf.  For all practical purposes, he was.

Stevie was the same way as Sage, but he did have a hearing problem.  He had fluid in his ears for the 2nd year of life, and didn't have the opportunity to learn how to process sound until tubes were in place.

With our baby girl, now 15 months of age, I see the extreme opposite in her behavior.

The other day  while Joy was sleeping, I decided to sneak out and get my day started.

I gingerly step past her, walking down the stairs avoiding all the previously discovered squeaky planks, to the bathroom to take my shower.

By the time I was done, she was awake and up, playing happily in the kitchen.

In my attempt to be sneaky, I'd forgotten to bring clean clothes down, but on the couch was the fresh pile of clean laundry (the ONE pile next to the massive number of loads yet to do) so I figured I'd be real quiet and grab some clean clothes while she was in the kitchen.

In the past, as long as I could avoid eye contact with the little ones, I could get away with something like this.

But not with her!

She saw me quietly walk out and she trotted her little self quickly over to me, her foot patterns reminding me of my mother-in-law adding all that extra cuteness to the moment.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

She didn't stop there though.  She walked around from behind me, to right in front of me. She looked up at me and lifted her arms for me to pick her up with that "Here I am!" expression on her adorable face.

In that moment, I decided to wear my pajamas a wee bit longer.  Clothes could wait; picking up my darling became the only thing on my agenda.

Joy confidently sought me out. She was aware of my 'comings and goings'.  Even when I was trying to hide it; she was intensely interested in finding me.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)

Oftentimes we try to sneak around or hide from God so we can get what we want to do finished before He finds us.

But He knows, He sees. He is ever-watching, always aware of our every move. And even so, he passionately seeks us out to capture our attention--not because he needs something from us, but purely because he loves us and wants us to engage with Him.

Like Sage, we often care very much about God  and want to give him our attention, but we are distracted by the other things in life.  The distractions block our attention, so we aren't aware of the voice of God, calling for us to come to Him.

Or, maybe some of what God is saying to us does gets through, but we have not learned how to process it in a meaningful way.

Distractions are the fluid that blocks our hearing.

When God is trying to get our attention, we have to learn to process his voice as meaningful information.  Do we respond to Him?

Or, are our ears filled with distractions, needing tubes to drain away the extraneous auditory stimulation, vying for our attention, so we are able to hear what is important?

We may need surgery to put tubes in our ears, but it will be worth it.  He is chasing us down, like Joy chases me down, seeking us out to deepen our intensely desired relationship with Him.

Have you been caught by God?

Psalm 139: 1-12

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.