Category Archives: ASD

Bee Aware!

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Families, friends and other supporters will “light it up blue,” during the month of April to bring awareness to autism and its impact on all of us.

Some people say autism awareness is great and all but there isn’t anything the average person can do about it.

I beg to differ.

If you have a loved one with any special needs this advice isn’t new to you. However, you may want to share these tips with more than a few well-meaning people you know. One person really can make a difference.

If you can’t say anything nice, etc., etc.

Comments like “I don’t understand why that kid is crying,” or “they need to do something with that kid,” are unnecessary and can be very hurtful. Your casual observation about a situation you know nothing about can be the salt in a wound of someone barely holding on.  How about allowing that frazzled parent to check out ahead of you? Those random acts of kindness are priceless.

Money is good but time is priceless.

Offer to babysit for that parent, especially that single parent who has no one to help them. There is no need to panic fearing they will leave you helpless with their child. An offer of a couple of hours during nap time or in the evening can provide that parent (or grandparent) time to think, get a coffee or effortlessly run to the store. These are things most of us easily do and take for granted.

Don’t compare.

Everything doesn’t work for everybody. I’ve yet to meet many parents who have left any stone unturned trying to find the best therapy for their child. Most parents are already under a lot of stress.  A special needs child can amplify that. Don’t suggest the parent isn’t doing all he or she can possibly do.

Just don’t.

Be inclusive.

Instead of worrying that a child may disrupt your plans for the “perfect”birthday party, think about how inviting that child can be a blessing and a teachable moment for your child, far more valuable than any physical gift.

Many kids with neurological disorders are often excluded from social activities because other parents don’t know what to expect when they arrive. I’ve found through the years children tend to be a lot more accepting than adults.

I challenge you to ask.

Simply asking if a child might enjoy attending lets that family know you are thinking of them. Even if the child can’t attend, parents appreciate the gesture. I’ve watched firsthand how one child feels as his sibling goes off with other kids.

This is hardly a comprehensive list, but at least a few points to think about.

I’ve learned a lot on this journey with autism. I used to be that lady standing in the grocery line wondering “why is that kid screaming?” Now, I no longer question it and whisper a prayer for grace and mercy instead.

This month, think about what you can do to lighten the load for a family near you!

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NKJV

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Love is Kind…

“Love is patient, love is kind”  1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV

Thus begins one of the most quoted paragraphs in the New Testament.

However, I tend to gravitate toward the NKJV and that version replaces patient with “love suffers long and is kind.”

I can see why the NIV version is far more popular than either King James Version.

Who wants to readily accept that to love will entail some suffering?

In addition, the emphasis on the “and” further dictates that we can “suffer” yet still be kind, amiable and not relegated to taking out our personal frustrations on the rest of the world.

Everyone is going to “suffer” something.

I’ve noticed that the attitude we have as we deal with “stuff” plays a major part on how well we can suffer through it.

I’ve watched people fall apart (a few times while looking in the mirror) when the load got heavy and no solutions loomed on the horizon. I’ve also witnessed people with incredibly heavy burdens carry them with such quiet strength and dignity you’d have no idea of the issues they faced day after day.

A few people I know who care or cared for a child, sibling or spouse are some the most pleasant people I know. They refuse to allow their circumstances to crush them, yet they were hardly in denial.

Love is Kind God autism and me devoional 2-10-2016They choose to trust God and keep going. They allow God’s love to flow through them.

I watched these ladies love others, give of themselves and perform random acts of kindness all while going through very taxing trials. They extended themselves for others far beyond what most people would expect as “reasonable” given their circumstances.

Through their examples, God teaches me how to keep my joy.

These ladies leaned on the Lord.  And when I say leaned, I mean leaned!

Learning how to be joyful and not remain self-absorbed taught me to not only stretch myself, but how to stretch my two sons as well.

Sometimes a gentle nudge garners a better result than mandating a regimented schedule or forcing an issue until you break a person’s spirit.

If you find yourself acting as the dictator in your family, or any place else for that matter, take the words of Sam Cooke to heart.

“Try a little tenderness.”

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 NKJV

Life Is A Highway…

Life is a highway.

These are the words my youngest posted below a Facebook post last month of him receiving his learner’s permit.

You see, although many of his peers accomplished this years ago, it was a significant milestone for him. Receiving his learner’s permit is just one more step closer to independence.

As Landon and I have both learned over the years, everyone’s journey is not the same.

Sometimes our roads are scenic and full of beauty. At other times, our roads seem dark with nothing noteworthy to draw our attention. Our drive may be mundane as we await the next rest stop. Or, we may find ourselves on the expressway making better time than we ever expected.

There were times when we’ve veered off course a time or two. Then there are others where my GPS (God’s Provision System) seemed to take me in the opposite direction than planned.

I’ve had a few flats.

Got stuck in the mud.

But through it all, the overwhelming lesson I learned while raising this kid is to simply “keep going.”

Years ago, I worried about getting this kid through elementary school. Getting past the next standardized exam.

Then the focus was to make it through middle school. Then high school. Now, this kid is away at college and doing quite well which is something that seemed improbable when faced with the “facts” over a decade ago.

My worries were for naught.

My little seed of faith, prayer and the agreement of my village availed much!

I’ve heard it said it is not the destination but the journey. For years, it felt like the cramped quarters and motion sickness of the journey might keep both Lan and me from reaching our destination.

Now a bit older, and perhaps wiser, I have learned stressed-out travel is not for me! I’ll get there when I get there. If it is God’s timing, I’m perfectly fine with that.

And, thankfully, Lan is too.

We have learned every journey requires patience. The greater the distance to travel, the longer it takes to get there. There is also a greater burden and cost to bridge vast distances between “here” and “there.”

In my case, “there” yielded increased maturity, spiritual growth, and a portion of wisdom while “there” for Lan is a home in Orlando to pursue his own interests in computer animation.

We never know where our path will lead us. We often have a destination in mind, but we can’t always account for delays, detours and even a few false starts.

Still, as we rely on God to direct our paths, we can relax a little. We can admire the flowers along the way. We can look up at the vast mountains and across broad valleys confident that God will get us exactly where we need to be if not necessarily where we want.

May you enjoy safe travels and Godspeed wherever your journey takes you.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105 NIV

The Road to Freedom!

My “new” college student is managing the usual challenges of being a freshman in a new city. He is learning about his professors. He is learning about digital presentations. He is even learning his way around his community. Yet, there is one thing he had to learn that most people take for granted to make this all possible.

He had to learn to ride a bike.

Something as simple as riding a bike isn’t necessarily simple to someone on the spectrum.

Thankfully, Lan was up to the challenge and his favorite aunt was more than willing to teach him.

It was not without its challenges.

It was probably nerve-wracking for the both of us!

He persevered through those initial falls and gashes.

He persevered through a broken guard and loose chains.

He persevered in the summertime heat.

Lan persevered because he wanted to go away to school and riding a bike made that feasible. What most people view as a recreational pastime is essential to him not only getting to school but also the grocery store, Target and most anywhere without depending on anyone.

Freedom.

Lan wants the freedom to come and go as he pleases.

It didn’t take him long to ride beyond the comfort zone of the school and make it to Starbucks. Now, Lan is just one of many kids riding his bike to school.

Like everyone else.

He is proud of himself and he should be.

He rose to the challenge and past the temporary frustration. He is becoming confident in his abilities to take care of himself.

And I am grateful.

One of the last things he asked me  before I returned home was,  “When can I get my driver’s license?”

I told him, “We’ll get around to it. Let’s just concentrate on the bike for now.”

Well, Hurricane Irma gave him some time away from school and time with his Uncle. A few days later Lan posted this.

He is learning to drive.

This kid has taught me that determination can move mountains. He has taught me not to panic at the first sign of trouble. But most of all, he has taught me to remember he has his own hopes and dreams.

He wants to enjoy life, liberty and pursue happiness.

The road to freedom looks good on him.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
1 Peter 2:15-16 NKJV

Orientation!

Orientation, “to acquaint with the existing situation or environment,” Merriam-Webster

This academic year for my “baby” begins not just with a move to the next school but rather the next state.

Now, towering over six feet tall, the time has come where he stands alone.

Our week-long orientation begins today as he acquaints himself with his new academic environment. However, new school, new home and new people present plenty of opportunity for anxiety, especially so for anyone on the spectrum. Lan confessed to just a few while I’m praying hard not to fuel my own!

I choose to remember God got us this far by grace. Something more is in store. I could not envision this day just four years ago when he began high school. Lan and I have come a long way and if you’re living in the land of ASD you can too. Here are my words of advice for anyone raising special needs kids:

Enjoy the journey. I regret not doing this more. Don’t obsess over academic standards. Faith is more productive than fear. Fear of failure doesn’t encourage a child nearly as much as faith for growth yet unseen.

Laugh. I didn’t do that enough either. Don’t make the same mistake.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Try something new. Karate, piano and band were gateways for growth. If something doesn’t work you can always quit. This is a great way to uncover hidden talents!

Go with your gut! There was one teacher I didn’t care for but I allowed Lan to stay in the class. Big mistake. When we fall backward, God can catch us up, but learn to heed your God/gut instincts so you won’t have to.

Call in the reserves! People will help you if you ask. You can’t receive the relief you need if you brave it alone. Many people are affected by autism and other disorders as parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. People can be kind and caring. They will help you. An hour of “free time” can equip you to manage your challenges. Take it!

Believe God for the impossible! Never stop searching for solutions. Resources you need are often hidden like treasure; but trust God and they will find you.

Don’t give up! Life can wear you down. Just keep it moving! The fastest person doesn’t always win, rather the one who doesn’t give up.
Run your race.

We can’t always outsmart ASD. Setbacks will knock us down. Still, there are times when we recognize the God/good in life that can leave us amazed!

As I become “oriented” to my new role of long-distance mom, my last prayer for parents is that you fight when necessary and rest when you can.

I’ve learned life’s hardest challenges can produce the greatest miracles.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11 [Full Chapter]

High Hopes!

“Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant”

My hopes haven’t always been high.

I’ve always been a “realist” even as I prayed to God for the miracles I sought. It is only in the past four or five years that I realized I wasn’t setting my “hopes” even remotely high enough.

As I began to see how God was using my son Lan to not only show me what He could do and would do for me, God also taught me to get my hopes up!

One small victory after another made me realize that I didn’t have to have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I somehow managed to let God be God and relax a little and truly trust God for the things I prayed for.

It has been my general experience that God responds to my level of expectation. The things I dare hope and dream for He brings (slowly) to fruition if I hope hard enough and trust that He can and He will.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NKJV

 Hope does not disappoint.

I would rather hope for the best and be proven wrong than wallow in misery faithless.

Yes, there are things I will never understand. Yet, I cannot allow life’s disappointments to rob me of God’s peace when I choose to trust in Him.

Lan is asserting his independence more and more. He has “high hopes” for his future. If I tell him something’s not going to happen he just gives me “the look” learned from big brother that basically says I hear you but I’m not listening to a thing you say.

And that’s not always a bad thing.

I believe my past failures to hope as high as God would have me to do stem from listening to people instead of listening to God. If we are so tuned in to the multitude of “nos” coming from the choir, we will never hear God’s whispered “yes.”

Lan has confidence I never had at his age, partly because he had to work extremely hard to meet his goals. He learned far sooner than I ever did to tune out the “no.”

 I’m grateful to have come to a point where I can persevere and hope for God’s best fully aware that His best isn’t always what I want.

Hope does not disappoint.

“But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes
So any time you’re gettin’ low
‘Stead of lettin’ go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant”

 

**Songwriters: J. VAN HEUSEN, S. CAHN  High Hopes lyrics © BARTON MUSIC CORPORATION

B is for Blessed!

“Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant”

My hopes haven’t always been high.

I’ve always been a “realist” even as I prayed to God for the miracles I sought. It is only in the past four or five years that I realized I wasn’t setting my “hopes” even remotely high enough.

As I began to see how God was using my son Lan to not only show me what He could do and would do for me, God also taught me to get my hopes up!

One small victory after another made me realize that I didn’t have to have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I somehow managed to let God…

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Decisions! Decisions!

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. Psalm 25:12 NIV

 

Through the years we have come to crossroads where we had to make tough decisions.

When I began this blog Lan’s freshman year of high school, we decided that he would not attend the school he was zoned for.

He was devastated.

Still, he will graduate in two weeks with most of his friendships intact.

We had to decided private school or public?

We had to decide for and against extracurricular activities.

A four-year college or tech school? Lan’s desire to become a computer animator didn’t help matters either.

It seems there wasn’t a week that went by where we didn’t have to decide something…

Such is the season of raising a kids.

It took long enough, but I finally got over my fear of making a wrong decision. I’ve come to learn that God can make even my failures work out in the end.

One of the reasons I hadn’t posted lately was due my mother’s illness.  You can read about that trial here. The last thing Mommy asked me was if I had completed everything necessary for Lan to attend a school that offered him a scholarship.

She had already given her opinion about one school during her illness. It was a great school, but not so great for social growth. I think Mommy approved of our final choice because she passed away not long after.

I believe she decided that Lan would be just fine.

He always said he was moving to Orlando when he grew up. We just laughed it off.

Guess who’s laughing now?

It is probably without a doubt the hardest decision we have made.

When College Decision Day was celebrated at his school, Lan wore his Full Sail University t-shirt. All the college and military bound kids represented their various schools. It was quite the event, pep rally and all!

Sometimes we must decide to take chances when everyone else thinks we’re crazy. If we are ever to reach the heights God has for us, we must decide to be faith filled and fearless. Every hero in the Bible rose to greatness based on the choices he or she made.

Abraham chose to be obedient.

David chose to fight.

Ruth chose compassion.

Each of them was rewarded for following God instead of doing what everyone else in their situation probably would have done.

God calls us to choose.

We’ve decided that autism will not defeat us.

Lan decided that he will excel.

Autism may dictate some of our choices but it doesn’t have to prevent us from pushing through our
obstacles.


Choose to believe and trust God.

I promise, He will amaze you and you’ll be glad you did…