Category Archives: autism

Labor Less!

“Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

In my struggle to relinquish my control freak tendencies, I rely on this scripture time and time again. I learned that I don’t have to conquer my corner of the world in my power.

There was a time in my life where I was working very hard to give my children all my attention. I worked long hours. Then on my days off would I try to cram days of lessons in with Lan, never wanting him to fall behind his peers.

These efforts only brought forth fatigue on my part and frustration on his. When I was at a point when I could no longer do this, a funny thing happened. Lan’s grades improved.

I had no choice but to trust God. I didn’t have the time to prep Lan for those standardized tests. All those practice books went unused. I was at the mercy of his teachers to give him everything he would need.

I was tired. My job was wearing me out. I was trying to balance the needs of two kids who are polar opposites. I was attempting to be a real life “wonder woman” meeting unrealistic expectations I had imposed on myself.

Finally at this point of burn out, I stopped struggling so much and gave it a rest. I prayed more and worked less.  I found the more I trusted God, the more He did for me.

When I finally stopped running myself ragged and was still, I could hear Him.

I found comfort in the fact that I really don’t have to know it all.

When I don’t have an answer, I now trust God first. Whatever I need will find me.

It wasn’t the quickest transformation, but I don’t want to revert back to where I was.

Casting my cares has been liberating. I am sometimes amused, wondering just how God is going to work certain things out.

black butterfly blessed devotional 8-2015So, If you are tired, burned out, or at a loss, don’t wait years like I did.  You will accomplish more when you trust God instead of your own efforts. Choose to rest and labor less!

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Upperclassmen!

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 NKJV

My kids just left the house for their first day of school. It is the last year they will do so together. This year, there are no first day jitters (for them or me). The transition to upperclassman is quite welcome.

Lan’s head is up with confidence. In fact, I think he is relishing no longer being handled with “kid gloves.” I’ve finally learned I don’t have to micro manage every detail.

Upperclassman God autism and me 8-2015He will be in the same music class as his brother so that should be…interesting!

They have both done well “detaching” their identities from one another. Yet, I hope this year as they share their marching band experience it will leave them closer than before.

We’ve both come a long way from that first day of high school when I started this blog. We have stretched a bit and hopefully grown wiser.

So, for those of you anxious about your school year, here are a few things I learned along our walk along the spectrum.

God can provide exactly what you need. It may not come how you expect it but any void that is lacking God can surely fill. God put the people we needed in our lives years before we really needed them. If you have faith, God will direct your steps.

There are angels among us. We have received favor and help from the least likely of sources. The people you think will ignore your child will later go to bat for him. Teachers, support staff, janitorial and other students all helped us along the way.

Advocate for your child. No one is going the extra mile if you aren’t leading the way.

Your worse fears rarely materialize. I am ever prayerful. I am also ever watchful! We’ve had to navigate a few bullies, but we survived unharmed.

Be involved! If you can’t be involved then don’t be a stranger. If your first time at school is due to a problem, rarely will things go your way.

Cut yourself some slack. If your child falters in some area it isn’t the end of the world. Stressing out only makes it worse.

Be willing to change. What worked one year won’t necessarily work the next. Kids grow and change just like we do. Don’t waste time trying to reclaim yesterday.

Utilize your resources. Lan has been the only student in tutoring class many times. On the upside, it got him one on one instruction!

Learn to step back. You will never know what your child can do if you don’t allow him to succeed and fail. This was hard for me. Still, Lan learned to thrive and not just survive!

Lan learned to work smarter.

My faith stretched farther.

My youngest wasn’t the only one learning these past two years.

And for that, I am grateful.  

God, autism and me Upperclassman 2 8-2015If 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

March On!

Lan completed a daunting band camp last week. To say he was thrilled is an understatement. Last week’s practice involved twelve hour days that quite frankly I wasn’t sure he would endure.

However, older brother said Lan managed just fine and didn’t once complain about the scorching temperatures. I guess all those years of karate strengthened his body and God miraculously managed the rest. Lan was probably the only kid disappointed that the rigorous camp did not continue into the next week!

Years ago, camp with a hundred or more students would have been unthinkable. Now, many years later, it’s no big deal.

I think as we pray for the changes we desire that will help our kids succeed, we often feel disappointed because we don’t always see the changes.

Still, just has the calm surface of a lake hides the activity beneath, our loved ones can change mentally and emotional as we are none the wiser. When we don’t see the changes we seek, it doesn’t mean they aren’t taking place. Just as we don’t always “see” God, it doesn’t mean He is not in our midst.

MARCH ON 2 GOD AUTISM AND ME DEVOTIONAL 7-15Talents and interests we may be completely unaware of may actually become a catalyst for change. I probably didn’t realize just how much Lan enjoyed music until a few short years ago. Now his musical interest has given him the opportunity to become a participant in something larger than himself and to do so successfully.

Marching band is an enjoyable physical outlet that forces Lan to stay focused on the expectations of good grades and study skills required for his participation. More and more, he is beginning to realize just how capable he is.

I’m not sure if Lan will follow a “traditional” path of high school and then straight to college. Nevertheless, I hope his love for music and art will find him a place where he can not only develop his talents but even get paid for them.

Do I have concerns about his future?

Most certainly I do.

However, I am learning to step out of fear and look forward to whatever God would do with Lan and through him.

Could I have imagined his current success all those years ago when school left us both in tears?

Not even close.

Yet, prayer and faith have opened doors we never would have dared knocked on before.

As God has been faithful in so many things, I must trust Him with our future.

Prayerfully anticipating whatever lies ahead, Lan and I simply march on!

I returned and saw under the sun that—
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.  Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV

Lucky!

The following is an abridged version of story I wrote about our cat “Lucky.” His full impact on us and our journey along the spectrum can’t fully be put into words. Lucky prompted Lan to initiate conversation. Lucky also taught him responsibility. I strongly recommend parents of any special needs children to consider a pet. Their contribution is often priceless. 

One Lucky Cat!

I don’t like cats. 

To my dismay, the children I was desperately trying to get ready for school abandoned their oatmeal to see the pretty kitty.

Annoyed, I began shooing it away with a broom, and trying to coax it off my deck. I glanced beyond the cat only to find both boys staring at me like I’m Cruella Deville.

I take a deep breath and bite my tongue. At this point in my life I’m mentally fried. Two kids under the age of four, a husband who travels all week and I’m running late for my new full-time job!

I grudgingly decide I can teach my kids a lesson in compassion. Besides, the last thing I need is for Cam to go marching into school and telling everyone I tried to kill a cat. From previous experience, I’m confident that would have been his translation of the morning’s events!

So… I grab a can of salmon and stick it outside the door. By this time it seems that the cat is gone. I’m grateful, yet annoyed I just wasted a can of salmon.

When we return that afternoon, the first thing both kids do is run toward the back door. No cat, but the food is gone. I’m thinking the cat has found its way home.

No such luck.

Over the next couple of months this cat increasingly comes to my house. It doesn’t just come, it lingers.

Reluctantly, I finally concede. How much trouble can one outdoor cat be?

I never get to find out.

I come downstairs one morning to find my husband standing in the kitchen holding the cat….and a litter box!

By the way, he doesn’t like cats either.

One huge vet bill later, I name the cat Lucky. It’s a bit of a stretch for a black cat, but it saves him from being named after a Ninja Turtle.

By now, you’re probably thinking what does this cat have to do with God, autism and me?

I learned God sometimes answers prayers in the most unexpected ways. It is around this time that my four year has prayed for his brother Lan to talk.

Lan would occasionally say a word here and there. Yet, once Lucky entrenched himself into our home, Lan became more talkative.

“Where’s the cat?” “Can I feed the cat?” “Lucky where are you?” 

Lucky Raphel 7-15-15 ripLucky helped draw Landon out of his shell.

He hasn’t been a perfect cat but he’s come close.

As the kids watched television, I was horrified one day to find Landon’s pillow wasn’t a pillow at all. It was the cat!

I started to fuss but then realized Lucky wasn’t trying to get away. He looked up at me with those big yellow eyes as if to say “it’s okay. I don’t mind.” He then he turned away from me and back to the kids.

His kids.

Lucky worked his way into my heart.

The world didn’t end when I found him snoozing on my “good” sofa. Or, when I woke to find him asleep beside me… in my bed!

Did I mention, I don’t like cats?

I don’t know that I’ll ever consider myself a “cat lover” but I certainly love this one.

God’s answers to our prayers aren’t always how we expect them. Blessings and miracles often arrive in disguise.

I almost chased away one of mine.

Not all angels have wings. Some have paws, of this I am sure.

Lan is now a teenager and talks up a storm.

I look back on it now and realize we didn’t do the cat a favor at all.

We were the lucky ones!

**Rest in Peace “Lucky” Raphael, you loved us well!

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

Turning Leaves

The leaves where I live are now just turning vibrant and crisp.

Unlike the seasons, we can’t always predict what twists or turns we are going to have in life. Some of us with the best laid plans think we know what tomorrow will bring, but in reality we never know until that new day dawns.

I can anticipate that those trees will turn colors and loose leaves only to grown green and flourish in the spring. With my child, that pattern of familiarity was often lacking. We have spurts of great growth or gains, and then sometimes things cool off and go dormant. I pray and hope that once again there will be renewal and continued growth.

This uncertainty could keep me anxious, depressed and nervous. I admit it has done that before.

However, I choose to hope in things unseen and have faith in a God I can’t always see or hear, Who at times been silent when I’ve called out, but Who has never once left my side.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

I don’t always know just what season I am in.

I have once thought I was in a season of growth only to be cut down to the ground. I’ve also been at my lowest and right on time, an unexpected miracle reminded me that God is ever with me.

I choose to be grateful for gains made and milestones achieved in this season of Thanksgiving. I am grateful for Lan’s great attitude. His “why not?” has kept him moving right along to his own rhythm and time but he is still moving!

I am grateful that autism has not overcome us. It’s knocked us around a couple of times but we learned to fight back!

I may not be grateful for every experience I’ve had in life, but I am very grateful for everything I’ve learned from them.

God deals with each of us in ways as unique as we are.

I’m grateful for that too.

Knowing that God will get me through whatever season I am in allows me to face tomorrow not in fear but with a faith that wherever I am and whatever I need, He is more than enough!

Whatever your circumstance, give thanks for gains made and blessings yet to come.

Allow gratitude to determine your attitude.

Enjoy a Very Blessed Thanksgiving!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,”
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

Rite of Passage

Two weeks ago, I sent my youngest child off for his first day of high school. I’d done this very same thing, just last year, but this time was different. Unlike my brainiac first-born, my younger child has an Autism diagnosis. Asperger’s to be exact. Lan successfully navigated and “graduated” middle school managing to even pass those aggravating standardized tests necessary to progress. But this year was different. This would be the first transition to a new school where he would have to go it alone.

Unlike the transition to middle school, Lan was entering a school out of our district. Consequently, the comfort of familiar friends was lacking. For the first time, his big brother would not be in close proximity to watch out for him and rely on. Lan was apprehensive. My husband and I were guarded. I often wondered years before just what would we do when it came time for him to enter high school?

God has proven time and time again that He has my solutions before I ever anticipate my problems. I could in no way expect that Lan’s former elementary school principal would be appointed principal to his future high school. There was no reason to ever suspect Lan would ever attend this school as it was well out of our district. I also couldn’t predict that his former IEP teacher (that’s special education for those of you out of the loop) who taught him for years in elementary school would become a counselor at that same high school.

It took making a request to the school board and having it granted that placed Lan in a position where people he knew would have his best interests at heart.  Upon notification of the county’s approval, I didn’t have to ask that his former teacher be appointed as his counselor. The principal took it upon herself to do so on my child’s behalf. The familiar connections made years ago proved vital even before the school year began. With their assistance, schedules were modified and class requests accommodated. I am confident that what was painless with them would have been a headache elsewhere. I am so grateful for their helping hands that guided us each step of the way.

The first day of school was overwhelming for Lan. My husband and I probably didn’t fare much better. Lan’s first comments when I asked him about his day was that the school was “too big and loud and the students were huge.” I must admit several upperclassmen looked to be about the size of professional athletes. He looked so small in comparison. I assured him the next day would be better and prayed that it would be so. Thankfully, it was.

The addition of band class, a familiar face at lunch, and learning to navigate the vast hallways settled the nervous stomach. It did wonders for my husband and me as well! Even without the comfort of our neighborhood kids to watch over him, Lan ventured out into the vast hallways greatly annoyed that his overprotective parents continued to worry and hover.  Yet, by the end of the week, he was eager to head off to school, vocal about his assignments and looking forward to the first football game.

God answered a prayer I’d uttered years ago out of frustration. I distinctively recall sitting in my car contemplating school choices for him with tears in my eyes, frustrated and at a loss for answers. All of the schools I’d considered previously were at least an hour’s ride away from home and well beyond the capabilities of my budget! Thankfully, I wasn’t required to come up with an answer.

I didn’t have to figure, maneuver or plot out the points to the most desirable outcome. I didn’t have to go before the school board and plead my case.  With one letter, I was spared from enduring the inconvenience of juggling two boys at two different schools and the conflicting schedules sure to ensue. My oldest was already attending the magnet school located on the same campus. Our county has a provision that if one child is already attending a campus, any sibling can follow. Cam decided to apply for the magnet school at the very last minute. It wasn’t anything we had planned for. I’d been trying to convince him for two years the magnet school was where he belonged. Wouldn’t you know it would take a girl, not his mother, to convince him that is was a good idea! God used the opportunity given to one son to open a door for the other.

God put the right people in the right place at the perfect time. Twelve years after a “pervasive developmental disorder” diagnosis and five years after the Asperger’s label, Lan moves along aware but never thwarted by his condition. His attitude has never faltered and aside  from the regular teenage moaning and groaning, he continues to take everything, challenges included, in stride. If only we, as parents, had the same confidence.

I thank God for answering my prayer, even years before I would ever realize what He had done. God has delivered on more than one occasion. I shouldn’t still be in awe but His grace always overwhelms me. Not every day on this journey has been a good one. We’ve had our fair share of trials and meltdowns, but still we press on.

If I’ve learned anything in this back to school process, it is to once again trust God. And worry less. Even as the control fanatic that I am, I could never have orchestrated things so perfectly if given the chance.

I grudgingly accept that autism dictates some of my decisions. I am grateful, though, that it does not determine our outcomes.

God’s grace covers! Autism has yet to define my child, at least, through his eyes. The first week of high school was met head-on and we survived. God watches over His children. God continues to watch over me.