Category Archives: Faith and Spirtuality

Let the Music Play!

As parents and caregivers of kids on the spectrum or any special need, we are often motivated, guided, or pushed toward focusing on those target skills our kids are lacking. We are often caught up in therapies, tutoring or trying to catch up to whatever norm “they” deem deficient in our children.

How different would our kid’s lives be if we could instead focus on their positives instead of always trying to compensate for those things regarded as negatives?

My youngest has generally struggled with school. He works hard. Really, really hard just to pass his classes which is especially frustrating as his older brother excels in school. Lan was very disappointed when his brother and childhood friends were off to the Magnet school and he simply could not join them.

However, Lan does have a talent for music in which his brother has been unable to best him. Both boys play piano along with other instruments. Yet, Lan has been gifted with “perfect pitch” something most musicians would love to have. Unlike other things that are difficult for him, anything musical comes much easier with a joy that surprisingly spreads to the people around him.

I started Lan in piano lessons as my version of occupational therapy. When he began writing in preschool, his fingers weren’t quite as strong as they should be. Piano lessons strengthened fingers that struggled to hold a pencil. Best of all, Lan enjoyed the lessons. Now, these same fingers draw intricate cartoon characters with very little effort. By focusing on what he could do, the door opened for another talent to emerge as well!DSC_7293 (2)

The more I hear incredible stories about so many kids on the spectrum and their thoughts, gifts and talents; the more I believe that everyone has something to give. Some people bring positive qualities out in others. Then there are others also on the spectrum blessed with things us “neurotypicals” can only dream of, skills or talents that often amaze and leave others speechless.

If only the time we spend during the school year striving to meet “goals” designated by other people, (I’m still trying to figure out who they are) could be used to cultivate those gems that lie dormant within, I wonder how many “atypicals” could more positively impact our world?

There are people whose gifts go unearthed because as a society we don’t prioritize searching those talents out. Instead we hammer people to conform.

I’ve seen a few miracles in the health care realm. I’m optimistic I’ll see many more with God’s grace and His power. The advances in science and technology lead me to believe there is so much more yet unseen. But we have to look for it!

So until “they” decide to focus on the person and not on an arbitrary set of goals and “normal” is designated for the individual instead of the masses, I will continue to encourage kids to search out and nurture the talents God gave them.  DSC_1350 (2)

If we don’t make searching out God’s gifts within our kids a priority, if we don’t build them up so they can unearth the beauty within and give them a sense of pride in what they can do instead of continually emphasizing what they can’t…who will?

As for me and my crew, we will continue to let the music play.

“The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.” Psalms 28:7 NKJV 

  

 

Advertisements

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

One Lucky Cat

Nearly ten years ago, as I was giving the boys breakfast and frantically trying to get them ready for school, a visitor came boldly calling at our door. At first, I thought I was hearing things (my mind was really frazzled back in those days) but lo and behold there really was a cat very loudly meowing at my back door.

My first thought was I don’t have time for this nonsense. I don’t like cats. At all. However, the kids I was desperately trying to get ready for school had abandoned their oatmeal to come look at the pretty kitty.

As short fused as I was, I’m sure I was in no mood to entertain a cat let alone try to figure out where it came from.  I started shooing it away, and yelling at it to get it back down the steps and off my deck. By now both boys are looking at me like I’m Cruella DeVille and Cam very pointedly says to me “Mommy, that’s mean.”

I take a deep breath and bite my tongue. After all I am trying to teach my kids compassion and the last thing I need is for them to go marching into their Christian pre-school and telling the whole world how I was trying to kill a cat that morning (that would have been Cam’s interpertation).

So… I find a can of salmon in the pantry, put it on a paper plate and stick it outside the back door. By this time the cat is gone or at the very least, I can’t see it. Good riddance, for sure, and I’m just a bit annoyed that I just wasted a perfectly good can of salmon.

When we return home the first thing both kids do is head for the back door. No cat, but the food is gone.  Grateful, I’m thinking it has found its way home.  We did a good deed (albeit reluctantly) and that is that.

No such luck. Over the next couple of months this cat would increasingly come to my house. It didn’t just come, it lingered.

I finally relented, but only after posting signs throughout the neighborhood.

Okay, we now have an outside cat. No harm in that. The kids are happy. I’m no longer viewed as “Cruella” and it shouldn’t take that much effort on my part.

Well, a few days later I come down the stairs and my darling husband is standing in the kitchen holding the cat….and a litter box! And by the way, he doesn’t like cats either.

One week and one vet bill later, I name the cat Lucky.  For some reason I decided it would be a good name so he isn’t stigmatized by his black coloring. The other is to save him from being named after a Ninja Turtle.

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

I have learned through my journey that God answers prayers in the most unexpected ways. It is around this time that my oldest son, still in pre-school prays for his brother to talk. This prayer wasn’t anything we prompted him to do. Cam thought this up all on his own.

Lan would say a few words here and there, but we really had to pull them out of him. However, once the cat was here to stay, Lan became enamored with him and started asking things like, “where’s the cat?” “Can I feed the cat?” “Lucky where are you?” Landon even started telling people he didn’t know about his cat.

I figure this cat must have been desperate for a home because he allowed a three-year old and a four-year old to pretty much drag him around as their real life “stuffed toy.” Lucky never once scratched or bit them.  He was actually more social than the two dogs we had. He was also smarter too.

Lucky helped draw Landon out of his shell. Consequently, Lucky worked his way into my heart. As the kids lay on the floor one night watching some Christmas special, I noticed 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,” and then he turned away from me and back to the kids. His kids.

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

From Lucky, I have learned the immense value of an afternoon nap and how it’s important to get one when you can. Lucky has shown me how to be flexible, eating the dog’s food when she eats all of his. He has proven that the world won’t come to an end when you sometimes break a few rules.

The world didn’t end when I walked in to find him snoozing on my “good” sofa.

Armageddon didn’t erupt 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.

I have seen God’s answers to our prayers aren’t always what we expect them to be. Our blessings and miracles often arrive in disguise. I almost closed the door on one of mine. Don’t you make the same mistake and miss out on an answer you’ve been waiting for.

Not all angels have wings. Some have paws, of this I am sure. I look back all these years later and readily admit I didn’t do the cat a favor.

I’m the lucky one!

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.