Tag 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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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

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]

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…

Senior Night and Lessons Learned…

Earlier this month we celebrated Senior Night. It was the last home game where each graduating band member, cheerleader and football player was presented on the field with family while the announcer spoke of their future goals.

This was a very big deal for my senior.

Big brother even flew in for the occasion to surprise him on the field and be at his side. Lan posted on Facebook it was one of his “happiest times!”

Celebrating that moment reminded me of all those years I was so preoccupied with the future I couldn’t enjoy my “present.”

I vividly remember stressing about making it through elementary school and his passing a bunch of standardized exams. The same cloud hung over middle school as well. A less than enthusiastic county psychologist and fear for the future kept me in a constant state of exhaustion.

For any parent, looking forward is natural. Yet, if we are always looking forward to be “done” with a phase, we blind ourselves to our blessings in the here and now.

It took me years to figure this out.

These days, I only need the occasional reminder to enjoy my “here and now.”

I could be stressed now about the upcoming ACT, not knowing for sure which schools are best for Lan, let alone figuring out how to pay for them!

We all go through our “somethings” in life that inevitably have the potential to turn us into better (or bitter) people. To say I’ve appreciated every “growing experience” would be a lie because many of them were quite painful.

Nevertheless, I give thanks that God allowed me to not only survive, but in some manner, thrive beyond those uncertain times.

My current “hot pot” causes me frustration for sure; still, I am determined not to allow my challenges to overcome me as before.

Watching Lan deal with autism and his determination not to be defined by it, has taught me how to better deal with my own frustrations. It has most certainly helped me put them in perspective.

golden-2-devotional-8-6-2016Through Lan, God has taught me how to take joy in small victories, not dismissing them while waiting for larger breakthroughs.

Lan has also taught me that hard work pays off and hard times eventually pass.

I learned goals keep us focused on the gains we strive to make.

I now see God’s grace in the little things.

Every day we “hang in there” is cause for celebration.

Labels only limit us when we allow them.

Angels come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

God is ever-present!

Senior night reminded me of family and friends who have been there for us every step of the way.

That evening also demonstrated the better side of humanity when students in the stands cheered loudly as Lan crossed the field.

I give thanks for teachers, counselors and administrators who worked with us to push Lan toward his very best.

I graduated school decades ago, yet I’ve learned more about God and myself these last years of “high school” than ever before.

I suspect I’m not the only one Lan has taught a thing or two…

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NIV

College Search!

We have been busy in our household helping our senior with his college applications. Lan has been quite interested himself in the application process. He stated, “When you’re done with him then we can get started on me.”

I easily recall wondering if this kid would be able to graduate high school. Now, these many years later, he is thinking about college.

Lan has always struggled in school. Though very bright, he can’t always verbalize what he knows. Years ago, when people would ask about possible plans for the future, a wave of dread would come over me. Now, I’m just waiting to see what happens next.

I learned from a close friend who happens to be a college professor that more and more colleges are incorporating transition programs and assistance for people with learning and developmental disabilities. I did a bit of research and actually found a few. Yet, many of the programs were in the Northeast part of the country. We live in the southeast. The idea of just sending my “baby” twelve or more hours away doesn’t sit well.

I eventually stopped worrying about it and decided God will make a way.

STAND TALL blessed devotional 10-2015Well, last night I came upon this article, “Students with special needs get own program at University of Georgia.” 

Now UGA is only about forty-five minutes from me. The article also mentions another school with a similar program that is only an hour away. It looks like there is a realistic pathway for Lan to “go off to college,” after all.

Years ago I never imagined the programs now available in higher education for kids like mine.

But God knew.

Sometimes when we are overwhelmed and it looks like situations are hopeless we must trust God for the answer.

I’m learning this more and more as Lan tackles things that were once impossible. The leaps and gains he has made have been miraculous. I suspect the progress made would never have come about if we held on to every negative word spoken over us.

I stopped looking at the statistics and looked for God to make a way.

A poor progress report can no longer push me into a state of panic. I keep telling Lan he is smart and can do whatever is required.  I truly believe Lan does better because we expect better.

What if that same principle applies to God?

I’m not sure what the future holds but I’m holding fast to God and expecting great things.

How about you?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Sophomore Year!

Unlike most of the country, my kids have already completed their first week of school!

Last Monday, Lan began his second year of high school. It was fortunately without incident. No wrong bus transfers, rescheduled classes, and no dread of “starting over” in strange and less than friendly surroundings.

This year Lan knows more people. His teachers are “on board” with our IEP and we are both much more comfortable, without the harried nerves surrounding last year.

His first homework assignment was a letter to his literature teacher introducing himself. The letter gave information about his interests and goals for this year. I was pleased to see that he thinks his family is “nice and protects him from mean people.”

If you ever doubt your children understand what you do for them or how you feel for their plight…don’t!

I was almost overwhelmed to see the words on the page. Detailed thoughts, expressed and understood, another “accomplishment” to be grateful for.

The paragraph about his goals was inspiring as well. Lan wants to boost his g.p.a.  which I am very glad to hear in addition to improving his trombone performance. He ultimately wants to gain the “first chair” position in his band class. Lan has embraced the idea (with a little prodding, of course) of being a “leader” as one of the few sophomores in his class.

I noticed how his goals have evolved and matured. It makes me think that mine should as well.

Sometimes we get so set in one mindset that we fail to progress and stretch our thinking. Old ideas are often just that. Old. Stale. “Stuck” in the past.

Our familiar ideas and concepts sometimes fail to hold up in the here and now we are currently immersed in.  I’ve found we can let the blessings we have prayed for go unrecognized because we are too stressed and uptight to see them. Our minds are often stalled in “then” even as God is directing us to the “when.”

I am surely guilty of this on more than one occasion. Sometimes we all get stressed to the point that we don’ remember how to relax.

Thankfully, Lan doesn’t have this problem. He is relaxing in the confidence that comes from a year of high school under his belt and he is looking forward not stuck in yesterday.

Lan is both excited and optimistic about his future. His enthusiasm reminds me that I should be as well.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 KJV