Tag Archives: Asperger’s

One Little Drummer Boy…

When I was a kid one of my favorite television Christmas specials was, “The Little Drummer Boy.” Even then, I always pulled for the underdog.

The gist of the story is about a poor orphan obsessed with playing his drum. This same boy was distrustful of people. To say he was anti-social would be an understatement. He found contentment only in playing his drum and spending time with his animal friends.

Sound familiar?

However, when his lamb is hit by a chariot the desperate orphan finds his way into the caravan of the Wise Men and seeks to go before the new Savior to find healing for his lamb.

This orphan was considered one of the “least” in society. He wasn’t regarded highly at all. Comparing himself to these Wise Men the drummer boy felt small. He had no title or status; he certainly wasn’t wealthy and really didn’t feel worthy to come before the King.

The three kings who traveled to see the Savior presented expensive gifts such as gold and myrrh. The orphan in contrast had nothing material to give. However, this child does give the only thing he does have, his talent. What appears to be the least compared to the expensive gifts of the Wise Men becomes the most.

The Savior smiles at him.

I tried at times to develop my child into one of the “Wise Men.” This story reminds me my child doesn’t need to detour from who God created him to become. His own inherent talents, like those of the little drummer boy, are more than enough.

Sometimes our children have talents (or obsessions) that seem minor to us because we don’t understand or appreciate them. Their gifts aren’t always highly regarded. However, the book of Matthew teaches us to take what we have been given and make the most of it!  Matthew 25:14-30

When we come before God nurturing what we have been given,  there is no need to look toward and compare ourselves to others. We are free in Christ to fulfill the purposes and the plans God intended all along.

Kids on the with autism often surprise adults when allowed opportunities to be who God created them to be. We must have faith that God has a purpose and a plan even when we can’t see it or understand.

I believe when we exhibit faith enough to trust God with our talents and our trials we too can say, and then He smiled at me

Merry Christmas!

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11 NKJV

“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,” Jeremiah 29:11  NKJV

 

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Be Aware!

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Some would say 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 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. Your off the cuff remark while standing in line at the grocery store cuts to the core.

Instead, offer a smile or a nod that indicates it’s not the end of the world instead of frowning in disapproval. That gesture can mean the world to someone who wants that meltdown to end more than you do. Even better, allow that person to check out ahead of you so the parent can tend to that child.

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.

God autism and me Be Aware devotional 2 4-2016Don’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.

Random acts of kindness are always appreciated.

A call or a text can do wonders for someone who may very well feel isolated and alone. A gift card for dinner or a coffee are good too. Something small to you can be the greatest blessing. If in doubt, ask God what you can do. I’m quite confident you will receive an answer!

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.

A lot of kids with neurological disorders get left out because parents just don’t know what to expect. I’ve found kids 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, the parents will appreciate the gesture. I’ve watched firsthand how one child feels as his sibling go off with other kids.

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?”

autism awareness month 2 2016Now, I know.

And for that I am very grateful.

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

Toy Soldiers!

RCHS BAND 2015 LANDON GODAUTISMANDME 12-2015When I first saw the kids in their band uniforms the first thing that came to mind was toy soldiers. I’ve always been fascinated with them, ever mesmerized by all the Nut Crackers scattered about this time of year. The march of the toy soldiers from the old Disney Classic Babes in Toyland must have really made an impression on me. Somehow toys and life in general seemed a lot simpler then.

Now that I’m a grown up, my “Toy Soldiers” require a lot more than a few turns of a key to keep them going. People always say how parenthood changes you. As a new parent, you nod your head and think defiantly, yeah that’s what you say but none of that will ever apply to me.

Fast forward seventeen years. The children I once thought would never take over my life have inevitably taken over my life. Nearly every decision is made based on its impact on them. My “babes” that were so easily shuttled around and slung on my hip are now at least a foot taller than me and have schedules of their own. Winding them up and letting them go would be easy but life is not like that.

We can’t control our kids. We like to think we can but we really can’t.

Their thoughts are their own. We contribute to their development, but never control it. They are their own unique little beings individually and purposefully made.

Kids can be moody. They have good days and bad just like us. Pleasing their parents isn’t always priority. Children have agendas and interests of their own.  Imagine that!

My children have taught me how to bend without breaking. They have pulled me so far out of my comfort zone I no longer know what that is.  They have shown me how to laugh instead of cry. They have forced me to learn how strong I can be and that my weaknesses don’t weigh me down. They love me with all my imperfections and have taught me how to do the same.

RCHS BAND 2015-16 CamI’ve heard it said God sent His Son to earth not only to save us but to experience every imaginable emotion and pain. I think to some extent our children do that for us. Our kids make us love like we’ve never loved before. They also cause us to pray like we’ve never prayed before.

It would be easier if I could wind them up and they would obey my every command. But what growth would come out of that? For them or me?

In this season of giving, give thanks for the gift of children. Parenting is not easy. At times, it is brutally hard. However, we never have to go it alone. Even when it didn’t feel like it, God was there every step of the way.

God can do the same for you.

Merry Christmas!

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3 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

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

Believe!

Today my youngest son will attend his first day of marching band camp. To say he is thrilled is an understatement. I will admit I’m rather proud of him and share his enthusiasm. Getting to this point was a long time in coming.

You see, he has watched his brother perform for the past two years all the while longing to be on the field himself.

Freshman year marching wasn’t an option. We had a huge transition from middle school to high school without the familiar safety net of teachers to watch after him. There was no way my little grasshopper among giants could have withstood the onslaught of people, sounds and orchestrated chaos that comes with marching band.

Fast forward two years later and my grasshopper is now one of the giants. Now six feet tall, my “little” guy has grown not just physically but mentally as well. He is no longer overwhelmed by the masses of students. He can now manage his classes with the help of tutors.

It was only a few years ago that I couldn’t imagine his participation was possible even as I prayed otherwise. Thankfully, my prayers preempted all “rational” reasoning.

Years ago all the “facts” dictated that Lan was hardly a candidate for marching band.

He was uncoordinated, not very strong and easily distracted. The rigor of long practices with a hundred or so other kids would have been impossible.

But with God all things are possible.

Sometimes we rely so much on reports, grades, IEPs and diagnoses that it prevents us from imagining what God would do for us.

I am slowly learning that the sum of my blessings is proportional to my faith. My only limiting factor is me.

Time and time again God surprises me when things look hopeless. My audacity to dare and believe creates a “yes” when everything else points to “no.”

I’m learning not to allow how I feel to dictate what I believe.

Feelings are fleeting.

God’s Word is eternal.  

If we allow the imperfections in our lives to overcome us, we will never have faith enough to recognize and receive God’s best!

We may allow ourselves to be labeled by autism yet, it is crucial to have faith enough not to be limited by it.

Dependency on ourselves will always leave us wanting. However, God is more than enough when we trust that He can and He will.

beleive 2  God, autism and me 6-15 devotionalOur “situations” don’t have to leave us hopeless. We can instead allow them to direct us to different viewpoints and possibilities.

Listen to your gut.

Listen to God.

It is only what He says that truly matters.

His Word and our faith create the best outcomes.

 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:23-24 NKJV

Take a Break!

This week my kids are out of school for the break. So, earlier this week my husband and I took the kids to Lan’s favorite restaurant. This place is easily an hour away from our home and it takes a concerted effort on our part to get there.

The kids loaded up in the back of the car eagerly. We laughed and were silly and had a grand time. On the way back home, my oldest son stated he was glad we did it and that we should do it more often. Once I got over the shock that he actually enjoyed hanging out with his parents, I thought more about what he said.

I really should take a break more often.

I am guilty of trying to maximize my time and efforts as much as the next person. I have become a fairly decent multitasker. This ability has probably pushed me to do more than necessary at times when I really should have been recharging instead of using up all of my energy.

I don’t know if it is the fast paced culture I’m living in or my own self-delusions that leave me thinking I should always be accomplishing something, but I am feeling God’s nudge to let go many of my own efforts and to rely instead on His.

There is a difference in being busy and being productive. Sometimes “busy” becomes a habit that isn’t producing much more than anxiety, stress and physical ailments that stem from trying to do a week’s worth of activities in a day.

I am glad I heeded the prodding of the Spirit to “do lunch” instead of tackling my “to do” list! The time spent produced laughter and joy, strengthened family ties, and provided clarity of mind. I could have used that time; instead, to tackle some things I needed to get done but the time wouldn’t have been nearly as productive.

Many of us caring for people with special needs or family members suffering with a long-term illness often burn ourselves out because we don’t rest when we should.  Sometimes we are so stressed and feel mentally compressed that we tackle everything head on when sometimes bit by bit is actually more efficient.

I will take my oldest son’s advice. I am long overdue to take a break from stress, over scheduling, and unrealistic expectations.  I’m going to take breaks more often, getting over those things I allow to hold me hostage and even myself. Only then can I enjoy this life to the fullest. What about you?

Are you overdue for a break?

“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 is light.” Matthew 11:28-29.