Tag Archives: autism

Exempt!

Junior year has been one of conquests and challenges. Lan conquered the trials of marching band. He not only survived but thrives in the experience.

Yet, challenges loom as well. Lan is in harder classes this year. Thankfully, his teachers wants him to succeed as much as we do.

The most daunting challenge was getting Lan’s class schedule “fixed.”  

Last year, I proactively met with Lan’s counselor to ensure that his classes were appropriate. The counselor suggested anatomy instead of chemistry. Lan has already taken the mandatory sciences required to graduate. We thought it was a great plan.

Well, about three weeks ago we learned Lan was in the “wrong” anatomy class!

When he came home saying he needed scrubs for lab, I knew something was not right. Apparently someone enrolled him into the class for kids pursuing a degree in healthcare.

Panicked, we contacted the school and they changed his class. I figured we would muddle through catching up on the five weeks he missed.

I was not looking forward to it.

Another week later my husband meets with the “new” anatomy teacher. We learn his class is identical to the one Lan just left! The new teacher changed the scope of his class to mirror the other class.

Out of the furnace into the fire.

Eventually, we get Landon placed in an Environmental Science class. I ask him about his teacher. The only answer I get is “She’s cool.”

Visions of late nights, unending homework and struggling to catch up haunt me. I ask if his teacher gave him any work to start on so we can catch up.

He looks at me with a pained face and utters, “She exempted me.”

I nearly shout for joy.

He is responsible for learning the material but she isn’t going to make him to complete past assignments.

Webster’s defines exempt as “being free or released from some liability or requirement.”

Grace and mercy came to mind.

Grace kept me sane as we went back and forth with the school.

Grace kept Lan’s biggest advocate at the school long enough to get this rectified. She informed us yesterday she’s leaving for a promotion.

Grace is what the ES teacher gave my child when others couldn’t be bothered.

Exempt God autism and me 9-2015Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NKJV

I admit that there have been times I didn’t go boldly to the throne.

I may have been drug there.

Hopefully, I’m wiser now.

I never doubted God would resolve our “dilemma,” I just wasn’t expecting a painless resolution.

Merciful.

Our scheduling fiasco was a timely lesson not to anticipate the worst, but to instead acknowledge and receive God’s grace in all situations.

I must also remember to give grace as eagerly as I receive it.

Schools in!

May the Lord make me eager to learn.

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!

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 stuggling 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.

So, 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 and choose to labor less!

Who’s Your Favorite Ninja Turtle?

Many kids on the spectrum have a fascination, obsession or favorite something from time to time. I’ve seen my child gravitate to Legos, Marvel super heroes, Power Rangers and some other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten! Yet, one that has never faded is his fascination with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

I’ve probably purchased over a hundred turtles in the last ten plus years. I would have never imagined they could come in so many variations!

We have movie videos, television shows, toys, you name it. You’d think I’d be sick of them by now.

But I’m not.

These turtles were one of the very first things Lan cared to actually talk about. In those early days I was hungry and desperate for any words he would offer. If they were about green turtles, so be it!

As the years went by and Lan ventured to talk to strangers, he would ask them about their favorite turtle. I never thought he would get much of a response from most people.

I was wrong.

I’d forgotten there were now adults in their twenties and thirties who grew up with the turtles. They have recollections of going to see those first TMNT movies. A few even have their original toys stashed in an attic or basement.

From teachers and karate instructors to family and friends, people would answer Lan’s questions about their favorite turtle and then ask him about his.

And he would answer.

Energetically, with more than two-word sentences!

It’s amazing how God can take something so simple really, and do the miraculous with it. At that point I’m sure there were several people who doubted Lan would ever hold a regular conversation.

But God!

God can take what we have and in His hands, change it into something so much more. Something seemingly trivial in the grand scheme of things can become a gateway to answered prayer.

I really hadn’t given it much thought before.  Mutant ninja turtles certainly were not my intended topic for this post, but for all they’ve done to help pull my man out of his shell

I’ll be ever grateful.

We’ll check out the latest movie this weekend. And if you were wondering, Lan’s favorite ninja turtle is not Raphael. I thought since we shared a name it would be his favorite when he was younger.

But he chose Donatello. Go figure?!

Who’s your favorite turtle?

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” 1 Corinthians 1:27

 

Class Conflict!

On Friday, my youngest child who inspired this blog informed me that his class schedule was changed. He was no longer with the same Spanish or World History teacher.

I tried to figure why two weeks into the school year his schedule (especially his schedule) would change. His Spanish teacher is adored by students and Lan is no exception. His history teacher uses lots of visuals (ideal for Lan!) and I was remiss to lose him.

I assured him his father and I would look into it. So, this morning my husband dropped the kids off and went straight to the office.

Apparently, the Spanish class has a few kids with disciplinary “issues.” The Spanish teacher noticed Lan covered his ears during their disruptive outburst. She was concerned the current mix of students may be too much for him.

I most certainly applaud the teacher for noticing the displeasure/discomfort the other three students were causing him. His teacher suggested Lan be moved to a quieter class. However, my husband’s question to the counselor was why should our child should lose the benefit of great teachers at the expense of the offending party?

I’m sure removing one student is a lot easier than removing three, but to do so gives the trouble makers the advantage.  DSC_7748 (3)

Soooo….when my husband met with the counselors they called Lan up and asked him which class he would prefer.

To the counselor’s surprise, Lan told them he wanted to stay with his original teachers. He told the counselors, “I can just ignore the bad kids.”

Both counselors were surprised. There was a time where disruptive kids would have made him shut down and unable to focus. Apparently, he has matured to the point where he can tune the disruptions out (as best anyone can) just like the other students in his class.

To say that I am proud and grateful is such an understatement!  I prayed this morning  and resigned myself to “God’s will.” I thought it would be better if Lan’s schedule was changed back with his original teachers but if God chose to move him I trusted that God would work it to our benefit.

I guess I have moved (just a bit) from trying to regulate/orchestrate every detail of Lan’s life. I’m hardly a passive parent. Even letting my husband go and “handle it” without my “supervision” is a giant step for me. Yet, if my wishes didn’t work out, I figured God has a better plan. This hasn’t always been the case.

In the end, the counselors agreed that Lan would stay with his original teachers as desired. The “problem students” would be moved elsewhere to make the classroom less volatile.

In the end, I trusted God to work out the best outcome without complaint, demands or frustration on my part.

It appears Lan matured even more than I ever imagined this summer. And maybe, just maybe, I have too.  

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 NKJV   DSC_7549 (2)

 

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

 

 

 

Open House, Open Mind

Today I went to the high school open house for both my boys. I was pleasantly surprised to meet teachers that were not off put by Landon’s IEP plan. In fact, a few of them assured me they were not only adaptable but readily available and more than happy to ensure his success.

Last year’s open house was fraught with a bit of frustration as Lan’s schedule hadn’t transferred from his county “assigned” school. We met teachers that ultimately would not teach him. And then there were those first year of high school jitters, both mine and his.

Today Lan confidently lead me through the hallways. He hugged a few of his teachers from last year, all of whom were amazed how much he’d grown. He eagerly waved and shouted to kids he knew. He quickly left me to sit on a bench and talk to a pretty girl. Where did that shy kid go?

The beginning of every school year has always been fraught with anxiety and a bit of dread. For me more so than Lan. I’ve worried about bullies, standardized exams, ambivalent teachers and probably a host of other things.

But this year, dare I hope we’ve reached a turning point of sorts…can I finally exchange my fears for a faith that everything will be just fine?

Can I for once just live in the now moment, count the blessings of a wonderful counselor, empathetic teachers, kind students and the new-found bit of confidence and maturity that has finally surfaced in these last few weeks of summer?

No matter what we may face this year, I don’t dare deluded myself into the notion of a problem free 180 days of school. But dare I hope and even expect that previous lessons learned will give us the experience to be proactive instead of reactive; will my prayers and faith precede the proper people or rather angels in disguise to help us along our way?

This year I will share my child’s optimism without the threat of “what if?” looming behind us. This year I look forward to my child branching out and pushing boundaries that don’t include me. This year…I am receptive to new ideas, new ventures and the possibility something good is on the horizon. This year, I will abide in the hope that God has a purpose and a plan for my child and I don’t have to orchestrate/dictate/regulate every detail of his life.

This year…will be a very good year. For both of us.

“Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing to hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:27 KJV

Camp Hope!

This past weekend I traveled to South Carolina to pick up my youngest from a week of summer camp. This was the very first time Lan had ever been away from home for that long and it was not with immediate family.

I admit to having a bit of apprehension, but he was eager to go. More than that, it appeared Lan was ready to go. The over-protective mom in me immediately imagined a dozen reasons why he would be better off at home when the idea of camp first surfaced. The very idea of sending him anywhere for a week no matter how competent the staff was incomprehensible.

But God has a funny way of making me eat my words. The “ain’t gonna happen” that played in my head actually happened and with stunning results!

My “little man” though he now towers over me, appeared cool and confident when we arrived to pick him up. He had made new friends, other kids were calling for him and he simply adored his counselors.

I realized a few days later when we were back at home that Lan appeared a bit more confident. He stood a bit taller and dare I say even acted more mature.

According to his counselors, Lan was able to show off his art skills drawing pictures for them in addition to a mural of college mascots on one walkway in chalk. His art is something Lan does well and could share with others. It is something he could share and take pride in!

I have often been a stickler for structure and routine, years ago learning structure curtailed chaos and calamity. Meltdowns (mine and his) were minimized when we didn’t deviate from the norm.

However, I now realize that when we dare to open ourselves us to new possibilities and ideas that we once shunned, good things are possible. I’ve learned that for Lan to grow as I pray he will, we are going to have to step out of the comfort zone more often (mine more so than his) and simply see what happens.

Camp Hope actually sparked hope in me for what possibilities the future can hold. I now realize I hadn’t been exactly looking toward the future as much as dreading it in regard to potential opportunities for my child.

Thankfully, the camp counselors once again ignited my faith in people, the kind of people who give kids like mine a chance to be the people God created them to be!

Lan returned from camp confident, optimistic and a wee bit taller than when he left. He readily let it be known that he wants to return next year. I quickly agreed that it is probably a good idea.

I received not only a content teenager on Saturday but a renewed hope and faith for the future as well.  

At the end of the day, Camp Hope made us both “happy campers!”

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:5 NIV

 

 

 

Hope!

“Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord”
Psalms 31:24 NKJV

“Blessed [is] the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD”
Jeremiah 17:7 NKJV

“rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”
Romans 12:12 NKJV

 

Independent!

Yesterday, my youngest who inspired this blog, was promptly deposited two hours away at Clemson University for a week of summer camp! This particular camp caters to kids on the spectrum giving them an opportunity to swim, fish, and enjoy all the beauty Lake Hartwell has to offer.

It was only a year ago when we were picking up my oldest from a university campus, that Lan asked “when will I get to go away to camp?”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” was the only thought that came to mind but I did manage to say, “when you are mature enough to go.”

Fast forward nine months and my husband finally found a camp that I did not have nightmares about counselors losing my child! After speaking to the coordinator in the spring, Lan did a “trial” weekend visit in March and had a grand time. His eagerness to go off on his own without an over-protective mother watching over him wasn’t lost on any of us.

His eagerness had not waned three months later as he bid my husband a hasty goodbye yesterday. I think the hubby was a bit wounded by Lan’s eagerness to see him leave!   blsd crepe myr 3

All of this makes me remember just how far we’ve come from the three-year old that hid behind me as we walked into a grocery store.  Lan is more and more eager to test the waters. He is less wary of strangers in social situations, more apt to say “hi!” He is definitely more willing to join in the fun.

My niece had her sweet sixteen party last month and I wondered if Lan would be sitting there bored all night and asking when he could go home. To our surprise Landon danced the entire night! When my husband called him over to sit for a minute, the other kids pulled him back on the floor. The best part of it was he had a wonderful time mingling, dancing and just being himself.

Having turned fifteen in May, we are seeing more and more of this independence break through. His fears are being replaced with a desire for freedom to find himself and not rely on us dictating his every move.

This also means I’ve got to let go more and allow him to try more, succeed or fail, if he is ever going to grow into the young man I have faith he can become.

I told him this week was an opportunity for him to prove how mature he is. Lan seemed up to the challenge. I think back on prayers answered slowly and oh so subtly.

And yes there have been those “high moments” like that sigh of relief when notified he did pass all of his classes this first year of high school. But some of the greatest miracles have been quiet. And still.

Those things like responsibility and initiative that we’ve harped on for years, we find that they’ve slowly…appeared.

Landon’s independence is the ultimate goal. I would so like to think that he will be just fine on his own when I’m no longer around to watch over him. I’d like to think that his older brother will not have to take on the role of the other parent,” years from now.

We’ve prayed and God has answered our prayers. My faith holds fast that my Father will answer many more.

So the next time Lan asks me when something is going to happen, I’ll do well to remember that with God anything can happen!

And for that I am grateful.

“Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23 KJV