Tag Archives: special needs

Senior Year!

Believe it not, my inspiration for this blog returns to high school at the end of the month!  It will be his Senior Year. And boy is he looking forward to it.

Lan got a preview of what to expect last year as his older brother just graduated.

Unlike his brother, Lan is very interested in enjoying every single perk Senior Year brings. He has already given thought to his Senior Night for Marching Band. He has said in no uncertain terms that he is going to prom. He even gave our relatives the date for his graduation when they were here last month to celebrate with his brother!

Lan intends to be just as celebrated and rightly so.  Even I’m amazed at how much he has grown and how far he has come.

I began writing this blog shortly after Lan entered high school. I was worried and nervous about what the future would bring.

I wasted a lot of time worrying. God had it all worked out, even though both Lan and I endured a few growing pains.

We’ve worked through bullies, biology and IEPs.

Lan worked extremely hard to earn As and Bs.

He is looking into colleges. I’m exploring vocational programs.

I can’t for one moment see what awaits us at the end of his senior year but we still press forward yielding little room for doubt.

senior year God autism and me 2 6-2016We may not know what the future holds but Lan is determined to work as hard as necessary to meet all of his goals. I have faith he will accomplish whatever he puts his mind to.

He proved he could handle the rigor of marching band.

He’s made friends.

Lan is no longer the little grasshopper I was so fearful for years ago.

He is now an outgoing teenager, no longer shying away from the fun or the noise.

I know many people who read this blog have kids younger than mine and high school seems so far away. But it is coming, and if there is any bit of advice I can give, it is hold on to hope.

No matter what the teachers, counselors, psychologist, or psychiatrist may think, it is only God who has the final say.

Keep your mind open for miracles.

Trust God.

Go with your gut.

These things have served me well.

When I finally stopped trying to orchestrate every single detail, God brought us the perfect teachers, counselors and even classmates that would bless us along our way.

Lan’s senior year will be unlike his brother’s. Lan’s journey has more curves in it. We can’t see what lies around the bend.

But that’s just as well because we have learned that God is most present we don’t see Him. We will walk forward in faith and trust that He is there.

And God is there for you as well, if you allow Him.

God may not have “cured” the autism, but He has surely “cured” me.

I can rest now.

Abide.

And I look forward to Senior Year.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

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Anticipation!

“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 years past, now would be about the time of year my brain went into overdrive striving, trying and failing to prepare my youngest for the slew of standardized exams necessary to proceed to the next grade level. Despite all of my worry, there was absolutely nothing I could do to help Lan with those exams.

It was simply out of my control.

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I realize how very much in “life” is out of my control. When I was younger I was taught if you “do the right thing” you will end up with a “good result.”

That hasn’t always proven true.

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to “bad” people.

There is seemingly no rhyme or reason as we all navigate very distinct paths in life.

Some “stuff” like autism, cancer, ALS and Alzheimer’s come upon us out of nowhere and debunk any illusion that we control our own lives.

The problem I had with this is that I expected to control my life. I sought to plan, plot and otherwise chart my destiny. And I expected to do so with minimal obstacles in my path to “success.”

Little did I know how years later my entire illusion of “life” would crash and burn. There was a small window in my life where I had to process two births, two deaths, two cross country moves, a new job and finally that pervasive non-developmental disorder diagnosis which was the equivalent of “wait and see.”

Wait and see!?

That’s what the psychiatrist said as we left his office with more questions than we arrived with.

Worry became second nature. What if this? What if that? What in the world are we going to do? I felt broken trying to hold together the fragments of my life that kept shifting away from me. Only when I gave up and surrendered to God could I breathe again and live.

Not exist, but live!

Now the uncertainties that would haunt me as Lan talks of college (college!) are where, how and at what cost? How is he ever going to survive the “real” world?

My answer now nearly fourteen years later is again, “wait and see.”

However, I now “wait and see,” with optimism. I anticipate a good result without the logistical nightmare of trying to “fix” everything that is imperfect in my life.

Just like in the old days with those exams, I couldn’t help Lan. Yet, God did place in our lives wonderful teachers, tutors and support staff that could!

anticipation 2015 atsm blog.jpg panzy 2I’ve seen God place the right people in the right positions to advocate for our child. God provided solutions for high-school years prior in elementary school!

I simply sit back in amazement over how far God has not brought us! Why would He remove His favor from us now? 

I am no longer constrained by fears for the future.  I trust Him and let go.

So I “fret not” and “fear not” over my lack of “control.” God does a far better job with “me” than I ever did.

Fear is anticipating the worst.

Faith is anticipating the best!

can control which one I allow to dictate my thoughts and actions.

Which do you choose?

Face Forward!

“Don’t let something in the past trip you up!”

I read those words on a church sign driving home last night. Not scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

Sometimes we can allow a loss to make us lose sight of all we have gained.

At other times we would do well to change things up a bit and break away from the familiar and open ourselves up to something fresh and new.

Just because something was, doesn’t mean it always will be.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5 NKJV

In the past, I was plagued with fear. Much of that concerned Lan’s future. He always struggled in school. The constant struggle was something I’d become accustomed to.

This year, through hard work and lots of prayer, has been different.

Yet, I found some old mindsets could still creep in. Doubt. Uncertainty.

I could become fixated on old struggles of just scraping by to earn the required credits.

Freshman biology with the toughest teacher in the school was a struggle. It is still fresh in my mind.

When I met with his guidance counselor last week, I was informed that chemistry was designated as his science for next year when Lan will be a junior.

Instead of looking forward, I was momentarily caught in the anxiety of the past. Lan’s study habits and grades have vastly improved. Yet, chemistry is unforgiving. It is absolute. Abstract.

I asked, solemnly, “Is chemistry required to graduate?”

The counselor’s answer was “No.”

Freshman biology and the physical science Lan is currently taking will suffice for his “required” sciences. He can finish high school taking zoology and anatomy both of which will also help him with graphic design.

If I hadn’t asked, next year could have been very frustrating.

In the past, I wouldn’t have thought to ask if there was an alternative. I would have just accepted the status quo. And struggled.

“you do not have because you do not ask,” James 4:2 NKJV

Sometimes instead of allowing our experiences to make us wiser, we can allow them to encase us in fear. Fear paralyzes. It doesn’t allow us to look forward toward a positive future.  DSC_9566

Now, I’m motivated to explore opportunities as the nation slowly realizes there is a vast need for resources and alternatives in higher education.

One friend who is a university professor informed me there are individualized education programs for college students with special needs. Accommodations for people on the spectrum are increasing.

Instead of my “ideas” about the future, I am learning to trust God and allow Him to reveal His plan for Lan moment by moment.

This isn’t easy for me, but most things that are best for us are never easy. Or quickly revealed.

They require faith.

And in my case, the ability to leave past disappointments, struggles and preconceived notions behind me.

“Face forward.” That’s what Lan said to me last week. Not exactly scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

 

 

 

 

Good Breaks!

While most of the nation has barely been in school a month, my kids are on their “fall break.” They have nine days of mostly school free time. Families that haven’t headed down south to Florida or up to the mountains are accommodating kids who just want to “hang out.”

This was easier years ago when my kids were much younger. Both boys had the same crew of friends and things were far less complicated.

But as they grew older the boys paths and friends diverged. Cam’s friends were kind enough to tolerate his little brother but for the most part Lan’s interests no longer coincide with theirs. His childhood friends are now interested in those things average teenagers do…Facebook, texting, socializing with other teens.

A while ago, I can’t even remember when, I prayed that Lan would find a friend who actually “got him.” His brother has a tight posse of boys he talks to and hangs with. A circle of friends he can relax with and just be himself.

Lan hasn’t had that for years. Until now.

A couple of months ago a kid from Lan’s graphic arts class walked into the grocery store as we walked out. This kid just came up to Lan and they just start talking very enthusiastically. They went back and forth very engaged in their conversation.

I’m thinking to myself “who is this!?”

His mom seemed as surprised as I was. Apparently, the young man mentioned Lan to his mom before and she suggested they get together some time.

Well today was the day.

This young man came over and the two of them scarfed down pizza, chips and soda. They played video games for hours. With each other.

Just like “regular” kids.

But this time Lan was free to just be himself.

There was no pressure to conform. He wasn’t self-conscious about saying the wrong thing or what someone else would think. He just chilled out with a friend who accepts him as he is.

Lan’s friend has a few “quirks” of his own. In fact, they share some of the same “quirks.” They had a blast!

There have been years of school breaks that have come and gone without Lan having a friend exclusively his own. His brother would go off to hang out with his BFFs and Lan no longer complained to tag along.

But I always knew Lan longed for a friend of his own. Someone who didn’t tolerate him but could celebrate him!

Sometimes I pray to God for so many things I forget the prayer until the answer is staring me in the face. Literally.

And boy did God deliver!

This young man lives five minutes from our house. He is well-mannered. His mom and I hit it off. We are both on the same parenting page.

Sometimes we are so fixed on meeting IEP goals, surviving “common core” and juggling all the other aspects of life, it’s nice to  every once in a while catch a good break!

It wasn’t anything I orchestrated. God just delivered!

This time when Lan’s teachers ask about his Fall break, he will readily say he had a good one!

And I will too.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7 NKJV

 

Evolution!

God teaches me things in the strangest of ways.

Which brings me to cats.

I am not a “cat person.” Even though my house is home to one lucky indoor cat, named Lucky.

Seriously.

I feed the Aristocats on my side porch, “Rocky” and three kittens in exchange for not eating my birds, At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

“Rocky” is the meanest of three sisters that called my abode home last year. She hissed at us when we put their food out!

I wasn’t surprised when she left for the wild leaving her sisters behind. Out of the original four kittens that once called us “home” I just knew she would never stick around.

One year later, Rocky has kittens in my yard, Shows you how much I know!

Rocky was not an ideal mother. She abandoned the runt. She bullied her litter mate “Gracie.”

Eventually, Gracie tired of her sisters shenanigans and camped out on the porch in spite of her. Gracie even nursed Rocky’s abandoned kitten.

Rocky merely looked on, unimpressed!

I don’t think Rocky was feeling the whole parenthood thing. I think her newfound responsibilities were overwhelming.

We’re not quite sure just what happened but poor Gracie died. Yet, shortly thereafter I found Rocky nursing both her sister’s kitten and the kitten she abandoned!   DSC_2934 (3)

Rocky evolved into a good mother.  I’ve seen her licking unwilling kitties clean!

She matured and does what needs to be done.

Maybe Rocky didn’t understand her role before. Maybe grief for her sister stirred something in her. Regardless, her mothering skills improved.

I think this cat family found a place in my heart because I can relate to Rocky.

I’m not sure I always dealt with Lan’s diagnosis “correctly.” In the beginning, I didn’t have a clue.  But like, Rocky, I eventually got the hang of it.

I’m no longer weary and afraid. The uncertainty and my stress are much much less!

I’ve evolved. I understand my role better. I’m probably a bit more nurturing to my “kitten.”

Looking back, God did the same for me. God engineered my evolution so I can be the mother I need to be.

Some lessons God reveals when we take time to “see” them and “hear” Him.

This isn’t the first time God has used a cat to teach me how less than ideal situations can work out unexpectedly.

And I suspect it won’t be the last.

While We Wait…

There are times in life when we have a dream, vision or even a promise that we are waiting for God to fulfill in our lives. However as we wait for the manifestation we may not always wait with a faith-filled expectation. Our sense of urgency doesn’t always correlate to God’s timing or His deliverance.

Our determination to stay in faith often wanes with the time required for our loved ones to reach their full bloom. Progress isn’t always made when we expect it. We may experience setbacks and false starts. Time spent waiting, disappointments, and unfair circumstances may move us to manipulate situations as our trust breaks.

Or, we can become bitter and angry when we are forced to face the unexpected.

God is faithful in the waiting period. In times of complete silence or when you are at your lowest point is often when God is working on your behalf!  DSC_0376 (2)

The book of Genesis tells the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied upon, tossed into prison and spent years waiting for the fulfillment of his dream.  Joseph was faithful during his period of waiting. He knew that God was with him. Joseph worked faithfully in his adversity serving others. Joseph was faithful to God through repeated temptation. He didn’t become bitter. Joseph was eventually delivered from a pit into the palace!

Sometimes God allows us to wait through “low” times to prepare us for what is ahead. Waiting develops character and tenacity. Some blessings we ask for we aren’t able to correctly manage…yet. We must not lose faith that God does hear us.

Joseph endured his period of waiting with the right attitude. I can’t say I’ve always done the same. However, I am learning to trust God and His timing more than ever.

God can answer my prayers more efficiently than the meager results of my own misplaced efforts. My prayers aren’t just about me or my kids. We are only pieces in an infinite puzzle that only God can put together. I can’t count how many times Lan’s teachers have said they have learned so much from him.

I don’t always understand what is going on. But I do trust and know that despite my frustrations God provides the blessing when it is needed most.  

I have prayed certain things about my children’s growth and development not knowing what would happen or what to expect. Things haven’t always looked good. Yet, faithfully God and only God turned situations completely around! 

DSC_0379 (2)What God has done for me He can surely do for you. If you trust Him…and are willing to wait.  

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalms 27:14 NKJV

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)