Monthly Archives: April 2019

Tender Mercies

Mercies New Every Morning

Just as the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, I am finding my compassion and mercy must be just as new every day and the events from the previous day must be filed in the crevices of my brain as another day done.

It is so easy to hold onto hurts, hangups, and insecurities and let them fester in our minds. If we dwell on events that have happened days before or years before, we are not living as Jesus Christ wants us to.

Today was a difficult day in our home. For all of us. It didn’t start out that way, most days never do but throw in a child that can meltdown in a moment, and heated words and tempers flared toward one another and you usually have a recipe for disaster. I was reminded of this as my husband attempted to usher our grandson into the house after he climbed down the steps of his school bus with little success. He’s a runner and he loves being outside. After many months of  a cold winter, it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to come into the house, but not only is he not old enough to be outside alone, he has a tendency to run as soon as he can and chasing him around the house or down the street to catch him and encourage him to come inside is less than ideal. It usually requires one of us carrying him in, kicking and screaming, literally.  And as usual, if there are cars passing by or people they may think he is being hurt or abducted. In today’s world, there is always a fear that someone will think that.  And the stares are just as bad as if someone actually says something. Nothing was said, but there were stares and immediately you are on the defense. Even if you don’t want to be. No one, unless they live with an autistic child, can understand the stares or unspoken comments just lingering there.

While we try to calm him and explain why he can’t come outside, the person passing by makes her way to our front door. I opt to be the person to open the door and am ready to matter-of-factly let this person know, everything is ok; he lives here. When she just comes to tell me, I totally understand what you are going through. My child is autistic. At that moment all defensiveness subsides and I am so thankful she chose to come back and speak those words. She stood on my porch for many minutes and we talked about how difficult it is and shook hands knowing that she is not alone in this journey either.

That one event changed the course of our day for all of us. Everyone was on edge for the rest of the day. But we didn’t have to be. We could have chosen to let that moment go and continue with our day; however, no one told our grandson that it was over. He managed to stay in his defiant mood for most of the day. Nothing was going as he wanted, so, therefore, he did what he does. He screamed. He cried. He slammed himself into the wooden gates that separate rooms. He threw a tantrum in the vehicle because he wasn’t getting his way.  I’ll admit there are times like today that I cry inwardly because I know that some of it he can control and other moments the overload is just too much and that is the only way he can react because he is lost inside himself.

We go through this so much, that it is part of our normal. We don’t like to go through it, but some days we get through with showing mercy and grace.  And then there are days like today when a rough day seems to hit all at once and nothing said or done, makes a difference. So I pray, and I seek the Lord. I pray for wisdom and clarity, give me the right words Lord. Help me; help us.

His routine on Tuesday’s is so different from his other days of the week, that right now, Tuesday’s and the weekend days are the hardest. On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, these are his days of joy. He goes to ABA therapy in the afternoon and he loves going and working on new things and learning new ways. But not on Tuesday. On Tuesday he goes to Speech Therapy. He has been going to speech therapy for over 2 1/2 years.  I know there are days he doesn’t want to go. He wants a break. And I will admit, there are days I don’t want to have to go to one more therapy session, but it has helped him so much to develop his language and speak, that we won’t quit or give up or give in.

Three years ago, he didn’t speak. He was nonverbal. He didn’t make eye contact or engage with others. He was in his own little world and very rarely were we let in. Now he wants us to play with him. He loves learning. Putting puzzles together. Counting and reciting his ABC’s. He loves school and although he is developmentally behind his peers, he is catching up. And one day he will get there. I cling to that hope. I cling to the day that his words will be clear and communication will no longer be a problem. The funniest thing is that when he is mad, his words are very concise and clear. It’s only when he gets in a hurry to tell us something, that we struggle with understanding his speech.

We were concerned about how he would react to his new baby sister. Would he hurt her? Would he understand that she is fragile? Would he love her or at least like her? We had nothing to worry about.  He worries when she cries and he tries to soothe her by talking to her or giving her a pacifier. He is so in love with her. And yes, we still have to watch him like a hawk, because there have been times he wants to pick her up from her bassinet and soothe her cries. He loves holding her and rocking her. I know he will always be a great big brother to her and how lucky she is.

As he became sleepy tonight, he made his way to each of us and in a small tearful voice told each one of us he loves us. And as we hugged him, we reassured him we love you too buddy.  Bless his heart. He doesn’t like having bad days either and at least he knows that our love will never change, no matter what his behavior is. He taught me a lot about forgiveness, by saying those three little words.

God’s mercies are new every morning. Ours should be too. We can’t change what happens in the past, whether it’s 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago, but we can change how we respond.

Now, as I sit here and I watch him sleeping, he looks so peaceful. The peace we had hoped would be part of our day, is, just not as we had thought it would be. He’s all boy. He wants to play outdoors, run wild and have fun. He likes picking up sticks and breaking them in half, He tries to help rake the yard and clear all the sticks that have fallen over the winter and early spring storms. Yes, it has made more work for us, but he tries. He hates being indoors, but being outdoors requires preparation. There has to be several of us with him as there are no fences or barriers from him going into the street and he still has no sense of danger.

My challenge to you is this: the next time you are out in your neighborhood or at the store or a local restaurant, don’t be the first to assume that a child is out of control and parents need to take care of that child. They may be doing the best they can with the situation they are given. And remember, God gives us grace daily. Not because we have earned it, but simply because He loves us.

Our charge by the Lord is to love Him and love others. My prayer is that I show the love of Jesus to all I meet and when I fail, grace and mercy will carry me through.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You ~ right now and always. Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

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Acceptance Is Needed

Genesis 1:27 New Living Translation (NLT)
27 So God created human beings[a] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

April is Autism Awareness Month, but what I propose is let’s change it to Autism Acceptance month!   Awareness is okay, but acceptance is what is needed.  There are so many autistic individuals that hear ‘there isn’t a cure’ or ‘we don’t know what causes autism’ and for many individuals on the autism spectrum, they don’t want to be cured; they want to be recognized as individuals who have neurological differences and their brains are wired differently, but there isn’t anything wrong with them.  And guess what, they’re right. autism symbol

Tyson is still the same boy we loved before he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has had many challenges and he will, most likely, face challenges as he grows older because of the autism, but having this neurological disorder doesn’t make him less than someone without it, it just means he needs extra help.

When Tyson was diagnosed in July of 2016, he was diagnosed as level 2, meaning he would require substantial support. He has made great strides through intensive home and outpatient therapy, preschool and has added ABA to his list of supports. He no longer needs PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or sign language to communicate as he has found his voice. We are so thankful for and happy for him that he has. Communication is a big component of Autism. Some people are nonverbal indefinitely, other’s use visual supports and sign language or ACC devices to communicate.

sample pecs

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an umbrella term that encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language.

Social cues is another big area where many autistic individuals have a difficult time. Depending on the individual they may learn how to ‘act’ like their peers and try to blend in; for others slang language or sarcasm is totally lost on them and they don’t understand why you can’t say what you mean, instead of ‘beating around the bush.’ Just be straight forward and say it! For Tyson, he is a very social person when he knows the people, but when we are in a waiting room or a store, he tends to hide and shy away from people. Too many people cause him to be afraid or have anxiety. Even places we go all the time, like outpatient speech therapy.

Sensory processing comes into play for a lot of individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Everyone is different. Bright lights, loud noises, the hum of fluorescent lights, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, lots of people talking in a restaurant, too many people in one place –  these are just some of the things people can be overwhelmed by and if they become overstimulated or overloaded, a meltdown may occur.

Our Autism Home

Meltdowns are totally different than temper tantrums. A temper tantrum is a reaction to not getting something you want and a person throwing a fit looking for a reaction or response to it.  A meltdown is a neurological response to overload and they have no control over it happening. A meltdown looks different for every individual.

Stimming is a term that most people don’t understand or understand the reason why many autistic individuals stim. Lots of neurotypical people stim but usually in a more quiet way.  For instance, if you are the type of person that gets nervous in a meeting at work, you may tap your foot or click your pen. But most NT people know when to stop. For autistic individuals, stimming is a way to self-soothe when everything becomes too much to handle. Some people flap their hands, jump up and down, spin around, hum, make noises only known to them and their loved ones, dance and the list goes on. For every individual on the spectrum, there are just as many different ways to stim. The only time I have stopped Tyson from any particular stim is if he will hurt himself. Then redirection is necessary.

The one saying that holds true in the Autism community is “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” There are families with multiple people that have autism and not everyone in the family will deal with the same challenges or respond the same way.  Each case is individual.

The last thing I want to say about this today is please be aware that parents/grandparents/caregivers of children/adults of autism don’t have all the answers, they have the answers that work for their specific human. And sometime’s they don’t even have those. It is very exhausting to fight a system to get services, some due to long waiting lists or fighting with the insurance company to approve it or finding services that will be approved.

There are many different types of therapies that can help people on the spectrum, but not every person needs every therapy available and not every therapy available helps every person. To date, there are no medications for autism. There are many co-morbid conditions that some people with autism have, such as ADHD or anxiety/depression and there are medications for those; as well as many holistic approaches to help people.

The Lord God created all of us.  None of us are exactly alike. All of us are “wired” the way He chose for us to be. Please think about that the next time you meet an individual with who is Autistic.

I know I have only touched on the basics of Autism, but this is only the first of the month.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHave Faith

Many blessings~Carlene