For the past 55 days, or 7 weeks and 6 days, or 1 month and 24 days….we have been forced to slow down. Spend time with our loved ones. Isolate ourselves from the world. And while, it may not seem like a lot of time; trust me it is when you have a child with special needs and the only way they cope and function is with structured routines daily.
I sit here with tears streaming down my face and wonder if we will ever have a peaceful day with Tyson.
I love him but I hate when he destroys things just because. There is no talking about why we don’t break things.
This is the part of adhd and autism I hate. I hope as he grows older it will get better.
I’m tired of this.
Today, I’m praying thru the tears asking God what I am supposed to learn from this~I haven’t a clue right now.
I want our happy go lucky boy back. I miss him.
May you know how much Jesus loves you. He is always available-no appointments necessary.
Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith
Psalm 94:18-19 New Living Translation (NLT)
18 I cried out, “I am slipping!”
but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
19 When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
I am so thankful that Jesus Christ loves me enough to be there each and every time I cry out to Him. It doesn’t matter the hour or day, He is always with me. Guiding me by His Holy Spirit, teaching me to trust in the process of things in life and always holding me up when I don’t feel I can go on.
Our grandson, Tyson has come so far since he received his Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis in 2016 but he has also faced many other challenges along the way and we, too, have had to endure many sleepless nights and heartache over the needs he has. As most of you know, when he was diagnosed, he was nonverbal. He said two words. Ma and Da, not mama or dada, just those two single syllable words. Everything else was a guessing game and very frustrating for all of us. But with intense Speech Therapy and many hours poured out of learning sign language and initiating communication with pictures, he is on his way to becoming a great speaker some day. We rarely use pictures to communicate his wants and needs. Pictures are still used as visual supports to help him transition and prepare for what’s to come in our daily life. He still uses the sign for “more” when he wants something, along with asking for more. I am not sure if he thinks using the sign language along with speaking will actually get him more snacks, etc., but his memory is amazing! If he has seen something once, maybe twice, then he can recall it. We are even beginning to realize that he can read some things. Now we just have to figure out how to teach him to read in a way he understands. We will get there, I have no doubt.
I was always under the assumption, like most people, I suspect that if a person has a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) that meant they were too hyper to be focused on any one thing for very long. Boy, was I wrong! Although that is a part of the disorder, there is so much more to it than the term can express. Many people with ADHD have not only a hard time focusing, but can be overwhelmed rather quickly if they are given too much information at once. Their brains are wired differently than someone who doesn’t have ADHD and it takes them longer to process the information. Breaking tasks into steps is one way to help. There’s a great article in ADDitude Magazine that explains how a person’s brain with ADHD functions. Tyson has a combined type of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. He loses his focus very quickly unless it is something he loves. Right now he is very obsessive about any type of vacuum cleaner and ceiling fans. He can tell you almost anything about them. How to put them together or install one, along with how each part works, but his attention span for many other things only last for a few seconds to minutes. He is working with an ABA therapist to work on his focus issues and well as learning new ways to regulate his emotions in a safe and positive manner. And yes, he also takes ADHD medication to help him level out his emotions so he isn’t as aggressive and having a meltdown that lasts for 5 hours or more. There wasn’t much doubt, ADHD played a role in his behaviors, but until he started school and input could be given from their perspective, we had to wait for that diagnosis to be official.
The language delays have shown improvement as he learns to speak and listen to spoken word. He has delays in areas of receptive and expressive language. I think the most frustrating thing for him is that when he tries to express something to us, we do not always understand what he is trying to say and multiple times of repeating it, he becomes mad and then refuses to talk to us or allow us to explain why we aren’t understanding. He also has a difficult time processing what is said to him. We still need to use short, concise statements. “Pick up toys.” versus “You need to pick up your toys and put them away.” His beginning and middle sounds there has been quite a bit of improvement and now we start working on ending sounds. That is where I am finding the most difficulty. I know he doesn’t always want to keep repeating words over and over, and I know he gets frustrated, but I know I can’t give up on him doing it. I know he can, with everything else he has learned and will learn, it takes time.
Within the last week, I have really been praying and trying to understand God’s plan for Tyson. God knows everything that will happen in Tyson’s life and ours, too, but sometime’s I wish there was a guidebook or cheat sheet I could take a peek at to know what to do when the next thing we need to be concerned about crops up.
When he was diagnosed with Epilepsy, I was pretty upset with God. I couldn’t figure out how in the world, was it fair or right for this kindhearted child to have to deal with so much crap. But God reminded me that He is in control and that I have to trust Him. And I am not in control. I think for me, as a caregiver to a special needs child, I want to make life as easy as possible for him. I hate that he has seizures. I hate that we have to force him to take seizure medication every day because it doesn’t smell great and Tyson has said it doesn’t taste good either. I will be glad when he can swallow pills.
And just when I thought I could possibly know all there was to know about Epileptic seizures where he was concerned, in the past week, he has had two that were totally different from anything he has had before. So as I was jotting down notes in his seizure diary, and getting ready to let his medical team know so it could be noted in his chart; I had no idea what kind it was. He has had multiple tonic-clonic seizures in the past. Absence seizures. But these were different. They appeared to be absence but then progressed into another kind.
He was staring and zoned out, much like someone would be when they are “daydreaming”. That is a typical absence seizure. However, those never last for more than 30 seconds and that’s a long time for those. But then, he dropped what he was holding as his hand went limp and fell backward onto the couch cushion. No convulsions or rigid stiffness as in a tonic-clonic. He wasn’t jerking so I knew it was a myoclonic seizure. And his awareness was different too. He was unresponsive, which is normal for an absence seizure, but when it was over, he went right on doing what he had been and didn’t miss a beat.
I have learned since these last two seizure events that it was most likely a focal seizure (absence) that progressed into a generalized seizure (atonic and tonic). Both of these lasted 2-3 minutes each. There is just so much to remember and learn about Epilepsy and trying to remember each classification is difficult. I had prayed I wouldn’t have to become an expert in this area, but when you have a child with many special medical needs, you realize how quickly your brain can learn new things. According to my research, there are over 40 types of seizures. Some seizures can be a person fumbling or lip-smacking, acting as if they are drunk, stumbling around.
So, he went almost an entire year without a seizure. I was remarking to his mother how lucky he was to have medication that helps control them and then they happened. So in about five hours, we will be making a trip to our local children’s hospital for labs to be drawn so we can make sure his medication level in his system is where it needs to be. And if it is, and he still continues to have the seizure activity, we will have to meet with his medical team and determine if he needs another medication added to his already large group of meds daily, or if he needs to switch to something more effective. And there is no guarantee that will help or not.
He knows he takes medication for seizures, but he doesn’t really know what seizures are or what they might look like. When he’s ready, then we will show him videos but until then, we continue to pray that he will be lucky enough to outgrow them one day OR that they will find a cure.
He is resilient though. He still loves life. He doesn’t let anything get him down and if he can be positive with all he has to deal with and cope with, then so can I.
I know God will use everything Tyson goes through for His glory. And in reality, every struggle or trial we have in our lives, God can use for good. We may not understand why things happen the way they do and we may not always be happy about the circumstances we find ourselves in or our loved ones find themselves in, but we can be assured and know God will never leave us or abandon us. He created us. He loves us. He wants only the very best for us and with all things, His timing is always perfect.
Whatever you may be facing today, may I encourage you to turn to the One who gives you life and pray to him, asking for wisdom, discernment, and clarity to get through it all. He is always ready and waiting.
Jesus loves you! He can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith
Blessings until next time~Carlene
Genesis 1:27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Constantly aware. Ever vigilant. Exits secured. Dodging bullets (nerf bullets, toy trucks, sippy cups, shoes, metal toy cars, anything that can be used to target a person or glass screen, window or door). No bunker to run to for safety. No place to retreat to escape the torment. Physically or emotionally. The only place to retreat is Jesus, crying out for shelter and rest as tears tumble down your cheeks. Mentally trying to figure out your next battle plan, strategy to calm the attacks. Weeping because you are exhausted of this every single day. Thankful that 28 days ago, there was a truce of sorts. No battles, no lashing out, no rage at all. A day of peace with quiet, but sad because that was a day he wasn’t feeling good and just wanted to be held and cuddled. Wouldn’t let you let go, because he feels most secure when he’s close and held tight.
Sounds and noises we cannot hear, whether we have tuned them out because we have the ability to filter out noise or because we aren’t gifted to hear such quiet noises he can hear. The moment the gas furnace comes on before we can hear it before we can feel the hot air coming through the floor vents, he rushes over and is fearful, asking “what’s that noise?” but I hear nothing out of the norm. A few seconds later, I hear it chug to life and feel the heat. I assure him it’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just the furnace (in the basement far from where he hears it).
Investigator of all. The coffee pot full of HOT coffee. The toolbox with sharp tools, that can’t be locked. The dryer that is big enough to climb inside. The vacuum that might need a new belt or part. The stovetop where he can cook his play food. The step stool he tries to stand on to reach something that has been put up high, out of his reach. The tablet or smartphone that he probably knows how to operate better than us. There is never a time we can let him out of our line of vision. Because no matter how many times we say, STOP or DANGER he will still reach for them or climb on it.
Constantly moving, sits for YouTube videos and when he is in his car seat with a locked chest clip and buckle guard, so he can’t escape while the vehicle is moving or in his specialty stroller with a built-in torso vest and extra fasteners. Activities that once held his attention painting, playdough, putting puzzles together, coloring, matching sequences, matching objects in a memory game, no longer appeal to him.
Body slams into people and walls, gates and furniture. Climbing and jumping off of anything he can. Sliding down the stairs on his stomach face or feet first. The faster and harder the surface the better. Hitting and punching, pulling your hair, grabbing your eyeglasses off your face, biting, throwing his body on the floor, banging his head. All the while, trying to stop him from doing things to hurt himself or you. Holding him tight, hugging him, playing music, counting out loud, letting him swing, offering his trampoline, suggesting he spins himself around or jumps up and down. Let’s make a tent so you can hide in the darkness.
Houdini wanna-be. Made it past adult the other day, out the back door wearing a pull-up only. No clothing/coat or shoes. Hates clothing. It was 34 degrees. He didn’t get far this time, I was in the driveway. Doors are secured with locks at the top, every single door in the home, but where there’s a will, he always seems to find a way.
Sleep is either totally out or restless. There is no in between. If he goes to sleep too early in the evening (9pm), he’s full-on awake by 1 a.m. If he waits to go to sleep later in the evening, he’s too tired to function in the morning hours. Night terrors since birth. Some doctors say he will outgrow them. Cannot sleep alone due to health conditions. He co-sleeps with his mommy or me, so at least every other night, we can get some rest. Sleep only comes with the help of prescribed medication, otherwise sleep is like that of a newborn baby, constantly up and down all night.
Psalm 139:13-14 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Many prayers prayed throughout the day. Not to make him better, but to help him. Help him figure out why he acts the way he does, how to control his moods and impulses. Show us how to love him through it all in a calm manner. Help us figure out what sets off the explosions, the sensory overloads, the meltdowns, the anger. Help us know when he is in pain, help us to soothe the noise. Help us to respond and not react. Reactions are normally based on emotions and emotions ride very high when you feel like from the minute you wake up until you lay your head down for the night you live in a battle zone. Responding in love and compassion and words that lift up are always much better, even if it takes him a while to process it.
His brain is wired differently than ours. He sees the world differently. That’s okay. We need to learn how to teach in a way that he learns. In a way that he hears. Our expectations can’t be set so high that we set him up to fail before we even start. And we also can’t see our parenting skills as a failure. We know we are doing the best we can. He has one parent and two grandparents that care for him daily. That battle with him daily. That on occasion, we laugh and giggle with him daily.
We miss our happy-go-lucky boy. We miss the one that used to love to build block towers, play with toy cars on his toy race track, blow bubbles. We miss sitting and watching Paw Patrol and Blaze and the Stuart Little Movies over and over and over again.
We miss the child that used to love all types of food, raw vegetables, cooked ones, all types of meats, dairy products, foods that fueled our bodies. Now his main staples are chicken nuggets, chips, cookies, and juice. Occasionally a yogurt sneaks in. And cold cereal. We miss the child that used to drink his liquids the right way and now we must watch him drink and make him swallow it or he will spit it out on himself, you or the floor, table, wherever he can.
We miss the child that didn’t seem angry and upset all the time. We know he is still in there because we see glimpses of him.
We miss the days when he didn’t have to take medication unless he had a fever or an infection of some sort. Now he takes medications to prevent seizures from happening on a regular basis. Medication to help him fall asleep and stay asleep. Medication to help him focus and not be so aggressive. And I often wonder with all the medication he is taking, the constipation it causes him to have isn’t a source of the battles. We will find out more at the end of February when he goes to see a GI specialist.
When we are in public, we pray he will have a good time. No throwing himself on the floor. No knocking merchandise off the shelves. No meltdowns. But when he sees his developmental doctor, although we don’t want him to have problems, it would be nice if just once they could visualize the outbursts of aggression so they could understand it’s not just him having a bad day. All of us have bad days from time to time. Days we want to stay in bed, pull the covers over our heads and skip participating in life that day.
BUT, even with all of this, we are very grateful for how far he has come. Two 1/2 years ago there were no words. No way for him to communicate with us at all. And during this time he has had to endure extensive speech therapy every week. In-home therapies.
Soon, he will be starting ABA services. In hopes that they can reach him and help him and help us to live a little bit more of a peaceful existence.
We will continue to fight the battles and strategize the best way to live our lives with this amazing little boy. He is truly a blessing in our lives. We would never want to imagine him not with us, no matter how hard it can be.
Having a child with special needs requires a lot of perseverance and a whole lot of patience and never-ending unconditional love. And a grandma like me, that isn’t afraid to pray over him daily that Jesus will help him to understand the world around him and that the world will understand and love him just as much as we do.
In four days, his back to school will resume. The winter break has been brutal. His routines thrown out the window. And it will take him a couple of weeks to get back into that routine. Most families cherish winter and spring breaks, a time to refresh and rejuvenate and all I have been praying for is when the day comes to put him back on the bus and sit down with my feet up for a couple of hours and just rest in the peace and quiet.
So, the next time you hear someone say that being a special needs parent is much the same as being a combat soldier, their not downplaying the role of a soldier in combat, but relating the stress levels are just as high. If you know of a family that has special needs individuals, ask if you can help. If you are a special needs family, don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.
Love one another, through the good, the bad and the ugly. Show grace when you feel like you’ve failed. You are doing the best you can. Seek the Lord and His guidance. PUSH-pray until something happens.
Mark 9:22-24 New Living Translation (NLT)
22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into the water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Tomorrow is a new day. A clean slate. I cling to Hope.
Jesus loves you more than you will ever know! Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlways#HaveFaith