In the Midst of it All

This week has been emotionally exhausting. For several years now, as we live with autism being part of our everyday lives and trek through the ups and downs, I have been sharing how tantrums are not the same as meltdowns. This week has taught me that no matter how much I try to share a glimpse of what a meltdown is or isn’t, there is no way that you can possibly teach others what one is unless they have personally witnessed or experienced it themselves.

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I can educate others on the differences. I can post pictures on the autism page I manage on Facebook. I can tell others what we go through, but until you weather the storm and watch them unfold, there just isn’t a way to truly get it. I never did. I thought I understood. I thought I knew even after reading different articles, posts from others going through the same thing, hearing about them, but there is no way for anyone to grasp the degree of how emotionally and physically exhausting they are unless you experience them firsthand. And truly, I pray daily that I never have to go through one again.

I will. We will. It’s inevitable. I know as Tyson gets older and learns a coping mechanism and self-regulating strategies, along with all of us learning what the triggers are and techniques to help him get through them, they may lessen and maybe even stop.

Today we are on our third or fourth day in a row of multiple meltdowns per day. The one commonality is that he is happy and playing and wants to do something and he is told, “no.”  Telling him, “no, not right now” or “no, you can’t have that (fill in the blank, it could be a toy, a snack, whatever it is at the moment)” and it starts out as a simple child tantrum.  He becomes angry and cries. And we ignore him, hoping he will settle down and go on, realizing that just because he didn’t get what he wanted, crying and throwing himself on the floor isn’t going to make it so. But for him, once he starts crying, it sets off something inside of him where he becomes very intense and inconsolable. No amount of trying to hold him close and hug him or redirect works.  In these moments, he is lost within himself. As the meltdown increases, his behavior goes from simply crying out, not getting his way to hitting, throwing himself on the floor, running and banging into the walls, furniture, others, trying to bite you anywhere he can to inflict pain, pain that he is feeling, I presume.  And the only way to get him to help him calm down is to forcibly hold him and hug him tightly, but beware, because then he is closer to you and the headbutting and biting are easier to do.

When he was smaller, holding on to him as he stiffens his body or tried to wriggle out of your hold on him, was harder for him to do; now as he as grown (3 1/2 feet tall and 50 pounds), he is a force to be reckoned with.  He has always had superhuman strength, but when he is in the midst of a meltdown, it is quantified. I joke with others that I don’t need to go to the gym for strength endurance because I have my own little personal trainer that helps me with that.  We can’t leave him to flail around on the floor because he doesn’t care in those moments if he hurts himself or hurls items at us. And that is not acceptable. We also know that yelling at him to stop is futile. By this time, it’s not that he isn’t listening to us, he’s past that point and isn’t hearing us.

Jesus gives me the strength to hold onto him, usually facing away from me, because it’s harder for him to aim his head toward mine. As I become the human papoose to restrain him until he starts to wear down, I silently weep, because I don’t how many minutes it will take to reach him. When he finally starts to relax and cries out for me or his mommy or papaw to hold him, we know he is calming down. He is finally back with us.

He can’t be put in timeout, although this has been suggested because he does not sit still for any reason. So, earlier today I put myself in timeout. As he sat with his mommy, after melting for 30 minutes, I withdrew from the room, just around the corner, locked the safety gate, and sat on the stair steps out of his view and I wept. I prayed through my tears.

I know Tyson is a gift from God. He is truly a blessing in our lives. Even in the meltdowns and they have been more than I care to admit lately. I know that there is a reason for everything that happens in our lives. And I also know that being an autism family, Tyson doesn’t need fixing. He isn’t broken. His brain is wired differently than ours and we expect so much from him to live in our world and conform to the world’s standards of how he should act and behave. I know that he sees things differently and I love that about him, he has taught me so many joys that I take for granted. I just always expect the Sun and Moon to be shining in the sky at the right time of day, but each time he sees them, his heart is full of gratitude that God gives him the gift each day.

Zechariah 13:9 New Living Translation (NLT)
9 I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

As we walk through his meltdowns, I liken it to the firestorms of life that God allows us to go through so He can refine and purify us into the people He created us to be. Yes, they are painful. No, they are not pleasant for any of us. But they are necessary. Everything each of us experiences during the midst of these teaches us to be a little more compassionate, a lot more understanding and out of the ashes, love for one another rises.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~in this moment! Jesus can turn any mess into a message of hope. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

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If You Could Do Anything, What would it Be?

The other night in a women’s Bible Study group, the question was posed ” If you could do anything you wanted, financially there was no limit and God had paved the way and gone before you, what would you do??

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.- Deuteronomy 13:4 NLT

There were a lot of great answers and I selfishly said, I would want to go away and take a break! And at that moment, I meant it.

But I have been giving that question a lot of thought since that night because we all have hopes and dreams, things that we think are way too big or too impossible and I realize that with God, NOTHING is impossible.

27 And Jesus, looking upon them, said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” – Mark 10:27 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

I believe that sometime’s we get so caught up in the day to day busyness of our lives, no matter what that busyness looks like and we store away our hopes and dreams for ‘when the time is right’ or ‘when I have enough money’ or ‘when our kids are grown’ or ‘once I get that promotion’ and I know that is not how God intended for us to live.  Always thinking that we have to wait until everything is perfect before we try something new, fulfill a lifelong dream, reach for an unreachable desire in our hearts.

I love ministering to others by sharing my story, here, and in person of how my life has been touched by Jesus Christ. I love encouraging others and sharing what it is like to walk by faith and not by sight. My heart is full when friends ask me to pray for them or a situation or share the Word with them.

Follow Your Heart

God will use anyone how He chooses.  The fact is we have to be willing and we have to be obedient to His call. Many people hear from the Lord in a number of ways, and those ways are just as different as there are people to hear Him. I feel a nudge in my spirit to share a message or word He gives. And sometime’s I understand what I am to do and I don’t always obey because fear sets in.  Fear is a tool of the enemy.  The devil will use any tool in his power to stop me in my tracks. Doubt may creep in and I worry more about how I will look, and what people will think, more than caring about The One that nudges me to go and do His work. Sometimes it doesn’t have to make any sense to me.  But I still need to do it.  Walking in obedience to the Lord should be the easiest thing for any of us to do, but many times the chaos of our lives shuts out His voice.  Until we think we need Him and then we wonder why we can’t hear Him. He is always with us and always waiting to connect with us through every part of our lives and always listening.

I still don’t have a solid answer for what would I do if money was no object and God had blessed my vision for what my lifelong dream would be, so I will be still in the waiting and seek his guidance. I do have thoughts, but nothing concrete. I can say, without a doubt it would be geared toward people that have special needs due to a medical/disability diagnosis, but exactly what they type of ministry would it be, I don’t have all the details yet, just a burning fire within me to help these groups of people and it really isn’t any wonder since I love and care for someone that is very special to me and has very special needs.

I would like to encourage you to pursue your dreams. Find something you love and go do it! Because God will give you all the tools you need to fulfill your wildest and crazy dreams; He places those desires in your heart.  It will take grit, determination, and perseverance and there may be times you think you got it all wrong, but this is where your faith comes in.  Faith is believing even when you can’t see!

I do know from my own point of view, I’ve had a tugging at my heart to do something for Special Needs Individuals, that isn’t out there yet-I just have no idea what it is at the moment. And more than just the little guy in our lives that requires so much.

I learned a long time ago, that if you are doing what you love, you will excel at it; if you are working just to earn a paycheck and you hate it; it’s not where you are supposed to land forever.  It may just be a stopping point along your path, to help you grow in an area that needs growth.  God doesn’t have us anywhere to waste our time.  There is always a purpose. And when the time is right, God will have you move and go.  Don’t fear the going. Trust in your Creator.  He knows everything about you.  Everything.

Ministry-serving others can happen anywhere. In our homes, the grocery store, a foreign land, in our day to day with others. We are called to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and His story.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You ~ right where you are ~ in every moment of your lives! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings ~ Carlene

Drowning

Psalm 143:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]

7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You, I entrust my life.

 

HelpMe

 

I am a strong person. I am told that all the time by my friends and family; even people I just met and have yet to form good relationships with. But what no one seems to realize is that I am strong, only because I allow Jesus to be my strength. My strength fails in comparison to that of Jesus.

I believe that all of us have an inner strength we are gifted through the Holy Spirit and it takes patience and requires a trust to tap into that inner strength.  It doesn’t come unless it is put to the test.  I know God will give me everything I need to succeed in every task I am given.  I know He will not set me up to fail. He is good. All the time.

Just as we can become physically exhausted and need rest and rejuvenation, I know my spirit can become emotionally and mentally exhausted and I also need to take time to rest and rejuvenate.  That type of rest and rejuvenation is different for everyone.  And I also know, for me personally, if I do not take the necessary time to rest and rejuvenate my spirit, I feel as if I am drowning and my Lifeguard walks on water, how insane is that? For me to feel as if I am drowning.

I am a “people” person. I am a nurturer, and if I must admit it, I want to be a “fixer” or “people pleaser”. Not in the sense that I have any skill or talent that I can fix anything because Jesus is the only one that changes the hearts and minds of people. I can only make suggestions based on my personal experience and observation.  I am much like my father, who loved being around other people and never met a stranger. I guess that qualifies me as an extrovert, personality wise. Striking up conversations with people, getting to know them, gaining a personal connection makes me come alive.

Knowing all of that, this morning hit me so hard, because as our sweet grandson wanted me to listen to him, about just one more vacuum and how cool they are, I became very frustrated and a little bit annoyed. I could care less, if I hear just one more thing about vacuums, truth be told.  I know I will hear about them though.  He can’t get enough, ever. And I know he can’t control those thoughts. Our brains are wired so differently. I only wanted to go back to bed and shut the world out for the day. Rest, listen to music and some podcasts, fuel up.

Taking time for myself, shouldn’t make me feel guilty or ashamed that I want some quiet. Some peace. And I shouldn’t have to feel bad if I don’t want to hear about it anymore. The guilt in my heart is from the world. Not God. It’s from the fixer in me, that says, “suck it up” you can make it through today, and tomorrow and the next day.

I wonder why we feel so guilty when we want to spend time with ourselves, no agenda or plan, just be. In the Word, God tells us to “be still and know that I am God”. Being still seems so unnatural now.  I used to love being still and days like today I miss those moments. Explaining that to anyone, usually brings a response of “what’s wrong?” And I want to know why does anything have to be wrong? Some days, everyone needs time to themselves, without having to leave the comfort and haven of their own home.

I feel guilty when I think of just me and my needs. How crazy is that? I know it is a very necessary need. I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I feel like I am letting people down if I am not doing everything considered necessary to keep life on an even keel, but I realized today that if I do not take the time for me, the ship will sink and we will all drown.

No one can be an effective teacher or role model in life if they don’t take time to just be.

So, as hard as it is for me, the person that likes to fix things, today I have to take time for me. Drowning, quitting, giving up these are not options. Resting should be the easiest task I have to do, but it’s so foreign to me, I am not sure what resting even looks like.  I guess I will have to keep working on the resting part.

Matthew 11:28 New International Version (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Lord Jesus, here I am. You know how weary I am right now. I claim rest in your name and praise you for being the Savior I need. Everyday. Thank you for taking my burdens and bearing them on the cross. Thank you for giving me life. Please help me find the balance I need to not feel so worn. In Jesus name, Amen.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! Right where you are at this moment in time.

He is always here for you, always! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

Cry Out to Jesus

I’ve been crying out to Jesus in despair for several hours. Living with autism isn’t for the faint of heart. In the last four hours, I’ve been spit on numerous times, hit repeatedly, had blocks, toy cars, a toy cash register and anything else he could find to throw at me. My hair has been twisted and pulled, and stabbed with a fork repeatedly and raising my voice doesn’t help and letting the tears and sobs come doesn’t either.

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I don’t know what triggers these times or why Tyson goes thru these moments. I don’t like them and I hate that in those moments I just want to give up and throw in the towel, but I can’t. He is depending on me to get him through all he goes thru. He depends on all the people in his life to help him learn and grow.

Since he came into our lives almost four years ago, our lives have changed drastically from what we had imagined. There is no time to just sit with my husband and watch a movie, or take walks or have any type of just us time. When Tyson is asleep, that’s when we rest or frantically try to accomplish housework or tackle projects we can’t do when he’s awake.

He plays hard, throws himself on the floor, bangs into and on things, runs into walls, constantly climbing and jumping, banging his head on the floor, into the back of the chair and into other people.

His attention span is only a few minutes unless he is viewing videos or television shows he likes, but we know too much screen time is not good for any child, especially with one that seizures can be triggered by videos he watches depending on the content.

I love this high energy child that is constantly wanting to go places and repeatedly talk about what he knows. Vacuum cleaners are his favorite subject. He wears headphones when they are turned on, but when they are turned off, they are his favorite “toy” of all time. We have to limit his time because of the fixation. He can share with you every single detail and when its time to return them to their storage area, he clings to the vacuum, becomes angry and agitated and won’t let go.

We appear like a typical family outside of the walls of our home. We work really hard to keep him safe and keep him from having outburst or hurting others when we are out. He is always holding our hands, wearing a safety harness, in a shopping cart or any other means necessary to go out into the world. If we go to a park setting, there must be at least three people with him or the area must be fenced in. He loves going and playing at the park, up and down the slides; swinging with wild abandon, laughing and wanting more.

Our home is never clean. Never spotless. Every day, there are toys mixed with food particles from him being angry and throwing bowls of food off the table because he isn’t hungry or doesn’t want what was placed before him. Highchairs don’t contain him anymore. He’s too smart for the five point harness. He knows if can’t get the latches undone, he can wriggle out of the straps with a little bit of determination and grit.

He is so smart. He can figure just about anything out on how it goes together or how it comes apart. He can count to 13 on his own, the number of stairs in our home. He can recite the alphabet and label each letter if asked. He calls himself Ty. Tyson is too hard for him to say right now. He can cook the most amazing meals in his tiny kitchen. He loves mixing and pretending to cook just as much as he likes helping me mix concoctions in my kitchen.

Since beginning this post, most of his toys have been bagged and removed to another room. The TV has been shut off. Music has been turned on. I’ve had to stop writing multiple times to get him off of furniture he should not be standing on, out of paperwork cabinets that hold his care notebooks and IEP plans. Tell him no repeatedly because he wants to make raspberry sounds and realizes he can spray you with his saliva. Position my chair in such a way that he can’t climb on my desk to mess with the mini-blinds covering the window above my head.

In between, he’s had a cup of blueberry yogurt and a cup of milk for a snack and I’m using this opportunity to help him say blueberry yogurt. His language disorder for expressive language is a struggle. His version of blueberry yogurt is boo og. Every moment he speaks is used for speech language therapy. Those moments don’t just happen at school or in speech therapy appointments, every moment he’s awake is when it happens.

Ugh!!! He just drew on his feet with a green marker and dumped his yogurt on the desk! So much for the calm.

The struggle is real. Its a glimpse into living with autism. A mere 5 hours out of 24. One moment he is hugging me, giving kisses and the next he is trying to break out the front door glass with his wooden toy hammer.

I am looking forward to when his batteries run out so I can take a shower and just sit still for more than one second. Right now we need to be in a padded room with nothing but us. I just was hit in the head with his tiny shoes that pack a powerful punch.

My joy comes from the Lord. Not my circumstances. I am so very thankful I have Jesus in my corner.

To the other families that “do autism” everyday, please know you are not alone in your journey. Even though it feels like it.

To everyone, may you know how much Jesus loves you~in every moment you live.

#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer the Call

Are you living into the purpose God has called you to do?  I think I am, but how can we really be sure?  I always assumed that “the call” would be something grandiose and bigger than life, but what if it isn’t? What if the call God places on your life is what you would consider everyday mundane tasks?  And what I am becoming to understand and believe is that everything I do should give God glory and Honor.

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When I was working full-time, I didn’t consider working for a retail giant big box store my call, but I did do my very best to let other’s see Jesus in my actions and words. Seasoning my conversations with salt and grace. Being humble in spirit; no gossip; caring for others more than myself.  Extending grace when that was the last thing I would have done had Jesus not been with me.

God places the desires in our hearts. We have to be willing to pursue those desires.  We have to be willing to be interrupted to take the steps necessary to follow His lead. In this day and age, people will say, ‘I’ll do it when I have more time or I will do it when I have more money to fund it, or five hundred other excuses as to why NOW is not the right time.” And I know for one, I let doubt creep in and say, “you’re not good enough or you don’t have experience in this area or what will people think??” And the reality should be, “who cares?”  If God calls us to do something, big or small, we should jump at the chance, because it’s HIS Will for our lives.  We all forget, myself included, it’s not about us. It’s ALL about Him.

So, while I may or may not be a bestselling author one day, I know that right now the call on my life is to be a voice/advocate for our grandson, Tyson. Advocating for awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Epilepsy, Sensory Processing Disorder and Language Disorder. I know it is my call to lift others up and to encourage them in spoken and written word and action.  I know God is working with me now to teach me who HE is and who I am in Him. Maybe someday, that will turn into a book to share with others, but it is not in my comfort zone to admit that I don’t have it all together and I don’t know everything I need to know and that I still have very much to learn about life, but He gently nudges me and He leads me by the hand, much as my earthly parents used to.  Sometimes he gives me a swift kick to get up and get going, when I would much rather stay in the comfort of my own world.

The past 4 weeks, our series at church as been called Church Interrupted.  God is calling the church, you and me, to do His work.  In your office, at your schools, at the deli where you get your meat, everywhere we go, He is calling us to remember our purpose here on earth.  To advance the Kingdom of God.  To lead others to Jesus.  For those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, with a repentant heart, we are to seek forgiveness, show forgiveness and accept the gift of salvation to live eternally with the Father.  And the only way to the Father is through Jesus. The only way to Heaven, is through Jesus Christ. He paid the price, on the cross. He bled and died for All of us and All our sins. There is nothing else you can do to get into Heaven no matter how good of a person you are. But while you are here, you are to do the Will of the Father.

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. When you pray, and can’t find the words, do not fret, because the Holy Spirit will provide the words needed as they waft up to the Father. Trust your instincts. Become in tune with Him. God lives and dwells in the hearts and souls of believers and therefore knows our desires. He knows what He wants to accomplish in our lives and there will be many times of refining and purifying, tests and trials, we will walk through. Storms that will cross our paths, but do not fear for He is always with us. God is bigger than any fear that tries to squelch those dreams and desires.

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure.. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “These are my people, and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.”- Zechariah 13:9

Trust that what God is calling you into or out of, that He will equip you with everything you need to accomplish the task. Do not be afraid. Do not grow weary. Do not give up. Let you Faith in the Lord guide you when your eyes cannot see the outcome. Be a blessing to others as the Lord blesses you.

May you know that Jesus Loves You~at all times and in all seasons of your life. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to each of you ~ thanks for stopping by!

Reflections

As I sit here thinking back on the last several weeks, I am reminded how precious our time is here on earth and how important it is to live our lives to the fullest every single moment we are given and whatever we choose to do, we do it with unbridled passion. Near the beginning of the month, a lifelong friend, that had so courageously battled cancer and never given up hope that she would survive, was killed by her husband.  

She cherished life and her children/grandchildren. She loved her friends and always had something positive to say, no matter how bleak things were for her. She was always smiling, for as long as I can remember. Always smiling on the outside. Always a kind word. And the last time I had spoken to her weeks before her death, she was still hopeful and joyful, even though, as it turns out her life was less than joyful. She chose to live life in such a manner to leave a legacy of loving others with kindness and compassion. She will never be forgotten. She touched so many lives while she was here.  

After the news of her death and paying respects, joining in the sorrow of the loss that many of us feel and celebrating who she was, I realized that none of us know the time or day God will call us home. So, with the time I have, I better us it wisely.`

Prior to the first of the year, I had prayed and planned and envisioned what 2018 was going to look like, what I was going to strive for and what my theme for this new year would look like. My theme is the same: Focus on God, Be Intentional and Savor the Moments of Life. My visions have shifted.

I realized that as I attempted to build an online business with Plexus Worldwide as an Independent Ambassador, I loved connecting with others and offering them hope, through health and wellness supplements, I did not like the “business” side of it. No matter how many customers I gained or other people that signed up to do the same, that is not where my heart lies. I could go on living that lie, or I could get real and realized that God has a different plan for me. When doing something that you are not 100% all in, no matter how much you try to convince yourself, there will always be feelings of resentment or maybe resentment isn’t the right word, but feeling like if I continued on that path, my family and I were suffering, emotionally.  I just knew that it was preventing me from being the person I was created to be.  I will always have GREAT things to say and share about Plexus and the products they offer, and I will continue to use them because they have helped me to feel so much better, but this is not where my joy comes from.

Jesus is my joy! Reading the Word, learning Truth, sharing the Good News that is where I find my joy, that is where I feel fulfilled. Hope comes in many forms and loving others comes naturally to me. I always look for the positive in any situation. I choose to show grace and mercy as much as humanly possible. I have many flaws, as do others, but I look for the good.  There is so much evil in this world, so much hatred and greed and people that are all about themselves, I don’t care to watch the news anymore. That’s all you see most of the time. It’s sad, but the one thing that never ever changes is Jesus. He is the same today, as he was 2000+ years ago, and he will be the same 2000 years from now. He is the one constant in my life. He is my Lord and Savior and He is my friend. 

He has seen me go through so much in my lifetime, and He still loves me. He weeps when I weep and he rejoices when I rejoice. My life has been far from perfect, there have been many choices I have made that have caused others to hurt, emotionally and as he works with me to realize that there is nothing I can do to be perfect this side of Heaven, he has taught me that forgiveness and love can cover over a multitude of anger, hate, evil and despair. When the demands of being a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend become overwhelming, when there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all you hope to or need to, when the expenses outweigh the income, He always provides a way for things to work out. When you feel like you are in a tunnel and the walls are closing in, He is the One who lights the path and helps me to hold it all together. Days when I feel like screaming or crawling in a hole somewhere, He is with me. He comforts me. He lives within me. He guides me. 

I sit here in the midst of chaos. Toys spewed all over, crumbs left on the floor by a toddler, laundry overflowing that needs to be folded, dishes stacked high waiting to be washed, bills stacked up and I can choose to do two things, I can look at them as blessings in disguise or I can choose to be angry that no one else seems to notice. 

I choose to see everything in my life as blessings.  There are toys because He gave us this gift in the form of an inquisitive young child that wants to know how everything works and why the wheels spin on the toy truck, or loves the idea of the “black” sweeper, even though he can’t handle the noise of it, the crumbs and the dishes piled high mean there is food in our home to nourish our physical bodies, the laundry means we are fortunate enough to have more than one outfit to wear and a washer/dryer to care for those outfits.  The mess all around is contained by these four walls, we have a home to live in and a roof over our heads.  As I sit here typing this, I am watching my grandson, shred a piece of paper all over the floor, knowing that is just one more thing on my ever-growing list, but my life without him would be so lackluster and boring.

Every single child is a gift and a blessing. Some require more care than others. Extra care that you aren’t sure what that looks like or if it will ever happen where less one on one care will happen, but you embrace them. You love them. Living with someone on the Autism Spectrum is overwhelming, rewarding, crazy, chaotic and sometimes very stressful. Being able to cry out to Jesus and sit with Him in the midst of the chaos, keeps me sane. I think.

If you are living a life that is not what you want, you do have the power within yourself to make the changes.  It may not be easy, it might be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you are worth it.

May you know that Jesus Loves You~right where you are.

Blessings~Carlene

Rest in the arms of Jesus Sam! I love you and miss you deeply. (Samantha Howard Freels, July 7, 1965 – January 12, 2018)

Samantha

 

 

Subtle Differences

In the past few days, I have been pushed around, challenged to hold true to my faith and always remember that there is a reason for everything and God is in control.  I haven’t been pushed around by bullies but by this mysterious disorder known to many as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder.

For the last year and 4 months, autism has lived in our home, officially.  And while, we have learned many things, and learned how to cope and work with this mystery, I am learning that it truly is a lifelong learning process, not just for our grandson who has autism, but for those of us that love this little guy and want so much for his life to be as normal as possible.

We can’t go to the park or even in the backyard unless there is a minimum of three adults with him. Why? Because he is a runner. He loves to run, and he doesn’t care if he is running down into a creek bed of freezing cold water or into the street with traffic. When he starts running, no amount of hollering at him to stop, or calling his name works.  Which means you have to run just as fast as he does or faster in hopes you can catch him before he enters the danger zone. This was the case yesterday morning when he figured out how to get out the front door, off the porch and ran into the backyard in his pajamas of shorts/shirt and socks in 20-degree weather. He was on a mission to get to his swing set.  He is a sensory seeker, which is part of his sensory processing disorder, he is looking for things that will fill the need of whatever stimulation he is missing and he will climb on anything, regardless if it is meant for climbing or safe to be doing so. EVERY DAY is a battle. And if he doesn’t have something solid to climb upon, he will use a toy or toys stacked up and attempt to do the climbing.

He figures ways to climb over the safety gates that are installed to keep him safe, on end tables and desktops if he sees something he wants or wants to investigate. And then he will jump off of them, regardless of how high up it is or what may be in his jump zone that could be dangerous or harmful to him.

Tyson Cliimbing

He doesn’t like loud noises and as much as he does well at his preschool in a small group of people, he doesn’t like a lot of people in one space. There are times he will run and hide in a wooden cabinet or under a table or cover himself with a blanket, so he is safe and hidden from the world. As he becomes stronger with each passing day, it is difficult to keep him reigned in one area. At age 3, he weighs 38 pounds and is over 3 feet tall.  Putting things up out of his reach is not as easy as they were a year ago. He has always had great strength since birth. Never needed help holding his head up, although we did.

He slides down the wooden stairs on his belly, feet first, and laughs and giggles when he gets to the bottom, running up to do it all over again. I hold my breath a lot. I am so afraid he will seriously hurt himself, but I’ve come to realize that the vestibular input and proprioceptive input he gets from doing a thing like this, he can’t get any other way. Or no way that he likes so far. His mini trampoline, use to provide enough input, he didn’t need more aggressive forms, but now the trampoline just isn’t enough. He can be very aggressive at times, and its hard to try to explain to him that he can’t headbutt others or constantly bang his head on the floor or the wall.  I know I am not the only person that has lived with a child like this, there are many of us that live in silence, because people who don’t experience it on a daily basis, can’t begin to imagine what it is truly like. And then there are sweet calm moments, like right now, where he climbs on my lap, gives me a hug, lays his head on my shoulder, just for a moment to take a break from his high-strung activities and lets me know he loves me and for a moment all is peaceful. But it usually doesn’t last very long.

Each one of us is a work in progress, from the day we are born.  Life experiences shape who we become and why we act the way we do. For most children, language develops at 6 months.  It may just be babbling, but it is a form of language. Speaking and language development is crucial to know if your child has a problem or a developmental delay in communication. By 18 months, he still wasn’t saying anything except ma and da.  Not even mama or Dada, And every time we saw the pediatrician, we were assured that he had done so many other things, early (sitting, crawling, walking) that he was just gonna be slower with talking because he was busy. Repeated attempts to have him tested fell on deaf ears. Well-meaning friends and family offered advice.  Here’s my two cents on this matter: If you think your child has any type of developmental delay, press for the physician to make the referral for testing, to determine what the problem is. You know your child, You spend the most time with them.  I am glad we finally found a doctor that was willing to listen to our concerns and give us the referral we needed.

When he was diagnosed at 26 months, he had just those two words and very little eye contact with anyone. Thanks to early intervention services, speech therapist, developmental specialists, and lots of work at home with him, he was able to start preschool this year, four days a week for a few hours a day. He started with 40 words, well under what a normal two-year-old would have and some of the 40 words were his “made up” words for objects he knew about.  Now after being in preschool for over 2 1/2 months his vocabulary is growing and he is just starting to put two or more words together to form two-word phrases. Since being in therapy, we have learned that his language delays are both expressive and receptive language delays. So his understanding is limited right now, but he is learning and he is thriving.

We are very fortunate that while most children on the spectrum have struggled with sleep, he is not one of them. There is always something to be thankful for. Always.

And when I want to sit and cry because life isn’t fair, and these were the cards we were dealt, I could be angry with God and I could wonder why him? But I am reminded of a story in the Bible, that puts it into perspective the best.

John 9:1-5New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us.[a] The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

I don’t know why our grandson has Autism, but I do know that God will work it all out. I know that I have learned many things about this Spectrum Disorder and while he is learning his way and knowledgeable about many things he can’t share with us yet, I see it every day.  He is very smart for a three-year-old. He loves to fiddle with things and take them apart to see how they work, he might be an engineer someday or maybe even a teacher. He is learning what numbers are and what they mean, learning about colors and shapes and loving every minute of it. He is slowly starting to interact with others, and I am thankful for that. At home, his interactions are that of a typical child, in public, it’s a slow process, but a process just the same. He uses a combination of spoken words, pictures, and sign language to request what he wants. Most of the time, we understand, the frustrating times comes when there is no picture and he tries and tries and still we don’t understand. As much as it is frustrating for us, I can only begin to imagine how frustrating it is for him.

His memory is excellent. If he has experienced it, he can share in one-word utterances the details. We have been talking to him lately about getting his hair cut.  It’s way too long for our liking, but he is very sensitive to anyone touching his head or messing with it in any way. But he remembers his first haircut. We took him to a local salon. (Me, his grandfather and mother whom he refers to as maw, da, and meem) And we rode in da’s car and boo boon (and papaw drove and after the haircut, they gave him a blue balloon).

But it was not a fun experience. It took two of us to hold him, while the stylist, tried using scissors to trim his hair nice and neat and we ended up getting a buzz cut because that was the fastest (and probably the most painful for him, i.e. loud, vibrating noise).

As I finish this out for today, he is pacing around the living room, with his shoes on and his backpack, he’s waiting for the bus. It will be a long wait, the bus will not be here until tomorrow morning. But telling him that school is closed, telling him there is no bus coming to pick him up, hasn’t worked. So, until he tires of wearing his backpack, he will continue to walk back and forth with the backpack on. Sometime’s he gets “stuck” and because it isn’t harming him to do this, we allow it. It makes him happy.

Isn’t’ that what we all want for our children/grandchildren to live happy, carefree lives. He was sad that we didn’t go to church today. But it is too much on me to try to contain him in the parking lot, while holding his hand, walking with a cane and carrying a purse and diaper bag, so we missed out today. We played together, read the first few pages of a toddler book and he climbed and I held my breath.

And tomorrow, I will do it all over again until he goes into another phase, that no one knows what it will be or what it will look like. And Jesus will get me through it all. He always does.

May you know how much Jesus loves you~he will meet you right where you are.

Blessings to you~Carlene