Category Archives: Life Happens

Days Gone By

As I sit here, I just can’t believe that summertime is over and school is upon us. For some districts, their school has already started. Our summer break didn’t go exactly as planned, but we still managed to squeeze in a few days at the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Newport (Kentucky)Aquarium.  Tyson had a blast and that was our hope. A great way to end the summer before starting all-day kindergarten this year!

Tyson Berwin Park

Climbing down -because he never does things easy.

As I look back on the past several years and read some of my past blog posts, I am amazed at how far Tyson has come. When he entered preschool two years ago, at the age of 3 he had 24 words and some of them weren’t even true words, but sounds he made for something.  Now at the age of 5, he not only has unlimited words in his vocabulary but is speaking in multiple sentences at a time!!! We are so thankful to the many speech therapists that have worked with him and continue to work with him on articulating each syllable he speaks. He used the word “very” quite often but still says “berry”. And somewhere along the way, this child has come up with the phrase”not quite yet” when asked if he is ready to do something or finished with it.  It is quite comical because he is ever so serious when he says it.

He is very excited to be going to Kindergarten. He will be in a Special Education Resource Room for most of his learning time, but as he excels in areas or becomes proficient, he will have the opportunity to spend time with his neurotypical peers in another classroom, as well as going to gym, music, art, library, and lunch with them.

Four more days and he will be boarding his schoolbus and starting his adventure for the year.  To say that I am excited, would be an understatement.  I love him with my entire heart and then some, but I am ready for my own break from him.  He is so full of energy and inquisitiveness, this grandma is ready for some downtime.

A friend asked me if I thought he would do well in an all-day class and quite frankly, I think he will be amazing. He THRIVES in a structured environment.  The night of the school open house, it took a long time to get him out of his classroom. So many things to see and do. The hardest part of the whole day will be getting him up very early (for him) to get ready and eat before his bus comes.  I am sure he will be one of the children that will fall asleep on the ride home.

Over the summer, other changes have taken place. Our son moved back home, with a new puppy, that is not trained yet. He is a beautiful dog, but still very hyper and having one hyper “boy” in the house does not help the dog calm down. I keep praying a magical fence will appear around the yard and then both boy and dog could run until they were too tired to move.

Psalm 62:5-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
7 My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
8 O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge.

As I recover from the medical problems I experienced in June, the Lord and I have been spending more time together and this is exactly what I needed. The waiting game has always been a hard thing for me. I am great at telling others that God is in control and everything in HIS timing, but I am not very good at following that advice for myself. I have never had this long of recovery time after having a cellulitis infection, ever. And then I remind myself, it just wasn’t the cellulitis. The lingering memory problems from the sepsis is one of the struggles I am having. I know memory problems come with age, and I totally get that, but the struggles I am having makes me feel like I have dementia some days. My husband can tell me something, and the moment I turn from him and walk away, I forget it. I then ask him about the same thing and he becomes agitated because he JUST told me about it. Now,  I am trying to repeat out loud everything he tells me in the hopes I will retain it in my memory.

Short term memory and cognitive problems are a known response to having

sepsis/septic shock in your body.  The fatigue isn’t anything new. I’ve lived and dealt with fatigue for over 10 years due to the fibro. I’m used to fatigue, it’s just that I used to be able to walk more with my cane and now everywhere I go, it’s my walker or wheelchair. I keep doing my home exercises and getting out as much as possible to build my strength. My therapists and home nurse, before discharge were happy for me and all the progress I am making, but being the person that doesn’t like being out of control, I am struggling to see the progress. Today, I woke early (8 a.m.) and haven’t taken one nap all day.  I guess I am making progress. I will be calling first of the week to have the hospital bed picked up, as now climbing our stairs is possible.

Life happens. It goes on. Even if we aren’t ready for it to go in the direction it heads. Jesus is at the helm in my life. Sometime’s as life happens, I am reminded that I truly do need to rely on HIM for everything. Sometime’s I need to slow down and take care of me.  In my mind, I know I can’t take care of others if my well is dry, but there are time’s things happen that remind me of this fact. My well is slowly filling up, and as it slowly fills back up so I have all the love I need to pour out on others, I will learn to be still and wait on the Lord.  I am forever grateful for the people the Lord places in my life to remind me that progress, no matter how imperfect, is still progress.

May you know how much Jesus Loves you~right now as you read this and always. Jesus can turn any mess in our lives into a message and any test we face into a testimony. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

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The Human Spirit

Memorial Day May 27 2019 Leroy Myers

 

 

On May 27, 2019, Memorial Day evening, the lives of hundreds of thousands were changed forever including mine. Here in the State of Ohio, 19 confirmed tornadoes, 15 in the area known as the Miami Valley from where I am from. My family and I were some of the very lucky ones that the tornadoes, loss of water and power missed. You can see the interactive map with all the information here.

The Meteorologists and National Weather Service did an amazing job of putting out warnings through news channels, radio stations and cities that had tornado warning systems sounded as well. Unfortunately, some of the cities hit had no siren based warning systems and the fast-moving storms left little time for some people to prepare for the onslaught of devastating weather.

Since Monday evening, my heart has been heavy for all the loss and devastation that I have seen on the news channels, social media and for all the people affected. Only one person lost their life, a gentleman from Celina, Ohio that by all accounts was one in a million. Two hundred people were injured either by the debris and storms themselves or from carbon monoxide buildup and while helping clear debris. Ohio is made up of big cities with a small hometown feel. Almost everyone knows someone that has been affected in one way or another.

But the one thing that has been prevalent since the onslaught of the storms has been the resilient human spirit from total strangers and neighbors helping one another, leaning on one another and all of the donations pouring into local centers to help out those that have lost everything. The kindness and compassion seen through local videos of people stopping to offer food and water, clothing, baby items, from everything and anything are out there for those in need.

As much division as can be seen where evil and hate are lurking, there is so much more love and compassion being poured out for everyone, it makes me proud to be living in a state where when the chips are down, the people pull up their boot strings and get to work helping one another however they can.

As my husband and I traveled North of where we reside today to see a friend that was one of the unlucky ones in losing his home and most of his things, the devastation that we passed on the way there, looked like a war zone from some far away land. As we crept along the roadway, making our way to his property, I was reminded that I am glad I live in a place where no matter what happens, everyone pitches in to help others. When we asked him his thoughts on everything, his response was, “I don’t know what happens now, but I know I will Trust the Lord to meet all my needs.”

Matthew 22:36-40 New Living Translation (NLT)
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Jesus tells us to love others, expecting nothing in return and this week I have witnessed this. My prayer is that once the cleanup is complete and repairs are made, roads are reopened, that this love for one another will continue. It is sad that it took something of this magnitude to bring out the best in people, but this is a big lesson for all of us to love one another as we love ourselves.

At the beginning of this natural disaster, there were over 50,000 people in the area without power. Our local utility company, with help from over 400 utility workers and companies across many states have been working round the clock to restore power and as of this morning, there was approximately 1,100 left without power. Kudos to the women and men who have been working in hazardous conditions since the beginning. Thank you to the many utility line workers that have left their families and homes to come help restore power. Also, thank you to the Water Plant for getting the water turned back on for all those that have been without water or were under a boil advisory.

For the residents that no longer have homes to live in, the ones that have no place to go to work, for the ones that are struggling to hang onto hope, my prayers are with all of you.

Here is a compilation video from WhioTV Channel 7, Dayton, Ohio of the Dayton-Miami Valley Area Storms.

Jesus loves you~always.

Jesus can turn any test into a testimony and any mess into a message. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

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.

raging fire

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

 

 

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.

20180408_183447.jpg

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Grand “parenting”

When I had my children, I dreamt of my children growing up, getting jobs, college, and moving out to start their own lives. I didn’t dream of raising my children and then having to help raise one of my grandchildren. Sometimes though, for reasons beyond our control, life isn’t fair and tough choices have to be made.

Our son has moved out and is working and living on his own. Our daughter moved out for a month and a half, moved 1300 miles away and came home due to circumstances beyond her control and found out she was going to have a child. That was three years ago.  There were many mixed emotions from all of us, and wading through them and helping her make decisions wasn’t as difficult as some might believe because in my world love always wins.

1 Peter 4:8New International Version (NIV)

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

All of us sin, all of us make poor choices and we can choose to love and be loved or we can not. So, even though our daughter made some very poor choices, we chose love over anger and fear.

We offered to help her figure things out and help her with her son. We had no idea that meant we would basically be raising her son, while she merely existed. We know that our daughter has mental health problems that need much more therapy than she is currently receiving, but we also are aware that as an adult, we cannot force her to be tested for conditions, unless she chooses to do them on her own.

We chose to show grace. To love unconditionally, which isn’t always the easiest choice and to help her in any way we could. In doing this, we have enabled her to take advantage of her situation. We are truly aware of this. But we also believe that she has similar conditions as her son, and believe that she is doing all she is capable of. It is definitely a difficult situation.

We never, in a million years, thought we would virtually be raising our grandson. She takes care of him, but not all day, every day as most parents would. She helps feed and changes him, but she struggles with his hyperactivity and constant need for attention. It breaks my heart. I love her and I love Him.

When our grandson was born, healthy and happy we had no idea the challenges that all of us would face. As he grew, we noticed how he didn’t speak and how he would sit and bang his head back and forth, he has an unimaginable strength for a toddler and many other signs. But he crawled and walked very early, so his weaknesses in other areas were passed off by physicians as no big deal. Some babies that have developmental milestones and reach them earlier than most, just means other areas will be slower.

It took until the age of two for medical professionals to take us seriously and realize that he did have developmental delays that needed to be addressed. At age 26 months, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 2, requiring substantial support and he was considered nonverbal.

The past year there have been many arguments between my husband and I and our daughter. There have also been many times of laughing and crying. We knew that our grandson would need more support and therapies and care than she could offer. And so we have become “grandparents raising grandchildren”. Our daughter still retains custody of her child and they live with us. For many personal and private reasons, we have chosen not to pursue custody at this time. I have been granted Power of Attorney over all of his financial, medical and educational needs, until such time, if at all, that his mother can take over 100%.

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Ours is a unique situation. Many grandparents raising grandchildren are doing it because the biological parents aren’t in the picture anymore or are incarcerated and unavailable or aren’t fit to care for themselves, let alone their children. We know she loves her son as much as he loves her, so we continue to help them both.

Taking care of our grandson is a full-time job. He cannot be left unattended for any reason.  He must be supervised at all times. For the most part, he is a very happy child, but there are times when he can be very angry and destructive. I believe the anger stems from him not being able to communicate and the frustration that comes with that. He doesn’t thrive if toys aren’t scattered everywhere. I don’t thrive very well if the house is in total disarray.

Over the last year, I have done hours of research on how to teach our grandson to communicate through words, sign language and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). He has learned his colors, the alphabet and learning how to listen. As with any three-year-old, whether they are on the spectrum or not, selective hearing is a given. But there are many times that he does not hear me, because sensory overload is in full swing and where we can distinquish the sounds and filter out what we are hearing to focus on one voice or one noise, he cannot. Not always. He loves working with sequencing patterns and this is no surprise because he loves patterns, lining objects up or stacking them .  He likes to help put groceries away, canned goods being his favorite, because he can sort the ones that are the same and stack them up. He doesn’t like when they are taken away from him and put away.

As I sit here and write this blog, what used to take maybe 15 minutes now takes hours, as there are constant interruptions. He wanted juice. He wanted a snack. He wanted me to play with him. He wanted me to hold him. He wanted to watch a video. He wanted to grab things off the fireplace mantle that he is not allowed to have. He wanted to carry the cat that doesn’t like to be carried. He wanted to take paperwork and books off my desk and play “52 pickup”. He has plenty of toys to play with. He likes to look at books, but not have them read, that takes too long. He can only have board books. If they are not board books, I must sit with him, or he will tear the pages out and rip the binding off the book. He wanted me to blow bubbles with my chewing gum and then he wanted my glasses off and music turned on, which means he is tired. He touches my face, plays with my hair, rubs his eyes, yawns and just when I think he is almost out, he pops up and hugs me, jumps down, runs back and forth in the room we are in and lays down to play with his cars. I get worn out just watching him. Last night, he found the Febreeze air freshener spray and made sure the living room was smelling good. By the time I reached him, getting out of my chair was difficult, he had pretty much used up the remaining 1/2 of the can that was left! Could I yell at him about it? Nope It was my fault I left it within his reach. I simply forgot to put it up. It still smells like Hawaiin Breeze in our little corner of the world.

The accordion style, hinged gates keep him from the stairway entrance and other parts of the downstairs where he cannot go unless we are with him. Kitchen. Laundry Area. And although he is mighty, he hasn’t figured out how to open the gates, but he is determined. I used to have a foot rest in the room until he realized that he could push that up next to the gate, so he could climb over and jump into the next room. Now, there is no stool to rest my legs on, but he is safe. It’s a trade-off I am willing to do. All interior and exterior doors have additional hooks and locks on them, so he doesn’t run outside and into the street or take off.

Right now, he is napping on the loveseat, after sitting with me while I rocked him back and forth and we listened to music. He loves music, but there are some songs that he cries, maybe the instruments cause the pain or the level of noise is too great. I draw him closer and hug him tight.

Over a month ago, we took him to get his haircut. It was a life draining experience for all of us. He does NOT like his head being touched for any reason and the scissors and clippers scared him, but he needed a haircut and we knew it needed to be fast. If I mention to anyone the word haircut in the course of a conversation, he will say “me”, “da” “maw” “mom” and “car”. And I will say, “Yes, you, me, papaw and mommy rode in the car and we went and you got your hair cut.” His response is “Yay!”. In his world, yay means “yay” and “yes”. He remembers everything.  He remembers the way to a certain store and if we don’t go the same way as we always do, he cries. He does not like a deviation from his routine at all.

As we continue to go to speech therapy every week and have The Play Project come into our home every week to work with him on engaging with others, pretend play, and communication, I will continue to strive to learn all I can to be his advocate and help him succeed.  My hope is that one day, his mother will want to be involved more.

We have three other grandchildren that we love also and sometime’s I feel as if they are slighted, but we do our very best to be in their lives as well and spend time doing things they like to do. Being a grandparent raising a grandchild is a struggle some days, because you don’t know where being the parent stops and grandparenting starts, but you know that you will do whatever is necessary to make sure that your grandchild with special needs thrives in their life.

Just a little over a year ago, I was working full time in a large retail company interacting with adults every day. Now, most of my interaction is with a few adults and a child that laughs, giggles, screams, cries, pounds his head on the floor and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The hardest part is gaining support. I belong to several online groups of people that understand what I am going through, what we are going through and there we can share our stories, our tears, we can be real, no sugarcoating necessary.

My advice to everyone that knows grandparents that are raising grandchildren, whatever the reason is, offer to give them a break. The reason we have our children, when we are young, is so we can keep up with them and their needs. As we get older, it’s not always as easy. Be that shoulder when they need to vent a little or need a shoulder to lean on. Each situation is unique. Don’t separate yourself from your friends because their circumstances have changed. Ask what you can do to make the load a little lighter. It really will be appreciated more than you know.

May you know that Jesus Loves You! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to you!