Category Archives: Autism

Posts about Autism and all it’s wonders

What Executive Function Issues Look Like In Our Homeschool

 

D studying statistics on his own.
D studying statistics on his own.

D is a very bright child.   He comprehends most of our science, history, and social studies very quickly and is ready to move on before I am.  But, due to executive function issues related to his Autism, he has some trouble in a few surprising areas. In fact, the reason we homeschool him is due to his sensory and executive function issues.

Executive Function is like the conductor if your brain is a train.  Executive Function controls where you go, how you get there and what time.  Executive Function controls working memory, multitasking and organizing.  When he is having trouble in these areas, he can get frustrated and angry.  We have to work through these emotions and keep trying.  These are the areas he struggles in the most.

Math

D does not have any trouble at all with mathematical concepts.  He learns those rather quickly.  The problem comes when he is asked to memorize addition and subtraction facts.  Memorization is a problem for him.  That’s because the executive function area of the brain controls working memory.  In order to memorize something, you have to hold on to it in working memory long enough to send it to permanent storage memory.  D cannot do that.  It slips away too quickly.  So, when doing a page of addition and subtraction, each problem is new to him.  Since he cannot hold on to the addition facts long enough, he must start over with each consecutive problem, and if he has a lot of them he gets frustrated.  Unfortunately, math curriculums do not take executive function issues into account.  Most of them expect him to memorize math facts in a short amount of time.  D can memorize, but it takes him much, much longer.  At the end of 2nd grade, we still use an abacus much of the time in math.

Reading

D is an advanced reader.  He is a voracious reader.  He reads all the time.  Still, this is an area also where executive function affects us.  D taught himself to read at the age of 5.  But now, in 2nd grade, when a lot of children are moving on to advanced chapter books, D still struggles with books that have no pictures.  That’s again because of the working memory and multitasking issues of executive function.  Without pictures to remind him of where he is in the story, he must fully rely on his working memory, which is faulty, at best.  He must multitask by reading each word and still holding on to the memory of what is currently happening in the story, plus what has already happened.  I am also convinced he thinks in pictures, so he has to translate the words into pictures in order to understand it.  Since I am beginning to get a handle of his struggles, I have started to act out the books we are reading.  If the book has an associated movie, we watch it.  If not, after each chapter we perform a short,  dramatic skit.  The jury is still out, but I am hopeful that this will help cement the events of the story in his mind.

20150107_100155

STEM

In our homeschool, we do a weekly STEM project.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  It looks like building, creating and putting things together.  We have built robots, put LEGOs together and solved brain teasers.  Once again, executive function issues can interfere with his learning.  Solving problems is a job done by the executive function area of the brain.  Solving problems also requires multitasking.  If the STEM challenge is too difficult, it can cause frustration and anger, but STEM is very helpful to help him learn how to problem solve.  As both his mom and his teacher, I have to stretch him a little most days.  Not to the point of frustration and anger, but enough so that he can learn some coping skills for the weaker areas that he struggles with.

 

Some of the ways I’ve been trying to increase his working memory is going to the grocery store, where I challenge him to remember 2 items from our list.  Narration during reading, where we go back over the chapter and highlight the big events of the book.  We use a schedule, both to help him remember what we need to do that day and as a strategy against time wasters.  I’ve implemented a Morning Meeting, where we can discuss our day and go over the schedule.  That way he knows what we need to accomplish and whether there are any ‘away from home’ type tasks, like appointments or errands.

What about you?  Do you have a child with executive function problems?  Do you have any strategies that have worked for you?  I’d love to hear them!

Becky

5 Tips for a Successful Haircut with a child with Autism or SPD

8718509441_f5d5ed3ac2_o

As anyone who is familiar with Autism or SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), getting haircuts is TORTURE, both for the kids and for the parents.   It’s a chore that has to be done, but it’s really hard for all involved.  I’ve seen stylists chase kids all over the salon, cut hair while the child is laying on the floor and drive for hours for desperate parents whose sole desire is for a drama free haircut.  But for these kids, the entire experience is a nerve wrenching experience that is, at best, tolerated and, at worst, full-on battle mode.

For some reason, my husband and I lucked into just the right situation, in just the right place, with just the right barber.  After a few years to think about it, I think I understand why.  So, I’m blogging about what I learned.  If these tips help you in any way, I’d love for you to comment and tell me.   So, here’s my suggestions to help with easier haircuts for these kids.

 

  1.  Pick the right place.

All salons and barbershops are the same, right?  Nope!  In the early days I had varying degrees of success with salons and the stylists there.  They range from bad to terrible, mostly.  One stylist wanted me to instruct my 2 year old to “stay perfectly still” or she could not cut his hair.  Needless to say, we didn’t get his haircut that day.  The most successful haircuts we’ve had have been at a barbershop, not a salon.  The old-fashioned barbershop.  One guy with a pair of scissors and one barber chair.   From a child’s point of view, it makes perfect sense.  No murmur of voices from other customers.  No blowdryers or electric razors.  This is the ideal place.  Most large cities and small towns have a barbershop somewhere.

2.  Pick the right person.

We’ve had the most success with barbers and stylists who have been perfecting their craft for years and have extensive experience dealing with children.  The stylist I mentioned earlier was a very young lady who probably didn’t have a lot of experience dealing with children.  The barber we use regularly has owned his shop for years.   His name is Jose.  Jose knows D is unable to keep himself from wiggling.  In fact, D wiggles with every snip of the scissors.  Once, when Jose wasn’t there and we had another barber, it didn’t go as well.  The right barber is critical.

3.  Pick the right haircut.

We don’t have to cut our kids hair as often.  Perhaps once every 4 months or so.  D’s hair doesn’t grow as much.  A’s hair is very curly.  So, with both kids we get it cut very, very short for several reasons.  First, and most importantly, neither boy cares much for haircuts, but for D they are especially hard.  Getting it very short cuts down on the number of times they have to tolerate this experience.  Still, D will ask “Are you done yet” half a dozen times before he’s finished.  We can grow it out quite a bit before we have to cut it again.  Another reason is that my husband usually takes off work to get their hair cut.  He doesn’t want to have to do that very often.  The reason why he takes off leads me right to the next tip.

4. Pick the right time and day.

It is incredibly inconvenient to have to take a day off work to get your kids’ haircut, but it may be absolutely necessary for these kids with sensory issues.  What my husband and I discovered was that the less time D had to wait for a haircut, the more successful that haircut was.  Long wait times contributed to rising anxiety about the entire experience and set us up for meltdowns and failure.  Once we realized that, we began to plan to take him in the early afternoon, before the shop got busy with other customers.  More customers also increases the amount of ambient noise, which contributes to sensory defensiveness.  So, we go during the week and in the early afternoon, before most folks are getting off of work.

webpic

5.  Pick the right parent.

For some of you single parents, this may not be an option, but choosing which parent to take the child is a definite consideration.  In the early days, my husband took my son because at times he had to hold him still.  He would hold our son on his lap and hold his head still.  I haven’t been strong enough to do that for a long, long time.  Also, some children prefer the clippers and some prefer scissors.  You will have to try each to see what they tolerate better.  One of my boys prefers scissors and one prefers the clippers.  All of them, including my husband, need to come home and change their shirt.  My husband sometimes even showers.

 

No matter what you try, it will be difficult in the beginning.  All new things are difficult for kids with Autism.  I believe it is important for us to try to understand and work within their sensory issues.  I’d love for you to let me know if these tips helped you at all.  Leave me a comment and share your favorite stories!

Becky

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/43424851@N08/8718509441″>Vintage barbershop pole sign</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Truths About Parenting That Don’t Work In My Home

In an Autism household things are just different.  I like to say that we have a completely different reality from most folks.  Every once in awhile something happens that drives that idea home.  It usually upsets me because most of the time I like to think we are pretty average.  But the truth is that we are not average.  We are Autism.  Since we are Autism, some rules or truths simply don’t apply here.  Like this one:

 

20141206_141553

1.  Punishment Corrects Behavior.

Definitely not true for us.  I have to work diligently for months, sometimes years, to erase bad habits and poor behavior.  Punishment initially results in lots of push back and poor behavior outbursts.  At one time, I dreaded punishing because I knew it would result in lots of negative behavior outbursts.  Our entire day would be ruined.  This is because of something in Autism we call splitting.  My son is not able to distinguish between a mistake and being a “bad kid.”  Punishment tells him he is a bad kid, and he reacts the way he believes a bad kid would react.

2.  Teach a Child to Love the Rules.

I almost laugh at this one.  A parent actually told me this one.  In my home, my children are taught to obey the rules in spite of the fact that they don’t like or agree with them.  My children, especially my oldest, vocalizes often that he would rather be an adult and in charge of himself.  He has strong objections to both the rules and those who wish him to obey them.  He doesn’t mind telling you this.  I have no illusions to my parenting capability, and cannot imagine what it would take to teach him to love the rules.    I honestly don’t believe it’s possible.

3. Use God as the “heavy.”

I see and hear of parents asking questions of their children like, “What would God/Jesus want you to do?”  The children give appropriately meek responses like sharing, cooperating, etc.  Every time I try to use that God gets the same response as the people in his life that are wanting him to change.  This last time he threatened to stab God with a pencil if he tried to make him do something.  This is a child who was raised in church.   Once past my surprise, I have to believe God can handle a few threats from an 8 year old, even though I’d rather not make this a daily habit.  So I save the WWJD for bracelets and t-shirts.

These are a few things that work for most parents.  This advice is meaningful for most.  I have even attempted all of these and more that simply didn’t work.  D is difficult and unique and wonderful and intense.  He needs a special touch.  I am grateful that I’ve found some things that DO work for us.  I’ll outline those in my next post.

 

 

 

Don’t Discount the Cost of Sin

As a parent of a child with Autism, my son makes frequent social mistakes.  Sometimes terribly personal social mistakes.  D frequently walks down the middle of a hallway, forcing others to jump to the wall to avoid running into him.  He has no filter and at times calls people “fat” or “old.”  As his parent I have to call him on his mistakes, autism or no autism and I do.  I explain why his behavior is wrong.  I tell him he needs to apologize.  Most people are kind people.  Frequently, they say the words, “It’s okay.  It’s okay.”  Probably thinking they are doing us a favor.

They are not.

Since his behavior wasn’t socially acceptable, then it wasn’t “okay.”  By giving him an out you discount the cost of his behavior and make it more difficult for me to teach him appropriate ways of dealing with the world.  D is like all of us and would much rather have an excuse for his current behavior than change.

This mama doesn’t give excuses.

I’m not in the excuse-making business.  Not even for myself.  I got pregnant with D on purpose and without his father’s consent.  I almost lost the relationship as a result.  I didn’t, but there’s always, always a cost to sin.  And I don’t mean on judgement day.  There’s a real, personal cost to sin.  For all of us.

For D, discounting the cost of his poor judgement means it’s more difficult to make connections with people.  His ability to make connections with others is crucial.  It’s generally the reason we are successful at business, have friends, and stay in long-term relationships.  My dream for him is that he finds someone that loves him as much as I do.  That dream is lost if he doesn’t understand his mistakes and doesn’t try harder.  So no, It’s really not “okay.”

14828527245_55c8c377a9_b

There’s always a cost to sin.  The cost to D is loss of a dream and a good job.  The cost to me was the loss of trust in my relationship to his father.  If I discount the cost, then I’m in danger of repeating the sin.  We always want to make everything okay, but it encourages us to sin when we do that.  We WANT to believe that we live in a gray world, but God sees sin as black and white.

Sometimes the cost of our sin is manifested in others.  Choosing poorly in relationships can mean absent fathers and broken-hearted children.  Sometimes it means bitter fights and custody battles.  The sin of poor choices affects ALL of us at one point in time or another.  We ALL make poor choices at times in our lives.  But, I believe, that if we acknowledge our sin then the chance of repeating that sin is lessened.  The  problem is that it’s easier to discount it.  Make excuses.  Blame genetics.  Make it about someone else.

Don’t make excuses.  Don’t discount the cost.  Acknowledge the full weight of sin.  Count ALL the cost of it.   So that we can grow in our faith and encourage each other.

 

Becky

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/122594368@N03/14828527245″>3 Keys for a Healthy Conversation</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Nightmares on Marion Street

D has nightmares.  He used to have night terrors, which were a horrible thing for a parent to experience.  In those days, D would sit straight up from the bed and begin to scream.  No amount of soothing him would help.  He would scream solidly for 1 to 2 minutes, then stop just as suddenly as he’d started and lay back down and go back to sleep.  They scared me and panicked my husband.  There was nothing we could do.  He no longer has those, but he does still have nightmares.  They will occasionally keep him up for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at night, because he is afraid to go back to sleep.  I understand that.

IMG_1555

I also had nightmares as a child.  I also roamed my house in the single digit hours of night, afraid to return to sleep.  As the years went by and the nightmares remained, unabated, I began to get desperate for them to stop.  I tried everything I knew, which wasn’t much, but included trying not to sleep.  Of course, I was a child and it was impossible.  Finally, out of sheer desperation I prayed to God to stop my nightmares.

It worked.

There were no nightmares that night.  So I did prayed again.  And again.  The bad dreams stayed away.  If I ever stopped praying, they returned.

He has always been faithful to me.

 

So, tonight I count on His faithfulness.  I call on it.  I claim it for my son.

14784271817_bfbb012b4d_b

Tonight we prayed this simple prayer:

Dear Lord,

We know you are God, and we know you love us.  We know you can do anything you want.  Tonight, we are asking you to keep the nightmares away.  We know you can do this because you are God.  Please remember our brother and our memaw.  Please forgive us when we make mistakes.  Help us forgive others who make mistakes against us.  

In Christ’s Name We Pray.  Amen.

Becky

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/122594368@N03/14784271817″>What’s Really Happening in Georgia Schools</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

It’s A Swing Thing

D loves to swing.  Always has.  When he was still an infant I put one of those infant/toddler swings in the backyard and I would push him for what seemed like forever.  Then when D turned 2 he stopped going outside one winter.  He was going along just fine in the fall.  Then.  Nothing.  He was almost completely nonverbal at the time, so no matter how many times I tried to encourage him to go outside he wouldn’t.  And he didn’t have the words to explain.

5240332939_da6f5c0025_b

Then winter turned to spring and he began to go outside again.  And I thought it was just a phase and all over.

It wasn’t.

The very next winter the same thing happened.  One day I woke up to realize that it had been weeks since he’d been in the backyard.  An invitation to play was turned down.  At this point he had a few more words, but couldn’t seem to explain.  At one point he told me he didn’t like winter “because the noise the wind makes in the trees.”  I went outside to listen, but all I heard was silence.  Maybe that was it.

A was born in January.  That spring we all played outside and had a good time.  Ditto in the fall.  Then one day as winter approached I took A outside to the swing.  D had stopped going outside once again.  I thought when he saw how much fun A and I would have in the swing he want to come out with us.  What happened next was completely shocking.

2467797794_760ef7d0c9_b

He panicked.  I was in the process of putting A in the swing when D ran out to us.  He frantically pulled on my jacket, shaking his head ‘no,’ mouth opened in a silent scream.  Confused, I implored him to play.  He ran inside, then back outside to me.  Finally speaking the words, “Hurt A.”  He pointed back to the door.  He was perfectly clear.  Something was going to hurt the baby.  We must go inside NOW!  Inside we went, immediately.

A few days later I stood at our back door, staring out at the backyard.  Suddenly, my eyes hit on the swing.  That was it!  It was the swing!  I told my husband to go take it down, right away.  And that WAS it.  He began going outside right away.

Since that day, his fear of swings has both worsened and clarified.  He still loves to swing. His fear is of empty swings, hanging and moving with the breeze.  It’s also of signs in the store and swing with movement of air.  The few times I take him to Kroger we must duck under those signs, to keep them from swinging.  Once he found one swinging, being blown by an air conditioner, I’m sure.  We quickly turned the corner, while I frantically told him over and over it was about to stop swinging.  His fear of things that swing is much worse in winter than summer.  And we tend to avoid playgrounds with swings, most especially in winter.

I call it what it is, an Irrational Fear.  It is part and parcel of his autism.  Autism, as always, had complicated a situation that shouldn’t be complicated.  It has stolen D’s peace.

Parenting the Neurotypical Sibling

There’s a unique quality to parenting an older Autistic child and a younger neurotypical child.  One, quite frankly, I haven’t figured out yet.  I’m sure it’s well understood that parenting a child with Autism is different.

There are thing that I let D get away with that I would NEVER have if he didn’t have Autism.  I have to let some things go.  I have to give him an outlet for his frustrations that doesn’t include aggression.  I must allow him some comforting behaviors  that sooth him that are not always age appropriate.

And then there’s A, the typical younger child.

Alex

 

Ironically, I have no idea what to do with A.  The crash course I’ve taken in parenting a child with Autism didn’t include any chapters in parenting a child like A.  A is a typical younger child, doing things at times to spite older brother, which under any other circumstance is perfectly normal.  He is also picking up behaviors from older brother.  Behaviors that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to get by with. Tantrums, complete with throwing things, which I don’t let D get away with.  He often attempts showing a temper that I’m sure he doesn’t have.  He tries to do everything big brother does, which I know is perfectly normal.

The biggest problem is me, I know.  This one is the last baby.  The one who almost wasn’t.  The one who cries.  I’m such a sucker for a crying child.  I can’t stand it and want to soothe almost immediately.  Then along comes the child who uses tears instead of anger to get what he wants and I fall for it.  Yes, I admit it.  I fall for the tears.  I’ve only just begun to attempt to steel myself against those tears he uses so effectively.  I’ve begun to discipline A, finally.  To begin to enforce the rules.  I still do not know what to do when he imitates some of D’s ASD behaviors.  I’ve been at this parenting journey over 7 years now and still haven’t figured it all out.

I’ve often said that by the time I figure out how to raise my kids they will be in college and won’t need raising anymore.  Isn’t that kind of the way it works though?

Becky

No Special People Here

I’d like to state for the record:  I am NOT special.

There’s nothing extraordinary about me.  I’m an ordinary citizen.  Just like you.  Well meaning people tell me all the time:  God only gives those special babies to special people.  Nope!  Because I’m not special and He gave one to me.  D is special, but I am not.  Before D came along I was just like anyone else.  If I saw a child meltdown in the store, I, too, assumed the parent was lacking in discipline.  MY child, when I had them, wouldn’t do that.  I wouldn’t allow MY child to speak to ME that way.  Yes, that was me.  Judgmental and self-righteous.  The Pharisee and Sadducee kind of religion.

If I am different now, it’s because of the experience.

9155826450_6e80558902_b

I have more patience than most.  Before D, I prayed for patience.  Not anymore.  Thanks Lord, I have enough.  I have to have more patience.  D requires more patience.  D questions authority.  It’s just the kind of kid he is.  D is a boundary pusher.  D wants to know why.  And falling back on the old standby:  “Because I said so”  doesn’t work with D.  I have to give short explanations and then stick to my guns.  And be patient.  Because D WILL try to convince me to do something for him by making sure he takes a really looooong time doing it.  He once sat around for HOURS trying to convince me to turn on the tv.  Did I mention how smart he is?  It’s not bragging.  I keep trying to convince his dad he’d be easier to raise if he wasn’t.

Dlake

 

I have more determination than most.  Once again, I have to have.  If I didn’t stick to my guns, D would run my entire house.  D is a smart child who “wants to be a grown up.” He would like everything his way.  Once, he tried to convince me to call the school board and explain to them that he doesn’t want to do school and that’s that.  D would like to eat whatever he wants and weigh 200 lbs.  D would like to watch tv 18 hours a day.  D would never, ever do a math problem again.  The only thing preventing those things is me and his dad.  So, I am determined.  I do the hard stuff.  I make sure he does school.  I make sure he goes to church.  I even occasionally drag him to the store.  Not because I enjoy it.  But because D needs a normal life.  D needs to know how he is expected to behave at church and at the store.

 

I have lots of sympathy for other moms.  Whether they have children with special needs   or not.  Why?  Because it’s HARD.  This is hard.  Being a mom is hard.  Harder than I ever thought it would be. The sleep deprivation.  The exhaustion.  The feeling that you’re spinning your wheels and nothing ever changes.  It’s MESSY.  My two boys drag out every single toy they own every day.  I kid you not.  There’s stuff everywhere.  Bedroom, living room, dining room area and even in the hallway.  One of my mom friends were complaining about her house so I sent her pictures of mine.  She hasn’t complained since.  It’s DESTRUCTIVE.  My boys tear up everything.  A likes to tear up pages of books to get D to yell.  There are marks on our wall behind dad’s rocker/recliner, where the boys have run and jumped on the chair making it bang against the wall.  (Yes, I know I should stop them, but I pick my battles.)  Our vertical blinds in the living room get twisted, shoved aside and pulled out, and are crying out to be replaced.  It’s LOUD.  My two are really loud.  They have screaming matches, where they try to outscream each other.  Yes!  I’m serious!  A cries and laughs really loudly.  He was loud as an infant.  D has a leftover whiny noise he makes he gets annoyed.  We are working on those things, but it takes time.

Is there any wonder I have my own meltdowns from time to time?  Yes.  On my knees, crying so hard I can’t see or breathe.  I have been broken.  Numerous times.  Crying out to God.  Asking why.  So when I tell a broken mom I know how she feels, I do.  When I tell a mom with no support system that I want to help I’m being sincere.  When I tell you that you can trust me you can.

So, am I special?  No.  Am I different than who I was?  Absolutely.  I had to change to survive.  But it doesn’t make me special.  It doesn’t make me any different than anyone else.  The essence of being human is to change.  Life changing events happen to lots of us.  It changes us into better people.  Nothing special though.  Still ordinary.

 

Marrying Young – A Lesson of Hardship

A friend’s daughter asked me my thoughts a few week’s ago about marrying young, specifically in your late teens.  I didn’t tell her not to.  It wasn’t my place.  I sent her to the bible, which is always a really good answer when you don’t know what else to say.  In truth, marriage really hard in the best of times.  In the worst times, it can be a disaster.
I believe some who marry very young wind up staring across the marital bed at someone they would never have chosen if they’d waited.

5592082610_4e8903b447_b

My brother married very young and it didn’t work.  Two, decent, hardworking people that I admire very much couldn’t make a go of it.  No abuse, no cheating, no evil intent.  So, that’s my experience with marrying young.  Not positive.  But sometimes, God sends people into your life to change your viewpoint.

Yesterday I met a young lady who married young.  She was still married at 26, with 2 young children.  Her daughter was 4, almost 5, and her son was 2.  She was married at 19.  After her parents told her she needed a college degree, she went to a local junior college to get her associate’s degree and got married.  But it wasn’t just her success in marriage that I found fascinating.  It was the trials she had experienced at such a tender age.

Her husband was partially paralyzed in a terrible accident a couple of years ago.  She told me that the day he took his first step after the accident he lost his job.  He became despondent and started to give up.  She refused to see him in a nursing home in his early twenties.  She stood strong and told him that if he went that route she was going back home to her family in Oklahoma.  He straightened up and went home, and their marriage continued through the hardship.  He’s only able to walk with a walker, which is too treacherous to attempt in a house full of toddlers.  Fortunately, his family is both close and   close by to help.

8689475955_ee4432fcca_b

 

Now, this young lady is facing another blow.  The doctors are looking at her 2 year old boy for Autism.  He doesn’t have an official diagnosis.  The doctors want to wait to see if a language delay is his only issue.  Lack of speech can cause meltdowns and tantrums due to frustration.  I was a positive as I could be for her.  I will pray that this young lady doesn’t have to shoulder so much so young.

 

I shared with her my belief that our trials either make our marriages stronger than ever or break them up completely.  The fortunate ones survive.  Mine has.  Hers has.  I have to admit that I have such tremendous admiration for this young lady.  And I didn’t even get her name.  She must have a will of steel.   A backbone of iron.  Never giving up.  Never quit.

So, perhaps young marriages have a chance after all.  And perhaps we should all learn something from this amazing person.  The lesson of being persistent.  The lesson of enduring through hard days.  The lesson of determination.

What excuses work now?

Becky

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23408922@N07/5592082610″>Project 365 #94: 040411 With This Ring I Thee Wed</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/54177777@N00/8689475955″>20130106_IMG_1734</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Opening Our Heart

“Your babies are always welcome in our home.”

I told a friend this recently.  I was blessed to take her kids for a few hours so she could get some rest.  I was happy to do it.  I’ve actually always wanted to be THAT mom in the neighborhood.  The one that when the other moms are missing their kids they’d call because all the kids in the neighborhood would be at her house.  I love that.  A big, messy, happy-kid house.  I haven’t given up on that dream, but it’s put on hold for awhile.  Our neighborhood isn’t conducive to the concept and Daniel needs friends who understand.  He has a few now, thanks to our wonderful church.  It has truly been a blessing to us.

I know how being alone feels.  I was isolated and lonely.  I missed friends that I worked with.  I missed having adults to talk to.  I tried mom’s groups but it was too complicated.  It’s hard to understand unless you have a child with Autism or know someone who does.  I would get on Autism forums and read the litany of complaints from moms just like me.  Finally, it struck me that we are isolated because we isolate ourselves.  No one knows about what we go through because we don’t tell our hard stories.  Our heartbreaking stories.  The stories that come near to breaking us.  I decided that those stories needed to be told.

3452584355_fcb14ac479_b

Social media is fine for lovely pictures of happy times.  I take those.  I cherish those times, but it’s also important to tell the other times.  Not so happy times.  Meltdown stories.  Aggression stories.  People are not going to understand until we tell them.  We have to open our life and our heart.  Risk judgement and condemnation.  I’ve thrown caution to the winds.  I tell my stories.  I take the risk.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Lots of people pray for us.  It gets us through the worst times.

In return people open up to me.  They tell me their stories.  Their bad times.  The exhaustion.  The pain.  The loneliness.  They know I can understand.  I know how bad things can be for us moms.  I get it.  I understand.  I’ve had meltdowns of my own.  I’ve been so exhausted that all I could do was cry.  I’ve been, literally, on my knees, praying for a miracle.  I cried to God that I couldn’t do it.  He responded that I could.  I didn’t have a choice, so I did.  Now, I reap the blessings of helping others.  I’ve run the race of endurance.  I still endure our bad days.  I still wait for our miracle.  I still pray.

The God who invented you knows all about you.  He loves you no matter what.  Others can love you too.  But you have to let them in.  Open your life to them.  Open your heart to them.  If they reject you, then you can be just like Jesus and shake their dust off your feet as you move on.  But you’ll never know until you try.  You will never know people’s reaction to your story unless you share.

Be bold.  Be courageous.  Open your heart.

 

Becky

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23307937@N04/3452584355″>heart of a tree</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>