Autism and Independence

D is now 7, and the list of things he should be able to do for himself is growing.  I am grateful of all the things he does independently.  It’s been a long, tough battle, but D brushes his own teeth with toothpaste every single morning.  Not without asking.  Not without me preparing the toothbrush and making sure it gets done, but toothbrushing for us has been a 3 year arduous battle.  I’ve been in his face more times than I can count, alternately yelling and coaxing.  At times, I’ve had to give up and do it myself.  But for the most part I won. My reward came last week when the dentist told us zero cavities and I’m doing a wonderful job with him.


D can dress himself and put on his own shoes and socks.  Once again, A long arduous battle ensued.  D didn’t want to dress himself and would deliberately mess it up, putting on shorts or his shirt wrong or backwards.  Anything to get me to do it for him.  D feels absolutely no need to be independent.  He would prefer for me to do it all for him, always. Requests for him to learn something new that promotes independence has always been a battle.  Self-care battles are daily excursions.


With pottying we are coming along.  He is almost completely independent, except that he won’t wipe.  We have been battling toileting for almost 2 years now.  We are still waging that battle, although his 1+ year continuous requests for a pullup are gone.  At this point, he realizes mama won’t give up or give in and he’s accepted the inevitable.  His occasional accident seems the result of carelessness or distraction.  Slowly, surely it gets better.  He has not had an accident in public in months.  It’s yet another thing that’s difficult.

It’s now time for him to learn to wash himself in the bathtub.  I’m hopeful that this battle won’t be quite as significant.  Our first foray night before last was successful.  D put up a token and half-hearted resistance.  It was obvious though he cared little about getting the dirt off and I imagine it will be months, at least, before I’m able to trust that he will wash well enough to remove the dirt.  I would try a shower, since his father has threatened him with one if he cannot stop getting water all over the floor, but I’m afraid that the sensory bombardment of water would prove way too distracting.  Plus, it would be difficult for me to watch to make sure he washes well.

A is now potty training as well.  He’s much easier, of course.  It’s been about 2 weeks and he’s about got it down.  He wears underwear most places.  Since he doesn’t have Autism he is much easier.  A wants to be independent and do it himself.  He is also delayed, though, so some things are still hard for him to do.  I still help occasionally with dressing, and brushing his teeth.  Still, it’s not the years long battle that I have with D and for that I’m eternally grateful.



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.


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.


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.


photo credit: <a href=”″>What’s Really Happening in Georgia Schools</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(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.


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.


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.

A Time to Plant and a Time to Reap

It’s spring and my husband and I (well, mostly my husband) have made a small backyard garden.



We plant in spring so we will have a garden full of vegetables in the summer and fall.  Then winter will come and everything will die and we will replant again next spring.  Happens every year.  A lot of people plant gardens in the spring, and we accept God’s timing in that.  Spring is for planting.  No one tries to plant a garden in the winter.


But somehow, it’s harder to accept God’s timing in our life.

I didn’t meet my husband until I was 37.  There was a time that I would lament that I met him so late in life.  I would tell him that I wished we had met earlier, like in our 20s.  He, in his blunt way, would deny this idea and say, “No, you don’t.  I was a jerk.”  Over time I have begun to realize that God’s timing was perfect.  God has been working on my husband far longer than even he realizes.  I simply couldn’t meet him until he was ready for me.  If I had met him too soon, he would have been a “jerk” and it wouldn’t have worked.  I met my husband when God intended me to and, in return, I have a full, bountiful life.  Just like my garden will be in the summer.


So many of us don’t accept God’s timing.  We plant our gardens of life in the winter.  Then the frost comes, and we don’t understand why everything is so devastated.  If we had only waited for God’s timing, we would have a bountiful harvest, and instead we have reaped despair and heartbreak.

Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31

If I had insisted on rushing the Lord (trust me, I tried) and not waiting on His timing I would have married a “jerk” or even more tragically, married someone God didn’t intend for me to have.  I cannot imagine what my life would be like, because having a child with autism is stressful enough.

I abide in the Lord and He has poured His bounty into my life.  My cup runs over.  How amazing that He has been so faithful even when I have not.