Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Diagnosis.

For years, We've known that there was something special about our son.  He sees the world through different lenses than most people.  We have marveled over his verbal skills, his ability to recall memories that most kids wouldn't remember, his ability to create just about anything out of Legos, his detailed information about Star Wars or any other special interest, his zest to learn, his fondness of numbers and Math as well as Science.  He is quite an incredible kid and a great thinker.

Over the years we started noticing other things like food adversions, due to texture and gag reflex, a heightened sense of pain, smell, lights being too bright, sudden loud noises, heightened anxiety to trying new things or even seeing a new movie or reading a new book series, irrational fears, such as volcanoes erupting under his bed, a tornado coming to destroy our home, a comet hitting our house, he has a very strong sense of fairness and is very black and white.  Most recently our son is noticing other kids are teasing him and he is quite sensitive to it.

Our sons school suggested we test him and we got the results in this week.  He is diagnosed with High Functioning Autism(HFA) which is virtually the same thing as Aspergers Syndrome(AS) and qualifies for Autism Spectrum Disorders services through our school district.  This brings about a sense of relief and a sense of loss at the same time.  Relief because it verifies what we have thought for a while now, a sense of loss because the way we looked at how things would work for our son are a bit different now.  We are questioning the HFA versus AS.  Even though they are very similar and are treated in the same way, the difference is categorized by the onset of symptoms, particularly language development.  Our sons language at an early age was advanced for his age.  He was speaking in full sentences by 18 months and using words that most 18 month olds didn't use.  He did not have the typical language delay, so we are wondering why he wasn't given an Aspergers diagnosis.  We are going to meet with the diagnostician before our son's ARD meeting at school just to clarify and find out their reasoning.  Honestly, the treatment would be the same and in the larger picture it doesn't really matter.  He will get the help he needs with his education and social issues.

There has been a bit of a change in our journey with our son, but we are still going forward in our journey.  I'm not saying it will be easy.  God has given us this boy and given us the tools to raise him up and with His help and staying in community with our friends, and getting the help our son will need, we will succeed.  We are so thankful for the friends in our lives that have been there throughout this process, who have encouraged us, prayed with us, cried with us, laughed with us and stood in the gap for us.  We have amazing friends!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dreaming Big!

Since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed drawing.  I have never taken art classes other than what was required in grade school.  Even so, somehow, my drawing seems to get better with time.  Even though I have really enjoyed drawing, I haven't done a whole lot of it over the years.  I always had an excuse as to why I didn't.  Two Summers ago, I had the privilege to go on a mission trip to Alaska.  It was there that God showed me some things about the talent He had given me.  I had been hiding my talent, keeping it from most everyone and only showing those that were closest to me, but even that was limited.  When I was in Alaska, we were working at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and they had vending tables set up during the events.  As I went around admiring the creativity of these people, I was hit with a revelation.  These people were sharing talents with the world and people were blessed by it, they were not hiding it.  I had always thought that by showing my art to people I was being prideful, vain and conceited.  As I continued to walk around looking at all the creativity, I realized that I didn't think that these people were being prideful, they were sharing their talents, something so vulnerable, to the World.  A few hours later I felt that I wanted to bless a particular Eskimo woman I had met with one of my drawings.  After a couple of hours of trying to find supplies and ending up with twice the amount I needed, I sat down and sketched out a small drawing of the Texas State Flower, the Blue Bonnet.  I brought it to the Eskimo woman I had met and all at once her entire countenance changed.  She proudly displayed it in her booth for all to see and told me how she was going to hang it in her living room among her family photos.  That small moment in time changed my way of thinking.  I came home from that trip and a few months later produced my first real work of art in a long time.  It was, to me, a simple drawing of our daughter, but it told a story.  The expression on her face, the complete joy, while lost in her world in an act of worship to God.  I had given up on drawing people.  The last time I had done it was at the ge of 19.  I drew a picture of the couple who had taken me in a rough time in my life.  To me, it was not perfect.  It was a disaster.  I told myself, never again!  Twenty one years later, I picked up my pencil and tried again. A couple of months later, we were at a retreat with our church and they had an art night in which people could share their art with others.  I was so nervous because I do not like being the center of attention, but I got up anyway.  I shared the story behind the drawing and then showed it to the group of people that were there.  As I held up my drawing, there was a gasp and then applause.

 I will never forget that moment.  It was an eye opening moment and realized that this talent that God has given me is meant to be shown to others and this was not just about me.  Ever since then, as time permits, I grab my pad of paper and pencils and draw.  It is my act of worship to Him, the one who has given me this talent.   My dream is to become a professional artist and I am ready to step into that process.  I have always thought that art was just a hobby because it is so fun, relaxing and enjoyable.  Now, I want to make this something I spend my days doing.  It will definitely be a new journey for us, but I am really looking forward to it.  Let the journey begin!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Who Am I To Judge?

It's been too long since I have blogged.  Life has been moving along at such an amazing clip and I need to slow down a bit.  We have had a lot going on.  Our youngest had a tonsillectomy about a month ago and at the same time our son got very sick.  Thankfully, our youngest is all recovered and our son seems to be better as well.  Tomorrow our 7 year old daughter goes for ear surgery.  She has Otosclerosis.  Her left ear is the worst and she can barely hear out of it.  So, tomorrow they will be giving her a prosthetic in her ear.  They say eventually she will need to have her other ear done as well, but I'm believing she won't need it.

We have such an amazing little family!  Each one of our children has his or her own special gifts and talents.  We love watching each one grow.  Over the last year we have started on a new journey with our son.  He is a very smart and loving child.  We have been amazed at our son's ability to learn new things, his incredible vocabulary, his love for LEGO's and the creativity that is expressed there.  Over the years we have faced many challenges with him.  We have heard phrases such as, "He is spoiled", "He is strong willed and you need to break that will of his.", "He needs more discipline.", "He is very whiny.", "You need to get more firm with him.", etc.  These are all hard things to hear from people, especially when you are doing what you think is the right thing.  Last year, our son's teachers approached my husband at school and suggested we have him tested.  I have known for years that our son was "different"(the tantrums, the whining, the arguing, the food aversions, his sensory overload issues, his constant movement, his facial tics, his overwhelming sense of fairness, etc) and when we tried to ask questions about his issues at school in the past, we were told that he is just immature and he'd grow out of it.  As he has gotten older, his lack of social skills are becoming more evident.  We have two other children that are for the most part, very well behaved and don't have the same issues our son has.  So, we know that what we have been doing is not the cause of our son's differences in his view of life.  A few weeks ago, we met with the district diagnostician and we heard the words Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome.  Hearing this sent me into a grieving process of sorts, but at the same time gave me a sense of relief.  The team that is working with our son is made up of seven people who are extensively trained in Autism.  Our son is in the final process of the testing period and we find out for sure what his diagnosis is by the Thanksgiving holiday.  As we wait to hear, two things go through our heads.  One is that maybe he is just highly gifted and he is very quirky.  Then the other is that he does have Asperger's and now everything is a bit clearer as to why things have been the way they have been.  Some may wonder why we want to "label" him.  It is not about the label, its the help he will receive, that we will receive and for those teachers that come in contact with our son, to have a better understanding of how to teach him.  Every parent dreams of their child and how they will grow up to do great things.  I am realizing that this diagnosis does not change that for our son, its just that it will look slightly different than we had envisioned.  His intelligence will be a great benefit for our son.  He has expressed since he was four years old that he wants to be an engineer, although the type of engineer has changed over the years.  As of right now, he wants to be an Architectural Engineer.   His love for LEGO's has helped him in this choice of career I am sure.

One thing I have gained from this whole process is who am I to judge others?  I remember times of walking out to the car in a parking lot and seeing a child in hysterics as the parent was trying to get their child put in their seat and immediately thinking, "Wow, that child needs a spanking!".  Now when I see the same thing, I feel for that parent and know the struggle, embarrassment and pain they are enduring and wonder if that child is dealing with autism.  Even if they are not, that parent does not deserve our judgement(even if the child is spoiled and just wants their way).  We, as parents, have endured the judgement, the passing comments, the humiliation.  As the one who is going through it on this side, I have also learned to not judge those who judge.  So many people have no understanding and may never understand and I am okay with this.  We know that our son is ours, that he is in our family for a reason and God gave us the tools to mold him, teach him and send him out and we don't need to worry about what others are thinking.  Our son is learning.  It takes  time for him, but when he gets it and understands it, he doesn't forget.  We love our son and want the very best for him as well as our other children.

I am so thankful for our children!  We have been blessed in many ways, watching them grow and learn.  We pray continually for wisdom in how to train our kids and we have a wonderful community who support us in this journey!  One other thing I have learned through this process is that we cannot do this alone.  God did not create us to be alone!  Community is so very important.  Thank you to all who have stood by us and supported us and continue to do so!