My Billboard

God either has a sense of humor, or he knows that I can’t pick up on subtle and need a big old billboard sized sign that he’s got things covered.  The day after my big meltdown, I saw this:

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Michael was trying to each Gabriel words from the vocabulary cards!!

I sometimes joke that I live with schizophrenics because of the extreme ups and downs the boys go through in short periods of time, but I needed to see this, a reminder of how far we’ve come.  Michael’s therapist is very pleased at the progress he is making and feels that he may soon be ready to begin the actual therapy, now that he is starting to understand physical control over his own body.  While he still may flail and act out, it’s not as often as it used to be, and he now has times when he can calm himself without any more assistance than a verbal reminder.  He does seem to genuinely try to connect with others every now and then, though it’s still in a very controlling and autistic way.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of the RDI progress, watching him learn to work with and learn from others.

And just to make sure life didn’t get boring, I think Gabriel’s starting to potty-train himself.  Should make for an interesting few weeks!  I’ll just keep repeating my mantra: God is good, and he’s up to something.

Happy Thursday! 🙂

A Day In The Life

The last couple of days have definitely been interesting.  You never know what kind of day you’re going to get with Michael.  Some days his brain and body are in sync and you’d never know he was autistic, but then you have days like today….

We started out OK, but he totally hyper-focused and colored for two hours, and I should have known I’d pay for it later.  He went nuts and overcompensated with the sensory processing disorder kicking in.  He was running everywhere, touching things compulsively, pushing his brothers, screaming, squeaking, and losing his communication and self control.  When his therapist showed up in the early afternoon, he sneaked into the cookie jar and ate six Hershey kisses while she and I were in one of the bedrooms talking.  What followed was a 45 minute meltdown which required physical manhandling.  Thank God the therapist was there, it was the first time she had seen him lose it that badly.  She showed me how to wrap my body around his to keep him from breaking free and punching me.  She also kept the other kids out of the room every time they tried to come in.  Michael really took me for a ride, screaming, crying, writhing, wrestling, and flailing with almost no breaks for three quarters of an hour.  We were finally able to talk him down (I would have never been able to do this if I was alone), but by the time we were finished, I was exhausted, shaking, and nearly crying myself.  Thank God Nate came home this evening in time to handle another meltdown because honestly, I don’t think I have another fight left in me tonight.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Gabriel and William’s room, trying to train Gabriel to stay in his bed.  He’s new to the toddler bed and he seems to enjoy keeping William up till very late and jumping into his crib and squashing him.  It’s been a very long day and there’s still a lot to get through tonight.

I have to say though that it helps to remember that this is all important.  It’s a training ground and the foundation for discipline and growth for all of them.  The hard work and effort is totally worth it, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of all the labor in the hopefully not-too-distant future.  I try to use these opportunities to hold these boys up in prayer and remember that none of this took God by surprise, and none of these experiences is wasted.

Hang tough, all of you.

Shaking Off The Heaviness

I absolutely did not mean to drop off the radar for two weeks, it just happened.  God knew though, and He prepared me by having me write that last post about fear.  Within a few hours of me finishing that piece, I found a tick embedded in Gabriel’s head.  Chronic Lyme’s Disease has affected me and my mom, so that’s something that can strike fear down in my core immediately.  By that night, Gabriel was sick and feverish with something I believe was unrelated to the tick bite, and after he spent the night in our bed because Michael was screaming and kicking the walls in their room, I was sick too.  I remained sick for the entire week and tried to conduct interviews over the phone for a new special instructor for Gabriel while coughing and trying to cover up the sounds of the complete carnage my kids were creating whenever I was on the phone.  One day they threw so many toys down the stairs while I was on the phone that Gabriel’s therapist couldn’t even make it in the house till we shoved some things aside.

This past week started off with a very disappointing meeting with the school district regarding Michael’s services for the fall.  Not only were they playing me with their attitudes, but they were pressuring me to put Michael in school, and they refused to pay for the one service he really needs while offering me multiple services I did not want him to have.  It made me so angry it actually took me a whole day of tears and mental arguments to get over it.  The intensity of my emotional reaction surprised me, and I had to remind myself that Michael’s help is not in the school district but in the Lord.  He is going to open and close all the doors we need Him to for Michael’s remediation.  I am now praying that God shows me the next step, whether or not to battle the school district or to leave this one alone.  If I do choose to pursue this, it looks like I will need to find a pro bono lawyer, and I don’t know if this is a road I want to go down yet.

On the upside, I had my first invitation to speak to a women’s group this past Friday, and shared the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.  It was very exciting, and I got to tell women about this fantastic book (really, if you haven’t read it, you should!) and give some of my own personal testimony about all that God has brought me through.  While it was a new and overwhelming experience, I really enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind doing it again some time.

It’s been a very intense and emotionally packed two weeks.  The kids were spiraling out of control with health issues and we were finally able to get them to the doctor.  As a result, they’re actually sleeping again at night, much to our relief.  I hope they balance out and keep it up!  Thank you all who prayed for me and let me rant about all the frustrations of the past few weeks, you are all truly invaluable to me!  I’m trying to shake off all the heaviness and weariness I’ve been enduring and move forward into this coming week, trusting that God is holding it all in His hands, no matter what it has in store.

I Asked God To Break My Heart With Something That Broke His, And He Did

Yesterday, I spontaneously decided to go to our region’s annual Autism Awareness walk.  I’ve really been thinking and praying a lot lately, and I know that I am dealing with all these special needs for a reason.  I am looking to see how God wants me to use my experiences to help others.  I wanted to see what this community looked like, to see what the needs were, and I was just overwhelmed.

The need is so great and on so many levels.  As I walked around, I could see families everywhere, supporting their handicapped loved ones, out early on a freezing cold Sunday morning because they want to see them get better, to do something to stop a growing epidemic that no one truly understands.  There is great love and great hope, and I commend these families for doing the best they can with the information they have to make life better for those who are on the spectrum.

And yet I was incredibly frustrated.  Here is where we wade into the emotional and controversial and so for now I will keep things vague, but I was saddened to see people who, I felt, were misguided.  There are so many programs out there, and desperate parents are running from thing to thing, searching for an answer, and yet there are many therapies that I feel don’t help, or worse yet, propagate problems.  The place was filled with junk food, vendors handing out candy to children while politicians made promises they couldn’t possibly keep to people who are ready to grab at anything that appears as help.  Two things that can cause terrible damage.  The lack of education was saddening.

The need is so great, so overwhelming, and I could feel my heart breaking over it.  This isn’t the ministry I would have chosen, and yet I feel as though I have been chosen for it.  It’s the work of a lifetime, and it begins with my own family, and yet I know it is never, ever meant to stay confined there.

I am watching, learning, thinking, planning, and praying, always praying.  There is work to be done here, and it will need the hand of God.

God’s Got This

Yesterday was great and a complete washout.  We managed to make it through, Gabriel had all of his therapy sessions and his transitional meeting was a great success.  The kids completely destroyed the house while I was on the phone, but they did it kind of quietly, so at least I was able to finish the meeting before finding them in my room, stripping the bed, jumping on the mattress, and turning over whatever boxes they could find and dumping out the contents.  Let me say, I cannot WAIT until the weather is consistently warmer because I am ready to just toss these little monkeys outside and bring them their meals out there.  They are like a force of nature.

I had been really hoping to cut back on the amount of therapy that my kids receive because it just sort of rules my life and my schedule right now.  Gabriel ended up going from two therapy sessions a week to six, but I know he needs it, so it’s time for me to just suck it up and figure out how to fit it all together.  I can only put it all in God’s hands that there are not going to be that many collisions between Michael’s schedule and Gabriel’s come September.  Gabriel will be receiving special instruction again to help with some of his cognitive delays in addition to an accelerated speech and occupational therapy schedule.  He’s slowly catching up, and I’m hoping after one or two more years of really intense work, he’ll be moving at a pace where we can just drop it altogether.

Thank God for our wonderful homeschooling family who lives around the corner.  They have a fantastic teenage daughter there who likes to come help out with the kids for free (because that’s about what I can afford for help right now).  She came last night to get me through the homestretch of the day.  I was just done.  I had been in therapy sessions and on the phone the entire day.  The kids had taken advantage of that and torn everything apart (William busted through some of the child proof locks and emptied all my kitchen cabinets on the floor while Michael led Gabriel on a merry chase of dumping out every box of toys they could find in the house), and then William cried all afternoon because a tooth was coming in, and he wanted to be held.  Nate came home with a bad two day headache and went straight to bed, so this wonderful girl came and helped us through dinner, baths, and bed.

I am so grateful for how God provides, He knew I just could not make it without an extra pair of hands last night.  He ensured Gabriel would receive all the services he would need.  He’s provided a friend to come today to help me with some management questions.  While I sometimes feel like this is all a bit crazy, He’s caring for and providing for us every step of the way.  When I see that, I can feel some peace and security, knowing He’s got this even if I don’t.