Issue 54: Ways to Survive ASD Parenting and Stay Thankful
Issue 58: Winning Ways to Share the Love with All of Your Children
Issue 81: When Special Education Fails to Be Special
"There is an old story about a wise man living on one of China’s vast frontiers. One day, for no apparent reason, a young man’s horse ran away and was taken by nomads across the border. Everyone tried to offer consolation for the man’s bad fortune, but his father, a wise man, said, “What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?” Months later, his horse returned, bringing with her a magnificent stallion. This time everyone was full of congratulations for the son’s good fortune. But now his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?” Their household was made richer by this fine horse the son loved to ride. But one day he fell off his horse and broke his hip. Once again, everyone offered their consolation for his bad luck, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?” A year later nomads invaded across the border, and every able-bodied man was required to take up his bow and go into battle. The Chinese families living on the border lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did father and son survive to take care of each other. What appeared like a blessing and success has often turned out to be a terrible thing. What appeared to be a terrible event has often turned out to be a rich blessing.
Been a while. I know I say that at the start of most of my blog posts. I think it is a case of things going so well right now that I just don't know what to blog about. The struggles are far and few in between at this moment. At this moment. I am all too aware that could change in a nanosecond. I have learned that the hard way time and again. But honestly, since December or so, things have been very different. Different in a good way.
The cursing has stopped. The physical aggression is gone. There have been no hallucinations or delusions since January 26th. He is talking again, to us and about everything. He is talking about past events and things he remembers. He is singing along to the radio in the van. He can't stop talking about VBC in a few weeks. He smiles a lot, sleeps less during the day, and has been so compliant we even have him doing chores and some summer school. He may verbalize that he doesn't want to do it, but as he says that, he is doing whatever we asked him to do. He is looking forward to Monster Jam in August and has even showed interest in some hobbies he has liked in the past.
It has been a new normal for us, a nice new normal. He has been on the same medication combination for months now and holding steady. His psychiatrist is confident in this treatment plan and believes we will only need to adjust dosages as he grows.
I feel like I have been holding my breath for the past six months waiting for it all to fall apart and things to go back to the way they had been for so many years and I am just now slowly beginning to exhale. Relief. There is no other way to explain the feeling. It has made me want to do absolutely nothing but sleep...not to escape anymore, but because I don't think I ever realized just how exhausted I was from the past few years of circumstances with him.
I remember back when things were at their worst with Jerry behaviorally, physically, and emotionally. Really, in the big scheme of things, it was not all that long ago. But I remember people looking at our lives and commenting, "I just don't know how you guys do it." I thought that so absurd, like we had a choice. We were not doing anything extraordinary. We were merely surviving. Now, in this season of being able to breathe and reflect, and rest, I look back and wonder, how did we do it? How did we persevere? How did we survive? How did we make it through each day, each episode, each battle...walking through the minefield of meltdowns and always on the brink of the unknown, flinching every time he raised his voice or fist? Each day definitely holding enough troubles of its own.
Grace. That's my only answer. Unmerited, undeserved, unwarranted...minute by minute, day by day.
I remember the devastation of Jerry's new diagnosis of schizophrenia last summer. I remember thinking, really God? This too? Why? But looking back I realize that, had we never received that blow, we never would have discovered this treatment that has brought us to where he is now. He is on the exact same medications that have worked for family members suffering from similar diagnoses. Only makes sense that it would work for him. Can't help but wonder, if he had been diagnosed with the schizophrenia earlier, how much of the past few years could we have avoided. And then I remember that God is sovereign and so the answer to that is, "none." while there are things that have happened over the last few years that I in no way understand or can see the reason behind, ultimately I don't need to. I just need to trust that it's all been for our good and God's glory, somehow, some way. And that's that really.
So no what? Well, the rebuilding begins. I see new signs of life in the relationships between him and his siblings. I see trust being rebuilt, hearts being mended, scars fading, and lessons being learned. We are witnessing the Lord restore to us the years the locusts have eaten.
We even planned a family cruise vacation in December! In a million years I never would have even entertained the idea of quarantining myself on a floating vessel with no way to escape except by flailing overboard! Instead, we are looking forward to it, all of us.
And I am not saying that we do not still have moments and are not still enduring struggles with our gift from God. We are. They just don't take our breath away as often and our joy is not as easily diminished by them as it used to be.
We are still working on self-care skills that I worry he will never master sometimes...wiping, teeth-brushing, putting his clothes on right side out and not backwards. And puberty? While I have been assured that exceptional needs girls and menstrual cycles are far worse, exceptional needs boys and the body parts that seem to have a mind all their own are not much fun either. I assure you. And poor Jerry really has no idea what is happening to his body. Some of it "tickles" and some of it is downright irritating...like body hair. We have been told that "it itches." Ben came downstairs the other morning to Jerry on the couch, pants down, scissors in hand. He was giving himself a "haircut" in hopes that it wouldn't bother him anymore. Poor Ben! Oh the things he will never be able to unsee! Jerry manscaping! We reiterated how dangerous it is to have scissors that close to certain body parts and assured him that, if he cuts all of the hair off, it will itch even more! True story. You can't make this stuff up. Tim Hawkins material.
I am a Christian. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am an author. In that order.