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Tag: kids on the spectrum

Autism and Navigating Social Needs and Desires

I recently took my boys to a birthday party at a friend’s house. The party theme was movie night and the kids were given shoe box size plastic containers containing a plate with pizza, a drink bottle, a plastic popcorn box, little containers of candies and crackers and such, and glow-in-the-dark necklaces. They’d originally planned to have the party outside and project a movie onto the side of the house, but rain drove everyone into a basement room that was set up with pillows and cushions and little chairs. Adult-sized chairs lined the back wall and a sheet hung on the wall to serve as the screen for the projector. It was quite well put together and very clever.

Parents got all the kids settled downstairs, and the dad started the movie. After making sure Scott and Jeb had their boxes of food and drink secure in a way that they wouldn’t spill, I went back upstairs with some of the other moms to get myself some food and a drink when, minutes later, 11-year-old Scott came stomping upstairs carrying his little plastic box.

We’d already had an issue with the pizza. The mom had checked with me beforehand about what brand of pizza to get (we go to Bible study together, so she was very careful to make sure that Scott would eat dinner that night), but they’d bought a thin crust instead of a regular crust, and he would NOT eat it (which was a bit frustrating because she’d gone to such careful lengths to make sure Scott would enjoy himself). So, we were already on the edge with his coping skills, because he was hungry and starting a spiral.

It took me several minutes to understand the gist of the problem. As the dad set up the DVD and the projector, he let the previews play on the screen. Scott saw the preview for a Disney movie he’d never seen (Ratatouille, I think) and wanted to watch that instead of Toy Story. Like I said, he was already starting to spiral, so normally he’d grudgingly accept the movie and go on with life, but not this night.

Not wanting to force an issue in a crowded room with a bunch of kids, I hugged him to give him some joint compression (because that releases dopamine and norepinephrine – which help him chill in a spiral) and talked him into making himself a big plate of veggies and ranch dip – then gave him another bag of the (never served in our house but always longed after) Doritos. Then I settled him on the couch and handed him my phone.

Something about his demeanor gave me pause, though. Despite the fact that he was about to sit back with unrestricted YouTube power, something seemed off. I said, “Are you okay with this?”

He shrugged and said, “I mean, I guess.”

Again, that didn’t feel right. So, I said, “Scott, how do you feel about being up here instead of downstairs with the other kids?”

He moved his little plastic box off his lap and set my phone down, then drew his legs up and covered his face with his hands. “I feel so left out!” he wailed.

That really made me stop.

There is an assumption that we’d incorrectly made in that even though Scott doesn’t outwardly exhibit a desire for a social presence, and even though he often removes himself to be alone, that didn’t mean that he NEVER wanted to be socially active. He just didn’t know how to make it happen at this moment because so many things (in his mind, so they’re valid points) had gone “wrong” with the evening.

So, I took him into my lap and squeezed him some more, and said, “Hey, if I go down there with you, will you sit in my lap and watch the movie with me? It’s been so long since I saw Toy Story and I’d love it if we could watch it together.”

He jumped up with much enthusiasm. “Okay!” he said, and I carried his box while we went back downstairs. Thankfully, a big chair against the back wall wasn’t occupied, so I settled into the chair and Scott climbed into my lap. A little while later, a chair next to mine was empty, and Scott, obviously resettled after so much contact with me, moved into that chair.

After the movie, we sang “Happy Birthday,” gathered cupcakes to take home, and left (we were the only non-homeschooled family there, so it was a little late for a Monday night and we left with the party still ongoing.) Scott and Jeb both proclaimed how it had been the best birthday party ever, and talked about it even the next morning.

Social situations are difficult for many autistic kids., and Scott is no exception. Other kids are loud, they understand social cues, and they don’t always want to play by Scott’s rules. So our assumption has always been that he simply did not seek it out and did not want it.

How many times have I unintentionally perpetuated a situation where he ended up feeling “so left out!”?

I worry now, a bit, that since I’ve never forced social situations beyond gentle encouragement, that I might have been keeping Scott from doing something he really wanted to do but didn’t know how to make happen.

I’ve now resolved to ask him, with clearly defined questions, how he feels about interacting or not interacting with peers.

Since isolation is so often the preference over everything else, the questions won’t be “would you rather”, because almost always, he’d “rather” be on his own with a screen. Instead, it will be, “How do you feel about —,” which will give him an opportunity to analyze and try to convey what it is that he’s feeling — either, “I don’t care” or “I feel so left out” – or anything in between.

Because now I know that I need to ask.

 

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Autism, Third Wheels, and a Hammerhead Tadpole Trike

Our son, Scott, has been struggling to ride a bicycle for the last four years. Even at age eleven, he has training wheels. There’s still a wobble with training wheels and no real sense of security. If I tried walking alongside him and holding onto his bike to keep it steady, he would quickly let go of the handlebars and cling to me as if his life depended on it. With each wobble, absolute panic would generate terror that would freeze him from all movement. For four years, he was incapable of riding his bicycle.

We didn’t really know why.

Scott has a desire to be like other kids. He had a strong desire to ride a bike. His little brother has been pedaling without training wheels since about age seven. His friends in the neighborhood ride bikes all over. The best Scott could do was lie down on a skateboard and wheel himself along with his friends. Of course, this made him a bit of a third wheel.

We thought he might “grow out of it,” or that maybe just a bit more practice and exposure to the bike would lend him more confidence. For a long time, we thought it was weak muscles. If he only worked on his core, he’d have the strength to master the bicycle. Over and over again, every spring and summer, we kept trying to encourage him as he faced his fears and attempted to ride this bike.

It finally occurred to us that this was more autism related than a lack of strength or skill.

One of the senses that affects kids with autism is the vestibular sense. Our vestibular sensory system helps our bodies maintain balance and an understanding of spacial orientation in the world. Your vestibular sense keeps you upright, allows you to bounce and catch a ball, and helps you balance while you ride a two-wheel bike.

As we researched autism and all of the senses the condition affects, we discovered that to Scott — to his brain’s situational awareness in the world where all of his senses come in unfiltered and out of sync — his perception is that his life did depend on him clinging to me. Much like vertigo can attack someone with a fear of heights, as soon as those wheels wobbled even fractionally on his bike, his brain immediately told him that his life was in peril. No amount of encouragement could redirect him long enough to focus on his other senses and control the bike.

To our little third wheel, he felt like he was drowning while fleeing from a shark.

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark

We struggled with what to do. Continue to encourage the bike? Insist that he keep trying? We found ourselves kind of on the fence about the best way to go forward. Next summer, he’ll turn 12 and will be experiencing that somewhat halcyon time between elementary school and middle school — yet he still couldn’t ride on bikes with his brother and his friends up to the local library or corner convenience store.

Recently, a friend hosted a lunch that allowed a couple of us with kids to get together and give the kids a play date while we moms enjoyed a beautiful afternoon of fellowship. This friend had an adult-sized “delta” trike – that is, with two wheels in the back. Scott got on that thing without hesitation and rode it like a pro – flying down the road as fast as he could pedal. Fearlessly. FAST and with a lot of strength. For the first time in his life, he rode.

Scott Rides a Delta Trike
Scott Rides a Delta Trike

Seeing him do this taught us that he isn’t afraid of riding – or even riding at high speeds. He isn’t weak. As soon as the large, wide, stable wheels of the trike supported him, he was completely fine.

Our third wheel son needed a three wheeled conveyance.

Gregg started researching trikes and autism and specifically the vestibular sense. He learned that the trikes with the wheels in the back, the delta trikes, while generally very stable riding in a straight line, can very easily tip over if the rider brakes and turns at the same time. The problem is that the front wheel is at an angle to the direction of travel and when the rider brakes, all of the body weight and centripetal force and kinetic energy of the rest of the entire trike transfers onto that lone front wheel which is already experiencing angular momentum. Flip!

In his research, Gregg found and purchased a set of plans from Atomic Zombie for a “Hammerhead Tadpole Trike”. A tadpole trike has two wheels in the front and the rear wheel is the braking wheel. This puts two wheels at a proper configuration to the circumference of the turn while the braking drag is all in the rear most part of the trike. This is called a “hammerhead” tadpole because the configuration of the steering linkage and the front wheel braces resembles a hammerhead.

hammerhead design
hammerhead design

The design has a complex Ackerman steering system that involves a principle which allows the innermost wheel to turn more sharply than the outermost wheel in a turn. That helps the trike remain upright and stable during a turn, even a fast braking turn. It is designed to accommodate riding through snow and ice, so Gregg knew that a similar design would work for Scott on grass, gravel, sand, or roads and sidewalks.

We just needed a couple of “donor” bikes and a good bike frame to build it. We live on Fort Knox, Kentucky, so he took the plans he’d bought to our neighboring town of Radcliff to Outdoor Ventures, a bike shop just a few miles up the road from us. They were very interested in the project and wanted to do what they could to help us get our young son onto his own trike. After talking with Gregg and meeting with Scott, the owner basically donated some bikes and bike parts to the project.

A coworker who Gregg has known since Afghanistan connected him with a friend, Al, who had the welding tools and skill needed to weld all the elements of the trike frame together. He obtained some steel and riding lawnmower steering bearings from the local Rural King and ordered a few spherical bearings just in case. After ordering various pieces and parts, collecting different bikes and bike parts, Gregg prepped what pieces needed to be cut or ground down and sanded, inventoried all of the pieces and parts, and delivered them to the welder, Al.

Gregg cuts apart some donor bikes
Gregg cuts apart some donor bikes
Donor bikes and bike parts
Donor bikes and bike parts

Donating all of his time and talents, Al welded the parts Gregg brought him and built the frame of the bike.

The "hammerhead" frame mocked up with tack welds and clamps prior to final welding
The “hammerhead” frame mocked up with tack welds and clamps prior to final welding

Being a true pro, Al gave the hammerhead an even wider stance for greater stability and strength.

the complex steering

Gregg purchased racing forks and mag-wheels from Outdoor Ventures, put a comfortable wide seat on it, tightened the brakes to hair-trigger responsiveness, and let Scott give it a go.

Scott loved it so much that he insisted he didn’t even need it painted. Despite that, Gregg took it all apart again, sanded down and smoothed out the areas where it was welded, teflon taped all the threads, and puttied all the spaces with JB Weld. Then he primed it and gave it a bright neon green top coat — Scott’s favorite color.

This past Sunday, our family rode our bikes/trikes to church together for the very first time.

We’re having to battle the words that other children say when they see the hammerhead for the first time. “That looks weird!” “What is that?” At first, these comments made Scott come home and not want to ride again. He thought the kids were mocking him, but we also heard them say, “I want a 3-wheeled bike, too!” “Can I ride it?”

Despite that, when he gets on the seat and starts pedaling and re-introduces himself to the freedom of wheels and the feel of the wind against his face, he realizes it’s okay if kids stare and ask him questions about it. Because he’s free. He’s having a real adventure, and little boys need adventure so they can grow into confident men. And he is able to join his brother and his friends as they storm the neighborhood on their bikes.

Gregg took them out in the neighborhood every night this week, chasing the sun, and watching him bike up hills, across grassy fields, and down the road without even slowing down, never afraid, ready to keep going forward. Last night, as they were putting the bikes away, Scott said, “Thanks for building this for me, dad. I love it.”

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Autism: Things Are Not Always As They Appear

I recently joined my son, Scott, for lunch at his school. I met his class in the hallway walking to the lunch room, and walked with them into the room. Instead of sitting at the table that the rest of his class gradually filled up, he took me to the back of the lunch room. “I like to sit in the detention corner,” he explained.

He was THRILLED that I came. He was almost manic about my presence, and jibber-jabbered all the way into the lunch room. But, once we were there, he didn’t say another word. He just started eating his lunch, tackling one food item at a time. Occasionally, he looked at me and smiled while he reached over and pet my face, but didn’t really talk. Lunch time in the cafeteria is for eating – not for talking.

I surveyed the room, people watching as I tend to do. I took this picture, understanding the emotional reaction people would have to it. When I showed it to my mom, she did the same thing I imagine most of you are doing – gasping and saying, “That’s so sad.”

Only, it’s not. Not really.

Scott chooses to isolate himself in the lunch room. His class is way across the cafeteria from where Scott is sitting, at the first table in the room. He doesn’t want to sit there – next to kids who are playing or talking or not eating. Lunch time is for eating.

He didn’t sit down and get rejected by peers. He didn’t ask to sit somewhere and get told to go away. He isolated himself so that he could get down to the business at hand – to eat without distraction.

As neuro-typical normal people, we tend to want to apply normal emotions to those on the autistic spectrum. The fact is, they don’t necessarily have normal emotional reactions, normal thought processes, or normal perceptions. They are so very different in the way they think and perceive situations. To Scott, in the loud, distracting, room filled with way too much visual stimulation and an abundance of conflicting smells, sitting way back in the “detention corner” (likely a name he applied to it taken from one of the middle-school books he reads) is way LESS stressful than sitting with his class. He has no need for social interaction with peers during a meal time. He has a need to eat.

I personally appreciate the school allowing him the opportunity to isolate himself and cope with the environment the best way he can. I know in some schools, a strict “sit with your class” rule would apply. Scott’s in an environment filled with people who respect his autism and do their best to accommodate it. We are so thankful to God for the teachers and staff because of it.

We are visual people, and in a rapidly moving world, we tend to rely on pictures to tell a thousand words — especially those pictures intentionally designed to generate an emotional response. Sometimes, though, things aren’t as they appear at first glance. A picture like this could speak to the hearts of a world filled with loving and generous people,  generating a viral movement to bring that poor boy with the green noise-canceling headphones friends for lunch so that he can feel loved and accepted like the rest of us neuro-typical normal people.

Instead, we know he is loved and accepted and therefore is allowed to sit alone at lunch. It’s not always — let me rephrase that. It’s rarely ever that I’m able to take in the world the same way Scott does.  This one afternoon, though, as I surveyed the room and took the picture, I was able to see the world through his eyes and – for just a moment – get it.
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Autism: There’s Something To Be Said About Community

When our son Johnathan was in the first grade, he had a friend ride the bus home with him and have a play date. Scott, our autistic son, had never expressed a desire to have a friend over, but on this day, he came to me and said, “Why can’t I have a friend come over, too?”

I asked him, “Do you have a friend?”

Understand that at this point, Scott still couldn’t distinguish boys from girls, and children other than Johnathan didn’t come with names. We believe, to him, his 2nd grade classmates were just a sea of faceless noise-makers. But, he surprised me by answering, “Sure! Thomas!”

Thomas and Scott had shared classrooms since kindergarten. Like Scott, Thomas has an autism diagnosis. So, I contacted Thomas’ mom. She was thrilled to have Thomas invited over to someone’s house for a play date and as soon as schedules allowed, we got the boys together.

That began my friendship with his mom. We were two moms of special needs children trying to navigate the school system, insurance companies, and social skills, and we realized, subconsciously, that we needed each others’ friendship and support. I have wonderful mentoring friends, both of whom have older autistic children, who have been a constant source of support and encouragement for me. I was blessed to be able to offer the same kind of friendship to Thomas’ mom, and to share with her what my friends had taught me.

A few months later, we were invited to Thomas’ birthday party. This was the first time Scott had ever been invited to a school mate’s birthday. He was so excited to get to go.

Thomas takes part in a program called STRIDE, which is a special needs extra-curricular activities program in his community. He’s able to play soccer, basketball, and participated in the Special Olympics. So, at his party, there were several special needs kids and their parents.

For the first time ever, I sat at a party surrounded by complete strangers and completely relaxed. I didn’t worry that Scott would say something completely off-base, possibly even insulting, to one of the adults. I knew if he did, they’d get that it is just a black-and-white boy with no filter. I didn’t worry that he didn’t want to take part in any of the party activities and how the other kids or parents would think he was “weird”.  He was absolutely and totally accepted when he walked into that house and nothing he said, did, or didn’t do would be taken in a negative light.

I watched a mom with a non-verbal son wearing a helmet sit in that room and relax. I watched Thomas’ mom enjoy a house full of people who had come to celebrate her son’s birthday and relax. These were our people. Our children seemed to understand each other. Johnathan, who is two years younger than Scott, has lived his life with an autistic brother so he thought nothing off about how the kids played or how they interacted — or didn’t interact.

We have a supporting and loving extended family. We have good friends who love us and love our children. We have an amazing church family with excellent teachers in the children’s department. I’m not taking anything away from any of those people in our lives who know us and love us who don’t have special needs children. But what I learned that day is that there’s something to be said for a community – a like-minded, shared community – that cannot be duplicated.

Scott at Melissa, Thomas’ mom

The community comes with a sense of understanding that doesn’t have to be spoken, with empathy that has no strings attached. Parenting a special needs child can be very lonely, very scary, very disheartening — and when you enter that community by way of a meeting or party or just coffee with other parents like you — for a time the burden, while it may not be lifted, is lighter — and at times even shared.

Last December we moved from that town and are now two hours away. Thomas’ parents have made the drive here two or three times, and we’ve made the drive there two or three times. Our boys are still friends who look forward to seeing each other.

Over Christmas, we went to a party at Thomas’ house. He didn’t know we were coming, and the look of joy on his face when we walked in the door made the two-hour drive worth it. Immediately, the boys headed up to Thomas’ room. For over two hours the played and played, and I practically had to drag them away from there.

This school year, Scott has made a friend named Hunter. The other day, I heard Johnathan ask him, “Who is your best friend? Hunter or Thomas?”

Scott, seemingly appalled, replied, “You can’t categorize friends that way, Jeb! You just have to cherish them for who they are.”

That simple statement brought tears to my eyes. There was a time when we wondered if Scott would ever even know how to have friends. I never thought that instead he would so simply and profoundly inspire me to remember to cherish my friends for who they are, in the special needs community and out.

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Autism: Parenting “Failures” and Celebrating Milestones

I remember when our nineteen-year-old daughter, Kaylee, was starting Kindergarten, and we worked tirelessly to teach her to tie her shoes before school started. She aced the skill in no time and went to her first day of school with shiny pink and silver tennis shoes tied by her own hands.

Johnathan, our eight-year-old, mastered the skill at four. As with most things he learned early, he watched and observed and took in while we taught his brother, Scott, and then would come up beside us and just do whatever we were teaching his brother, who is two years his senior.

Scott, though, just couldn’t do it. We tried and tried to teach him until he was frustrated and we were frustrated. After months, we just quit trying. We didn’t see the point in frustrating him and frustrating us over something that he simply, for some reason, could not do.

tae-kwon-doWhen Scott started Tae Kwon Do, we were able to teach him how to tie the first part of his belt, but not the second part (the one that forms the knot). That was probably the most frustrating, because it is the same motions. There wasn’t even a logical reason he couldn’t do it. Even at 10-years-old, he brings me his belt to tie onto him.

Sweatpants that tie at the waist have to be tied loose enough that he can pull them down to use the bathroom at school, but tight enough to keep from falling down on their own.

And — we buy Velcro shoes or Crocs. Period. If they can’t be slipped on or fastened with hooks and loops, we didn’t buy them for him.

I’ll be honest and tell you that this is an area I actually felt like I’d failed in. The older he got and the longer he went without being able to tie, the more I wonder if not forcing the issue would hurt him in the long run.

As with so many “symptoms” of autism spectrum disorder, when we were filling out all the forms and questionnaires in seeking the “official” diagnosis, we were amazed when we came across a section about tying shoes and tying knots. Suddenly, the fact that he couldn’t tie his shoes made sense. Obviously, it’s part of the spectrum like his sleep issues and his wandering away issues. We hadn’t done anything wrong! We hadn’t perpetuated a situation by continually trying to the point of frustration! It must be a developmental thing within the spectrum.

I cannot explain to you the relief we feel as parents as we have constantly received affirmation of symptoms that explain areas where we felt like we failed as parents. Our 10-year-old brilliant child couldn’t tie his shoes, and we quit trying to teach him. We’d added another check next to the failure box.

But once you understand that it isn’t you – your parenting – that it’s his brain and his development, it’s like this box of power is opened up. Okay! It’s autism! It’s a multiple step process for a brain that can only process single steps! How, then, do we come at it in a different angle so that he can learn how to do this in a way that makes sense to him?

For the tying of shoes, it meant turning to his occupational therapist — someone trained to teach children on the spectrum how to tie shoes. And, you know what? It took her about six weeks to teach him. SIX WEEKS.

That little check next to failure just got completely erased.

Here is our boy tying a shoe by himself for the first time, at 10 1/2 years old. Celebrate with us. This is a pretty big deal in our family.

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Autism: No Help

scottI recently took our son Scott to a local autism clinic with the intention of getting some guidance and insight into how to properly prepare him for the vast world out there.  We were placed on the waiting list for this place within a month of our December move to Fort Knox, and I was excited when we finally got an appointment. The first thing the psychiatrist asked me was, “Why are you here?”

I answered the same way I did at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (which is, sadly, too far away from us after our move to be able to utilize), “Because he’s ten. He’s more than halfway to grown up. Everything we’ve done has been intuitive, without professional guidance, and self-learned. What if we’ve done something wrong? What if he’s unable to handle life as an adult?”

Thus began our interview session. When she asked about chores, I explained that I make a chore list every morning (in the summer). Both boys – Scott (autistic) and Jeb (normal neuro-typical) know that screens go off at 9AM, and before anything “fun” can happen, the chores must be completed. I don’t have to remind them to do chores. I don’t have to manipulate them to do chores. If they intend to have anything happen in their day, they know to check the chore list and start working on their assigned 3 chores. He gets the same kind of chores everyone else does, and has to perform them.”

??????????????

The psychiatrist said to me (no joke), “You don’t have to remind Scott to check the list? I may need to you to come here and teach a class to other parents.”

She asked about eating issues. I said, “I think Scott wants to have issues with eating, but before we knew he had autism, we just parented him like our other children. Which means, food is not an issue. Dinner is dinner, and children can choose to eat or choose not to eat. Everything on the plate must be tasted and milk must be consumed. Those are our only rules. In the times that Scott might have an issue with something, he typically knows how to help himself to more salad, pick out good proteins and eat what he can. If there’s still hunger, he’ll typically help himself to the unregulated fruit bowl after dinner. But, he has a good palate, he knows how to order in a restaurant, he’ll taste anything, and he eats well.”

The psychiatrist remarked, “You don’t have food issues? I may need you to come here and teach a class to other parents.”

??????????????

She asked me about sleep issues. I said, “We’ve worked with the sleep clinic in Cincinnati, and discovered that Scott’s issues are less sleep related and more ‘needs time to mentally wind down’ related. So, we gave him his own bedroom, a low-light lamp, a beanbag, and he gets to ‘go relax’ rather than ‘go to bed.’ His entrance into bed is self-regulated, and as soon as we stopped making a big deal of ‘go to bed!’ or ‘go to sleep!’, his wind-down time has been cut down from two hours to one hour a night.”

The psychiatrist said, “You successfully battled sleep issues? I may need you to come here and teach a class to other parents.” (I know it sounds as if I’m exaggerating, but I assure you, I am not.)

She asked me how we handled discipline. I said, “We try to examine each situation and as ourselves: is this disability, or is this discipline? The answer, when apparent, makes our response easy to determine. A meltdown in a crowded restaurant will result in comforting and removal, while lashing out physically at his brother will result in punishment and discipline. We know that sometimes it’s hard to tell what is which, and we know, going into it, we’re going to make mistakes. But for the most part, it seems to have worked.”

She asked if we worked with a reward system. I said, “We have an expectation of good behavior. I’m not going to reward good behavior. I expect it. Instead, I discipline bad behavior.”

She raised in eyebrow. “I may need you to come counsel some parents.”

scott computer tieShe asked me how we handled issues as the cropped up. I said, “He has a hard time with step-by-step instructions, so we learned that story boards teach him way more than anything verbal. So, we started utilizing story boards when we need to give him multiple step instructions. We understand that in interacting in the world and away from his ‘safe zone,’ most of the time, he’s just either writing a script or following a script. But since that’s how he will have to cope with the world as an adult, we don’t allow him to escape into his world when we need him to stay in ours. He mentally pulls out the proper script and he copes with the situation, acting and reacting the way he’s been taught.”

Again, she said, “I may need you to come teach a class to other parents.”

The interview ended with me leaving without any help or support from this clinic. They basically manage medication, provide speech therapy to non-verbal autistic kids, and train parents to do what Gregg and I have, apparently, done intuitively. In a way I’m frustrated. In a way I’m relieved. We don’t medicate. We train. Scott’s life isn’t going to be full of therapies and appointments — something for which we were mentally prepared; however, everything still has to happen with self-education and a whole lot of prayer.

I’m thankful for the resources we’ve had access to as we’ve maneuvered through the minefield that is autism parenting, and I’m terrified every day that we’re going to do it wrong — that we’re going to damage him in some unrecoverable way and ruin his adult life. Having outside help made unnecessary or unavailable certainly makes our reliance on the Holy Spirit much more tangible.

Perhaps that was God’s plan when He set us on this journey. To rely fully on Him and not on man.

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