A Beautiful Choir of Autism

I came across this the other night and it brought tears to my eyes.  Yes, I understand that they are on the higher functioning end of the spectrum, but too often we do not give these kiddos a chance to develop the giftings that God blessed them with.  These kids HAVE a purpose just like everybody else.  God blessed them (yes I said blessed) with these different abilities.  I am thankful that to see someone taking the time to develop these children’s gifts.  I love the quote at the end of the video.  “The only limits to what they can do are the ones we put on them.”  So true and that can even go for others as well.  Let’s not limit these children.  Let’s help them soar!  How amazing!

The Beginning of A New Journey

What a crazy two and a half months it has been!  We have been in the process of moving and what a story it has been!  Of which I will be filling you in on as the days goes by.  Needless to say, a lot of stretching and growing has been and will be going on.

In August, we felt it was time for us to transition; that God was moving us some place else.  We had been feeling this way for some time but were waiting it out to see where he was wanting us to go.  God, having the sense of humor that He has, was wanting us to jump out of the boat first…then He was going to tell us where to jump to.  I cannot tell you how excitingly terrifying that is!  There is a different between me and Tevis.  That being that I am spontaneous and he is structured.  I like my structure, but I love doing things that others would think to be absolutely nuts.  This was one of those things.  Tevis put his resignation in in August without having another job in place.  In todays job market, that’s crazy, but God did His thing.

That evening, after he let them know his decision, I was browsing churches and came across this posting:

Life Point Church is a church plant in Northeast Tennessee. We began in October 2010 and are located in the heart of the Tri-Cities which include Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City.

We are looking for a Worship Pastor with a heart for God, an ability to work with a team of vocalists and musicians and will work in unity with the Lead Pastor within the vision of the church.

Expectations:
Work together as team with the Lead Pastor and have a big picture mentality of the church.
Coordinate worship sets for Sunday and Wednesday services
Coordinate and lead worship rehersals each week.
Lead worship each Sunday morning

Vision: We are a church of nearly 100 with a heart to reach our community and the world for Christ. Our desire is for this position to be part-time until the ministry grows and can support a full-time minister. The salary is somewhat negotiable depending upon background and experience. If you have the drive and desire to minister through worship and to see God’s kingdom grow and the ministry flourish, you could be exactly who we are looking for!

It grabbed my attention, so I let Tevis know about it.  I dug around and gathered info (as much as I could) about it.  One of the main things that kept calling out to me was, after reading about the staff, Stephanie, the Children’s Director, had a background in Special Needs education.  There was a heart for special needs.  Oh the joy!  A (emotional) safe place for Hunter!  I will fill you in on a little detail.  It is HARD to work in ministry and have a child with special needs.  Not only do you break all the stereotypical “pastor’s families” ideas, but it makes it difficult to participate in ministry.

Anyway, we spent the next day really talking it over and praying about it and talking some more.  Mind you, I knew it was where we were heading, I just had to wait for Tevis to get there too.  We decided to submit our resume and take the leap.  If we didn’t, we would never know what God had planned.

Tomorrow I will fill you in on the next leg of the journey!  Have a great day!  =)  Be Blessed!

Do You Set Your Goals?

Do you set goals for yourself?  There are all types of goals.  Ones for your career, schooling and finances, but have you set goals for yourself as a wife and mother?

Before we moved, every year, Tevis and I would take off for a weekend for our anniversary and (unbeknownst to him) set goals for our relationship.  I don’t think he ever realized that’s what we were doing.  We haven’t done this for a couple of years now since we can’t get away for a whole night alone and I have really noticed.  I think we have gotten lost in the craziness of dealing with Hunter and everything else that for the moments we do have of peace, we just want to sit and do nothing.  So with this year’s anniversary, we are going to try to start setting our goals again.

I was working on printing some things off for my household notebook and one of the things that I was printing was about “your goals.”  It wants you to list your current priorities, your skill sets and goals for 1-3 years, 3-5 years, 5-10 years and 10-15 years.  Then it wants you to draft your mission statement and vision statement.  I think I have always had these, just never written down but I don’t think I’ve ever really have a mission statement.  Time to fix that.  We need to be purposeful in the things that we do.  We need to know WHY we are doing what we are doing.  Does it add to or take away from our goals?  Is what you’re doing a distraction or a help?

We need to be purposeful in what we do as a wife and a mother.  Our family is ours to nurture, guide, direct and build up.  We are to raise our children to seek God’s direction in their lives, respect their elders, hold doors for others (big pet peeve of mine),  be of gentle spirit (struggling with this one), the list goes on and on.  And we as wives are to speak well of our husbands, be encouraging, supportive, his help meet.  Words of kindness should drip from our lips.  I have to say, THAT one I really struggle with.  I battle the bitterness of what I have to go through everyday and I struggle getting out of the pit.  Right now is a good moment because I feel a sense of calm and purpose.  There isn’t any yelling or screaming or meltdowns going on (which has gotten MUCH better since Hunter has been in therapy).  It’s in the times of frustration where I stumble.  I need to fix my perspective and set my goals according to God’s direction.  So that is my task today.  To set my goals and mission statement.  That and making more bread.

Do you have your goals set before you?  The ones for yourself and the ones God has for you?  =)  Be blessed!

AIT Comes To An End

It’s been crazy here for the last 2 weeks.  We just finished Hunter’s AIT (Auditory Integration Therapy) intensive.  I’M WORE OUT!  Straight up, not going to lie.  Every day for the last 2 weeks we have had to drive to therapy (20 minutes away), do a 30 minute session, wait 3 hours and do a second 30 minute session.  The interesting days were the day I had to take Tevis to work.  So we would drive 20 minutes to the west, do session, com back home, pick Tevis up and drive 20 minutes to the east, then head all the way back to therapy and pick Tevis up after we were done.  In the midst of all that, on Tuesday we had a bad wreck in front of us where a girl crossed the median and hit a semi head on.  Of course we stopped the car and I jumped out and called 911 as myself and several others were running to check on the drivers.  That was a crazy day of which I won’t go into detail about.  Though it made us avoid the interstate for a couple days.  Scary.  I can honestly say though that I don’t want to drive for a while.

Anyway, being that my brain is mush and I am struggling to organize an actual clear thought, I figured I would just give you a little info on what AIT can help with.  We will be able to see marked improvements at  1 month, 3 month & 6 month intervals.  I have already seen where he is calmer.  Yes, he still has moments, but the fact that I was able to walk into Walmart and he literally stayed with me the whole time and never once took off, is HUGE in my book.  He is also able to regulate his frustration better.  It doesn’t seen to take him as long to regain himself after a meltdown or with frustration.  We shall see what the days ahead will be like.  =)  Be Blessed!

The Effects of AIT often include:

  • Calmer overall behavior!
  • Happier nature, more cheerful disposition
  • Consistent demonstration of age appropriate behavior
  • More appropriate voice volume for a given situation
  • Improved academic performance
  • Improved ability to focus and attend in a variety of situations
  • Improved frequency and easier interactions with others
  • Improved social skills
  • Improved expressive language
  • Improved language discrimination
  • Improved language comprehension
  • Improved ability to function in background noise
  • Improved concentration ability
  • Improved sensory processing
  • Improved speech
  • Improved handwriting
  • Improved vocabulary
  • Increased eye contact
  • Increased affection, expression and interaction
  • Increased physical comfort level
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased compliance and cooperation
  • Increased independence
  • Increased interest in verbalization and communication skills
  • Reduced hyperactivity
  • Reduced distractibility
  • Reduced hyper-acute and/or painful hearing
  • Reduced noise (or tinnitus) in the ear
  • Reduced startle responses to loud noises
  • Less irritability
  • Less complaints of various sounds causing pain or discomfort
  • Less impulsivity and restlessness
  • Less lethargy

How Do You Respond?

I learned something today!  For awhile now, I have been working at keeping calm, cool & collected when Hunter melts down.  It has taken A LOT of work.  I have learned a lot about self-control.  It’s not the easiest thing to do.  Today, Hunter had an episode.  We’ve been working with him on how he talks to us and others when he’s upset.  When he’s melting down, he doesn’t care who’s around and he will say all kinds of stuff.  He calls names, lists things that he hates and so on and so forth.  Today he started yelling at his dad and Tevis walked over to Hunter and tried to talk to him calmly.  Hunter, of course, wasn’t having anything of it.  He ran upstairs to hide.  I went upstairs and went into my room where he was and sat down on the bed.  I started to talk to him very softly and was explaining to him that his behavior was unacceptable and we don’t speak to each other like that.  Long story short, I told him that he needed to go down and apologize to his father for yelling at him.  I told him that we need to ask for forgiveness when we do wrong.  This led to a whole teachable moment about God’s forgiveness.
What I realized, is that it’s all about choice.  I’ve known it all along.  But today was different.  Something sunk in.  I can choose to respond to Hunter with an angry tone or a loving one.  I can choose to scream & yell or to talk softly.  The same applies to how we communicate with each other.  Whether we are always yelling or speaking with love.  We can respond to others in all sorts of ways.  We make the choice.  That choice can either make the situation better or make it worse.  Proverbs 15:1 says,  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  It’s a choice and it really comes down to self-control.   Being honest with yourself, how is your self-control?  Are you quick to respond harshly?
All this time, Hunter has been a lesson in one of the Fruits of The Spirit for me and I never noticed.  Thank you God for blessing me with such a wonderful son.  He’s a gift in more ways than one.

Breaking The Mold

Note: This is a previous post from my other site about where we have started in our journey with Autism.  In a few more posts I will be caught up to where we are now with all our successes!  =)

I have figured out why I’ve been having such a hard time with Hunter the last couple of days.  He’s stressing about this stranger coming into the house.  He’s worried about him having to go into his room.  He’s concerned about his Lego Town and it’s people being disturbed.  Then there’s the fact that Tevis and I are rushing around trying to get everything done.  That DOES NOT help matters at all.  That alone sends his anxiety through the roof.  Just a couple more days of this and it will be over and we can get back to our version of normal.
I wanted to give you a little insight into Hunter’s thinking.  Yesterday, Destiny came running into Tevis’s office where I was on the computer.  “Mom, he punched me!”  This was followed by me asking Hunter if, in fact, he punched her.  He proceeded to tell me (yelling of course), “No, I didn’t punch her.  I just wacked her!”  There is apparently a difference.  So, I asked him.  “Hunter, is punching someone different from wacking them?”  He got flustered and wouldn’t answer me because I should totally understand.  In his mind, though, , there is a HUGE difference.  Granted, I haven’t been able to get the answer from him as to why, yet.  But, I will.
I wanted to give you also a little insight into where he is at.  Here’s a break down of what we deal with and why he struggles so:

Composite                                              Percentile
GAC (General Adaptive Composite)               .4%

Conceptual (Communication, Functional
academics, Self-direction)                            .5%

Social (Leisure, Social)                                 .8%

Practical (Community use, Home living
Health & safety, Self-care)                           .6%

Now, granted some of those have come up a little since this testing.  But here’s a breakdown of what they mean.
GAC-This is his overall average of the other 3.  He basically has less than 1% adaptability skills.  It is more than that now since he’s been in therapy.  But, change doesn’t work AT ALL for him.  You need to give him a heads up as to what is going to happen.  

Conceptual- Does not consistently greet others, inconsistently looks at other’s faces when they are talking, has difficulty paying attention during conversations with others, frequently does not acknowledge when other are talking to him, has difficulty with functional academic skills including reading/writing, unable to stop fun activity without complaining, has difficulty working independently, has difficuly controlling temper/anger in social situations, has difficulty controlling feeling when he does not get his way, is easily frustrated if tasks are challenging or disliked, frequently has temper tantrum if asked to stop fun activity.

Social- Has difficulty engaging in fun activities and does not entertain self, frequently has difficulty  following rules in games/fun activities or waiting for his turn, has difficulty making and maintaining friendships, frequently stands too close to others during conversations/interaction, does not state his feelings or acknowledge feeling of others, doe not consistently apologize to others or move out of another person’s way without being asked

Practical- These were a lot of self care things like ordering his own meal at a restaurant, doesn’t help with clean up at home, etc…

You would never know that he has a neurological disorder just from looking at him.  But because of his behavior, at times, people assume that we’re not good parents and need to parent better.  This assumption alone creates a TON of stress for parents of autism.  It’s tiring to have to try to explain everything all the time.  Behavior wise he functions as a five year old.  Yet, on other levels he can function as a 12 year old.  That’s why Aspie’s are called Little Professors.  They know so much about stuff and can intellectually talk about things that they are interested in.  Yet, simple things or social things are hard for them to understand.  But ya know, through all this we are able to see things from a different perspective.  It’s neat to try to see things through his eyes.  A lot of the greatest inventors were Aspie’s.  To me that is AWESOME!  They are out of the box thinkers.  And it’s normally those type of people who break the molds.  I like that!  God didn’t create us in a mold so why do we all try so desperately to fit into one?  Be the you God designed you to be.  =) Be blessed!

Through His Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Hunter, my son, has came leaps and bounds since this post.  I am going to be posting older blogs to bring everyone up to speed on where we started to where we are now.  Thanks.

 

Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day.  Did you even know that?  We have been blessed with a wonderful son who struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome.  I say blessed because it is a blessing, yet, at the same time, a curse.  It’s a blessing in the aspect that he is able to see things through eyes that we “normal” people don’t see.  Yeah, sometimes it’s a little off the wall, but, what a mind he has.  He has a sensitivity to things that we don’t understand.  He can hear things that we don’t hear.  Imagine things that we don’t, can’t or (for the most part) refuse to imagine.  He’s brilliant.

The downside is that while all these things are great, they also can create struggles and turmoil for him.  Hearing things that we can’t hear can drive him crazy.  The high pitch of a fan  or the hum of the TV or the buzz of the electric in the wires.  Seeing things that we can’t see gives him headaches and makes his eyes hurt.  Fluorescent lights have an effect on him that even I don’t understand.  Mention that we have to go to Walmart and it sends him into a tailspin.  He loathes that place.  He is sensitive to touch.  Sometimes it hurts.  Other times, just the slightest touch, make him so tickleish that he can’t control himself.  Those are the funny times.  When he wants you to have tickle fights.
The struggle for us, as his parents, is daily.  Just trying to maintain.  Trying to explain to him and get him to understand why he can’t do certain things that other kids can do.  Trying to keep him calm and trying to get him to understand that everything is going to be okay.  When his lego town has something that is moved on it, you would think the world is coming to an end.  Trying to help him understand the give & take of a conversation.  Trying to help him understand why people do the things that they do or say the things that they say.  People, sometimes, are our biggest struggle.  When we are in public and he starts to meltdown because he is SO overstimulated.  Too many people, too loud of sounds, too much light, too much whatever.  He has an on/off switch.  It is either on and he takes in every thing around him or it’s off and he hears nothing.  When it’s off, he does it to be able to just cope.  Sure, I call his name when he runs through a crowd of people and he won’t answer me.  It’s not becuase he’s being directly disobedient.  He’s just trying to survive and get through the crowd to a quieter place.  Just because he doesn’t have a physical, obvious disablity, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something more going on.  Instead of being critical, try to see something more.  Study up.  Educate yourself.  You will get to a point where you will almost be able to recognize a child or individual, quickly, who struggles with a Spectrum Disorder.  They have SO much to offer this world.  Without their creative minds and out-of-the-box thinking, we wouldn’t have the inventions and creations that we have.  Instead of trying to turn them into someone normal, embrace their uniqueness and learn from it.  I’m not saying that some of the behaviors don’t need help.  Believe me they do.  We work on them daily.  The simple things for us, are, most of the time, the most difficult things for them.  Yet, the complicated things for us can be the simplest for them.
I love to just sit and watch my son.  Just to see his mind at work.  To see him figure things out.  It’s amazing.  And then to hear him tell me all about what HE figured out all on his own.  My heart breaks for the parents who’s children can’t speak.  I couldn’t imagine.
I guess my point is, please don’t judge to quickly.  You don’t know the whole story of what’s going on.  Don’t be offended if you ask my son (or any child on the spectrum) a question and he doesn’t answer and just turns and walks away.  ASK FIRST before you touch him.  He doesn’t like to be touched.  Sometimes it hurts.  But, there are times when it’s okay.  Just ask first and don’t be offended if he says no.  Don’t stare.  My son is well aware that he is different.  People staring is a trigger for him and can start a tailspin faster than you can blink.  People don’t realize how much of an effort it is to come out into public for him.  And believe me, it makes for a long day for us.
God has a plan for him.  And he’s going to do great things.  He gave him sensitivities for a reason.  He gave him the ability to see things from a totally different perspective.  That will be a HUGE help someday for someone.  That someone could be you.  Love these children unconditionally.  They deserve it just like everybody else.  =)  Be blessed!