Our worst fears are confirmed.

(You Want to Test My Kid for What? Devotional #7)

Job 3:25  What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.

It wasn’t exactly surprising to us, since the specialists made it clear all along that they thought our son may have autism. But getting the actual label was quite shocking and numbing.

The specialists who tested him and who interviewed and talked with my husband and I could not have been nicer. But to be told that your precious little child has something so possibly debilitating, something with no cure, something that will not kill him, but will require him to live a normal life span under such difficult circumstances was very disheartening.

And, because of the litigious nature of our current culture, the professionals must always tell us the worst possible scenarios, and downplay the best. So we were handed page upon page describing his disability. We were told that there was only a 30 percent chance that he had a normal intelligence level. The possibility of him living independently as an adult seemed very unlikely.

It was a bit of a relief to know what the problem was, and being surrounded by a group of people who were obviously interested in helping us was comforting. But the deadening thud on our hearts could not be denied.

Thanks be to God that He does not leave us to suffer alone for long. As He eventually comforted and blessed Job, so we can trust that He will do the same for us.

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You want to test my child for what?

(You Want to Test My Kid for What? Devotional #3)

Psalm 121:5  The Lord watches over you.

When our son was two, my husband and I decided to have him tested for developmental delays, as he was not talking as well as his sister 15 months his junior or his nephews who are exactly 7 months younger than him. During his two-year check-up, I asked our pediatrician where she would recommend that we go for testing. She didn’t think there was anything wrong with our child, but gave me the names of some agencies none-the-less.

We decided to go with the Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) department in our school district. When I contacted them with our concerns they agreed to send an early childhood specialist to our home to ask some questions and observe our child. They would then be able to recommend next steps based on her observations.

When the specialist arrived, our son was happily playing at his train table. He let her play with him and acted as he normally does. Part of me was hoping that she would find nothing wrong with him, while the other part of me was hoping she would.

After playing with and observing him for some time, and then asking me numerous questions, she left, with the promise to return in several weeks with her findings.

Several weeks later she and another specialist arrived at my door. We sat down in the living room, and the second specialist asked me a few questions like, does your child have driving routes memorized? After answering affirmatively to most of her questions, she said the words that would change our lives forever: “We would like to test your son for Autism.”

In a bit of shock, I thanked them for their time and told them that my husband and I would discuss it and get back to them. Surprisingly, though they confirmed the thoughts that I had had for almost two years, I gladly agreed with my husband that he was too young to be tested for something so serious. Many children didn’t talk well at 24 months, we reasoned. Besides we didn’t want him labeled, and then treated badly because of the label.

Are you thinking of having your child tested for developmental delays or disabilities?

If you have a pediatrician that you trust, like we did, I would recommend asking him or her where to start. Otherwise, I would contact your school district for information on early childhood screening.

My family thinks I am making things up.

(You Want to Test My Kid for What? Devotional #2)

Ecclesiastes 7:8  “Patience is better than pride.”

I am a very analytical person, and I have been known to struggle with overinflated fears. On the other hand, my mother and sister like to take life as it comes. My husband is analytical, but he tends to look at life from a more optimistic perspective than I.

So when I shared with these individuals that I thought the baby may have autism, they pretty much laughed at me. The good thing about no one else recognizing his disability is that he was treated like a normal child. No pity was given or special allowances made. All hopes and dreams for a normal life for him were firmly intact. He was loved and adored as the whole child God created him to be.

The bad news, from a human perspective, is that he did not start receiving the assistance that he needed until much later. However, from an eternal perspective, there is no bad news. God knew the family He was placing this child into. He knew when this child’s disability would be recognized. Everything is going according to His plan.

Are your concerns or the concerns of others about your child grounded in reality? Are you finding yourself needing to wait for others to agree with you that your child needs help?

Remember that God cares more about your child than even you do, and He can work miracles in the lives of everyone involved.

Something is not Quite Right

(You Want to Test My Kid for What? Devotional #1)

Isaiah 61: 1-2 (1) “ …the Lord has anointed me … to comfort all who mourn.”

When my son was six-months old, I started to notice how he would play with just one thing for weeks at a time. As an infant he became obsessed with spinning ball cage attached to his exercise saucer. When he was a year old he would hoist himself up by the stereo system and play the music that he wanted to listen to, for hours on end – literally all day, except for when I pulled him away to eat and sleep. This lasted for two weeks. He then switched to a new obsession. One thing that remained constant was his desire to spin things. He would try to spin a sheet of paper, a square block, his sister’s dolls, anything.

He also seemed somewhat behind in his speaking skills. He had started to say words at 15 months, but stopped when his sister was born a month later. It is not unusual for children to regress when a new sibling arrives. However, when he was two, he started to speak a little, but by three years old he still said very little.

I was convinced that he was not normal when I took him to Musikgarten class. He spent the first few classes curled in the fetal position with his face buried in my lap. When he finally did try to participate in class, he had fun, but was not at all in the same world as all of the other kids. I cried the whole way home. What was life going to be like for him? What was I to do?

What are some of the things that your child does that seem odd to you?

I found the following list of behaviors from the Autism Society of America to be helpful when trying to decide whether or not I needed to look into help for my child:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects

Coming Soon, Devotionals for Parents

I have felt lead to write devotionals for parents who have autistic children for some time. Now it is time to act. For the next several weeks I will post devotionals written from our family’s journey through the process of learning that our son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Let me know which posts are the most helpful, and share with me what  you have learned along the way.