This week I’m beginning my first post in the Blogging through the Alphabet link-up that is hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me. That’s right, lucky you! You get to read a post by me each week based on the letter of the week. 😉 (I’m working on narrowing down a day, hopefully Mondays, so excuse today’s post being a few days late…) I expect this to be a fun and challenging series, and really look forward to the journey that Blogging through the Alphabet will take me on in the weeks ahead. Be sure to check out the other blogs linked up by heading over to Marcy’s blog… And be sure to check out all that Marcy has to say! In the last few months of reading her blog, I’ve realized a lot about myself and have learned quite a bit. Marcy is a strong woman of God and has great words to share with everyone, not just homeschoolers. She’s one smart cookie!
On with the alphabet…
I’ve kind of tip-toed around my son Johnny Ben’s recent diagnosis here on the blog. We haven’t intended to keep it a secret and it’s not that it’s hard to talk about. I guess it’s just that I haven’t known how to approach it. The whole process of learning John is on the autism spectrum, what all it entails, and the abundance of information along with what has to be done moving forward has been extremely overwhelming to me. Not in a bad way, mind you. I’m just… adjusting, I guess.
There have been tell-tale signs over the last few years to lead us to believe Johnny Ben has autism. He never really started talking. He says a word here and there, maybe a sentence if he feels like it. Toys have never been played with in the way they are intended. Getting him to actually eat something other than a few favorite foods is not even possible. Social situations in which there are crowds, or even more than a few people, make him very anxious. The list goes on and on. So when we were told that he is autistic we were not shocked at all. As a matter of fact, we were relieved.
Relieved, you ask? Yes. Relieved. Now we can move forward and help our sweet boy!
It was that reaction that surprised me, though. In my life, I would hear of a friend or acquaintance who’s child had been given a diagnosis on the autism spectrum and think to myself, “Oh, that poor mother. She must be so devastated. I don’t think I could ever bear to go through that.” Boy, did God teach me a lesson here! How did I not see before that regardless of the “label” that is put on your child’s mental or physical health, nothing changes? Nothing about your child changes. That child is still the beautiful creation that God brought into this world, and is exactly how God intended for them to be. Johnny Ben is still my “Chubby Cherub” that I love and adore. Our day to day life might change, and aspects of it may not be the same as they are for other families, but nothing is actually different than it was before we were officially told. In truth, we never know what our future holds, so there is no reason for me to assume that this will be the way it is forever, either.
I do have to say that Johnny Ben probably has the biggest heart out of anyone I’ve ever known. While he does have issues with feeling, recognizing, and expressing some emotions, he has no problem with showing love to anyone. A few nights after we found out, I was having a particularly hard night dealing with some unrelated problems. I got up out of bed, unable to sleep, and came out onto the couch. I was quietly crying and praying, that God would just help me with what I was dealing with. Within a few minutes Johnny Ben, who had been up singing and playing in his room all night (he doesn’t like sleep) came walking into the living room. He took my face into his hands and smiled, in his way insisting that I smile too. I couldn’t help but laugh. He sat there with me, doing things to make me laugh until we snuggled up together and fell asleep. That night I told him, “Johnny Ben, it’s you and me against the world. Nothing and no one will stop us. I’ve got your back, buddy. You can do anything you want to in this life, and I’ll make sure that it happens.” Since then we have been labeled as “Pinky and the Brain.” I’ll let you figure out which one is the brain… (Hint, it’s not me. 😉 )
The autism spectrum is certainly a mystery. Finding out your child is on it and learning where exactly they fit in can be very confusing and as I said before, overwhelming. Thankfully, I have met some wonderful people here online and have become a part of a few support groups that have pointed me in the right direction of where to begin my research to understanding what my little boy is dealing with. (At the bottom of this post, I’ll list some links to some wonderful blogs that have really helped me.)
Now, some things about Johnny Ben and his amazing little ways:
I do want to mention that in the last few weeks he has progressed tremendously! He now uses crayons, plays peek-a-boo, is talking more, and is showing affection to his little sister that until recently he was either aggressive with or just flat out didn’t acknowledge. This sudden change came out of nowhere! We attribute it to prayer and a new vitamin that we are trying.
So, tell me, have you ever had a situation arise in your life in which you reacted completely opposite of what you thought you would? Did you feel the peace of God come over your spirit and whisper to you, “It’s okay, I got this?” I’d love for you to share with me!
Here is the list of blogs and bloggy friends that have been a great help! (This is the modified list. There were also Twitter friends, real-life friends and family, and many others that have been an inspiration and help. You don’t want to see my loooong list of bookmarks and evernote clips. 😉 )