Tag Archives: autism

In Honor of Autism Awareness Day!

3 Apr

In Honor of Autism Awareness Day!

Great story!


Reaching a Child with Autism through Disney!

10 Mar

Reaching a Child with Autism through Disney!

Amazing first person story by a journalist who raised his profoundly autistic son using dialogue from Disney films!


The Restaurant Manager Approaches the Family at Table 9 . . .

6 Feb

The Restaurant Manager Approaches the Family at Table 9 . . .

Awesome story of humans having compassion for each other . . .

When Someone with OCD is Most Precious to You! (OCD #7)

8 Jan

If my first six posts on OCD were to be taken out of balance, it would seem as though life with our son who has autism and OCD has been very sad indeed.  And nothing would be further from the truth.  

Truly, if I had a choice to rid him of the OCD, I would do that.  Not so much the autism.  That is part of Joey’s quirky charm.  But the OCD seems to just separate him from other people, due to its nature of suggesting grudges to his mind and getting him spinning (literally) on them forever. It is like his brain just cannot stop and just cannot let go of certain things.  

Nonetheless, the choice I made to homeschool Joey for over ten years of his fifteen years of primary schooling should say a lot.  Mostly that was a pleasurable experience.  When it was not, it was still worthwhile.  I am not made of the kind of stuff that would have soldiered on indefinitely if I thought I were fighting a losing cause . . . 

Joey has made incredible progress over the years.  Many people with autism who have better abilities at math and English than he does have fallen behind him in overall progress because he keeps on plugging (and we keep on working with him and encouraging him).  

Some mysteries remain.  Even very big ones.  But we have a very big God.  

I have only to look at the pictures or the objects we still have from his childhood to remember the joy of raising this special boy.  

His baby blanket and his longtime stuffed animals still bring floods of joy when I pick them up.  

My joy is the joy of any mother anywhere.  

As I noted when the movie “Children of a Lesser God” won an Academy Award for Marlee Matlin, an actress who is deaf, there is not a separate “God of the deaf” or “God of those with autism” or “God of the mentally retarded.”  There is one God and there is one race of people He has created.  Those with disabilities don’t fall out of the mainstream of humanity.  

And all mothers cherish moments of joy from raising their babies.  Difficulties are present in all lives.  Some have more difficulties than others, but they don’t negate life.  They don’t negate joy. They don’t negate love.

My Hero!

24 Jan

Today I was privileged to take a long look into the milestones our beloved Joey has reached.

I did the Vineland Assessment of Adaptive Behaviors for him, in advance of a psychological testing session he will have before going off to college.  When he is at college, we will have at least four states between us, no matter how we complete the journey!  So this is a huge step!

I am so proud of him!  And so thankful to God for having brought us thus far.

Remember, when we first heard the word “autism” in 1996, when he was four, we didn’t know where the upper end of his scale would fall!

I spent years in prayer and worry that he would “top out” somewhere in the lower elementary school range of skills, both intellectual skills and life skills.  And the life skills part always scared me the most.

Now as I check mostly “can always do this” on the list of skills, I see my cup as 95% full.  Sure, he doesn’t drive and doesn’t meet friends socially without one of us facilitating it.  Oh, well.

And the part about maintaining the home can stand some work.  He might be quite capable of running that vacuum cleaner or that load of laundry.  It is just that I haven’t checked lately.  It is easy to get used to being busy at work, come home, and just do it all myself.  Easier than teaching the skill, but short-sighted.

But I must underline that all of this is a great, great comfort for me.  When a parent first hears about a disability, there is no guarantee about how far that child will go.  Everything is unknown.

Granted, everything is unknown with our other children, too.  They could become disabled after being born normally.  But the idea is that we have more assumed milestones for our normal children.

Joey was a big question mark.

And I am so very comforted that he has hit so many milestones, sometimes late, but almost always there.

We can call him a late bloomer.

And we can rejoice in our family and in our God!Image


A Joey Story

1 Oct

A Joey Story

Jude 1:22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

This is one of my “Joey stories” about our son, age 20 with Asperger’s syndrome (high functioning autism). It comes from when he was 16 years old and I was fighting breast cancer. We enrolled him in a private school (from homeschooling) so I could take a year off to be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and to heal. Here it is:

The principal thing I have noticed over the years about Joey is that he looks at the world in an “inside out” way from the rest of us. It’s not wrong, just different.

Sometimes I find Joey’s way of looking at the world utterly breathtaking.

Joey has had his challenges, as do we all, but he defies many of the odds for autism. A recent one was the supposed “lack of empathy” that people claim characterizes autism.

Joey is in a school small enough (less than 20) that the kids draw names for the Christmas party. After first thinking that drawing names had something to do with art (and being afraid to ask because he is a big tough teen boy, after all, hee hee!), he finally figured out he had drawn Moriah, a 12-year-old girl whom he describes as “too young to be a girlfriend but a really good friend.”

They then were awarded their “merit points” (the opposite of “demerits”) for the semester and were allowed to purchase gifts for themselves from a merit points store.

Joey didn’t realize I was already out shopping for Moriah’s gift so he used some of his merit points to get Moriah a gift that he put under the Christmas tree for her!

I think this was his own idea and it was so sweet it made me cry! He was so excited thinking he had gotten something she would really like. And I was so excited to see him being able to fully enter into someone else’s world like that.

I got her a bracelet from him, too, as I remember getting jewelry from my first crush in sixth grade (when we drew names for gifts) and how special it made me feel (my friend’s mother probably bought it, like I did . . .).

So we had a very happy young girl who became Joey’s loyal friend at that school. So sweet.

The Dreaded CPS Visit . . .

26 Sep

Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

When we had our CPS (Child Protective Services) visit, back when our son was six years old, I was very glad for a legal organization that believed in the above Bible verse.  In fact, they were a Christian legal organization.  In fact, they were the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA.

Having begun to homeschool Joey the year before (although not required to do so until he turned six, so this was just one of God’s many sovereign works in our life), I had signed up with HSLDA to cover our homeschool legally, especially as I was pretty sure that homeschooling a child with Asperger’s syndrome (high functioning autism) was not going to be a normal endeavor, by any stretch of the imagination.

It was summertime, but HSLDA was happy to take on the case of our CPS visit, despite the fact it was not related to schooling.

They will often do that, even for non-members, if the case seems to be making a precedent for parents’ rights.  HSLDA has long taught that parents in the U.S.A. are losing their God-given right to direct the upbringing of their children.  I now agree with them.

Let me backtrack and explain how we got to the place where CPS was planning to come to our house, inspect it, and meet with us to determine whether we were fit parents to oversee the upbringing of our son.

Our Joey went through a stage when he was five and six in which he was fascinated by spinning ceiling fans.  We had three of them but he always wanted to look at them in other people’s homes, in restaurants, in stores, and, most of all, in Lowe’s and Home Depot, where there were rows and rows of beautifully spinning fans!

I was on my third straight summer of active duty out at Dam Neck Naval Annex, having been hired out of reserve status to write security manuals for a nationwide reserve connectivity project.  Since I had started homeschooling Joey already, we had decided that I would work fulltime during the three summer months, while Noel was Joey’s primary caregiver, then I would be with Joey the other nine months.  It worked great for us and the Navy didn’t mind.

I had been hearing of incidents in which Joey would run away from Noel in public in order to go look at ceiling fans.  This was especially prevalent when they would walk on Chick’s Beach together, something they have done since Joey was first able to walk!

Joey had even entered some homes in which he could see fans through the windows.  Thankfully, Noel was always right on his heels and no harm ever resulted.  His obsession with fans was getting downright scary though . . .

We installed childproof locks on our doors at home when Joey started to sneak out of the house to go look for ceiling fans in the neighborhood.

On the day when a neighbor brought him back while I was on the phone, after she had seen him climb her six foot fence to get into her yard and house, I found a window open and a screen removed.  I childproofed our windows that day, too.

Then, just as we were starting to be able to channel Joey’s love for ceiling fans into field trips with Mommy to Lowe’s again, the worst day of all occurred.

I was at work when I got a call from my husband.  He said that Joey had gotten lost and been brought back home by the police.  He said that CPS had been to the house and left a note on our door.  I didn’t have time to get all of the details from him, but it sounded serious.

Terrified, I finished my day’s work and went home to hear Noel’s story.  Noel had been mowing the grass and letting Joey play in the yard as he did so.  At one point, Joey ran around to the back of the house for a toy he had left there and . . . he didn’t return.  Noel went after him within five minutes, but Joey was nowhere in sight.

As Noel walked through our subdivision, looking for Joey, he did not realize Joey had gone along a major road and into a cul-de-sac that also belongs to our subdivision (but away from the rest of it).  Joey saw a ceiling fan in the upstairs of a home there and he found an unlocked door to enter the house.

The home’s owner was outside painting on a ladder when he looked up and saw the fan in his upstairs bedroom turning on and off, on and off.  Approaching his door, he could tell there was someone in the upstairs of his house.  Knowing the house was supposed to be empty, he called the police.

My son walked out of that house twenty minutes later to police with their weapons drawn!  The homeowner had worked with special needs children before and he was the one who first understood the situation.  He called to the police, “It’s just a kid and I think he is disabled.”  The weapons were holstered.

Joey still remembers being placed in the rear of that police car and kicking and kicking to try to get out.  He was terrified.

So were we when we got the full story and realized all of the places where things could have gone much worse than they did!

We were not out of the woods yet.  Noel had been cited for endangering a child by letting Joey run around the neighborhood unsupervised.  We still had to deal with CPS.

HSLDA counseled me to clean my house within an inch of my life (!), then to come to the meeting with the CPS worker straight from work, with my Navy dress blues on.  Since I was a Lieutenant Commander at the time, HSLDA believed I would convey authority, competence, and diligence by having this particular dress uniform on, with my officer’s gold on the sleeves.

They were right.  I came home that day, met with Noel, Joey, and the CPS representative, and had the case dismissed within ten minutes.  The woman never even looked at the house.  She said she could tell right away that we were caring parents who had been overcome by events beyond our control.

Praise God for that!

And . . . you will never hear me badmouthing a fellow parent who gets into a situation involving the CPS.

Now let’s pray for our friends this week, as the husband is facing a felony charge (and five year sentence) for leaving their baby in the car for five minutes as he dashed into the store for a bottle of milk.

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