It’s been 4 years since our little boys were diagnosed with developmental delays & issues that are considered autistic traits. For those of you who are close to us you know that it has been one of the hardest things we have dealt with as family. You have visions and ideas of what it will be like to have your own children…the milestones they’ll reach and how they will develop.
Aaron and I have had to give those hopes and expectations to the Lord and we have been learning how to embrace our boys differences and how to help them grow and develop despite the challenges they face. It’s not easy and in general parenting is never easy…right?
I sometimes give autism too much credit and don’t acknowledge enough that some of our kids behaviors aren’t just autistic related but they are just typical kid behavior…
…kids who sometimes choose not to listen and throw a fit if they don’t get their way, kids who don’t always want to clean up after themselves and kids who are just strong-willed.
Yet I can’t ignore that my boys have still have some developmental delays and struggles…especially in the area of language development/communication and social interactions. These are the things I worry about and that I long to see continued breakthrough in. As a mom I’ve come a long way with my attitude and emotions when it comes to the boys. Some days it’s a roller coaster but for the most part I’ve been pretty emotionally steady the last couple of years.
We’ve learned that early intervention is one of the best things we could have done for Dylan & Caden. Getting them services that have helped them grow verbally, mentally and socially have been key to their development so far.
Yet, it seems like for each new step they encounter I have a bit of trepidation and anxiety. I think it’s just the mom in me who wants the best for her kids and doesn’t want to see them get hurt or struggle. As the boys are getting older the area where I see a glaring area where they need growth is in socialization…especially with kids their age.
Our boys language didn’t start developing until they were 3 1/2 years old which is way later than most kids. Over the years we have learned that their lack of language hasn’t necessarily meant that they haven’t comprehended things. However, a lack of language was also a big struggle in getting them started with potty training. To be honest it’s still an area of struggle for the boys which is pretty typical for kids on the spectrum. I don’t make it an excuse but it’s just a reality for our boys right now.
I realize that with each new step we take with the boys that I am the one who has the most anxiety and fear over it. I want them to be accepted, I want them to blend in, I want them to be “normal”- that may not be the best way to express it but those are feelings I have. As a mom with special needs kids there’s a tension between accepting where my boys are at developmentally but still wanting to see growth in them. I don’t rejoice or love that my kids struggle with language development, that they freak out when we wash their hair in the bath, that they’re still not 100% potty trained, that they don’t know how to socialize fully with other kids….. I don’t like any of it.
I don’t find that something to celebrate. In fact it makes me mad, it makes me angry to see these struggles and I wish my boys didn’t have these challenges. Yet, through this I have learned that:
I need to rejoice even in those things that seem the smallest triumphs….being able to give our boys a hair cut for the first time with clippers, Caden eating a chicken nugget on his own (when he normally only eats carbs), my boys asking me for something in a complete sentence….these are victories for us.
It was just last week where for the first time my husband said, “I actually had a conversation with Caden right now!” As he told me about their exchange Aaron just broke down with tears. He has longed to be able to have a conversation with his boys and it finally happened. We both hugged each other and cried together and I reminded Aaron that God is doing a work in the boys, that he is growing them and developing them in their communication. I told him that we need to keep believing God to do amazing things in the boys and not to give up hope.
So all this background to mention our most recent victory …we have kept our boys in the preschool kids classroom at church because they’re so young emotionally/socially. They are the oldest and biggest kids in the class but it’s the environment we felt would be best for them. To be really honest it was the environment where I felt safest too. I felt having them in this class would help them blend better and have less chance of any ridicule by peers. Again, these are my own issues I deal with.
So very tenderly our children’s pastor and the kids teacher in Sunday school have kindly challenged us as parents to see how the boys would do in the Kindergarten/1st grade class at church. Yes, I had resistance to this idea for the reasons I mentioned above.
Yet, what I am learning through raising these two boys is that I can’t let my insecurities and issues keep them back from experiencing and growing in new areas.
So this past Sunday we said “o.k” and we had them go into their age group classroom for the first time at church since they were in the nursery with the babies.
As God would have it the wonderful lady who teaches their class works with special needs kids on a regular basis and a dear friend at church who also has experience working with special needs kids is helping to shadow the boys twice a month.
Both ladies assured us that would contact us if necessary and that the boys would be fine. So off we went.
For me and Aaron this meant that for the first time in I don’t know how long we were able to sit in church together as husband and wife. I can’t explain it but as Aaron and I sat there in church and worshiped God, together tears just streamed down my face as I realized I was letting go and trusting God once more with our boys. With that realization God was showing me how He was freeing me up from my insecurities and issues that I have carried with me.
Sure enough when we returned to pick up the boys from their class all we heard was how great they did. My fears relieved and my heart swelled with hope. It’s hard to let go at times, to trust God and give him your babies- to trust that His plans for them are to give them a future and hope. We’re learning so much through it all and know we will continue to grow as parents, trust God more and see God’s purpose lived out in our lives. We hold on to these seemingly small victories and know that even greater ones will come into our lives and our kids lives as well.