The summer is slowly becoming longer and longer. The first month seemed to go by quickly, due to the newness of not being in school.  But now that boredom has set in, Sketch has taken to running away when he is outside, and throwing tantrums when he is inside.  The days are getting longer, one by one.

I have been thinking about this post I wrote last year, as it really applies again (more so than normal) now. I need to remember to notice the time that I have that is wonderful. To be present in the moment, and grateful for what it holds.

Treasures In The Dust

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
White space may refer to:
  • White space (visual arts), portions of a page left unmarked
    • Space (punctuation), the space between two words of text
  • Whitespace character, a computer character for the space between words
    • whitespace characters, a character class in regular expressions
  • White spaces (radio), allocated but locally unused radio frequencies
  • White space (management), an area where no one is responsible
  • Whitespace (programming language), an esoteric programming language”

I have been thinking about White Space lately, but not the kind mentioned above.

I’ve been thinking of the kind of White Space that is more like White Noise–that background static that either drives you crazy or that is so common you don’t notice it anymore…or maybe you love White Noise because it drowns out some other sounds you would rather not hear.

The White Space I am writing about relates to T-I-M-E.

That four letter word…

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The Treasure of Friendship

Sketch ran away. Again.

It is really getting frustrating to have to constantly think about where he is, what he’s doing.

Is he still doing what he was doing just a minute ago?  How about now?

It’s a source of constant anxiety leading to panic when he’s out of sight.

So many times he is right where he should be, we just can’t see him.  But, the anxiety continues to rise until his body is visible again.

Just yesterday this happened. He went exploring in the small strip of woods along the side of our yard. It was about to rain, and I’d seen him go back there so I wasn’t too worried. Not worried, that is, until I lifted PolkaDot to my hip and walked across the yard with aching back, wrists, feet and knees (due to RA) to tell him to come inside only to find that I couldn’t find him at all. He’d vanished!  I knew I couldn’t search far, especially while carrying my 1 year old. Then I heard him scripting (I thanked God for his scripting this time!) and knew he was nearby.

But tonight when I wasn’t worried, is when I should have been worried.  That’s how it works, you know.

Sketch was outside snacking on Pirate Booty.  I was inside with my new best friend, the Kitchen Aid, watching it tirelessly work kneading dough for pizza tonight. Mr. Incredible was with the other 3 kids.  Next thing I know there is a house shaking “KNOCK – KNOCK – KNOCK” on the door, scared me right out of my rolling pin!

It was our neighbor, “Is this one yours?” he asks, as Sketch happily trots and scripts, signing to himself in the back yard.

“Yes it is.  Where did you find him?”

“Oh, down at my house.  I thought he was yours.”

“Did he give you a hard time coming back here?” I cringe, sure he fought him the entire way…like last year.

“No, he just ran to each house along the way, knocked on their doors.” He said with a smile.

Yes, I am very blessed with friendly neighbors who find my children far more often than I know they need to be found. It is an interesting way to meet ones neighbors, I might add.

Tonight when I posted on my Facebook wall that Sketch ran away again, several friends joined in the discussion because they either have the same problem with their child with autism, or they have ideas on how to help keep the children from running away.

I have made so many friends because of autism, that I never would have known otherwise. Friends literally across the world!  Some of these friends are among my closest friends, even though we have never physically met (yet!).

That is a true, true Treasure:  Friendship.

Friends who really do understand what it’s like to raise kids who don’t fit the mold.

Who have kids who are so smart there is no child proofing that can contain them.

Friends who struggle with children who go three days straight without sleep.

Friends who know what it’s like to have children prone to outrageous meltdowns due to sensory processing disorders that travel along with autism.

Friends who know what it’s like to have a child missing, not knowing if they are alive or if they drowned in the pond down the street. Not knowing if they were hit by that car coming over the hill ask they pranced up it oblivious to the dangers.

Some things we deal with in the autism world are so opposite from what “normal” parenting requires, but we are not alone.  God has given us each other.  He has made us find each other even when we reside on opposite sides of the globe.

As strange as some of the things that we deal with are, we are not ever alone in dealing with it.  “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes  1:9

Distracted Drivers

In lane and focused!

The stroller swells up toward the hazy sky as piles of swim gear, diaper bags, book bags and lunch boxes of 4 children are mounted on top of the seat.  It wobbles left to right, swerving to the grass alongside the concrete path toward the recreation building.

“Sketch! Look out!  You are driving off the road!”

His head was turning in every direction but the one pointing to where he was going.  The jogger stroller seemed to have a mind of it’s own…one under the influence of too much drink.

He looks ahead at the stroller, then at the sidewalk and corrects his 7 year old driving as best he can, considering it’s his first “driving” lesson.

The swerving slows and is under much better control for about one second.  Sketch is back to his standard staring off unintentionally  at the buildings and people and birds fluttering about on the college campus.

Background info:  We were on St. Joseph’s college for the weekend. It was the annual Autism Society of Maine’s Family Retreat.  We laugh at the “retreat” part, since we are always so exhausted from sleepless children by the end of it.  But, they do a fabulous job providing wonderful people who volunteer to do respite for the kids with autism as well as their siblings.

The gym was filled with bounce houses and fun activities for them.  The swimming pool was in the same building, and the kids could swim several times a day. It was great.  Even though Sketch attempted to go A-wall several times, he was always caught before a true escape. Meanwhile, the parents were able to attend conferences and chat with each other without worrying about the kids…a rare moment indeed!

It amazes me, how Sketch can seem to be watching everything all at once.  Everything, that is, except for what he is supposed to be focusing on.  I think about what a good activity this is for him to realize his actions count. That he needs to pay attention and understand the consequences of not focusing.

In the RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) framework, he is having to do his share of the work. I’m not fixing it for him. I’m not helping him drive straight or keeping the stroller from spilling over. He has to adjust what he’s doing in order to prevent a crash.  As long as I don’t physically interfere, he IS able adjust himself and his actions, to keep the stroller upright and going in the right general direction.

What I did was “spotlight”  what Sketch needed to be paying attention to. He was unable to filter out all the visual and auditory “clutter” out there on the campus.  He wasn’t able to discern what was important to pay attention too, and what he needed to block out. By obviously highlighting what he needed to pay attention to by calling out, “What’s happening!  You are going off the road!” when he’d become distracted, he could correct his focus and get back on track.

He also had a job that was meaningful. We all needed to get to the recreation building, and everyone needed their stuff to get there too.  By guiding Sketch to enable him to  fulfill his own role, it helped him gain a sense of importance and competence.  We were counting on him, and he was learning how to do it!  More than learning to drive the stroller, he was learning to pay attention to what he was doing, and to accept instruction from me that tore him away from his self-made scripting world and brought him into our world. This is not an easy thing for him to do; he spent 70% of his school day last year scripting!

It was so inspiring to watch this unfold.  It was so great to see him helping out the family instead of tagging along.  So incredible to see him proud of himself…trying to do something new.  So awesome to see him actually pay attention to something and deal with the consequences of  his own actions!

This whole scenario made me think.  How often are we swerving, or driving off the path of our life in need of someone to call out to us “Hey, you’re driving off the road!  Look where you are going!”

Someone is always watching and guiding us toward the finish line–someone else is always trying to distract our focus onto our circumstances.

Jesus is who we are to focus on as we go down our path.  After all, we are “Christ followers”.  Yet, it’s so easy to be distracted by all the circumstantial clutter in our lives. When we go off-path, it is easy to fall into thinking about all the hard things, the things that are causing us great stress, the things that I refer to as “dust”.

It is so good to know that He is always there calling us back, perfecting our faith!

So if you are a distracted driver, are you listening to your Father say, “Hey, you’re going off the road!” and adjusting your behavior to go back on the right path?

Sketch’s autism and ADHD requires him to learn what to fix his 7 year old eyes on,  in order to accomplish any given task, and this is probably going to be a life-long lesson he will learn by practicing it.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus is a life-long lesson that we have to work on, to practice through out the different circumstances that arise in our lives.

If you are a distracted driver, let the Father take hold of your face, lift your head, look you in the eyes and listen to him tell you, “This is the way; walk in it” (Is 30:21)

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus,the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

Choosing Joy

The relentless, constant, unending, repetitive badgering.

The fighting, the yelling the screaming, the crying.

Day after day.

All hell broke loose a few minutes ago.

Sketch had just tried to go jumping on top of the van, again (his new favorite thing to do)

PolkaDot, so tired, was put in her crib. But, her favorite thing to do now is to throw her stuffed animals and pacifiers overboard and then cry because she can’t sleep without them. (Don’t you love that stage?)

I, riddled with aching joints, go to get PolkaDot, and then let Sketch out of  his time-out that he earned by kicking PolkaDot because she was sitting on the floor instead of being held by me.

“Hold the baby?”

Here we go again.  Twenty-four seven, he wants me to hold the baby.

I walk in to the computer room to text Mr. Incredible and see when he’s coming home. We’re supposed to be packing for a trip and getting ready for PolkaDots 1st birthday.

Sketch follows me.  Polkadot is nestled in the chair with me as I tap on the keyboard.

“Hold the baby? Log-in window?”  He demands.  Again.

He is pretty much OCD about all computers being on the log-in window screen unless he’s playing with it.

“Not right now, Sketch.”

He continues to badger.

PolkaDot pulls herself up to her feet, and before I could blink my eyes, she landed with a thud, right on the side of her face.

Screams.

Uncontrollable sobs.

“Hold the baby!  Log-in window!”

I send Sketch back to his room.

PolkaDot continues to scream, her body thirsting for comfort.

This is how it’s been for most of the summer.  Unending.

We’ve had great moments in between the mind-boggling chaos.

It would be so easy to focus on all the bad things.  All the This-Is-Too-Much-ness of it all.

But, to focus on that would be the beginning of an unending darkness.  The “pit of despair” as it’s described in The Prince Bride  .

So I choose after my own tempter tantrum instead, to focus on the the good things; to “Choose Joy” as Sherry Surratt talks about in her article I Choose Joy from MomSense Magazine’s Summer 2012 edition. She says:

“It’s so human to get caught up in what’s wrong, what’s broken, what’s missing and to be crabby about it.  But here’s what I know:  God wants me to choose joy. Contentment is my daily opportunity if only I’ll slow down and notice the good things.”

I really believe this is the secret to handling the impossible:

.         To Believe that all things are possible for those who love God.

        It is too hard by myself, but with God, I can do anything.

.        To Believe that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.

        It isn’t a coincidence.

.        To Believe that God is there helping me, teaching me to see the positive.

        He whispers in my ear, which way to go.

.        To know that God is showing me,  pointing out to me,  the lovely, beautiful, good things that he as placed all around me.

        He opens my eyes to see.

So I choose be grateful, to be thankful for all that He’s given me.

        When I do that, I see that the weight of all those good things is by far, heavier than all the bad.

Psalm 30:11

“You turned my wailing into dancing;
 you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”

When Time Stands Still

You know it’s either really good, or really bad when time stands still.

I lost track of time, it seemed unchanging because my boy was missing.

This time, our neighbor saw Sketch (age 7, autism) walking down toward the farm at the end of our street.

Since I can’t run after him anymore (thanks to RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), I called down to Mr. Incredible who was working in his office in our basement.  He and Mr. Neighbor went in search of Sketch.

I wait, holding PolkaDot looking out the window.

Princess Buttercup comes up to me and teasingly kicks me with her mismatched neon socks.  I tell her what is going on.

“Can I go look for him too?”

I think about it… It’s 5:00, the farm trucks zoom down the road this time of day.  “I don’t know, you may get hurt with how fast the trucks fly down our street!”

“I”ll walk on the side of the street and be careful, Please?”

I think about all the times our In-Home Supports person used to take the kids on walks in the woods down there, and how Princess Buttercup really could be helpful in finding him…I think about how when I was 9 years old, I walked around the neighborhood all the time… So, I agree.

Princess Buttercup walks cautiously down the street.  I see someone walking back up the street toward our house, carrying  something.  I can’t see well because of the trees but I think for a minute it is Mr. Incredible carrying Sketch.

It wasn’t.

Then I think it was Mr. Neighbor and his bike, but it wasn’t.

Then I see.

It is the teenage Neighbor-Boy with his  2 small dogs.  The search party no where in sight.

This is where panic begins to set in.

I walk out with PolkaDot to the end of the driveway to watch.

The Friendly Neighbor-Boy says, “Hi”.  Apparently his new dog ran away and wouldn’t come back when he called for him.

I told him we have the same problem here with one of our kids and I look down the street where I hope to see them coming home safely.

And, I do!

Dash comes out at this point and says he’s starving.  We talk a bit with Mr. Neighbor and thank him profusely!

Dash says he’s “Sooooo Hungry!”

So we go inside.

It’s 5:10.

I couldn’t believe only 10 minutes had passed.

It seemed like time was moving so fast as it ticked away without my boy. At the same time, it seemed like it was going equally slow and I just wanted him back quickly and safely.

It seemed like time stood still.

Thinking like someone with ASD, it makes perfect sense.  xFast + xSlow= Still.

Time didn’t matter. It had no purpose…

The track team could wait.  Dinner could wait.

This time, time standing still was really bad but ended good.

When I think about the equation xFast + xSlow = still, and how time can go fast and slow all at the same time I think about the verse in Psalms 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Sometimes it seems like forever that we wait to hear from God.  When he  reveals himself, it seems like so much happens so fast.  How does God change a personal paradigm in one breath?  Change the way we think with a quick whisper to our hearts?  How does he instantly heal and set us on a different path in life?

It is perplexingly beautiful. It causes one to be awestruck.

It makes me want to just be still.

Little Blessings

Image

BOOM Boom.  Boom-Boom-Boom!

I feel every sound enter their little bodies as they lay against me, like shots from a gun.

I’m sure someone is going to launch.  Sketch (7, autism/anxiety/adhd) and PolkaDot (11months) are going to be inconsolable.  But again, I’m wrong.  The twins (9) stand in the sand watching the fireworks over the beach.  Dash (autism/adhd) has his ears covered and Princess Buttercup is soaking in every explosion and all it’s beauty!

Mr. Incredible holds our nervous PolkaDot for a while and Sketch continues to drape himself over my RA’d legs, fingers firmly pressed into his ears.

Giggles.

I look down at his face and see just smiles and giggles and then a request for “More Boom?”

He LOVED it!  Who’da guessed?

They’ve come soooo far!  I am just beside myself in thankfulness for this day…

The 6th of July.

The 4th was a thunderstorming evening so the fireworks were cancelled (Disappointment #1).

We tried to go on the 5th, but Portland was over-packed with people and cars and there was no parking in the entire town close enough for us to be able to walk to the display site.

(Disappointment sets in a second time)

We drove to Freeport, thinking L.L. Beans would have rescheduled their fireworks for the 5th as well, but that was not the case (# 3)…. So we walked around Beans a while.  By the time we got back to the car, my knees felt like they were ripping from walking to much.

But I was the only one complaining.

Wow.  No tears or fussing about missing the fireworks.  We told the kids that we would try Old Orchard Beach the next day if we missed it today, and they were ok with that!   Miracle of miracles!!!

Any kid would be disappointed after looking forward to the fireworks and twice having to reschedule, but with ASD kids, the upset-ness rises to a whole new level as schedules change without warning.  But they handled it so well, over and over again!

Little Blessings.

They’re actually huge blessings.  The kids have come so far, it is really amazing!

James 1:17a

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”

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