Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New words, new races, new tantrums, OH MY!

There have been so many new changes with sweet Jakey lately.  He is talking independently much more now.  The other night Cret was holding him trying to get him to watch a movie with us, instead of spinning plates loudly in the living room, and Jacob announced, “I don’t want to! I want to go play!”  It was pretty amazing.  He is becoming more vocal and showing us his funny personality.  He is dancing more, reading more, and even adding and subtracting.  He also just ran his very first 1 mile race with the Miracle League and loved it! However, with this new and fantastic independence comes full on tantrums and stubbornness.  When we are somewhere that is too loud, he will make it known that he cannot handle it and there is absolutely nothing that will calm him down.  When his bedtime routine is out of order, he will scream and try to kick and bite me and it takes a very long time to calm him.  He’s always been such a laid-back kid, so these new outbursts are pretty shocking to the fam.  But, with the good comes some bad and we are making progress which is very hopeful.

We recently received the results of the IQ and cognitive evaluation for Jacob.  The results were much worse than we expected, and it hit Cret and I pretty hard.  We see him making so much progress and in some ways he seems far above his age.  I guess we were expecting to hear all of these glorious things about him.  Unfortunately, those tests mostly show deficits.  And in Jacob’s case, most of the tests showed extreme deficits.  In addition to a full detailed devastating description of all the deficits, they gave Jacob new diagnoses. They diagnosed him with autism with accompanying language impairment and accompanying intellectual impairment, ADHD, Language Disorder, Speech Sound Disorder, and Developmental Coordination Disorder.  They would’ve diagnosed him with Selective Mutism, however, based on diagnostic criteria right now any individual with autism cannot also be diagnosed with that.  Its very strange because most doctors believe you can have both, just as you can have autism and ADHD, but that’s another story. 

It was not the news we wanted to hear.  His percentiles were lower than I could’ve imagined and the news hit me like a ton of bricks.  I found out later that it hit my husband pretty hard, too.  He is such a lovely husband to me.  I try to be really strong and educated and helpful when it comes to Jacob’s disability.  Nevertheless, that night as I read the results he said he could see it in my eyes that I just couldn’t hold it together, so he held it together for me.  He read the results and came to me and reassured me, while inside he was feeling crushed.  Only later did he tell me that he cried, too.  I feel so fortunate that God blessed me and our family with my husband.  He does so much for us, there is just no way that I deserve him. 

The next day, a therapist kindly reminded us that while this test was hard to read, it was for his benefit because now we know what to work on.  Also, the test only focuses on what he can’t do, we must remember to always focus on what he CAN do.  I loved that reminder. 

They still believe insurance will begin cutting his ABA hours this summer, so we have been teaching him academics at home.  We are in this strange waiting period right now.  We don’t know what the future holds for Jacob’s therapy and education and we honestly can’t decide what to do next.  So that leaves us here…with either worry or trust. 

God has provided for Jacob so many times, yet I still struggle with waiting and trusting; waiting to see what the Lord has in store for Jacob and for our family.  I wanted to know all the answers immediately.  I want to know how independent Jacob will be when he is older, I want to know if he will have a job, go to a typical school, talk to me like my other kids, get married, have friendships... I want to know what all these stupid terrible test scores mean in the big picture. I want to know now and I don’t want to wait.  And that impatience leads me to doubt and worry and fear instead of trust, knowing that God has put me here right now in this place of waiting for a reason.  I’ve been struggling with this for a while now, but I want to let it go.  So, today I am choosing to surrender my impatience to the Lord.  I may have to choose to do that every single morning because it is so doggone hard, but I want to be faithful in waiting. I want to live life believing that what God has in store for us is better than what my measly brain thinks needs to happen.  I want to be able to wait patiently, even forever, knowing that my hope is in the Lord and not my desired outcome.

And when life throws crazy test results at us, and we mourn, I want to run to the Lord in prayer instead of to myself and my worry.  God is so good and today I will choose to trust in Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Cret and I have been reading a lot about wisdom together lately.  We have been praying for wisdom for our lives, our marriage, our family and for Jacob’s future.  Issues came up recently with Jacob’s insurance that left us uncertain about therapy for him.  For now, insurance has granted us 6 more months of full-time therapy and indicated they would begin cutting hours after that.  We don’t know what the future holds for Jacob regarding his education and functioning, so it’s hard to have a concrete plan. 

Jacob is very bright and soars through his goals at the clinic.  They are asking me what our plan is for him when he graduates from ABA.  He is so smart, but the hard thing is that his behavior and his anxiety (selective mutism) are his main obstacles.  That causes our decision for either public school, private school, home school or an autism school to be very difficult to determine.  It’s hard to know what’s right for him and to plan accordingly.  He is growing and becoming more opinionated, which is good because it's typical, but hard because he still lacks a sense of danger. 

Saturday, we had a day full of soccer.  Jordan and Tyler had a huge tournament and Cret was the coach for both teams.  It was supposed to be a pleasant day, but it turned out to be really hard.  At our first game, I had Jacob and two chairs as we walked out to the field to sit down.  The wind started blowing hard and it upset Jacob terribly.  He started to wail around and make bloodcurdling noises.  Then he wouldn’t walk or let me hold him and started dragging his head on the ground.  It was a tantrum like no other.  I tried to calm him down and talk to him, but the wind kept blowing and he kept screaming.  Finally, I had to drop everything and sit down right there on the ground by the parking lot and hold him in my lap squeezing him while he screamed for 5 minutes.  I can’t even imagine what it looked like to all the people staring at us, but no one offered to help carry the chairs.  They all just stared.  I really don’t blame them, the noises coming out of Jacob were something from a horror movie.  However, it did make me think about how nice it would’ve been in that moment if someone had offered to carry our chairs to the field.  His behavior carried on into the day as the wind would pick up.  He tried to rip off his shirt, kick me and kept rubbing his head on the ground.  But the worst was when we were walking to the parking lot after a game and tons of cars were leaving and he darted away from me as fast as he could to head in between two cars towards the road.  His hand slipped out of mine and in a panic, I leaped at him and fell, but just in time I caught his foot and he tripped and hit his head on the concrete.  We both got pretty scratched up and I hurt my knee, but I was able to grab him and hold him as he cried from the fall.  He would’ve been hit by a car and I am so thankful God protected him.  He didn’t even get a scratch on his head because his massive headphones took the pounding. 

It was a challenging day.  Part of me just wanted to go home and cry.  I got in the car and prayed for our service dog to come soon.  I can’t imagine life with a dog that could help Jacob to function in public and remain safe.  It will certainly be a blessing to us.  

With all the choices, and all the major decisions coming up, and all the stressful situations we are in, we know for sure that we need God’s guidance and wisdom.  In Proverbs, it tells us wisdom is something that we need to gain and seek continually.  Through reading scripture, prayer, and understanding we ought to seek wisdom so that we can keep our mind and our actions focused on God.   We have to hold tightly to wisdom.  Wisdom is one of God’s gifts to help us walk the straight path and prevent us from stumbling.  I need wisdom to focus more on God and less on me and Jacob and upsetting situations that are inevitable.  I need wisdom to help me from sinning and living in worry and anxiety and to have real peace regardless of stressful situations.   I need wisdom to be a better witness for the Lord.  It’s really hard for me to stay focused on what’s important, especially when things get rough and my knee gets all busted up and insurance tries to ruin our lives.  But, all of those things seem really small when God reminds me of what I need to concentrate on.  

Today, amongst other things, I am praying for God’s wisdom in our lives as we navigate it all.  I pray the Lord will guide us to make good decisions that honor him and to help us walk in a way that is pleasing Him.  I am so thankful for the peace that God gives us when our minds are fixed on Him.

Proverbs 3:1-8
1My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success[a]
    in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh[b]
    and refreshment[c] to your bones. 
Proverbs 3:13-18
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called blessed.
Proverbs 4:1-9
 Hear, O sons, a father's instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain[a] insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father,
    tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
    keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;
    she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Guest Blog by Kelly Tatera from Action Behavior Centers

Mom and Nonverbal Son with Autism Win Jimmy Fallon’s “Say Mama” Video Contest

[Guest Post for Allison Hill]

Jimmy Fallon is known to engage his fans with his video contests, and his latest contest winner brought light to a topic that deserves more attention: nonverbal autism.

The video competition challenged viewers to send in the most adorable videos of their babies saying “Mama.” Fallon and staff likely expected to receive exactly what they’d asked for, but one unlikely video submission stood out among them all: Kate Swenson and her 7-year-old son, Cooper, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

In the video, Swenson explains why her son couldn’t participate in the video competition in the same way as other children, but how he is just as special.

“He loves trains. He’s smart and he’s funny and he’s loving, and Cooper is also autistic and nonverbal,” Swenson says. “I was told at a very young age that I should prepare to never hear Cooper’s voice, and that’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to expect.”

Swenson believes that her son’s voice would be just as sweet as any of the other babies seen in the video contest. She showcases her son’s speech device – the Proloquo2Go system for iPads from Talk to Me Technologies – and Cooper pushes a button which recites “Mama” in a computerized voice.

Being nonverbal is common among children with ASD, but it doesn’t mean the speech delay will last a lifetime. In fact, one study found that the majority of children who are nonverbal at the age of 4 go on to overcome their severe language delays.

The study looked at a sample of 535 children with ASD and categorized them into groups based on whether they had the ability to speak in only single words, small phrases, or more fluent phrases. After analyzing data on these children, the researchers found that 70 percent of the kids achieved simple phrase speech by 8 years old, and almost half of the sample (47 percent) achieved fluent speech.

For parents with a nonverbal child on the spectrum, these findings serve as a science-backed beacon of hope that they may one day hear their children communicate verbally.

Swenson’s number one goal with her video submission was to show the world a more positive side to autism. She says people often express sympathy after hearing that Cooper has autism, but she doesn’t need the sympathy. “I say, ‘No, he’s the coolest kid you will ever meet.’”

“I just really want autism to be a part of the conversation,” she says. “I want the world to see that it’s not scary and it’s not sad.”

(Please click on the infographic to get a better view)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Don't Hide From the World

As Jacob is growing, we are having to discover new ways to teach him, new methods for rewards and punishments and new ways to include him into everyday activities.  Jacob is silly and energetic, but he also suffers from extreme anxiety with a capital A.  This is something that I have been struggling with lately.  I’ve heard of people that have anxiety or OCD from traumatic events, but when a child who has had a typical upbringing is anxious it’s very confusing.  It’s as confusing as autism. 

Anxiety is common within the autism community.  The statistics say somewhere around 40%.  I have been doing some research in medical journals in my free time and have read several theories backed by some mainstream medical professionals.  Anxiety could be linked to his atypical sensory function, inability understanding and labeling emotions, intolerance of uncertainty (having a hard time with ambiguity), and last they are looking into the “role of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in regulating emotional response, in connection with limbic and insula-based networks, and suggest that disrupted integration in these networks underlies difficulties with habituation to strong emotional stimuli, which results in an enhanced perception of threat in many people with ASD” (South, M., & Rodgers, J. (2017). Sensory, Emotional and Cognitive Contributions to Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience).

All of that basically means that his anxiety likely derives from his disability and not from something bad that’s happened to him, which I already knew, but somehow it doesn’t make it any easier.  Not to mention, I don’t know how to help him.  

We recently started considering behavioral therapy techniques to help with this anxiety in public.  His clinic has already implemented treatment for his issues with wearing shorts, talking to certain kids that make him nervous, talking in certain rooms, etc.  Some people don’t realize that the reason why we often can’t take Jacob to friends’ houses is because he gets very very nervous in new places.  Sometimes the iPad will suffice, but other times his desire to run in circles, opening doors and drawers, turning on lights, and jumping on furniture in a fury is so strong that only Cret can hold him and its exhausting.  He gets nervous like this on the baseball field, too.  He loves getting on his baseball uniform and asks to go to his game, but most times he fights or screams at his buddy and tries to run off, lays on the field or in the dugout and refuses to cooperate.  It’s hard to know what to do in those situations.  I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable, but I want him to have those experiences so we can work on them.

 His therapists wanted to see this in action, so they recently came to a friend’s house to watch what he would do at a new place.  They asked me not to bring any toys or electronics and as I expected, it was wild. He ran all around and totally invaded their privacy.  I instantly regretted going there.  Both BCBAs said they had never experienced that and would have to research an intervention plan, but that ABA (behavioral intervention) was the proper method for helping him with this behavior.  I left feeling absolutely dreadful and embarrassed.  Maybe it wasn’t the biggest deal, maybe it was.  They were very gracious to me and didn't make me feel like they were upset at all.  I guess allowing people to see what we go through just felt scary.  It’s extremely humbling to allow people to have that kind of look inside autism.  Most of the time autism isn’t pretty.  It isn’t a genius child that has some amazing artistic ability.  It is repeatedly screaming, running, self-mutilating, poop-smearing, taking off clothes, rituals, etc.  In other words, it’s hard.

At church and at baseball and at friends’ houses, I sometimes find myself feeling self-pity and sadness or jealousy of “normal”.   I want to bring my kids somewhere and just sit down and relax and chat with the grown-ups, but I can’t.  But I don’t want those feelings holding me captive.  I decided to just go to Scripture again for rest and peace and guidance.  I don’t know how I am supposed to look at his anxiety.  I verbally share the Gospel with Jacob word for word.  I ask him if he wants to know about Jesus and he always responds “yes”, but quickly loses focus.  It may sound silly because he isn’t understanding speech at that level, but I know the Gospel is for him just like it is for everyone.  I sing praise songs to him and we pray together.  But yet, his anxiety is still very real.  His behaviors are very real.  We go to church and I can’t help but feel embarrassed when he disrupts service and I have to walk out.  I know other autism families feel the same, even more so.

I wanted to share what I have been reading. In Romans 15:1-2 it reads “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

And Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

What I am praying is that the Lord will lead Cret and I in such a way that we are “working properly” or in other words seeking Him and His will in all things, so that even with our circumstances, we can help the body grow in love...so that even if Jacob is being loud and disruptive, I will know that God has a place for us there.  I pray that we can be examples of leaning on God in our utter and complete weakness.  We have no sure answers as to how to handle autism, all we can do is rely on the Father and the sufficiency of His grace despite autism.  I pray that those who encounter our “weakness” will see God’s great strength. 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

So if you’re anything like me and you want to curl up in a ball and never leave the house again to hide from the sometimes kind and sometimes cruel world out there… don’t hide, autism families.  Let the world see you and your child.  Allow God to use you.  Allow the world to see your weakness, the ugly, the hard, but also to see the joy you have despite those weaknesses that comes only from the Lord.  Let them see the ongoing hurts and struggles and let them see God walking you through them pointing them to Christ and future hope.  I hope that I can be more bold in this way for the Lord.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What grade is he in?

Yesterday I got the dreaded “What grade is he in” question.  

I have no idea why I wasn’t prepared for it this year.  I had to think for a second before responding and in that moment, I felt like I could just lose it.  Each year it gets a tiny bit harder to answer.  He is supposed to be starting 1st grade tomorrow.  Instead, Jacob will be in therapy 40 hours a week learning to talk, sit still, understand questions and how to answer and so on.  No, he will not have fun programs for me to go see, he doesn’t have parties that I can attend and he will not be learning “age-appropriate” material in class.  I still can’t explain why I am not used to this truth yet.  So many families out there can relate, I’m sure.   

God has a different plan for Jacob.  His path isn’t the same as Jordan’s or Tyler’s and it isn’t the path I wanted for him.  I have to keep reminding myself, though, that it is the path that our sovereign Creator has for him and that it is good.

Time and time again I’ve been reminded in God’s word that He sees things differently than us.  He uses people in situations that aren’t so great to make his name great.  Moses with his speech impediment, the blind man that was healed to show the works of God, when expensive oil was lavished on Jesus and it was thought to be a waste until Jesus exclaimed otherwise.  I know Jacob isn’t Moses and I know our situation isn’t as grand as these, but I have hope that through our lives and Jacob’s struggle that we can make much of Jesus and that God will be glorified.

Our family story cannot even be told without telling all the miraculous ways that God has provided for us over and over, showing us that he cares deeply for us and that we have no need to worry.   Our new house selling for enough money to pay for a full year of therapy, Cret getting a job out of the blue that he hadn’t applied for with full insurance coverage, Taylor Swift donating $10,000 for our service dog, and the list goes on.  I find it fascinating that everything God has done, he has done in a way where there is no possibility that we could take credit for it.  It is ALL God’s provision.  God has allowed us to see glimpses of His purpose through our struggle when we get opportunities to share our faith and hope despite our sometimes hard situation.  God has used autism in our lives to draw our family very close to one another and to Him.  Jacob is such a blessing to us.

I just want to encourage all the autism families out there experiencing the difficult “What grade is he/she in” question this time of year. 

 It may not be the journey that you had hoped for, but God can use your family’s journey for so much more than you could’ve dreamed. 

Jacob may not be going into 1st grade, but this past week he went canoeing, swimming in a lake, fishing, and camping.  I seriously cannot even believe the obstacles he is overcoming.  In my mind, I had all these limits placed on him, but God is crushing those limits.  Jacob is talking more than ever.  Just today he said, “Mommy, I want to play water slide please!” That’s almost a complete sentence.  I am so thankful for these milestones.  I love taking the time to sit back and watch God work in his life. 

I am looking forward to a great new year with many new milestones.  God is good.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Clinical Trial

This summer is flying by! I have so much going on that I feel like my head is spinning.  Jacob's progress has been interesting lately.  He seems to be making more connections with us and with his brother and cousins.  When they are playing, he tries to insert himself in the middle of them sometimes.  Instead of just watching from far away, it seems like he wants to be a part of the guys, which has been pretty cool.  On the other hand, Jacob's eye tics/stimming have come back full force.  We have been tracking it for the clinic to see how often he does it.  During meal time alone he will do it 160+ times.  I collected several videos to show his pediatrician and she seemed pretty confident that it still wasn't seizures.  I wish I knew why he had such a sudden onset of the tics and why he is doing it so often. Hopefully, the clinic can address it soon.

Additionally, I had a meeting with Jacob's BCBAs regarding alternative communication devices for him.  These are apps for the ipad that help non-verbal children to communicate through clicking on text and pictures and then the app vocalizes the sentences for them.  Jacob is very smart and has proven through his work at the clinic that he knows and understands thousands of words. However, he NEVER uses speech for more than basic functional communication of his wants and needs.  In my gut, I feel like there is more in there he is trying to get out, but just can't or won't.  However, introducing communication devices isn't as easy as I thought.  

The therapists explained that Jacob has extreme anxiety and because of that he shuts down completely in certain situations, rooms, or with certain people.  They said that children with autism typically have higher anxiety, but Jacob's is something totally different.  His way to control stressful situations is to stop talking completely.  He won't even make sounds.  That makes him feel good, so it reinforces him to continue his mutism.  Today, we went to the medical center for his clinical trial and the pediatric psychiatrist agreed that it sounds like Jacob has selective mutism, but that it would be extremely difficult to find a doctor that understands both selective mutism and autism because both are very complex conditions.  If you know a doctor that can help, please email me.  I intend to start researching tomorrow but wanted to reach out to the community in case anyone else has experience.  Typical treatment is therapy, but that obviously wouldn't work for Jacob at this point.  Our conclusion from the meeting on a communication device is to try simply typing out words with Jacob in a non-stressful environment.  They were afraid that if Jacob learns that he can type instead of speak he may never speak because of his selective mutism. The idea is to make him say the words out loud if he types anything that he wants and not let him get away with only typing. Oh, how I wish I had all the answers.  It seems like the older he gets the more complicated this all is. 

About 15 weeks ago we began a clinical trial with Texas Children's Hospital to see if this new digestive enzyme would be helpful for Jacob.  It helps to breakdown proteins and for kids.  Jacob has never had digestive issues, but they are in their 3rd round of clinical trials and needed kids with and without digestive issues in the study.  Most children with autism have a hard time breaking down proteins which is why many are on special diets. The first 14 weeks were blind so we won't know if he was on the actual enzyme or the placebo.  Now, he is enrolled in the open label (he is on the enzyme for sure).  I have to collect stool samples within a 24-hour specific window every 2 weeks and organize it into tubes and pouches and packets like I am a true scientist and take it and him to the med center for a 1.5-hour exam.  If Jacob ever doubts my love I will surely remind him of this. haha We will be in the open label study for up to 3 years or until it's available to the public.  I haven't seen any major changes, but I am hopeful that it is helping his digestion. 

Last but not least, I spoke to someone from Autism Service Dogs of America today.  There is no update on our specific dog or the specific date, but please continue praying.  We are hoping for October.  I did find out that dogs naturally reduce stress and their service dogs are trained to help even more through deep pressure and comfort.  A woman here in town has a child with autism and one of their service dogs and told me that she couldn't even put into words how much the dog has helped, but it has been life changing.  I asked her if it has helped a lot with anxiety and she said that is the main thing it helps with.  I cannot wait for Jacob to experience some comfort like that.  I think it's amazing that when we applied for the program we were mostly wanting a service dog to keep Jacob safe from elopement (still an issue), but now we will also have an added help for his anxiety.  Isn't it awesome how God provided something for us that we didn't even know we would need?  

God's provision in our lives completely blows my mind.  Completely.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Jacob is Swimming!

The last few weeks have really taught me a lot about myself and about Jacob.  This entire swimming process has been so much different than I expected.  It has actually been a super positive and nonstressful thing.  Of course, the swim instructors and the safe facility had a lot to do with it, but I realized that I was really limiting Jacob before. 

Because Jacob has limited functional speech and a hard time being attentive, I really waited a long time to even try swim lessons.  Maybe it was my fear and anxiety or just my lack of belief, but I really waited too long to get him into swim lessons.  Cret and I had taken him to the pool, but he acted wild with us and tried to dive right in like a crazy man and it was mostly just stressful.  So instead of taking him to someone else, I think I just assumed it wasn't possible yet.  Maybe a part of me was just stressed about the entire thing.  This may sound terrible, but many little things are just so hard for him and for us.  I don't mean to say that as a complaint, but I guess sometimes I use it as an excuse not to even try at times and it's such a stupid thing for me to do. 

I didn't know how people would respond to him when he wasn't responding in the pool.  I didn't know if he would ever understand how to hold his breath.  I didn't know if the instructor would be able to catch Jacob if he took off sprinting to the other side of the pool and jumped in before fully learning to swim (true story and he did catch him mid-air).  After all, we have worked on it for over a year and been unsuccessful with even small steps.  
But what I realized is that Jacob didn't need to be verbal to learn.  He just needed a teacher that was willing to try different teaching methods and break things down into smaller steps.  He didn't need to have a long attention span, he just needed someone that was patient and willing to go slow.  I realized that I should not try to limit him because of my preconceived notions and fear.   He was not only capable of learning but has learned within weeks!

He still has some stuff to work on before he is a fully independent swimmer, but I am so thankful to God for his tremendous progress. This is an enormous burden lifted.

Yesterday I read the news of another boy with autism that wandered off and died in a nearby pond.  I cannot imagine the suffering of this family and pray for peace for them.  Please pray.

If you are an autism parent, don't let your child's differences or struggles stop you from trying.  Be encouraged that swimming is a possibility.  It may take a while, but it's worth a shot.  Jacob is proving to me over and over that he is capable and that all he needs is for me to believe in him.