Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our New "Normal"

Lately I have been trying to adjust to my new life of being wife, mom, homeschool teacher, and, most recently, Jacob's therapist. I can see why the ABA lady told me that most moms are not the best therapists for their own kids. Its hard. What am I saying? Hard is an understatement. It's demanding, tiresome, repetitive, irritating, and you get no immediate gratification whatsoever. I know that sounds terrible, to describe my own son's therapy, in such words, but that is the truth. I have to sit with him for hours and constantly do 5 second trials. For instance, I show him a ball and another object and ask him,"get ball" then I put my hand over his and make him grab the ball, then I praise him. After that I move on to a bucket and give him a Lego and say,"put in." I usually use hand over hand and force him to put it in. Then I praise him. Then I get a light up object and wiggle it by my face and say Jacob and if he looks at me or the object I praise him. Then I give him a frisbee and I put a frisbee and something else in front of him and ask him to match. Then I usually put my hand over his and make him match the frisbees. Its little tedious tasks that I have to do over and over and over all while making sure my other kids are busy so they don't interrupt and while Jacob is throwing himself profusely all around because he doesn't like to do what he doesn't want to do. The first few days were easy. The work is easy. It isn't hard to do little trials like that. The irritating part is doing it over and over and over for hours and hours everyday. The demanding and tiresome part is not knowing how to deal with Jacob's extreme temper and tantrums. He has NEVER been a difficult child. In fact, most people who watch him in the nursery say he is the very sweetest. He keeps to himself and is very quiet. I guess they have never tried to make him do something he didn't want to do. Therapists have asked me if he has a temper and I always said NO with a huge sigh of relief. Well, I was wrong. WAY wrong. His temper is coming out more and more every day. But, as one of his therapist has told me, having a temper about it is ok. No child wants to be forced to do things, so its kind of "normal" for him to be fighting me. Its hard being a mom that spanks to not just spank him all the time for the fits. I think most of my friends would suggest spanking when he throws fits. What people don't understand is that he doesn't have words. He can't communicate that he wants a drink. Can you imagine if you were so so thirsty and you had no idea of how to communicate that to anyone. You couldn't sign it, or speak it, or get it yourself. All you knew how to do was scream.   Then imagine no one knew why you were screaming.  That is the life of a non verbal child with autism. So I have to patiently try to show him what to do and how to tell me in his own way. We have started using PECS. He is doing well in the beginning stages, although he is not differentiating between two totally different pictures yet. He just knows that if he is playing with something fun and I take it away and he touches the picture than I'll give it back. That is the first step. We are really working hard to help him learn and reprogramming his little brain.

So that is the new schedule for us. That's our new "normal". I keep feeling like I am in this dream and one day I am going to wake up and all this autism stuff is going to be a thing of the past or just something I made up. At Easter my family, my brother and sister in law, her parents, all the kids and my mom and step dad were all eating at the table. Everyone was sitting down eating and Jacob started screaming and screaming. So I let him down and then he began his running in circles pattern. He makes a path and stops at nothing to continue running in the same pattern over and over. I jokingly said," We will just all have to get used to Jacob running around the table at these events".   In my heart, though, I was just falling apart. I want NORMAL. But that isn't the life God has planned for us, at least not right now. I have to continuously keep a  thankful and content heart. At the Spring tea at church I was reminded of so many things.  God really used that day to teach me a lot.  I  will have to blog another post about the tea, however one thing I was reminded of was....

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

I can be a joyful mom to an autistic child, I can joyfully serve the Lord, teach my children, and be Jacob's therapist and be confident that I can lean on Jesus during this difficult time for strength and patience and guidance. In every circumstance I need to give Him praise. After all, God has blessed me with 3 of the most wonderful children I could ever imagine. I am so thankful for a therapist willing to teach me and a wonderful child to teach. I love him so much. I just have to get used to our new "normal".

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