Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Hard Day

So, you know those days that I have talked about that are just hard and emotionally draining?  Yep, today was that kind of day.  We started Jacob's official evaluations on Monday.  Monday, Cret and I had a 2 hour interview with the evaluation team discussing Jacob and what he can and can't do.  Today the speech and developmental teachers assessed him.  Luckily, Mindy (Jacob's BCBA) came with us because Jacob was not able to do many of their tasks at all.  Mindy was able to show them what Jacob is capable of within a structured learning environment.  The reason we brought Mindy was because she believed that it was likely Jacob would test so poorly that he may be put in the life skills class.  It is still possible that they will put him in that class. The problem with that class for Jacob is that it isn't structured learning and if the children aren't behaving in age appropriate ways, it will only teach Jacob the wrong way to behave.  We are wanting him to be in a SCD (severe communication disorder) class or something similar.  It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is a huge deal.  Our insurance doesn't cover the therapy that Jacob needs, the therapy that so many research studies have proved to be effective for kids on the spectrum.  Getting him in to a SCD class is our closest thing to actual ABA therapy.  Right now, he gets 4.5 hr/week of therapy.  School is about 15-20 hr/week I believe.  I know those classes aren't 1 on 1 ABA, but we would be so grateful for it, nonetheless.   

In the evaluation they were asking him to match a real cup to a picture of a cup, which he was not able to do.  They also gave him a baby doll and a bottle to see if he would feed the baby on his own or after they asked him to.  He was terrified of the doll and kept throwing it.  He just fixated on the bottle.  They also gave him a top and spinned it to see if he would request them to spin it again.  I was so happy to see that he eventually gave the top to the teacher, however he did not make eye contact or make any gestures to get her to spin it.  He repeated many sounds and words for them which was excellent.  The teacher noted that all of what he said and played was what he had learned from structured teaching.  There wasn't much that he was able to do that hadn't been taught, like pretend play or random words for requests.  She said that it told her that a class with a lot of free time may not be best for him, since he doesn't do anything productive in free time.  He spent some time self stimming.  They did many trials with him to test his abilities.  He kept looking at me and then at Mindy over and over.  I could tell he was uncomfortable and didn't understand what was going on.  He was very scared of a couple of the toys they introduced.  They continued to work with him and  then I went out in the hallway with the teacher and she asked me numerous questions about what he was capable of doing and saying.  That's pretty much when I lost it and started crying.  This is torture for me.  If I am going to be honest, I just don't know how ready I feel for all of this. I don't feel ready to accept that I am a special needs mom and probably will be forever.  I am just so sad right now.  I don't want things to be so hard for Jacob.  I want him to learn easily.  It just feels like something is crushing my chest today.  I am so sad for him and I guess I am feeling sad for me too.  All I could think in that room was, "My poor baby, my poor precious baby, I would do anything in the world to help you.  God please show me how to help him learn."  It is ripping at my heart to watch him struggle with things that are so easy for most people.  I just want to have answers for him.  I want to be able to look at my son without a thousand questions and thoughts running through my mind. 

When I left, I sat in the parking lot and just prayed.  I know that this is a situation that I can't handle on my own.  God has allowed this situation in my life that feels so hard and so heavy.  I am so thankful for that.  It sounds weird, but I know God is showing me right now that I cannot do this without HIM.  It's a reminder that no amount of schooling or mothering or teaching or skills that Jacob learns or anything can bring me true joy or get me through life, except HIM.   I am so thankful that God allows me such obvious situations that remind me that life just isn't OK without HIM.  I also have to remember that the ultimate goal is for God to be glorified.  It is easy to think and say and type, but so much harder to trust and believe and act on as I am going through this.  Please pray for our family as we continue on this journey with Jacob and his placement over the next month.  God knows exactly what's best for Jacob and I am praying for peace no matter what that may be.  I truly believe God has amazing things in store for Jacob's life in order to bring HIM glory. 

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who stregthens me. 
1Corinthians 10:13 No temtation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
2Corinthians 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. 
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world."

I posted a song on my facebook and I wanted to share it with those of you who are not friends with me on facebook.  When I am having a very hard day or sad, I find myself repeating the lyrics "Thank the Lord, oh my soul, thank the Lord".  I am so thankful to be worshiping a God that is so powerful, fathiful, mighty, all knowing, loving, just, and trustworthy.  This song shows me some perspective when I am having a hard day.  Here is the link to hear it...
  For the beauty
For Your goodness
And Your wisdom, awesome God
Praise the Lord, O my soul
Praise the Lord

For You power
For Your honor
And Your splendor, Mighty God
Praise the Lord, O my soul
Praise the Lord

I will worship You
I will bless Your name forever
I will worship You
Bless the Lord, O my soul
Bless the Lord

For Your kindness
For Your favor
And Your mercy, Gracious One
( From: )

Thank the Lord, O my soul
Thank the Lord

For Your fire
For Your testing
And Your Spirit, Holy One
Thank the Lord, O my soul
Thank the Lord

For Your suffering
For Your anguish
And Your sorrow, Humble King
Bless the Lord, O my soul
Bless the Lord

For Your victory
For Your triumph
For Your soon coming reign over all
Lyrics from <a href=""></a>


Friday, April 12, 2013

Autism across the lifespan

In one of my courses, we had to look over a large document about evidence based practices and autism in schools. I came across a section listing the symptoms of autism in all ages.  Most students commented in our class discussion by stating that they feel it is unethical for practitioners to tell parents that their child's autism will go away because it usually does not.  Most people associate autism with specific symptoms, usually those associated with early childhood and when those symptoms are no longer noticeable they hope that their child is cured or others assume the child is no longer autistic.  More often than not children do not outgrow their autism and this particular section discussed the symptoms in older ages.  Obviously, classic autism is still very severe and noticeable in older years, some of these symptoms are the ones that people don't always associate with autism.  Reading it took my breath away.  I, too, try to tell myself that Jacob will grow out of his autism or that his ABA therapy will eventually cure him.  I don't even need a doctor to tell me that, I just want to believe it. I do not think anything is impossible through God, but I trust that God's plan for Jacob is bigger than my own desires. What I want and hope for, may not be what happens.  Either way I will trust Jacob's perfect creator and know that whatever is in store for him is God's perfect plan for him and for our family.  Its hard to see how God can use this situation for His glory if I am in constant turmoil over it.  I want to be informed about what Jacob's future may look like so I am prepared to help him and be the best, most supportive mommy I can be.
 I wanted to share the information about "Autism across the lifespan" for parents and others to be able to read and to be aware of.  Also, I feel like there is such a lack of information in the media about autism and older kids and adults.    I must also state that every person with autism is a unique individual.  Some children may lose their autism diagnosis altogether and some may not.  I don't want this to be a discouragement to ASD moms, but more of a reference and possibly a preparation.  If your child had any illness, wouldn't you investigate what would happen and how to appropriately handle the situation?  I suppose that is how I feel about being educated on autism.  I am preparing myself to mother a child with autism for his lifespan, while hoping and praying that there is a possibility that he may lose his diagnosis.  My prayers go out to each and every ASD mom. 
This is very basic information on some of the symptoms of autism across a lifespan...
} Evidence-based Practice and Autism in the Schools

Autism Across the Lifespan
The symptoms exhibited by a student with ASD may change over time. A
child who receives speech services at age 3 may face very different communication
challenges by the time she reaches her high school years.
Each developmental stage brings its own challenges for all children, and this holds
true for students on the spectrum. You are more likely to see certain symptoms in the
toddler years, but these symptoms may be extremely subtle or non-existent by the
time the student reaches adolescence.
This pattern of development can be very confusing for individuals unfamiliar with the
autism spectrum because they expect the same symptoms to remain fairly constant
over time. In fact, some of these individuals may doubt whether an ASD diagnosis is
warranted due to preconceived notions about what a student with ASD should “look
like” at certain ages.
Table 1 lists some of the various challenges that students with ASD may face across
the years they are served in the schools. It includes an overview of symptoms commonly
observed at different stages in a student’s life. We recommend sharing this
information with colleagues who may have less experience working with students on
the autism spectrum.

National Autism Center
•May avoid touch
•May isolate from groups
•An infant may not imitate facial expressions
•Toddlers may not laugh in response to parent’s laughter
•Failure to respond to the emotional needs of others
Early School Years
•May not engage in social games
•May prefer younger children
•May appear “bossy” when playing with other children
Early Adulthood
•Gaps in social skills become even more apparent
•Dating challenges
•Social challenges sometimes related to issues such as poor hygiene (e.g., rigid adherence to rules
regarding frequency of bathing)
•May lack speech
•Immediate or delayed echoing of other’s words
•Use of scripted phrases
•May not respond to name
•Unlikely to use gestures
Early School Years
•May sound like “little professors” who are lecturing on a topic
•Conversations are one-sided
•May not see how their behavior hurts others
Early Adulthood
•Poor understanding of abstract concepts
•Challenges in understanding jokes or slang
•May mimic language from television or movies, placing them at risk for problems at schools (e.g.,
say “I’m going to get a gun and kill him” as a means of expressing anger or frustration)
Restricted,repetitive, nonfunctional patterns of behavior, interest, or activity
•Repetitive motor movements like hand-flapping, finger flicking, rocking, etc.
•May line up toys for visual examination
•May categorize toys instead of playing functionally with them
•Some rigidity in routines
Early School Years
•May create own rules to make sense of the world
 then have a hard time managing when others violate these rules
 Early Adulthood
•May engage in elaborate rituals to avoid motor tics
•May obsess for hours about a brief encounter with a peer
•Sensitivity to light or sound
•Feeding challenges (often associated with texture)
•Safety concerns (e.g., may run outside in bare feet into the snow)
Early School Years
•Academic concerns
•Difficulties with concentration and irritability due to sleep or communication problems
•May be disruptive during transitions
•May be clumsy in sports activities
Early Adulthood
•Symptoms of depression or anxiety
•Acting out
•May not understand rules regarding sexual behavior (and may be set up by peers to violate these
•Increased risk for seizures (associated with onset of puberty

Monday, April 8, 2013


For my research proposal I am studying the depression in the parents of autistic children.  One study shows that around 80% of mothers show severe depressive symptoms the year of diagnosis and about 40% in a follow up a year and half later. Additionally, the severity of the child's problematic behavior and the financial toll that the diagnosis places on the parents are strong indicators of the severity of depression. Is it just me or do ASD parents need some serious support? In these studies, parents that receive support from local groups tend to have less stress induced depression.  I see this as a wonderful opportunity for the Christian community to show some compassion and the love of Christ.  Just a thought.  I love you ASD Moms. More importantly, Jesus loves you and as I read in a recent blog, God knows your suffering more than anyone.  I shared the blog post, but for those of you who didn't get a chance to read it I will paraphrase...

You, as the mom of a child with a disability,  are raising a child who struggles with ridicule, difficulty in everyday situations such as crossing the street and brushing teeth, severe communication delays or inappropriate speech,  and extremely challenging behaviors... You may feel alone.  You may feel as though no one could understand or sympathize with you.  However, God does understand.  He watched as His son, Jesus, suffered ridicule, extreme torture and eventually death on the cross.  No one better understands you.  Our loving Father is there for you, lean on Him.  Put your trust in Jesus because He is the ultimate provider. 

So thankful for our church family and the support we get often.

To view the blog that I paraphrased visit it is well worth your time