12.11.2009

I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today


So Zane has started at a new school with a new class and a new teacher. It's an environment designed specifically for Autistic kids at all levels on the spectrum. It has made a hugely positive impact on him!

Through this journey, this story of Zane, I have had a lot of people over the years scoff at the idea of labeling a child. I used to be offended when mothers would put down the idea of a label. I remember that I felt the same way, until I had a child of my own that needed help. The kind of help I cannot provide on my own alone. So I began my search to understand him and help him. That journey has taken us down paths that we might not have preferred, which led to a wrong diagnosis and wrong class environment with emotional disabilities. And while that time in the wrong place affected him negatively and he had been regressing all the while, it feels amazing to have the correct information and correct class now and know he is coming back to himself again.

To watch him in the sensory room is my heart exploding with joy. To see his temper tantrums and frustration change to smiles with positive interest in his siblings again is awesome. He asked to hold his sister this morning. He has not noticed her much at all for so many weeks, maybe even months? He was holding Evan's hand this morning and asking if he could show him the classroom. He used his napkin at breakfast! He is using his words again instead of temper tantrums that reflect a 3 year old. He is happy. It's like he went away to a day spa, he is so much more calm and happy. Him being in the right place has changed him and our entire family dynamic. Two of my favorite experiences this have been this:

1) Zane has a hard time changing the words in his prayers. He says the exact same thing every single time- it's adorable, however, we have been teaching him to pray for personal and specific things for years. Reminding him about things he could say besides the usual. Sometimes he has included being grateful for another relative, but it's not very often and it's usually when that person is present. This week Zane was saying his prayers and after he talked about being grateful for each immediate family member like usual, he added that he was thankful for Miss K (his new teacher). He wasn't even prompted! That was so awesome.

2) This morning in the car Zane helped Evan say the morning prayer. One word at a time. And they both folded their arms peacefully and calmly said the morning prayer together. For the first time ever. What a treat. Normally it's screaming, yelling, fighting. It's amazing the way a household is run when the kids are getting what they need. He's really getting what he needs in this class and it's making a huge, positive impact at home. We are so lucky.

That isn't to say he is cured. Autism Spectrum Disorder comes with a whole package of things that make him different and those will be worked with. In a place that supports his needs with people that know all around him how to do it. This part of our experience reminds me of the Blind Melon video No Rain. Where the little girl dressed in her bee costume feels to lost and sad everywhere she goes. BUT! In the end she finds a grassy hill where all these other people are dancing around all happy in their bee costumes, too! You have to watch it here.

It's a process to figure this out in the midst of our introduction into the public school system. While my memories of kindergarten involve painting rainbows and using glitter and glue, Zane's memories might be much different. Some sad and hard, but I am betting from here forward it will be incredibly amazing and joyful the way kindergarten should be for him and who he is.

I am so grateful this year for every single teacher on the planet. Especially those in the special needs field. How amazing that there are people on this earth who took the time and personal decision to learn about special needs without having a personal need to (or child of their own with a label). And our family gets to benefit from their learning, big heart, knowledge, experiences, abilities, and strengths.

I didn't know when I went to college what life would bring me. So I followed my interests and opportunities The Lord guided me to. I hope along that path I made people happy by helping them with my work. And while I wish I knew more about special needs and Autism before I needed to, I can simply appreciate that while I was growing my special little boy in my tummy some other people followed their interests and opportunities so they would be prepared to help kids like my little boy. And holy cow there's so much gratitude consuming me right now for every single one of those people on the earth. It's inspiring to me. And reminds me much of the reason we got put on this earth. To help each other out. Be tested. Make good decisions. And return to Him.
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