Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Held (Journal #53)

As our youngest little guy turns 5 next week, I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Been doing that "hind sight is 20/20 stuff." Remembering the symptoms that Sam displayed, that we didn't understand at the time as being Autism.

Looking back we remember his lack of speech, and how much we spoke for him. He could not speak to us in a way we could understand. Brent reminded me of how he would not really point to things he needed but he would lead us by taking our hand, well past the appropriate age to do so. He wouldn't always respond when we would call him, and often times acted like he didn't care. As I have shared many other times, he did not "need" to be held, but I needed to hold him. He didn't like that I would pick him up when he was content to be alone. He made that very clear by his screams. I remember thinking that something must be wrong with me. He must not have "bonded" with me. I was on a mission to make him bond with me. I really couldn't share these concerns with anyone at the time. Would Brent think I was not being a mother to him? Would my girlfriends think I was ineffective if I told them I didn't think Sam was bonding with me? What baby doesn't connect and bond with a mother.
How embarrassing to even discuss with anyone, not even a pediatrician?

Sometimes when Sam would wake up at night, I would just stay awake holding him, even after he was done with his cry or feeding. While awake he would arch his back as if to pull away from me. Sometimes I would think it was the bottle causing him to have gas or something. I would watch him though. He wanted away. I remember one night, when he was 1, and more mobile, but not even close to walking, that he awoke. He screamed for almost an hour. Nothing would soothe him. I finally just laid him on the middle of the floor on nothing. He rolled over and sat himself up. He looked at me while wiping a tear, and literally took a deep breath. As if it was a sigh of relief that I finally put him down. I remember the light bulb going off. "He doesn't want me to hold him." He doesn't want held.

I continued with Sam, what I called my own "holding therapy". The one place where "holding therapy" was effective (but not to my benefit) was when I would drop him off at childcare. For the 3 years he was in childcare, I dreaded our morning routine. Perhaps I was too accustomed to his big brother who never had adjustment or transition issues. I could always drop off his brother at childcare, give him a kiss and away to school to teach I could go. Sam would start having anxiety as soon as we pulled in the parking lot. He would become stiff in his carseat. He refused to walk in. Once in the room, he would want to be "held", and he would cling to me for dear life and scream at the top of his lungs as his caregivers would gently remove him from me and continue to hold him. We tried every transition, every soothing toy, quick departures, come early and stay longer departures. It was exhausting. His teacher would call me at school each morning, about an hour later, to tell me he had finally calmed down. She was always worried that the picture of him I would have in my head, would be his face full of fear of being left there. After I would leave each day, he found solitude under an art table, where he would rarely come out, except to go outside for recess.

A Twist of Faith
My baby turns 5 next week, and we have the faith to know that he will not only be held by us but in God's arms forever. Below is a video of one of my favorite Christian song's by Natalie Grant. To know His faith in us, and to do His work and love is to be held by Him.

Natalie Grant - Held

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

His Footprints (Journal#52)

The bus had just dropped Sam off from his LEAP Program at noon as usual. Instead of darting off to the front door he ran to the gate to go into the backyard. With a fresh 4 inches of snow, Sam was back at it. Back to living outside (which he would seriously do). In the summer he digs in his sandbox all day, and in the winter he digs in the snow.
"tay mom, tay mom, tay mom...." he kept saying, as I stood at the entrance of the backyard, where Sam was already running all over. He wanted me to stay where I was and not enter his domain. I watched him intently for awhile. He methodically was making something in the snow with his footprints, what... I did not know yet. I let him continue for awhile, and then remembered that his pancakes were getting cold on the table, and that we also had therapy that we needed to go to.

I continued to watch his serious little eyes as he scampered with purpose making footprints. I could tell that I should not walk into the yard to get him, as it would upset him and the patterns he was making. Finally, after much coaxing, and the need to get to speech therapy he stopped in his tracks, looking at me like he might run, but he wasn't sure. I kept thinking that I had to stay at the gate, in case he did dart, as he frequently runs away and straight to the street.

As I stood waiting to see what he would do next, he calmly said, "tay mom, tay mom, I tum, I tum." With relief, I knew he would come and he meant it. However, I did not plan that he would not allow himself to just walk straight to the gate. He started retracing every step he had made the last ten minutes, making certain not to step on any untouched snow. Of course I did not notice that at first, so I started coming toward him, to hold his hand and make sure he went into the house with me.

Bad idea. I made steps in untouched snow. He only wanted his steps, his creation, and his pattern to be revealed to whoever would see it. A meltdown began that continued for some time. If only I would have had a little more patience to allow him to retrace his steps, as he wanted to walk it alone in his own time. We all learn. We learn what battles to choose and which things to let go. After this meltdown, I should have let it go. After a few more snowfalls since this incident, only Sam's footprints are allowed in the backyard, and the rest of us have learned to have snow fun in the front yard. I am thankful for the patience and grace his brother has allowed with this. Thank you God!

A Twist of Faith
Footprints poem:
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
The LORD replied: "My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Some Boy! (Journal#51)

Days have been a little challenging lately, which has left me little time at the computer. And of course, the computer is not a priority, especially when Sam needs me. I think we are still coming off of holiday travels, schedule changes, and Sam getting his cast off. He can finally wear long sleeves as the Canadian air finally arrives in Minnesota this weekend! Hence, this post will be brief.

I am sharing a painting Sam did today. The Early Childhood Educator and mom in me can be sad sometimes when I look at neurotypical, "almost 5 year olds", like Sam and their fine motor development. Sam hasn't really created any drawings that we can identify as objects, he can't write his name or any letters in it, and he has done (what appears as) scribbling with crayons up until this point. The one thing he can do and does every day is paint. He LOVES to paint. I think because there is a little more freedom in movement for him, and he loves the motion of going from the paint to the paper and back.

I had not realized, until Sam, how important coloring in the lines is for fine motor. I had always been against coloring books in early development, because I was always more about the creativity and freedom of expression and development. Our older son did not really acquire coloring books until kindergarten. With Sam, I have now seen how important it is for helping with his fine motor and hand control.

Today he did it. He painted in sections! While I am still about "thinking outside the box" and not having to stay in the lines, I am really proud of his painting today. You can see where he was trying to color certain sections, which for us, shows big fine motor growth for him. More than we have seen in awhile. Some Boy! And proud of him!

A Twist of Faith

While I haven't had much time to devote to the blog the past couple weeks, it is because the time allocations had to switch to one of our priorities, my family and Sam.

Just as we get busy with life, we must remember to prioritize our God time. To imagine what would happen if He said He was too busy for us, I don't even want to think.

Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. ~ Matthew 6:32-33