Saturday, May 12, 2007
Scream (shout) for Joy! (Journal#69)
Two years ago this month was when Sam was diagnosed with Autism. It wasn't until a couple nights ago, when I heard Sam screaming with laughter in our backyard, did it dawn on me how far that scream had come.
Two years ago...Sam was three. Sam had a handful of words. Because no one could understand him, his main mode of communication would be screaming. You could see in his little head that he was trying hard to think of a word, it was as if he would try to figure out the word he wanted to say, but didn't know how, and a scream would always replace any attempt at a word. It wasn't the kind of loud ear thrashing scream when a child is hurt, it was more like a sound that came out of his mouth to represent a word. Once we figured out what he wanted or what he was trying to say, we would say the word, as any parent would, and ask him to repeat it. It wasn't until between 3 and 4 years old that he began to understand that concept much better.
When he couldn't find words, even with our constant reminding "use your words Sam, use your words Sam", and after screaming attempts at using words, he would take our hand and lead us to what he wanted. I have beautiful pictures in my memory of Sam grabbing Brent's hand and leading him around to communicate. It was always a gentle sight to watch. Seeing Sam's face light up once Brent would figure out what he wanted, as Sam took his father's hand and placed it on the object he needed, or needed help with.
The screams of fear. Those screams were different and it took me awhile to understand what they meant. Early on, I would blame poor Zach for his screams. They would be in the basement together when I would hear the high pitched shrill, and the idiot mom in me, would assume big brother had something to do with it. We had a video camera in the basement where I could watch when I couldn't be down there. When I finally paid better attention, I realized Sam's screaming had nothing to do with his brother hurting him (intentionally that is). Sam was a pro at creating his own space in which no one else could enter. Often times, if Zach walked within 10 feet of his "invisible wall", Sam would scream and start rolling on the floor like he was dying.
The only touch or closeness Sam would allow with Zach would be wrestling, which met his deep pressure needs.
Now the screams are less, the words more, and the joy always around. Listening to the joy of screams from some backyard frolic and fun took place last week as I was recalling how far Sam has come in the last two years. It is not to say that there are still days that are frustrating for him, and screams will prevail, but it is so much better. It was two years ago this month that we received our autism diagnosis. It was the beginning of figuring out how to communicate and understand Sam's needs. For the three years prior to that, there was confusion, feelings of inadequacy in parenting because we couldn't understand the delays, sensory issues, behavior issues and lack of speech. Receiving that diagnosis was a blessing, because it opened our understanding of Sam and his world.
A TWIST OF FAITH
In our families personal faith journey, it has been so important to praise (or scream) God in the high's and the low's. While He will never forsake us, it is important for us to never forsake God in both good times and bad, when we rise and when we sleep, but to praise Him for all he has done for us on this journey with Autism and that thing we call life.