Thursday, April 2, 2015

Finding Grace Through Autism

Another year has come and gone, and here again, I am sitting to write a post in honor of World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) and Autism Awareness Month (April) as we Light It Up Blue for Autism.

Joshua is now 10 years old.  In some ways it's hard to believe that he's been alive for a decade, but in some ways, it feels like it's been forever.  This year has been an incredible year in some ways and a difficult one in others.  Through the good and the bad, I have found God's grace carrying us through.

It's officially been a year since we began using essential oils to help Josh with his Autism, Bi-polar, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.  The oils have made an incredible difference in his ability to function, focus, and remain stable.  It's been an exciting year of weaning down on his mood stabilizer medication helping to improve his health and weight.  Because of the supportive effects of the oils, we have seen several aspects to Josh and his personality that we didn't realize existed!  We are thrilled to see and know our son for who he really is not what his Autism makes him appear to be.  It's been astounding and thrilling.  God's grace in leading us to choose to use essential oils has transformed all of our lives this year!

This year has been a tough year with Josh's wraparound services which provide him with a Behavior Specialist, Mobile Therapist, and Therapeutic Support Staff therapist (TSS).  We are currently on our 5th provider in 1 year!  We've had nothing but difficulties with consistent staff, proper support at home and school, and proper recommendations.  We just switched last month to the 5th agency and are still without a TSS which is the most critical therapist of the group.  As a result of all of the issues, Josh has been thrown off balance so many times.  His symptoms are all aggravated by the unrest and unknown and frustrating circumstances of providers not doing what needs to be done.  I have been at my wits end trying to negotiate things with the providers and the insurance company.  For once, the insurance company isn't the problem.  They have thankfully been wonderful through this whole ordeal.  Dealing with these issues since November has felt like another full-time job for me.  It's only God's grace that keeps me going during the difficult times when I just want to cry and give up fighting!

After 6 years of therapy to try to get Josh to recognize his feelings and emotions, use his words to describe his feelings and emotions, and then match appropriate coping skills to help him with those feelings and emotions, this year, Josh has finally begun expressing in words how he is feeling and telling us what he or we need to do to help him work through those feelings and emotions.  It's been so wonderful to be able to intervene before a melt-down occurs.  As a result, our home and lives have been a lot more peaceful.  Often, Josh will turn to essential oils to help him calm down.  I was certified in a specialized massage based on science that uses essential oils to bring the body into a homeostatic state, and Josh likes to have me do this massage on him when things get really overwhelming.  We are thankful for God's grace in bringing us to the point where Josh is independently identifying his feelings and asking for or using a proper coping skill.  It definitely makes parenting him so much easier.

Now that Josh is older and more aware of himself and people around him, he is really struggling to accept his Autism and other diagnoses.  We have had to deal with a lot of tears and tough questions: Why did I have to be born with Autism?  Why does life have to be so hard?  Why do I struggle with an angry mood?  Why do I always feel so fearful?  Why did I have to be born?  Why did God make me this way?  How come I keep praying that God will help me get over my anger but He never seems to make me better?  Why is everything such a struggle?  Often we feel so inadequate to have the answers to these hard questions.  We call for God's grace and wisdom to help us get through to our son's grieving heart.  We try to help him understand that God has an amazing plan for His life and that God made him perfectly - there are no mistakes in how God designed him.  We don't understand why some people's struggles are harder than others, but we can be confident that God will give the grace to keep on keeping on.  We call on God's grace to protect our son's faith as it often wavers during these doubting, questioning times.

Parenting Josh has made us stronger, more compassionate parents.  We are more understanding of others around us with varying disabilities.  I can be more sympathetic to my patients and their families because I get what it's like to deal with a child with special needs.  Dealing with a special needs sibling has made David a stronger person.  He is more compassionate, understanding, and patient with other children as a result.  God's grace molding our lives through His design for our family is evident.

Dealing with the times of crisis is extremely difficult.  Thankfully, we haven't had as many as we usually do because Josh is doing so well with the essential oils.  However, because we've had several months of calm and stability, when a crisis does happen, it makes it that much harder to cope with because we finally had a taste of peace.  David has been in therapy for a year now to deal with his trauma and anxiety symptoms related to growing up with a brother with Autism and other challenges.  It's been a tough year for him as he has a hard time talking about his feelings and dealing with the uncertainty and scariness of Josh's crises events.  David is learning to lean on God's grace to carry him through these difficult times just as we have to cling to God's grace to keep taking each day as it comes when we are so emotionally and physically spent.

I am so thankful that God's grace remains a constant when our lives never are.  God's grace sustains us through the good times and the bad.  Often, I find myself singing my favorite hymn "Day by Day" just to remind myself of God's goodness, grace, and strength to get me through each day.  "Day by day, and with each passing moment, Strength I find to meet my trials here; Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear."

Day by Day by Karolina Sandell Berg
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day the Lord Himself is near me,With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.
Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.
To hear a musical rendition of this hymn, go to this youtube site.

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