What Autism Is Like – For Us


Our youngest son was diagnosed with Autism six years ago,…and in the past six years we’ve learned that Autism is many things,…some of them WONDERFUL!!!


The gift of Autism is that our little guy has no social hang ups. To him,…he’s “Isaac,” and he’s perfectly comfortable with himself,…and if you’re not comfortable,…that’s YOUR problem,…not his.

According to our son,…he has NO CHALLENGES.


He’s perfectly happy living his life to the best of his ability. As for Apraxia, a speech disorder that basically means you can’t say what you want to say when you want to say it,…that’s not a problem to our son either. If there are communication disconnects,…then it’s not coming from his end,…and he’ll be very happy to work with you until you understand what he is trying to communicate,…in a very ‘there-there’ manner, I might add. Such self-confidence/self-acceptance is another gift of Autism.

The best part of Autism is not only does our son accept himself,…but he accepts others as they are. To him,…people are people, and it doesn’t matter what race, or creed, or ability, or non-ability. Everyone is a potential friend. Of course,…reality is that not everyone is friendly,…but again,…it doesn’t phase our little guy,…he’s only sad for them that they don’t have enough joy within their hearts to share with others. Life’s an adventure,…there is too much to see, and do, and learn, and too much fun to be had for our little guy to ever be bogged down with others perceptions of disabilities.

Make no mistake,…our little guy has challenges,…therapy is a reality for us,…but those challenges are mere speed bumps in the road of life. The challenges our little guy faces due to Autism only strengthen him,…they make him smarter,…kinder,…more accepting and loving toward others and the challenges they face,…and that’s not a bad thing.


Life is to be lived,…our little guy is only nine years old and he’s got a handle on the most important facts: LOVE ONE ANOTHER,…BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.

No one expects their child to have Autism,…we certainly didn’t,…but it is our reality,…and it’s not the end of the world,…instead it’s a portal,…to the greatest adventure we’ve ever experienced.

The ultimate gift of Autism is that it breaks down life into it’s most elemental features:

I love you,
you love me,
and what else is really important?

As people of faith we know God doesn’t make mistakes,…our son is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made,’ – and for that we are truly grateful!


He Knows,…


Ever faced a difficult conversation?

Life’s tough at times, and NOBODY gets out of life. High or low everyone, sooner or later is going to face – challenges.

How do you face those challenges is the real question. For us, in regard to Apraxia and Autism we’ve learned it is best to be utterly delighted with what our little guy CAN do, then devastated over what he can’t do, yet.

Ah yet,…the most delightful little word in the world,…so full of promise!

We’re also so grateful that when challenges are properly weighed, there are more things our little guy can do,…then can’t.

Speech is still a biggie.

Communication challenges are not a joke. It takes serious therapy and concentrated effort to get motor processing processes processing. Apraxia, you must understand is a motor processing disorder. It’s also very rare among the general population, but not quite so rare among individuals on the spectrum. Apraxia, simply put, is the inability to be able to say whatever you want to say when you want to say it.

Imagine how frustrating,…one day you can say a certain word or phrase,…the next day, or even sometimes the next moment,…you can’t.

Not that our little guy let’s Apraxia slow him down,…much. No one is ever in doubt when he puts forth effort to communicate,…in his own matchless style. Trust me the only  person on the planet not concerned with his Apraxia diagnosis,.. is our son. To him, if there is a communication disconnect,…it is not coming from his end,…and he’ll work with you, in a very there-there manner,…until YOU understand.

But you know we’re never had the Apraxia conversation. It hasn’t seemed necessary,…as stated our little guy could seemingly care less,…as in one way or the other he gets his message across. It’s a unique form of conversation,…quite brilliant if one thinks of it, as our son uses whatever means he can to communicate,…be it script, sign language, repetition, prompting us, or even attempts at telepathy when he was very little and would put his forehead to ours as if to seep his thoughts through. Sign language has helped greatly, and of course the past six years of weekly speech therapy.

Six years?

Yep, every week with only a few weeks off for holidays and such, but even then we’re working on speech at home.

Last week was the first time our little guy questioned his speech appointment, and it wasn’t so much the appointment, but exactly what did his speech pathologist do.

“She helps you speak easier,” I answered,…and then I asked the question, I had never asked, “Is it hard for you to speak,…or easy.”

That little head tip to the side for a moment, the little brow furrowed, and then he looked up, and said, “Hard.”

Poignant moment for like two seconds, as I inwardly gasped, “He knows!” because our little guy totally shrugged it off as non-relevant. It’s hard for him to speak, so what, he also has hazel eyes, both are a part of him, and as I.I. would say, “Next.”

Perhaps it is Autism that gives our little guy such self-acceptance,…or perhaps, more likely it’s his faith.
Oh yes,…eight year olds have faith,…amazing faith.

He knows,…he is loved.
He knows,…he is accepted.
He knows,…God doesn’t make mistakes.
He knows,…God helps him with his challenges.
He knows,…he is awesome,…and guess what our little guy thinks,…YOU are awesome, too.

Trust me for someone with a speech disability our little guy is a GREAT communicator. I certainly look upon the challenges in my life with a different perspective. Life’s messy, no one gets out of it without challenges,…some obvious, some not so obvious,…and those challenges and how we face them, and help others face theirs is the real question.

Our little guy knows that God will never leave nor forsake him,…he also somehow knows with his amazing little faith that 2 Corinthians 12:9 – holds true, today, tomorrow, and forever more.

“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

Redeeming, Ice Cream

Summer vacation is almost over for our little guy, and if you follow on Instagram and Twitter you know we’ve been trying to fit a few more family-outings like taking in an afternoon movie. Hello, Winnie-the-Pooh! Christopher Robin is only the second live-action movie our little guy has seen on the big screen. Cinderella was the first.

Have courage and be kind,” is the most memorable phrase from Cinderella. For Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh’s line stole the show, “I’m not stress,…I’m Pooh.” – of course, this only makes sense if you read that in a Winnie-the-Pooh voice, and know the movie context, but….trust me,…it was an adorable scene!

Interestingly Christopher Robin is a movie about a very stressed man ‘redeeming’ what was lost in his life. After the movie my husband and I decided it was time to redeem a very stressed family outing. Ice cream, anyone?

Ah,…ice cream on a hot summer day!
Is there anything more quintessential than a family ice cream outing in the depth of summer? Our two older guys loved when we’d stop for an ice cream cone! It was a real treat, for them and us. Is there anything more adorable than watching a toddler noshing on a drippy ice cream? The sheer look of delight the very first time they taste sweet, creamy ice-cold, ice cream. Yum City!  Such happy hearts sharing such a sweet treat together. Only with little ones make sure to have lots of wet wipes, or dating myself here, in a time before wet wipes, we’d bring washclothes and a jar of water to wipe the happy little messy faces.

Fast forward twenty-three years. Our guys are grown, but the Lord has blessed us with a third son.
Having a child as older parents is like having a grandchild you don’t have to give back at the end of the day. We couldn’t wait to take our little guy for his first ice cream run,…but life kinda got in the way,…and our little guy was ‘mysteriously’ a picky eater. Baby food is soft and gooey, but our third baby decidedly didn’t like anything soft and gooey, which made meal time quite a challenge until his teeth came in and more solid food could be offered. But hey,…ice cream is ice cream,…and ALL kids like ice cream,…right?

Or not?

How many ways can you spell fiasco? Our two year old displayed no, absolutely no emotion when we told him we were going to go get some, “Ice cream,..Yeahhhhh!!!” Okay, he’s not had ice cream before,…but hey,…it’s a fun family outing. We’re all together, it’s a beautiful day,…we’re going to have fun introducing our little guy to the delights of ice cream on a hot summer day,…or not.

The ice cream hut is on a busy thoroughfare with traffic zooming. Our two year old was more interested in running toward this traffic than staying next to us. The words, “Ice cream,” – “Treat,” – “Fun,” – didn’t compute. While Daddy got the ice cream, Mama tried to keep their darling little one out of the traffic, and interested in ‘shared- interest’ – “Look a at the big pig?” Our little guy wasn’t having it. There were no tantrums, that we would have understood, it’s was just total and complete indifference – to us, the outing, and especially the ice cream.

You’d have thought that ice cream was the most disgusting icky muck. Our little guy didn’t want any part of it, “Thank you very much.” – not that our little guy could speak – as this was just after his Apraxia diagnosis, so we weren’t expecting anything verbal, but believe me – our little guy’s expressive face said it all, “If you want ice cream, YOU eat ice cream. I ain’t touching it.” 

Out came the dry pretzels from Mama’s purse. Those our little guy munched with a detached expression. Family outings meant ‘nothing’ to him, and since we weren’t letting him run around a busy parking lot….he wasn’t having fun. It was a disaster. I didn’t even eat my ice cream,…I was too upset. I sobbed all the way home, while my husband held my hand, and we added ‘family-outing’ to our prayer list for all the questions we had concerning our little guy for he had been ‘flagged’ for something called: Autism.

Needless to say ice cream runs have been off our charts for the past six years while we’ve learned to live with Autism. It’s not so daunting, once understood. Sensory issues are real. For some reason our little guy is not comfortable with anything soft or gooey,…and forget the whys or wherefores. That’s banging your head against the wall. Some things in life,…just are,…except it,..and move on.
My little guy certainly has moved on, and therapy helps. Sorry, but you can’t totally avoid soft and gooey things in life. Toothpaste is a necessity. Thus therapy is essential, and for any given issue, therapy can take either three hours, three days, three weeks, three years, or I imagine,…three decades. It’s a process, and every attempt is a successful try. Don’t give up hope, don’t ever give up hope.

Where is our little guy in his present state of progress? Lightyears, absolutely lightyears from that indifferent toddler wanting to run into traffic.

Isaac now eats ice cream!

Ah,…not this ice cream, however.

It didn’t meet his criteria,…which is to be completely frozen. Yes, Autism is a puzzle. Our little guy will now eat ice cream…IF it doesn’t melt, which means he only takes about three bites, but that’s still three bites of ice cream,…and he enjoys them. Progress! Can’t call it anything else, and we’ll take it. After all real life is never completely tidy with all those loose ends tucked in neatly. Is it?
As for shared interest, “Look Mama, that’s a big pig!”
Wow! Mama had to get a pix.
“Hold my ice cream, buddy.”
Out comes Mama’s phone, and did you notice who is holding the ice cream in those first two pictures? Trust me,…it took a lot of concentrated therapy to get past that soft and gooey stage! It also took Mama whipping out damp napkins to wipe down his little hands, lickety-split, but then I don’t like sticky hands either,…and there are worst things in life than being a very tidy child.

You know the thing about a family outing for ice cream, is that it’s never really about the ice cream. It’s about spending time together in a bonding experience.
Did our little guy eat ice cream?
No, no he didn’t.
Did he have fun, anyway?
Yes, yes he did.
“Mama, you like ice cream,” said Isaac happily watching us eat the melting treat.
“I like you more,” I replied,…’cause it’s the truth.

You know, the gift of Autism is that it breaks down life into the most basic components:
I love you.
You love me.
What else is important?
Certainly not what we think is important, it’s too easy to get ‘very stressed’ over nonessential elements in our lives. Micromanagement, anyone?
Micromanagement, you know,…kinda leaves faith by the wayside.
Six years ago when we started our Autism journey we didn’t know where we were headed, and we still don’t, but we have faith in the one who started us on this path.

Do you have areas in your life you need to redeem? Nothing is too hard for the Lord, nor is nothing too small for His notice,…not even ice cream outings.

“I know my Redeemer, lives” Job 19: 25

Job’s inspiring faith wasn’t after the fact, but during the darkest days of his trials when he couldn’t see a way out of his dilemma. Yet his faith in his ‘Redeemer’ never wavered.

“We walk by faith, not by sight.”  – 2 Corinthians 5:7 

Knowing you’re on the right path makes all the difference!

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan, but we can trust in the LORD who makes the plans for our lives.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Here’s to redeeming, ice cream!

God bless and keep you!



Are You Listening?

Took a wrong turn today in the parking deck after my little guy’s therapy appointment at the Children’s Hospital. Monsoon-like weather in our area this morning with torrential rains and whipping winds made driving downtown to the hospital a most soggy adventure.

Therapy went GREAT,…our little guy is amazing! Don’t let anyone ever say our children on the Spectrum can’t make progress. Our son is proof positive they can! But then, our God is bigger than Autism, and bigger than Apraxia, and bigger than any problem we can ever face,…even when we’re a little lost.

Have you ever parked in a hospital parking deck mid-morning on a Monday? Nearly impossible task to find a parking spot when everyone seems to have early appointments. Luckily or rather prayerfully we got a spot not too far from the over the street bridge. Of course it was on a different level from our last visit, and to be honest, in the past six years, I think we’ve parked on every single level from ground to the roof.

Personally, I like parking on the parking deck roof. Usually it’s uncrowded, the downtown views are fantastic, and I NEVER forget where I parked. But no roof today, with the rain slashing against our windshield I was grateful to find a relatively dry location mid parking deck. Only one level of the parking deck looks a lot like the next, and when your little guy is excitedly telling you ‘cool things’ about all that thrashing rain we just came through,…you forget to look at the level identifying colors.

With therapy, check out, adventuring down to the CAFE, and yes, let us cap-CAFE in all caps, because Apraxia kicked in at the end of my little guy’s appointment. Oh, but Isaac wanted so badly to tell the doctor where we were going to eat lunch, but with Apraxia, the motor processing just wouldn’t let him get the word, “Cafe,” out,…so he spelled it, “C-A-F-E!”  (Yeah, he’s really cool!), well,…needless to say after our lunch of chicken fingers and fries, we took a wrong turn on the parking deck. The grey skies made the cement enclosed deck very dim and gloomy,…as we walked and walked, searching for our car,…which was no where in sight.

“Where car, Mama?” asked Isaac, clearly bemused.
“Well, it’s not here,” I answered pointing to the honking big truck occupying what should have been our parking space.

Now did Mama panic? No this Mama did not panic, because this Mama’s done this little parking deck episode once before, and she used up all her frenzied freaked out panic on that lost car occasion. With the calm insight of experience, I instantly knew exactly what happened. Our car had not been towed away, or stolen, or thrown off the cement banister. When we entered the parking deck,…we merely headed in the wrong direction. No great loss, we got an extra tour of the parking deck, and my little guy was pumped, he really likes parking decks. Once we retraced our steps and were pointed in the right direction, we found our car without further incident, and the rest is history,…

Where are you headed? Hopefully not in the wrong direction, but should that be the case, the solution is so simple, be it parking decks or anything else in life. Stop, evaluate your situation, turn around,…and then go in the direction where you should be.

One thing living with Autism has taught us, is that we truly,…“walk my faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7  After all, most eight year olds don’t spend their summer vacation attending therapy sessions, although we’re sooooo grateful for the phenomenal progress our little guy has made in therapy!!! It’s the fruits of our faith when he was a toddler when we had NO IDEA if therapy would even work. During that distressful time, we didn’t know where we were headed, but we knew if we kept our sights on the LORD,…we were headed in the right direction.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go,…” Psalm 32:8

“The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8

When the LORD is watching your back, it’s really hard to get lost. Even today in the parking deck we weren’t really lost, we were merely misdirected. In our fast pace world with everyone zooming at super sonic speeds, its easy to get yourself on the wrong path. It’s okay,…we all have to stop and reevaluate our direction from time to time. Where we’ve been in life is not nearly as important as where we are going! Walking by faith,…takes,…ah,…it takes faith. We might not see a clear path,…but we can trust the LORD’s direction.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way,…walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

The ultimate key is listening.

God bless and keep you!