Part Way

Aaron has some awesome staff at Paradigm.  One that is no longer working there, and that he really misses, is Courtney.  This morning Courtney’s brother, Cody, told Aaron that Courtney wants to come to Aaron’s birthday dinner on Tuesday.  That’s happy news! 

Today when Aaron came home, he excitedly said, “Mom!  Guess who was at Paradigm today?”  So I asked, “Who?!”  And he happily said, “Courtney!!” 

So Aaron said that he got to talk to her, and we discussed how nice that was.  Then I asked Aaron, “Hey, is Courtney coming for your birthday?”  And Aaron said that he didn’t know because, in his words, “I didn’t talk to her ALL the way!” 

I love how he expresses himself in such unique terms!  And I’m a little scared at how easily I understand him!

Birthday List

Aaron has a birthday next week, on Tuesday.  He’ll be 27 years old!  That’s so hard to believe!  He’s all about his birthday and has talked about it and planned it for many weeks.  He has also been compiling his wish list, so today I took it and did a little shopping for him.  I thought you might want to see his list.  I just think it’s cute.  And remember how he told me awhile back, “Mom, one thing I want for my birthday is a Star Wars game.  It’s on the east side (of Wichita) and is in a medium box.”  So look at what he wrote with the Star Wars game. 

I didn’t find the Star Wars game today.  Of course, I was over here on the west side!  He and I may just have to do a little shopping together one day.  But don’t tell him that!  I won’t have a moment’s peace until I DO take him, once I tell him. 

Notice that he wants The Sound of Music.  That also makes me smile.  This guy who loves blowing up enemies in his PC games also likes The Sound of Music.  Of course, The Sound of Music has those nuns, and we know he has a fascination with nuns!  Those women nuns and their children – HaHa! 

I better wrap his gifts before he snoops around and finds them.  And put his list back where I got it – after all, he’ll want to start adding to it for Christmas after Tuesday is past.

The Opportunist

Last night I was saying my good nights to Aaron.  He was busy playing a game on his computer, so I went in his room to make sure his clothes were laid out for the next day.  I gave him a hug goodnight, and told him that I wanted him to do better tomorrow morning about getting off the computer to get ready to leave for his group. 

A few minutes later he was getting his bed ready for the night and I went back into his room to say goodnight one more time.  As I walked out he said, “Hey Mom!  If I get off the game good in the morning, can you give me some money?” 

Well, Aaron Daniel!  No!  I do NOT give you money for good behavior that’s expected of you!

And he replied, “Oh, come on.  Can’t we make a deal?” 

No deal, Aaron!

So this morning he did a very good job of leaving his game, getting his shower taken, and all his other morning expectations.  As I walked by the bathroom and saw him finishing up with brushing his teeth, I said, “Good job, Aaron!” 

He looked up and said, “Can I have a dollar?” 

I’m not sure yet if I should admire his opportunism or be a little worried. 

Lessons From the Stray Flower

It’s the time of year to call it quits – as far as my flower gardens, that is. My beds of beauty at this point on the calendar are mostly dead or dying beds of brownness. I had noticed for days that I really needed to buckle down and get it over with. All the areas that had once provided color and beauty were now dull and ugly. My flowers had done as well as they could during our history-making summer of stifling heat and drought. Now most of them looked spent. Not only tired and exhausted, but many of them positively dead. The garden would be lovelier without the dead growth, and our eyes would be pleased to look upon beds that were bare rather than beds that were full but wasted.

I gathered the tools that I needed for the job. Small pruning shears, large pruning shears, garden gloves, rake, broom, and my trash container. I walked out back to the two flower beds at our patio and got to work. I bent over and began clipping with the small pruners, being careful not to pull the perennials up by their roots. Hopefully next spring these once beautiful flowers will grow again if I leave their roots intact. I worked among the Black Eyed Susans, the Shasta Daisies, and the Garden Phlox first, snipping and cutting. The trash container was filling up fast, so I emptied it into the large trash can and came back to continue the cleaning. When I came to the Tiger Lilies, I grabbed the large shears and began whacking away at the tall, tough stalks. They fell over the area where once they had stood tall and regal in their bright orange blooms. I’d scoop them up, toss them in the container, and begin again with the pruning. Death was all around me. Everything that was once full of beauty was now only brown and crisp. Dust was puffing up around me, getting on my clothes and in my hair. It was a place of dryness, of has-beens and what used-to-be.

And then I saw it. The little pink blooms laying on the ground caught my eye in an instant as I cut some dead stalks away. They seemed so out of place amidst the drab decay all around them. I paused and looked at them laying there so sweet and still. They were small but their beauty was enormous next to the ugliness all around them. They made me pause and catch my breath as I drank in their beauty and enjoyed the message that they gave to me. I smiled, refreshed in a special way, and then continued with my task at hand as I kept them in my sight. I tried not to disturb their blooms that reminded me of the beauty of the past and promised me of more beauty yet to come in the spring.

 

I have had times of great joy and beauty in my life. I thank the Lord for the memories of those times, and for the daily blessings and moments of happiness that still occur in my life every single day. But as is true with every one of us, I have had times of bleakness. Times when all around me things appear to be full of sadness, heaviness, and pain. The chopping and the tearing away take such a toll on me. I get so tired. The dust swirls around me and I long for clean air and a refreshing touch. That’s when God bends down and speaks to me the clearest. There in the midst of the uncertainty and the heartache I hear His voice. His still, small voice speaks to me in sharp contrast to the darkness all around me. Through His Word, as I read and meditate on what He says, I am refreshed and encouraged. I remember His promises and His blessings of the past, and I know that He will be faithful yet in my future. God is like that little stray, blooming flower – catching my attention with His beauty and soothing me with His presence. Oh Lord, may I, like David, say: “Why are you in despair, oh my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”

Understanding

One of the quandaries that comes along with Aaron’s autism is our being able to understand what makes him tick.  Was his refusal to go to Paradigm yesterday willful disobedience or is this behavior a result of his autism?  Can he control these issues and feelings that he has?  We’ve come a long way with Aaron, both in helping him learn to control his emotions and helping ourselves understand from where those outbursts come.  Yet he is wired very differently from the rest of us in the family and that wiring cannot be undone.  Training, talking, resolving, redirecting – all are important – but some facets of his autism will never be able to be disciplined away.

Such was the case yesterday when he refused to go to Paradigm.  As his tone escalated and he was becoming agitated, I had a choice to make.  I could also escalate in my frustration, which would only have compounded the problem.  Anger or outbursts never, ever, ever work with Aaron.  He is rarely intimidated or redirected through our frustrations.  But he WILL react, and not in a positive way.  The best thing to do is to try to get him to do what is hardest for him – it’s best to try to enable him to express verbally why he is feeling the way that he is at the moment. 

So through deep breaths and calmness yesterday I asked him questions, assuring him that my purpose was to try to understand his reasoning and his feelings.  I guided him through his responses until he was finally able to verbalize the bottom line when he said that because of the Halloween party, Paradigm was not Paradigm to him today.  No amount of pizza or candy could entice him to go. 

Yes, I was frustrated but I also had to have a little talk with myself.  There’s no room for selfishness when dealing with special needs of any kind in our children.  Was I as concerned about Aaron as much as I was concerned about my own schedule and plans?  Was my initial response of not wanting to speak to him for the rest of the day a loving way to react to the needs of my son?  How can I preach understanding and acceptance, and then have a desire to ignore my son for the rest of the day? 

I looked outside and saw him sitting under a tree near the garden, totally immersed in breaking leaves and twigs into his bucket.  Concentrating hard, he was, and sorting out all the conflicting thoughts he was having.  And my mother heart went out to him and the Lord filled me with a special love for my special boy.  I had a couple quick errands to run and so I slipped off while he was occupied.  And while I was out I ran into Papa Murphy’s and got the Jack-‘O-Lantern pizza we had seen on commercials.  Aaron was surprised and happy when I called him in later for lunch.

 We enjoyed our lunch together, and Aaron talked about all sorts of things, as always, that pop into that head of his.  He then clipped some more of my coupons until he got tired and thumped up the stairs to his room to play a game on his computer.  I got everything done I wanted to yesterday, and I had no regrets.  Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with me and for enabling me to practice patience with this son that I love so much.