Monday, April 23, 2012


There are about a billion things jockeying for position in my head this morning, all of which bear translation into blog-form... but the one that prevails isn't what I thought it would be.  I didn't see it coming.  It hit me broad-side, completely blind.  Going into this weekend, I thought I'd come back on Monday with a review of the Music for Autism Concert we attended this weekend.

Instead, I'm struck by how much autism affects us.  I'm struck by how it infiltrates every little thing we do.   I'm shocked by how much and how little we do to adapt to Ryan's needs all at the same time.  It's such a tricky thing.  You can't take time to pat yourself on the back, because while you're patting, things change. There's always something else to learn.  As large and incredibly diverse as the world is in all its social settings and even everyday situations are, autism magnifies them a thousand times.

I'm also struck... bowled over... by how much I have to learn about who Ryan is and how his mind works.  And I'm frustrated at the same time by the lack of a way to learn these things other than trial and error.

I'm amazed at our younger kids.  I'm amazed and encouraged, and at the same time broken-hearted for how much they adore their brother.  How they copy what he does.  When we stopped to eat on the way home this weekend, Ryan drummed with his crayons on his cup lid.  So did Richie and Maelynn.  I've had to tell Richie that hitting isn't a great way to express anger (in Richie-friendly terms)... but that's the way Ryan does things.  Ryan's everything is golden.

I'm in awe of the way God sandwiches frustration of learning the hard way between two thick slices of wonderful, knowing that I'd have trouble swallowing.

Today I feel absolutely sucker-punched by autism.

At the same time, I am thankful for the revelations we had this weekend about how we need to do things.

I'm thankful for the ways the Lord has blessed us that serve to bind up the broken heart that comes with the sucker punch.

I'm thankful for the tears of learning, and for the marriage relationship that is able to share tears, and for the mutual wiping of tears that follows.

I'm thankful for the hearts of my littles.

I'm thankful for the amazing smiles of all my children.  For the twinkling sound of their laughter in the dark, frustrating valley of night that is so often life.

I'm thankful for the people who have shown their unshockability in dealing with Ryan's behaviors this weekend.

What brought all this to light?  The Sunday after the Saturday after the Friday of learning and celebrating our family.  You'll hear about the Friday and Saturday later, but the Sunday is more important.  We turned Ryan's life on its head this weekend, both by giving him something he wanted and taking him out of routine.  As a result of so much different-ness, Ryan's Sunday was off.  As I rounded the corned to pick him up from CE, the unmistakable strains of the meltdown song stabbed my ears.

He loves CE.  He loves his teachers and helpers.  But it was all just too different, and that just happens sometimes.  We can't help that, no one can.  One of his teachers was doing her best to help him, and had taken him next door to Richie's classroom to cool off... literally... it was pretty warm in his room.

But meltdowns are life.  We know this.  What's the big deal?

As I picked up a crying, screaming, red Ryan, I saw his biggest fan behind him.

He was crying.  He was so worried about Ryan.  He was broken-hearted for his dear pal Ryan.

As the dutch door shut between us, Richie's little fingers clung to the top in an attempt to reach his hurting hero, weeping in desperation. I touched his hands, looked in his aching blue eyes, and promised I'd take care of Ryan.  The gentle offer of play-doh and a loving hand from his teacher caused Richie to reluctantly turn and go back to class.

I carried Ryan and a giant lump in my throat to worship.

Honestly, I'm not sure which was heavier.

Then I was reminded of Psalm 147:2-4.

"The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
  he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
  and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars,
  he gives to all of them their names. "

He sees our tears.  He knows our hurts.  He gives us ways to learn, he heals the scars when the learning is hard.

Thanks be to God a thousand times over.  May we never cease to be thankful, no matter what the circumstances.

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