startedinnc

This blog is about a family of two loving parents, two sister schnauzers, a persian, and a very loved young man who faces severe autism daily, sometimes better than others. We will relive the lows, laughs, and joys of our "normal" life. Always under the hand of God.


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Joining Simpsonville First Baptist

Gosh. I see it has been a year since I’ve posted. We are still here. Madison is a growing eighteen year old couch potato trying to survive a hot summer.

We have started going to a new church. It allows us to leave after the music, and we can go into the lobby. He sits on a bench and watches the pastor projected on the wall. This lets him rock, flap his arms, and make sounds without disturbing anyone.

He and I are getting closer since I am staying at home with him. I see him peeking over at me to make sure I am close. We’ll keep adding more of Madison’s story as the summer continues.

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Yeah! For Tina Fey.

I was so lucky this morning to be able to watch one of Tina Fey’s best acting role, if not her tour de force. Madison was sitting on the couch hanging on her every word.

I’ve seen her several times hosting award shows or on Saturday Night Live on tape. Her timing has always been splendid when she was working with other actors.

Of course I was one of those who never could tell her and Sarah Palin apart. I still wonder which one said what.

But I never knew how she could really get into a character or take over a stage until this morning. It was impossible to take my eyes off of her. Her portrayal of Mother Goose on Sesame Street was dead on. It almost brought tears to my eyes. And when she came up with a new poem on the spot, it was truly a work of art.

Now, Sesame Street is most see TV for any writer want-to-be. It has grammar, a new letter everyday, and character studies of people in your neighborhood. Okay, I think I crossed brands there but you understand.

So if you plan to be a writer, whether books, letters or grocery list, add Sesame Street to your watch list. And you may get to see an award winning-like performance from star. No, really, they have dancing stars. Something DWTS may want to think about.


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Daddy Comes Home

Having a child with autism, everyday things have a different pattern. This is just a little snapshot into our family. It’s not meant to be sad, it just is.

I left home last week to go to a writers’ conference at Blue Ridge. While I was packing for the trip, my wife, Vickie, came into the room just to talk before I left. Our two dogs came in when they heard our voices and laid on the floor watching. Then our new little kitten, Cathy Puff, jumped on the bed and played with my clothes as I placed them in my suitcase.

Madison was in his room, listening to his video. In his own little world.

I went in his room to tell him I was leaving, that I love him, and that I’ll be gone a few days.

Then I said, “Bye, Madison.”

He said, “Bye, Madison.” Never looking up at me.

When I arrived home, I was greeted at the door by our two schnauzers, stubby tails wagging their whole backsides. They ran back and forth from me to my chair, waiting for me to sit so they could jump up onto my lap. Our two cats followed so they could join in the excitement.

Madison sat on the couch listening to his video. We did a fist pump, but he didn’t stand or look up.

I unpacked. Then I returned to the room and sat down to hear how the week went from Vickie. She and I talked for several minutes about home, the conference, and, of course, our pets.

Then Madison looked at me, pointed, and said, “One”.

He looked over at Vickie. “Two.”

Then he pointed to his chest. “Three.”

Then, as if to himself, he repeated, “Three.”

And went back to listening to his music.

His family was back together.


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A Swimmingless Swim

(Madison is our seventeen year old son who has severe autism. He can repeat words to us and sing, but isn’t able to have a conversation or tell us what he is thinking. This blog is to let you see some of the things we encounter.)
Have you ever heard of a swimmingless swimming lesson?
We were very excited when we got word that Madison was approved to take swimming lessons at the Y. I’d taken Madison to our neighborhood pool and he got a bad sunburn. That should be no surprise with his red hair and ivory skin. I took him to the pool and a sweet little boy watched him get in the pool and innocently asked, “Is he a vampire?” I think he was hopeful he would be.
But he loves to go to the pool. He can float on jis back and swim across the pool. He is the only person I’ve seen who can laugh under water and not choke. I don’t understand ho he does it.
When he was smaller, he was so cute because he would keep his nose out of the water by standing on the tip of his toe, like a ballerina. Just his nose sticking out of water resembling a turtle in a pond.
So now he could swim in the inside pool. He was so excited. When he put on his swim suit he was ready to go to the car.
I made a mistake the first time I took him. We were early because I’ve learned to schedule extra time when you take Madison somewhere because he can dawdle or be slow to get in or out of the car. Since we were early, we sat in the chairs in the lobby of the Y. That became part of the routine and we had to sit there each time. That’s not so bad, but he’s singing and playing his Teletubbies or Newsong on his Ipad so anyone passing by had to look.
One thing a parent of a special needs child learns very quickly is to not worry about being embarrassed or getting attention. It is going to happen. No need to try to hide or look away. Just go with. Yes, that’s my son. Cool, isn’t he?
In the previous lessons it has taken us longer and longer for him to get in. His lessons are thirty minutes long and he would be outside first ten, then fifteen, then twenty minutes. Several times I pushed him in. (Bad daddy) Once I felt so guilty because I pushed him in front of the life guard and I just knew I would get kicked out. She looked up at me and said, “Finally.” She had watched us coaxing Madison for twenty minutes.
He was so funny. Yvonna was his swim instructor and she was super patient. She would jump in and tell Madison to sit on the edge and pat where she wanted him to sit. He would go over and pat the same place and then step back from the edge. Once he climbed down the ladder into the water so I would ask him to use the ladder. He would step down two steps and then get out. It was an excellent example of obeying the words but not the intent.
The frustrating thing about missing the lesson is he enjoys the water so much. But for whatever reason it became more fun to not get in. Another case where our lack of communication with him leaves us scratching our heads.


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And All Creation Will Praise Him

 

Wilson

Wilson and Polly, dogs and cats, living together.

This week I got to learn a little bit about the bonds we have with our pets and about what one goes through during the grieving process. We had to put our cat Wilson to sleep. It’s tough to understand the attachment you can have with an animal: a dog, a cat, a bunny, a horse. And some people don’t see it and that’s okay. To some, a dog is a dog. But to me, each dog is different and, when you get to know them you realize you can know and connect with them, it’s special.

Wilson was one of those cats with a large dose of looks and personality. When you first saw him you would notice his big head and eyes. He was beautiful. But he was also very social and preferred to sit out here with us.

I like to talk to animals. Is it me projecting my thoughts on them? Probably. But it’s still neat and a good way to get your thoughts out. Wilson had a way of looking at you and sticking just the tip of his little tongue out that made you think he understood and connected with you.

Wilson wanting to talk.

Wilson wanting to talk.

 

Tuesday, after losing Wilson, I waited for my wife and our dogs to go to sleep (They sleep with us.) and snuck out onto the porch for a few minutes. I needed time to grieve and let the tears out. I heard one bark at our door, then another. Polly, our gray miniature schnauzer had followed me and when I let her on the porch, she just sat beside me like she knew I needed some space. A little later, the door opened and out came her little sister who jumped in my lap to be petted. So much for sneaking out.

Am I animal crazy? I get and appreciate the relationships we can have with them.

Or am I just crazy? It has hurt to lose Wilson. But I’ve enjoyed him and our two dogs more than I can ever say. I think our animals are a gift from God and the relationships we have with them can help us know Him. After all He made them and He gives them to us and gave us Authority over them.  He also knows what we are going through and that our pets can help by being a source of unmerited love for us.

And if we choose to think of them as just dumb animals, that will cause us to lose so much, to be a little less. I prefer to look for the Jesus in them (God made them after all and they are also looking for His return {all creation}) and talk to them about Him. All creation will worship Him. Including Wilson’s little meow.

When we first got Wilson he was shaved. I said whoever did that to him should be shot.


Wilson shaved

 

I’ve also learned some things about grieving. One, I can’t cry worth a flip. My face just scrooches up, my eyes close and water, and then I can’t breathe. You can’t do that for long. I can see how grief can kill someone with a weak heart.

Also, you can’t control it. It goes away then it comes back when you don’t expect it. I had learned that lesson before but forgot it.

If grieving is a part of love, it stinks, but love is so worth it. My cat and I had a great time. It was fun to search for him when he was able to get around. And to look down at his face when he sat on my chest. But not the tuna breath.

Third, as a writer, I have to leave myself open to feeling life so I can let my characters feel. Life can hurt, but also what joys and excitements it can give. God plans and controls all of this. He knows and loves each of us and it’s fun to discover Him a little more each day.

Even when it comes in a Wilson. Psalms 148.

 

 


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Not My Daddy’s Household

One of the amazing things about Madison is that he is able to listen to or follow several things at one time.
Personally, I have a one track mind. When I get involved in something, I can often lose track of things around me. My attention is on that one thing.

Not so with Madison. I went back to his room last night and he was sitting on his bed watching two TVs that he had synced the CDs on so that they played that same spot on the videos at the same time. He also had the piano playing a rhythm that he likes. And he had his I-Pad in his lap playing a YouTube video. And he was in charge of all of it.

This is nothing new. He has done this since he was little. He has had four TVs going all at the same time. But also in three different rooms. He was sitting in the front room so I turned the TV off in his room in the back. He immediately recognized it and said, “TV, TV.” He wanted it back on.

Now, I thought about my daddy who always made us turn off the TV or lights before we left the room. Things are a little different in our household.

Madison is a sixteen year old boy who is on the severe side of the autism spectrum. He never ceases to amaze his dad with his activities. His dad is learning to not ask why, but to enjoy the little boy/young man that he has.