This is the Sunday before Christmas. Madison has been asking to see “One Hundred” all week. First thing this morning, upon waking, Madison wanted to take a shower. And he is a teenage boy, this goes against nature. But we have been telling him that “One Hundred” isn’t until Sunday. Previous, Vickie has taken him a few times during the week to show him that church is only on Sunday. I think he has reluctantly accepted that they “sleep” a lot.
Madison got ready and then got in the “new car.” Getting ready this morning went very well, which is not the norm. Transitions are very hard for him and we will discuss those in later posts. Today he has his two I-pads with him. He puts Elmo, Po, La-La, Dipsy, and Tinky-Winky in his rolling book bag, (has to be in that order with Tinky-Winky sticking out the top). He calls these stuffed animals / Teletubbies “5” and they go with him to most places. Tinky-Winky is very special and has sat through many church services. Well, churches are always trying to get you to bring your friend.
We consider ourselves lucky that this is all we have to take. When we went to the beach, we had to take “13.” So the two I-pads and his “main” Teletubbies plus one are not a problem and they seem to act like his security blanket. I can only imagine the looks we get when we enter a place, mom and pop each carrying two or three stuffed animals, and Madison carrying two I-pads, usually in one hand and the other with a finger in his ear.
I don’t know if you have ever ridden with someone, especially a young man with autism, in the back seat of your car. He can really get the car “a-rocking.” He is in the back seat rocking back and forth and “stimming” with his hands. I have no idea what people are thinking when they watch the car that starts and stops all down the road. I also never try to figure out our gas mileage.
When we arrived at church, we realized…church had already started. It’s Christmas so they are going by the Christmas schedule. Big Whoops! How will Madison act, what will we do? As a parent of any teenager, you never feel you have control. Throw in Autism and…
On most Sundays, we go for the first part of the service. Madison loves the music and the handshaking. He seems to be able to handle the 30 minutes or so and then gets “antsy”. And when the choir comes in, he calls them “One Hundred”. Donald, our worship leader, has a groupie. When the praise team sings, Madison calls them “Seven” because, well, there are seven of them. He likes to tape them on his I-pads. We felt strange getting him a second one, but he tapes the video from one and adds his sounds and actions from “5”. It is his means of expressions.
(Notice his language. Most of the time, Madison just repeats what we tell him. Songs seem to stick with him better. When he names something, it is almost always with a number or a color. One problem with that, there are only so many colors, and, no, he does not use pastels.)
But this is the first time we have been able to hear the message in a long time. We are lucky; even when a child is accepted by a church by the congregation ignoring the actions of the child, it is often hard for the family to overlook the embarrassment. Madison is a big boy and makes sounds during the “quiet” times. Thankfully our church takes this in stride.
Our pastor finished his sermon, and my wife and I were so happy that Madison stayed calm. During the prayer, though, we noticed that our pianist had gotten up to speak to our pastor. You will hear a lot about her in the coming posts. She is also the pastor’s wife so she CAN get up to speak to him.
The final prayer was prayed and everyone started to get up and leave for family dinners. However, our pastor asked the congregation to wait a minute. He had realized that we had come in late and Madison had missed the music. They also know how much Madison loves the song Joy to the World. And not just at Christmas. He is one of the few who knows all the verses to the carol and sings it all through the year. So the church sung the chorus for Madison. The grin on Madison’s face could not have been any bigger and he turned to the church so everyone could see the joy that shone.
Our pastor has been talking about being intentional in sharing and showing God’s love. This was a case where the church was able to demonstrate it in a way that Madison, with his limitations, could understand.
This is one episode of Madison’s life that we experienced this morning. Madison is autistic / has been diagnosed with battles autism. I despise labeling Madison with autism, as that does not give even a hint of the real picture of who he is. I have started his story without giving you a lot of history or explanation of his actions. To a parent, this is often how we feel. Our children do not come with owner’s manuals, and autism mixes up everything you think you know or have learned from other children. People ask us why does Madison do something, or what is he saying, and often my answer is, “I don’t know.” But usually after we learn the why, we smile because it makes so much sense. There is usually a very logical reason behind Madison’s actions and demands. We just have to hunt for it or be patient.
In the oncoming posts, we will see some other adventures of Madison. I will not be focusing so much on the “Why”, just the “What”. I will let others search for the reasons behind the “Whys”. My main concern, my God-given responsibility, and the center of my heart, is the “Who”.