Autism has made life complicated. Autism has redirected our life journey and, well if I’m honest, Autism obliterated my heart, my faith, hope, and all I thought to be true of God, of medicine, of our world. Autism is hard, crushing and dark, but within that, there are moments of light. There are sparks and there are flames and then sometimes, just sometimes there is a break thru that puts a piece of my heart, my soul back together; a light so bright that I feel joy and hope and beauty, real beauty that can only stem from God’s goodness….God’s love and goodness displayed because of others’ passion to work with our son and our family.
When our Logan was diagnosed with autism, well, PDD-NOS (now, a “spectrum kid”), we were told to “lock Logan in his room. Tie up his furniture…he is a danger to himself and to others….if you can train a dog with a squirt gun, you can train your son the same….go on dates with your husband, you will most likely get divorced….don’t speak of your son with your spouse on these dates….your son doesn’t feel like us…he won’t love and doesn’t know love…start saving for a place for him…..” All this from the “best” child psychologist in Jacksonville.
We started this journey surrounded in darkness, but light has found its way through. Brightness first worked its way into our dark and fear-filled hearts with Dr. Kartzinel and Dr. Buckley and their functional medicine practice and holistic approach helping to restore Logan’s health, body and mind with an appropriate diet and nutritional supplementation….a piece of hope restored.
A piece of my heart repaired as our son was embraced and fully accepted by the Jewish Community Alliance for preschool: our non-verbal, autistic boy using sign language joyfully included amongst typical peers! His therapists (Merrill, Amanda, Kim, Matt, Allison, Lisa, Susan) became our family, our friends, our support, our healers for our Logan and our hearts, and aided our family as it grew…pieces my heart restored, hope renewed.
Dearest friends of mine from church showed me I was not alone over and over and over again through kind words, prayer, time, acceptance, and love in action…. a bit of faith restored. School teachers at the Keystone Academy ignited hope in me that our son was smart and very capable when taught in a way he could learn. Then came Dr. O and her breakthrough in finding some hidden bacteria, viruses, parasites, and Lyme… a piece of my trust in medicine, healed.
More recent, Fun family opportunities provided to us by Dreams Come True has humbled my healing heart as we have been showered in gifts from anonymous people in our community rebuilding my faith in a compassionate world.
And now, North Florida School of Special Education… truly the teachers and staff at this school are completing the restoration project…. Of our son, of me.
God has used some incredible people to shine light into our darkness over the past 10 years.
Pieces of the “Puzzle”… hmmm…perhaps that autism puzzle is not just an image of autism within our son, but also of putting back together the pieces of my heart, mind, faith, ideals, hope… that have been thrown all to hell since our diagnosis in 2007. And as I sit here through the tears, I can see that happening. It is all so very slow, and honestly, painful, as the pieces of this puzzle, my puzzle, must have gotten extremely bent and warped over the years; God working through others is somehow putting back the pieces of my heart, my faith, hope and trust. And, at least in this moment, it feels promising.
I have had a couple incredible experiences in the last three days that have brought all this thought, emotion, and images in my mind to cause a flood of words onto the keyboard… and here is a glimpse of one...
I have had the privilege of helping to encourage students with special needs to run with the North Florida School Of Special Education running program, under the leadership of a very enthusiastic and inspiring team coach -Mr. Sontag (the school’s music teacher) and kind, steady, supportive co-coach Amy (the school’s culinary teacher). For weeks, I have trained alongside our son Logan running lap after lap on their small track. Each week I cherished that time with him. It was real. He was alive and present and we were sharing in a passion of mine. I was sharing that passion with him. He was embracing it and growing in relationship with me while running, as well as in athleticism. Some days at practice, things felt just, well, so “typical”; I felt just so free and light in spirit as we went 10,20,30,40 laps around this track together in preparation for our big race…I felt happy. I felt hopeful. I felt peace… I felt complete...joy.
Race day came last Saturday and I still cannot believe the outcome! Logan, our Logan,- our autistic, anxiety filled, PANDAS inflicted, Lyme Disease infected, OCD burdened, 12 year old son ran the ENTIRE 15K Gate River Run! The whole thing! Ran it! 9.3 miles! And he did it with a quickness, and lightness, and a smile on his face the entire time! I seriously wept as I crossed the finish line behind him, running at my own top pace. His goal was to run 6 miles of the long run (which I thought was pushing it), but he ran it ALL! He passed his goal for himself and mine. He asked to keep running. He wanted to keep pushing forward, and I got to experience that with him. I just cannot express how amazing this experience was. Never did I think I would share this running experience, this passion with him. I used to share my love of running with others’ sons when I coached cross country and track in my pre-mom life…. And now I was training with my own son! And he is amazingly, a natural runner. Talk about hope restored!
My heart, my soul, my mind, my little world is being slowly renewed and repaired, because of others…because of God’s love in action created through the encouraging, passionate, and patient people He has placed on our path: like the teachers and therapists he has at North Florida School of Special Education, like Mr. (coach) Sontag; who create opportunity and hope where there once was none.
Pieces put together.
God shining through darkness.
Me...Finally noticing it...
Finally feeling it.
"...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1