Because it’s time, part 2

Confession: I would rather ask questions than try to offer answers.

After I wrote about Regan, I heard from a surprising number of you who said you had sons with similar issues. I welcome the wisdom you shared with me. You also asked me what I knew; what I’d learned about SPD; what worked.

I don’t feel qualified to answer your questions. We’ve only begun learning ourselves, and our mistakes constantly lead us back to Jesus in shame, tears, repentance.

But I hear in some of you the same desperation we feel, and if it can help, I will say this:

1. Keep looking for answers.

Friends and family may have wisdom for you, but if you are still desperate, dig deeper. A family doctor is a good place to start: even when he cannot diagnose, he may give you references for further evaluation and support. Do not be frightened of professional help. Jesus will lead you to the right places. Reach for it!

2. Stay close to your child.

  • Spend lots of time together; learn to love him as he is. Don’t push him away.
  • Stay in tune with his actions and emotions. Try to prevent crises before they arise.

3. (and simultaneously…) Learn to let go.

  • You cannot be everything for your child. Learn to welcome others’ care and involvement in his life. Some people will not know what to do with him; others will be deeply drawn to him.
  • He cannot always have you hovering. Learn to give him just a bit of tether. Sometimes you and he will both get burned, but sometimes he will surprise you with how well he does. If you remove all his freedoms, it leads to nothing but codependence and frustration.

4. Give healthy stimulation.

We give him a backrub as he drifts off to sleep. We let him “squeeze Mommy’s hands hard” when he is frustrated. We give him newspaper to cut up (endless amusement). We let him snip weeds with a scissors, though supervision is needed—he often ends up cutting something he shouldn’t. We get him to help cook and bake. There are many more ideas in The Out of Sync Child Has Fun.

5. Make everything as visual as possible.

Here are two ideas we adopted from America’s Supernanny (Episode 6):

  • We posted a chart of “House Rules,” with pictures of specific rewards and consequences. We tried to capture most of our expectations in just five guidelines that apply to everyone in the family.

A. Use kind words.
B. Use gentle touches.
C. Treat our home with care.
D. Share with each other.
E. Obey Dad and Mom the first time.

When he obeys or disobeys, we can lead him to the chart and show him the result of his choice. Regan connects with ideas better when he can see them.

  • We also posted red paper stop signs near his places of biggest temptation: above mom and dad’s bed, where he always used to jump, and on the pantry or refrigerator. “Stop! Ask first!” In the absence of internal checks on his own behavior, it helped him to see a physical reminder. After a few weeks we quietly removed it. It really worked! Now we’re trying to brainstorm a way to create reminders for the behaviors that travel with him…

To all who know what I am talking about from the inside: Thank you for your gracious responses. I welcome hearing from you, and pray that Jesus will give grace to us all–and to our sons.

For some reason, I hear Robin Mark’s song “Revival” playing in my head:

As sure as gold is precious and the honey sweet
So You love this city and You love these streets
Every child out playing by their own front door
Every baby laying on the bedroom floor

Every man and woman, every old and young
Every father’s daughter, every mother’s son
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones
You’re going to send revival, bring them all back home

I can hear that thunder in the distance
Like a train on the edge of town
I can feel the moving of Your Spirit
Lay your burden down—

Lay your burden down

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Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

“learn to love him as he is”, THAT”S the phrase that jumped at me, altho I enjoyed the whole blog. Simple, but powerful, and necessary always, whether it’s your kind of child or mine. In truth, it’s how we must respond to all, if we ever hope to make a difference in ANYones life. Thanks, Shari…you’re learning so much in this difficult journey. Wishing you many unexpected blessings, and much grace.

Janelle Glick
11 years ago

This is a remarkable post from a remarkable lady. “understanding from the inside”… hmmm… ” Some people will not know what to do with him; some will be drawn to him” – that’s a very non judgemental and gracious statement to make, Shari. My niece has autism, and I know my sister could talk awhile about both of your statements. I cheer for you as I’ve always cheered for my sister and her daughter – loudly, boldly, and with great trust that Jesus is all over the answers, and the “burns” that happen while you seek them.

11 years ago

Thanks for trusting our family with Reg.
Thanks for allowing us to love Reg.
(and hope the pancakes and eggs were extra special today.:))

11 years ago
Reply to  Marie

I thought of you when I wrote “some people will be deeply drawn to him.” Thanks so, so much.

The pancakes were awesome; eaten w/ fresh fruit and Cool Whip. 🙂

11 years ago

From an aunt’s perspective, I adore Regan! I always have! But that’s from an aunt’s safe perspective…I haven’t had to deal with all the frustrations. Still, there’s something of his personality that draws me…wildly! You’re creative, Sis, in the ways you’ve found to work with him, and your other children for that matter. And one day, you’re gonna receive more stars in your crown than you can count, not because you did everything perfectly. Just because you were willing to mess up and keep trying. That takes a softness and brokenness of immeasurable value. Love you!

11 years ago

I love that song!

11 years ago Here is another song that I live on some days…

11 years ago

Another thing that really helped in working with our son was learning about different triggers that set off bad behavior. He has a lot of difficulty with emotional regulation. Making life perfect is impossible, but limiting those triggers to a more manageable load for him helps so much. It also enables us to deal with understanding, and connect with his heart in meaningful ways. Some of his triggers: feeling rejected, disappointment, sugar, being with people (he LOVES them but they wear him out, too), lack of sleep, not enough physical touch, not enough quality time. And I agree with you–it’s really special when people see your child as an interesting and lovable kid instead of just being disgusted at his behavior. Kids like this have so much love inside them. And our son is (slowly) improving, although I still think I might be white-haired by 40! 😀

11 years ago

I forgot to add that I really like your house rules (simple and easy to understand) and the stop sign idea–I might have to try that! Thanks for the good ideas!

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