We were driven out into the night to seek shelter at my son’s house a week or so ago as I wrote about in an earlier post.
When we got here, you could tell it was definitely a guy’s house.
But soon, his sister made her mark. I thought the man of the house finding this in the cabinet was hilarious. He was not as amused as I.
The master bedroom did not have a bed yet and was used for office space.
He used one of the smaller rooms that he had bought a mattress for, intending to rearrange things as he acquired more furnishings. The closets are spacious, but he kept his clothes here.
Perhaps this was more convenient. I resisted hanging up his clothes. I did find clean sheets and left them on his bed, simply as a suggestion.
Being a good sport, my son has adapted somewhat to being invaded by not only mom, but sister as well. Brothers have often been here and require little adjustment. Girls, on the other hand, are different. There have been purchases of things boys have no need of, like extra silverware, baking pans, first aid supplies, laundry booster, and fresh fruits and veggies.
I am happy to report the bathrooms and kitchen were fairly clean. Almost shockingly so! Warms a mother’s heart to realize the endless task of teaching does pay off.
I worried about crashing in on him, but he keeps assuring me he likes us being here . . . most of the time. He grumbles at times. It would be nice if his sibs loaded the dishwasher. You would be proud of me, Mommas. I say nothing to that, nor do I gloat. (By the way, the sibs do contribute to upkeep and mess management.)
We were talking about how nerve wracking it can be to have family around all the time and he told me he wasn’t bothered by my being here at all.
“Because,” he said, “You’re not judgmental.”
For some reason. every time I think of that it makes me tear up.
If you follow my blog you know my son recently bought a new house. I had only been to see it once since he bought it, and that was a very short visit. Unbeknownst to any of us, that lack was soon to be remedied.
It’s been raining quite a bit. The Texas flooding spared us, but the rains have been steady. When it rains a great deal without stopping, many things can cause problems. What went wrong at my house was not a tragedy. It was a septic failure, one of things that can go wrong and drive you out into the night.
I tried calling my son several times as we were stuffing clothes into bags and grabbing toothbrushes and pillows, but he did not answer.
I have an emergency key. This was an emergency.
We startled him awake. A particularly boring episode of something on Netflix had sent him to dreamland as he sat in his only real chair. The one I gave him.
It was parked in front of the T.V. his brother gave him, which is on the T.V. stand his new neighbor gave him since she was throwing it out. Do you sense a pattern? He doesn’t have a lot of furniture. He doesn’t have a lot of anything, except room.
To give you an idea, here is rest of the living room furniture. (Wait a minute, we brought the red camp chair. Come to think of it, we brought the blue throw that is in the red chair,too.)
We also brought sleeping bags, towels, and various other supplies. I knew he had a new mattress and one set of sheets he bought for the guest room, so that was good. No way can I sleep on the floor anymore, as I explain in my cipro story.
He let us in and welcomed us, even if he was a bit fuzzy headed. Can you imagine your mom showing up in the wee hours with a goodly portion of the family in tow?
My husband and eldest son are at home now, and await estimates. While they wait, there are a few things to take care of. Looks like I may be getting some remodeling.
When she asks me why I am crying, I can not speak. I send her away with the words all mommas use so often it’s second nature.
“In a minute.”
She has come upon me unexpected, caught me in the grip of a journey’s end emotion.
I redirect her, unable to untangle my thoughts and feelings.
“Don’t you need to get ready for dance?”
She looks at me sideways, then nods. She knows me well and gives me the small moment of peace I need. I know her, too. She will be back in two heartbeats. I breathe.
When she returns, I am ready and not ready.
I start out OK. I tell her how proud I am of her. Half a sentence into the conversation, words have trouble squeezing past my heart. They come out wobbly but march on.
Baby Girl has had hard, hard times. Life is harsh to our young. No one grows up without a heavy dose of pain.
If I had one real come-true wish I would make the world gentle for her, but I can’t. The enemy is often invisible, but the battle scars are there, plain to see. When she lets me.
On this day she is going to rehearse a dance she choreographed to Beauty From Pain. One she will dance on stage in front of the whole world and everyone who is watching. She will dance with all the grace she can muster. She will dance with all she has, speak with movement and make the song sing a new way.
I tell her, “I know what the dance means—I know what this cost you.”
We can’t look at each other in the eye because now is not the time to puddle up.
Instead, I wrap my arms around her and she rests, enveloped. Her hair is in my face. It should be pony tailed or bunned. She needs to get ready. I don’t release her yet. I tell her to make sure she takes a water bottle. An experienced dancer, she does not need this advice at all.
I wanted to write this post because my heart is breaking. Right now, girls are keeping destructive secrets, cutting, starving themselves, engaging in risky behavior, feeling trapped in abusive relationships, bullied and bullying, all right under their parent’s noses. I don’t even know if parents want to know. This post is for the strong of heart who are willing to take stock of their relationship with their daughters.
Teens cover up. They all do it. It doesn’t matter how close a parent is to their teen, deep secrets can end up buried far away from parental eyes and ears. Teen girls always keep a bit of themselves to themselves, and rightly so, but when they are engaging in potentially harmful behavior or need guidance teens need to be able to talk with parents. It’s part of our job as a parent to be available and aware.
Why Teen and Preteen Girls Don’t Talk to Parents
Even if there is apparent evidence to the contrary, our teens want to please us. If they feel ashamed of the opinions or thoughts they are having and are afraid of being shamed for them, teens will resist letting the parent in. They really do care what parents think, even when the teen disagrees.
It seems like a teen girl is embarrassed by everything. Discussing intimate feeling or touchy subjects is brutally embarrassing. Did I say teen girls? I still get embarrassed by certain subjects with my mom and a fair amount of time has passed since I was a teen!
Fear of rejection keeps us all from sharing our feelings. Who wants to have a heart to heart with someone when there is less than a 100% chance of your feelings being recognized as valid?
How to Get Teens to Talk
No one wants to talk with a hypocrite, and teens tend to operate from a black and white perspective until they gain experience. Teen will call you out on your inconsistencies. Be as honest as possible about your failures. Admit that you don’t know it all, but you are giving them your best advice.
Be Understanding of Your Teen’s Point of View
Teens are full of drama, and it is easy to dismiss conversations that from an adult point of view seem frivolous. Try to remember what it was like to find a place to be in a confusing world.
Realize that they may be coming from a vastly different place than teens in years past have ever experienced. The first step to seeing from another person’s point of view is to realize they have a different perspective and respecting that perspective. You don’t have to agree with someone to respect their right to have an opinion. Finding a place to relate to each other is key to communication.
Listen Don’t Lecture
As parents it is our job to correct, admonish, and train but jumping in too quickly with advice or even worse, “I told you so” will bring any conversation to a screeching halt. Most of us have already done a fair job of laying down the rules and letting our kids know what we think and believe. Fostering a two way communication is an entirely different scenario. Listening is hard work. Resolve to postpone your input. A big part of communicating is found in quietness.
Schedule Time to Talk But Talk Outside the Schedule Too
Communication takes time. Building trust takes time. Setting a teen down to ‘have a talk’ is not the same as ongoing dialog that is relationship building. Be deliberate in your pursuit of communication with your children.
All of these suggestions apply to boys as well as girls. While girls tend to talk more, it seems they also keep certain things to themselves. I do not know if it holds true for all girls, but of all the girls I’ve known, we talk more but hold back more as well. We learn to do this young.
I wrote another post about Raising Conversational Men, but I am not so naive as to think my children tell me everything. The best I can do is to make it crystal clear to them that if and when they want to tell all, tell bits, or tell anything, I am here.
Do you have any tips for getting your teen to talk to you? I’d love to hear from you! Add your comment to the conversation.
Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide the shame of what was done to me and the shame of what’s become of me. Hide the tears and the wounds I’ve suffered, and those I have inflicted. Let the water and the blood cover me. Hide my anguish at the sin perpetrated upon me and the sins that I have embraced.
Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide.
Let not the labor of my hands deceive me, no restitution is found there. Only hiding in You will save me. I have nothing to give you, only my barren soul. To Your promise I will cling until at last I see You, my heart still singing, Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide.
This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up. Bloggers from all over respond to the week’s prompt by writing for five minutes. The prompt of Hide for this week’s Five Minute Friday made me sing, cry, and pray.
Want to add your voice? Pop on over to Kate’s site. There’s room.
When I first started asking around in the Asperger’s and Autism community about the whole church issue, the stories I heard made me mad. By the time I’d gotten a few more responses, I was sad. Overwhelmingly sad. The stories did not stop coming.
It breaks my heart when people say they regret staying at their church and wished they had left sooner.
The responses I gathered were from Christian people desiring fellowship. Many of these believers are actively seeking a church or Bible study in spite of bad experiences.
Why is church so hard for people on the autism spectrum?
Getting to the Church on Time, Late, or At All
Every mom knows this is a battle, but with Autism Spectrum Disorder it is multiplied. Most people on the spectrum have terrible issues with insomnia, getting restorative sleep, and waking. When I say trouble waking, I am not kidding. A regular topic is how to wake up. I read somewhere in an autism advocate’s writings about the need for an alarm clock that shakes and shrieks.
Trouble organizing, estimating and managing time, the other hundred hurdles every day brings with sensory, eating difficulties, motor skills issues, and so on make getting out challenging on any day. Sunday is no exception.
Sensory Overloads and Processing Problems
Sensory overload is another big issue. Loud music, flashing lights, over powering perfume add up to an sensory cocktail that can quickly overload. While these things may be a minor irritation to some, for others the input is akin to a sensory onslaught.
The format and language of today’s church can be difficult for a literal-minded person to understand. An emphasis on emotion rather than thought and logic make it hard to grasp the message.
It is a social setting. This is a minefield for someone who can’t read body language, has difficulty recognizing faces, or any of the myriad of other cognitive or social skills typically lacking in a person with ASD. Often, children and young adults are expected to be “friends” at church to the same people who bullied the child at school. People who greet with a hug then ignore the minute they step out of the church door, or even before, will probably be interpreted as hypocritical.
Rejection at Church
Rejection and bullying is something I heard about over and over when I brought up the issue of church. Family members of all ages were bullied. Adults bullied children. Being rejected by people at church is an issue I heard about over and over. You can read about an instance that happened to my kids at church here.
And, no, this one situation did not cause us to leave that church. Often we have to weigh the cruelty of ignorant people against the benefit for our children of continuing to attend.
One of my kids visited a local church a while back. An adult in the youth group began making derogatory statements about persons with disabilities. The fact that this man felt comfortable saying these things in front of leadership and the students made it clear this was not a place we cared to be. Talk about how to keep visitors from coming back!
While the majority of people are kind and caring, I’m sad to say I wasn’t particularly surprised by this encounter.
People assume that since this person is not connecting socially they are not aware of these slights, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. Some autistics are exceptionally intuitive. The inability to express oneself does not necessarily mean a person has no thoughts or feelings on a matter.
Leadership that avoids their students with more needs, or even become hostile to students who ask too many questions is a frequent problem parents cited. Aspies tend to have no qualms responding to the challenge to “prove me wrong”. A lack of social skills coupled with honest answers from a young person who may have an above average IQ can be misinterpreted by youth workers and lead to exclusion.
Do You Want to Be the Church?
I was heartened to find some excellent resources for churches and ministries interested in reaching the “one out of the ninety-nine” as Dr. Stephen Grcevich from Key Ministry put it.
This YouTube video is a good condensation explaining a complicated topic. I think it is an excellent start.
Why Church Should Be Accessible
I talked to many parents. Most have tried church after church. Many gave up on ever finding a church home. Some of the children, scarred and confused by their church experiences, have given up on God. Not all have not turned away. There are those who continue to search for a place to belong, a safe haven to worship and fellowship with other believers. People they can call “brother”.
Some church leaders think church is for the majority, and they can’t afford to spend time making church available to everyone.
God has designed every person with a purpose. There is room in the body for every believer.
[tweet_this] God has designed every person with a purpose. There is room in the body for every believer.[/tweet_this]
Dr. Grcevich stated in the video that he believes God has a reason for the influx of students and people with Asperger’s and similar conditions.
Qualities common to people with Asperger’s are the tendency to be truth and knowledge seekers, be persistent in faith, have a strong sense of morality, be deep thinking, justice minded, and analytical, to have zero tolerance for hypocrites, and pay no heed to church politics.
Is there room at your church for these kind of people?
I felt the need to add to this post for clarity after some feedback from readers.
People with Asperger’s don’t need a special program. Dr. Grcevich explains in the video above that being funneled into the typical special needs ministry would not serve well and be completely inappropriate. What do they need? Respect, understanding, and a helping hand every now and then.
If this post resonated with you, please share it. Have something to add? Join the conversation by commenting below. I want to hear from you!
Side Note: I have focused my energy on writing a YA series that has a character with high functioning autism. Currently, all three novels are in the editing stage. One of them features an aspie romance. If you’d like to stay informed about my novels, you can sign up for my newsletter. It’s the second sign up box.
If you would like to be a beta reader, sign up for my newsletter and send me a message to let me know you are interested.
It all started when I went to look for a literary analysis book. One trash bag full and three boxes into the job, I started finding things. Treasures, really.
We must keep the carousal horse and other drawings, and the book Drawing With Children. I would be happy with only the drawings, but my daughter insists. What if she needs that book for her kids?
This binder says right on the cover Mind Twisting Stories which means it is a titled work, so it cannot be discarded.
Little sister even decorated it.
Most of our materials and assignments come with decorations of some sort, be they toddler explorations with marker, coffee rings, important reminders (reschedule dentist, pay water bill, need 27 styrofoam cups and toothpicks for gumballs) or even teeth marks. My youngest literally teethed on Shakespeare for Young People: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I like to think that makes her sound smart.
I tossed that chewed on copy, but when my middle son came by to visit he noticed the boxes. “But mom, I was in this play! TWICE.” Since he has his own house now he was welcome to dig through the boxes to his heart’s content.
When I was in the midst of the juggling act, I never realized how precious all those spills and scribbles would be someday.
We must keep the Book of Jokes. This is slap full of things nine year old boys find hilarious. Or HE-larry-US.
Obviously, these cannot be tossed out.
I adore reading his jokes and remembering that boy laugh. You know the one. The one that makes you laugh along even when nothing is funny. For a second I hear it again. I picture that grin and tousled up hair. It’s so present I can practically smell the little boy smell.
Also making the cut we have a songbook and cassette tape of Down By The Creekbank, a few original one of a kind, hand-designed space themed board games, and a smattering of materials we may actually need sometime next year.
I offered to keep the dissection kit (It’s in perfectly good shape) and order some extra specimens to do for fun.
The girl said, “No, thanks. I’m good.”
Party pooper. Truthfully, I am not so sad to say goodbye to that stage of my homeschooling mom career. Frog guts. Ugh.
Eventually, I loaded up boxes with a bunch of materials, some brand new. I think you may be able to discern why sometimes busy moms end up with duplicate unused workbooks.
My cabinet looks better now, but some old books are still firmly entrenched in the Stone Family Collection. Yes, those are ancient Abeka and National Geographic books. My kids loved them. Old books are friends.
I did find the book I was hunting, but after I skimmed through it I discovered it was not exactly what I was looking for.
I found something better. Messy, hoarded memories and plenty of room for more.
Three years ago I had a reaction to a common antibiotic, Cipro. I was unable to walk or care for myself without assistance. I have improved, but recovery often seems like an unattainable dream.
I get discouraged. My strength has been stolen.
I miss things. Shopping with my daughter for prom dresses via text message is not the same. I miss my family. I miss their moments and celebrations. You can’t hug when you are in different locations.
It is rare for my good days to coincide with days out. Struggling sucks the joy out. Thank goodness for online shopping. The UPS man probably thinks, “Lady, why don’t you make one big order a month already.”
During the past three years I have been occupied fighting my every day battles. On the counter right now I have several lidless containers because when I finally do get one open, the lid tends to slip away and land on the floor. You know what? Jars do fine with a bit of plastic wrap to cover the opening, and I planned on taking another vitamin tomorrow so it’s all right. However, someone really needs to pick up under the kitchen table.
The tendons and joints in my body often swell now, so any given day may be ice pack worthy. The amount of ace bandages make me look like a mummy at times. My downhill slide has been a bumpy one, with one thing following another. Challenges pop up as if falling were not already hard enough. I suppose if you’re going to go down, make it spectacular.
When I think about the physical grind it can seem like all I’ve done is shuffle along. Remember that Tim Conway old man skit? But during these three years I have had my Rocky Moments as well. Imagine that old man doing the fist pump to Gonna Fly Now. Yeah! That’s what I did the first time I managed handicap steps instead of a ramp. Go me!
I have my own speed now.
I fought a huge battle for my son, too much to get into here, but moms and dads know. Someone decided to get in the way of my child’s progress. Mistake. I fought for a year and it was one of the hardest battles I’ve ever been in. There were many prayers and tears. In the end we finally got his chance, what was rightfully his. Nothing was wrong with my voice. I made phone calls until I found a way.
He is running with that chance. Does it matter if his steps are a little slow at times? Nope. Cue Gonna Fly Now. We will fist pump together. Go son!
After I regained enough health, I completed writing two novels and started a third. Wow. I impressed myself. Sometimes I had to use speech to text. I thought I would never get Dragon trained. What a formatting mess. But words got onto the page.
I am sure the most eloquent prose ever spoken has been forever lost, mangled by my computer’s inability to master the southern accent.
The trick is to get words on paper by any means possible. Spiral notebooks were always in my bed so I could reach them. I learned to put them on their own pillow. Temperamental, they are.
I joined an accountability group and committed to a minimum of words written on my novel per day. Once you give yourself permission to take small steps and plod away you will be amazed at what you can do.
These accomplishments only came about through prayer and persistence.
Other good things of note happened these last three years. My middle son became a proud homeowner. The oldest is building a house, the youngest boy started college, and Baby Girl has found her calling.
It’s enough to make one dizzy, this fast crawl.
None of my strength comes from myself. It’s plain to see I have none. What I have is a destiny. And I have my own pace, even if it is a slow shuffle.