August 24, 2011


I chuckled at her expression.

"I told you I'd have to explain," I said.

On the prayer list I handed her were written two words: Caleb's Autism.

Only they weren't written under "Prayers." They were written under "Praises."


"I can't imagine what your life must be like," our Sunday School coordinator says. I confess I am a bit surprised by this statement: she's a mother of seven. I sorta figured if anyone understood, she would.

"Well," I mumble. "We have good days and bad days." I'm trying hard not to cry. Trying hard to be strong. The gray day mirrors the difficult news she just delievered: one of the Sunday school teachers doesn't want Caleb in her class because he won't sit down and color nicely with the rest of the boys and girls.

"Yeah, but your bad days must be really bad."

I nod. I'm confused, and I don't know what else to say, but I nod.

My life isn't all that bad, surely. Do we really engender that kind of pity from people? Caleb just isn't a sit-down-and-play-quietly kind of boy.


"What would you like to do today, Caleb?" I ask over Cocoa Pebbles and bananas.

"Hmmmm." He thinks about it, tapping one finger to his cheek in typical Caleb-fashion. "Go the airport and see Grammie and Grandpa's house?" He looks at me hopefully. I laugh.

"I wish we could. But not today, sweetie."

We play Chase instead. His favorite. I chase him, he chases me, and we usually end up on my bed playing hide-and-seek under the blankets. Or else he jumps on the bed, singing something about monkeys bumping their heads.

Singing is a new hobby for him.

On our way to Wendy's for dinner the other night, he started singing the theme song from Wonder Pets! Only he changed the words. I almost didn't notice.

"We're not too big, 'n we're not too tough, but when we work together, we get french fries! Yay, Mommy, Daddy, and Cabub!"

I laughed all the way to the drive-through.


After sitting on my table for four months, after a trip to California and back, after my mother sings its high praises, the magazine will be ignored no longer. I pick it up and start reading.

"Autism" is splashed across the cover. The causes, the treatments, the theories.

I don't really want to read it. Been putting it off (and off and off). But... something inside me insists. You need this. You need to face it.

The statistics in the article are staggering: 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with autism every year. And boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

I read stories about parents who are raising autistic children. And the more I read, the more I relate. Behavior issues, speech delays, sensory difficulties. I'm nodding my head as if the magazine can see me. This is my son, I realize, shocked. Everything they're describing in here? We've seen it. Lived it. To one degree or another.

My son's autistic.

I can't believe I'm even thinking it. But deep down, that statement rings true. And deeper still, very much to my surprise, I accept it.

I didn't even know I was fighting. Didn't catch the denial. But the reluctance, the hesitation, they have been there from the beginning. It feels good to be free of them.

The magazine does one other thing for me. It gives me perspective.


"So why is this listed under Praises?" my friend asks. She sips her coffee and waits.

I stare out the window at Starbucks, composing my answer. Why am I praising God for something that has routinely been under Prayers?

"Because I realized something this week. As hard as Caleb can be sometimes, as difficult as raising him is, things could be a lot worse. Some autistic children never talk, some of them are never able to function in normal society. Caleb's not that severe. Most likely, he won't have those problems. Our life could be vastly different, vastly more difficult. So I'm praising God that Caleb is who he is."

And I am. Truly. For the first time, I think I'm beginning to understand my son. And the more I do, the more thankful I am for this amazing, sweet, funny little boy who I get to wake up to each morning. We still have a long road ahead of us, but at least we are heading in the right direction. Step by step.


LeAnna said...

You amaze me, friend. Because you're so real and honest, and have allowed God to work in you through this. Caleb is not a statistic, he's Caleb, fearfully and wonderfully made. And this season? Will be the hardest and the best of your life.

I'm sending a blogger friend over here to visit. She's going to be moving out your way, and I told her she should come check you out! This is her blog -

NaomiG said...

Haha, (Hi LeAnna!) Here I am. :-)

This post spoke to my heart so very much. I'm diabetic, and have really been struggling with it the past few years. It's that one thing in my life that I really can't seem to get ahold of, and I really need to. I never thought to praise God for it. If I'm being completely honest, it hasn't been something I've prayed about much, because I prefer to pretend it doesn't exist anymore than I must to keep it under marginal control. Ive recently been convicted to pray about it, and now I feel convicted to praise about it. So thank you for that.

Your son is adorable, and your pictures are so lovely. God not only knows what our children need from us, he knows what we need from them as well. What a comfort and joy they are!!

Looking forward to being in that part of WA!

La Petite Maison said...

Hello my friend!I didn't know until now that Caleb had been diagnosed with autism. I am honestly surprised, but I'm not an expert.

ladyfelicity said...

This, friend, is beautiful. Not sure what else to say. Your son is a gift from God and your embrace of love is so evident in this post and so ... beautiful.

God bless you and yours!

Nicole said...

LeAnna: Thank you for your sweet thoughts and encouragment. I love you, girlie! We do, absolutely, need to talk soon. :) And thanks for sending Naomi my way!

Naomi: Hello! So nice to meet you! I think you'll like our side of the mountains. ;) I'm sorry to hear about your struggle with diabetes, but I had to smile, too. I am border-line diabetic and have to really watch my sugars. Like you, I don't manage it like I should... and yes, I'd rather pretend it doesn't exist. It's funny that I just saw your comment today, though, because I'm planning to write a diabetic-sort of post later today. Lol, funny how God works...

La Petite Maison: He hasn't been officially diagnosed yet. He is being evaluated for autism at Children's Hospital in Seattle. He does have a lot of markers for autism, albeit high-functioning. There's also a good chance he is ADHD, although we can't test for that until he is older. In the meantime, he's getting a lot of help for his speech, sensory processing disorder, and behavior issues.