I remember people harping on me as to why he wasn't crawling. I asked the doctor, but she said that no baby was alike and some are just a little bit behind, no worries. But I did. I worried. Only a mother would know the worry and the gut wrenching feeling that something wasn't quite right, but I kept going as if it were just as the doctor said.
He was sick a lot. At least once a month, and boy was it heartbreaking. (More on that in minute) Fifteen months old came and he still was not crawling. We finally got him in therapy and he started crawling at sixteen months and walking at about nineteen months.
We were noticing that he would not play with toys, watch tv, or "read books". He said momma, daddy, and ball. And he could catch a ball, but as quickly as he learned to catch he forgot and couldn't do that anymore. And as much as he said those 3 words, in time those left too.
It was like the little boy we had grown to know and love was leaving us. Yes, he had had some delays physically, but his personality was remarkably sweet and lovable. That slowly left too.
Now, as I mentioned, he was sick constantly. He was now at a point where he would cough so much he would throw up. Every. Single. Day. For two months solid, we took him to the doctor, had tests, and they said he had asthma. They put him on medicine, that didn't seem to work.
In January 20, 2004, we were introduced to a chiropractor. He said to get him off the medicine and he adjusted him. He has never had an issue with asthma again. In fact, he has never been to the doctor for sickness since. That began our journey to healthy living.
Along this time, we had our second son. I fell in love with this little guy. Absolutely head over heels in love. It was at a time in my life when all of my emotions and anxieties were at an all time high and when that baby was born I was so protective over him. I remember one friend coming to see him saying "where is my little baby?!" and me bawling my eyes out, because he was mine. MINE. Watch out, crazy emotions on the loose!
He was in therapy after therapy. He started school at age 3. He was still a sweet little guy, but it seemed his happiness was leaving as he seemed to shut down in his own little world. I remember doing so much research. We didn't have the internet at the time, so I spent my time reading every book imaginable on anything I could possibly find. No one ever seemed to think much of it but us. In all my research I knew he had autism.
We started working with Jaiden and as he got more comfortable at school, by age 4 1/2 they were starting to see him "stim" and do some odd behaviors, like sticking his tongue out for no reason and smelling people's hair. He loves people's hair.
By this time he had about 100 words or so and they were ready to test him. We went through 3 months of evaluations and we had the meeting, and got the results, that yes he had autism. I cried and cried and cried. You see, nobody EVER mentioned to us that they thought it was autism. I figured it out. We even had many professionals disagree with us. But we knew.
I'm not sure exactly why I cried and what I was crying about really. Maybe just hearing the words. Thinking about the plans I had for this child had now truly changed. There was always this hope that maybe just maybe I was wrong. But I wasn't.
We decided that he would change schools and be enrolled in an Autism Unit at a near by public school. Our drive home was quiet and painful. My husband had tears streaming down his face and I could hardly take seeing his heart broken too.
That night was by far one of the most painful nights of my life. We came home, got the boys to bed, and went to bed ourselves. We laid there in the dark and said nothing. I just sat there quietly as tears streamed down my face. Soon I drifted off to sleep, but woke up in the middle of the night having an all out anxiety attack. I shot up in bed (like you see in a movie after someone has a nightmare) weeping and hyperventilating. Dan comforted me, cried with me, and we prayed. It was a long emotional night like none other, and I remember thinking how relieved I would be when the sun came out, only to realize, I wasn't sure how to face our new life with a "label".
He went to his new school and really started doing great. At this time our chiropractor was working with us on diet, and chealation. We were seeing so much improvement, it was amazing. He probably had about 300+ words now compared to the 100 he had just months before.
Jaiden as Woody at his Hippo therapy's Halloween party.
No smile. No expression in his eyes.
Look at that hair! And there is a smile under there =]
Silly brothers. (I had the pic turned the right way, but is not showing up right)
We continued at his school for two years, and we loved it, and so did he. As of last fall (2009), he understands most things, he is fully potty trained (at age 8!!) and he was starting to read and write.
Along this time, we knew God was leading us to home school. Tibby was in preschool, so I thought I would use this time to plan, and when he started kindergarten (Fall 2010) we would start. Notice I said Tibby, not Jaiden? Yeah, in November of 2009, God quietly said, "I asked you to home school your children, and that includes Jaiden."
I thought I would mention this to Dan, and if he was on board, then surly that really was God speaking to me. Ha ha, don't you love how I think? Dan's reply? "I couldn't agree more!" Hmmmm, okay. I wanted to home school him, but had no clue where to start. Sure, I knew alot about autism and teaching him, but I was not confident in my abilities. SO, we found a Learning Center that did his therapy, and decided to enroll him 1/2 day and home school him the rest of the day. We would start in January.
It was around November when his behaviors were getting bad. At school they were wondering what was going on, and at home I thought I was going to lose my mind. It was a sure sign for me that he needed to be home. So we told the teachers this would be his last semester.
In January, we started the learning center. They were so impressed with his abilities, and loved him immediately. One little problem, when he would get home, his behaviors were getting worse. I mean 4-6 hours of him screaming, hitting his brothers and me, and pulling my hair. Every night I would go to bed exhausted, and not knowing how to even face the days ahead.
In February, I got him dressed and ready to go to his morning school, and got him in the car, and he unbuckled. I got out and buckled him, and he unbuckled again. After repeating this scene over and over, I said "fine, we are going inside and I'll teach you today!" We sat and worked, read, did crafts, for hours. He was fine, I was fine.
It was getting very clear to us, that we were supposed to be HOME SCHOOLING him . I guess it should've been clear months before, but you see how we try to "obey" God, but also fit in how we want it done? We pulled him out that day.
We have been home schooling him for a few months now, and he has really learned a lot. He can write almost completely on his own now, he can spell words and form letters, he can sit a look at books or color for long periods of time. He helps out more around the house, and no more big problems in waiting. His behaviors are going away too. Praise God!
Over the past few years, we have learned how to adjust and how to live the life we've been given. God has helped me tremendously on my anxieties. We go out to movies, parades, parties, swimming, church, and on vacations. We don't limit him or us really. Why do that? Every once in a while I'll feel bad for Tibby, because he has to bring J along to play with friends. Then I stop and think. Our other boys have been given this life too. This is part of their every day, so no, I don't feel bad that they have to take him a long. We all are given something in life that may be hard, but just as us parents learn to enjoy the life we've been given and make it work, our boys need to know that too. And Jaiden isn't exempt from this either. If Tibby gets invited to go somewhere with friends, like swimming (somewhere I can't watch J) then Jaiden will have to adjust and let Tibby go without him. Give and take. Tibby and Brighton need time alone just as I do. So that's that.
As of now, life is good. We are blessed beyond measure. I love all the boys in my life, and though it may be hard sometimes...really who has a life that is not hard at some point? God is and will always be the center of our life, and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
One of his favorite things to do.
blissful summer afternoon.
brothers on the 4th of July 2010