Psalm 28:7 ESV
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
As the year was coming to an end for yet another time, I reflected on the things that brought me joy; those things that I am grateful for. For some people it is just a list, but for me it is an accomplishment and reminder of God carrying me through some really tough times.
1) Taking showers– Years ago taking a bath used to take a total of almost 2 hours from start to finish. He would cover his ears and scream when the tub was being filled up. He would scratch, hit me or himself to try to get out of the bathroom. It would take about 45 minutes to get him in and then once he was in he loved it. Then to get him out was another 45 minutes. NOW he takes showers by himself. He hears the water constantly running and it is ok.
2) Hearing fireworks– When we first moved after his diagnosis to Orlando we didn’t realize how close our house was to Disney until the first night when we heard these loud booms and found out we can see and hear the Disney fireworks every night from our front porch. We loved it, but Charlie not so much. Every night he would run in his room and scream, slamming his door. We thought what have we done? July 4 for us as a family was dreaded because we knew it would be constant screaming. He now doesn’t cover his ears, scream, run to his room, we even went closer to the fireworks show this year (with his earplugs of course) and he was able to watch them without screaming.
3) Bathroom – This is one of his biggest achievements (and mine too). This was the toughest for him. His receptive language was lacking so he didn’t even understand going (being 5) and what it even meant. The reinforcers we were using weren’t strong enough for him to comply. We did intervals the first 2 weeks with constant tantrums. I thought, crying one day, will this ever work? It took nearly 2 years for him to be completely trained. This was almost 5 years ago and when he walks in a bathroom now I still sigh with a big smile and am so grateful for this.
4) Words– Charlie didn’t start using his words till almost 4 years old. How many of us can remember the first word your child said or the place where they said it? I remember exactly where, when, and what was said. It was, “YES”. This is one of the biggest thing that I am grateful for…words. They are powerful. We still work on this being fluent but he is doing such an awesome job. Words can even be via sign language or using an augmented device for others. Being able to communicate is such a gift.
I am grateful for so many people that God has brought in our lives to help Charlie and our family. We would have probably never crossed their paths if it wasn’t for Charlie’s needs.
1) Our Church- We attend First Baptist Church of Windermere and right when we started attending they had started a Special Needs Ministry. Our Pastor, Dr. Chuck Carter’s son also has autism. It was and has been such a blessing. It was a safe place for us to leave him and also have him learn about Christ. It was the first time since his diagnosis that we as a family were able to worship all together and not be concerned about Charlie. I will always be grateful to that. Not all churches have places like this. It has been a blessing. Thank you Denise and Gina, among many others.
2) His Teachers-Ms. Kim and Ms. LeVee (an ESE teacher and a regular education teacher) are among those that made such a difference in his life. Both of these teachers looked at Charlie with lots of hope and were so positive. I know it wasn’t easy at times, but they always had a smile and were encouraging. I am grateful for their dedication and love.
3) His Therapists- He has had so many of these in his short 11 years. I feel these people have been key in his progress (ST, OT, Behavior Analysts). They have given me such hope and actual skills to work on with Charlie. They have taught me so much.
On those really tough days it is easy to get down, but I have always made the choice to look at where he has come and how much progress he has made.
I am so grateful again for the many things that Charlie has accomplished and can’t wait to see what other new things God will help him achieve. Charlie’s sweet spirit of his love for Christ has grown so much this year and that I am grateful for the most. As you look ahead, think of the things you are grateful for as well. Gratefulness can be so refreshing!
Colossians 3:15-20 ESV
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.