Replacing LIES with Truth – Helping my son on the spectrum calm and cope

My son on the spectrum struggles greatly with OCD and perseveration (e.g. repeating a word or phrase, lining objects up for hours, or becoming fixated/hyper-focused on a certain topic) For my precious son, both involve repetitively saying the same string of words or asking the same question over and over again (and expecting an answer over and over and over again) until his mind tells him he will feel better, more comforted and relieved. Except soon he finds that these repetitive behaviors bring more torment than any sort of relief – an infinite loop of compulsive speech that wants to suck my child into its dark vortex.

These repetitive behaviors, when out of control, cause him to feel physically ill (headaches, stomach aches, sensory overload, meltdowns, etc.).

Each child is completely different of course with what will work, but I am a praying momma, desperate for God’s help and intervention in my son’s life, and if we walk in childlike faith and trust in Him then He promises to give us the right words and wisdom in our lives. This has been true and is true with my son.

Here are some encouraging and faith-building verses showing us we can trust God to help us when we ask:
“Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say” (Exodus 4:12).
“On that day I will make a horn sprout for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth in their midst. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 29:21).
“For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say (Luke 12:12).
“For I will give you the right words and such wisdom” (Luke 21:15 NLT).
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you” (James 1:5).

We can’t have an ABA therapist or helper with us 24/7 to help our children cope, but I believe if we lean on God He will guide us with what to do with our child on the spectrum though every issue and circumstance, though sometimes the revelations can come over time, little by little. With all my heart, the Lord has guided me with the right words and actions with my son – even when to stay silent in some cases.

When my son gets stuck in an OCD/perseveration loop, it’s best to help him right away. He (now) lets me hug him, so when it starts, I often hug and comfort him, and tell him I love him very much and that I am there to help him. I tell him that he needs to let me help him kick the loop’s behind or something to that effect. I ask him if he wants to feel better or if he wants to get worse (very ill with symptoms from the turmoil a perpetuated loop will cause). “Better” he says somewhere within his agonizing loop. Then, I give him a statement to replace the repetitive ‘lie’ that is is bringing him anguish with truth.

For example, he is VERY anxious about most things, often worried I won’t help him with something (which has no former factual basis because it’s usually something I have helped him with or will help him with). So, he might repeatedly say, “You’re going to forget to buy my chicken,” one-hundred plus times even though I always buy his chicken. So, I comfort him and ask him as above, and we replace “lies” with the truth – together with my love, calmness, gentleness, and grace. It’s NOT me calling him a liar, but refers to the ‘lie’ attacking and taking over his thoughts. So, I have him say, “Of course, my Mama will buy me my chicken. She loves me and takes good care of me.” It can take time to pull him from loops, but he is able to replace ‘lies’ with the truth and calm down enough to get out of the loop and prevent physical illness and pain to his body.

One of the keys to him cooperating is my staying calm and making sure my fruits of the Spirit are active…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). <= Boy, do I have to pray for help staying calm when I am utterly exhausted, but I do because I know it makes a massive impact on my witness to my son and my effectiveness in helping him. 

If the repetitive loop is a powerful one, we do use avoidance and distraction sometimes, “Honey, go to your room and occupy yourself with something funny or of interest so I am not with you to ask this question.” It can take awhile for his system to calm down, but he has no one to ask questions or say statements to and distraction and avoidance do work for him.

We have been able to put into practice God’s Word and principles to help my son…and Yes, it is hard work, very very hard work. It’s not always quick, but my son is learning how to better cope, and it is a miracle for our little family.

“Whatever is TRUE, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

I am teaching my teenager on the spectrum to take these thoughts captive in Jesus’ name, too. He’s known the Lord since he was 4 years old, and I want him to know that Jesus is there for him and will help him when he calls on Him. My son sees God working in his life.

I praise You heavenly Father for all You’ve shown me over these past months and the progress in my son who wouldn’t receive any help just weeks ago. Lord, You answered my cries for help regarding my son, and we are seeing little miracles every day. Thank You, Jesus!

 

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Love like a hurricane – God is shaping us into the parents He needs us to be for our specific child on the spectrum

Love like a hurricane

“Yet You, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the Potter; We are ALL the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).

My county in Florida was expecting over one-hundred mph winds. Hurricane Irma was headed towards us in all her fury. Oh, how, I prayed. The storm made a slight turn, enough so that our maximum winds were in the seventies – enough for God to accomplish His purpose in our lives.

All kids on the spectrum are different, but if your child is on the spectrum, he or she may also struggle with OCD and religious routines. At the first sign of strong winds, we lost power, internet, and cell service. Uh Oh. Not enough money to afford a generator and under so much stress and pressure from my lack of sleep and extreme exhaustion from working with my son and helping him through his recent explosions of symptoms, I had forgotten about him needing a fan (white noise) to sleep. Storm raging, no getting a battery powered one now.

An already exacerbated kid on the spectrum, already in a season of frequent meltdowns + his routines just destroyed + his inability to get any sleep for over 24 hours = the worst meltdown of his life

My son became a danger to himself and everyone in the home. He went so out of his mind with exhaustion and had the meltdown of all meltdowns. Hours and hours of destruction. For the first time in his life, I needed to hospitalize my son. There was a hurricane both outside and inside our home.

Agony. I felt the greatest agony of my life. The ambulance and police came to our home once the winds calmed. They talked my son down. My son is fatherless, and God used those men, aware of my son’s condition, as strong voices to help him. My son miraculously allowed me to drive him to the ER where they said they couldn’t really do anything for him. So we returned home, him still sleepless and agitated.

The destruction began again. “I have to take my son to a psych hospital,” I thought. I wept and cried out to God, “Lord, I surrender my son into Your hands. Please keep him safe in this place.” I surrendered him completely in my heart, every little part of my precious child, into God’s hands. The police arrived again, calmed my son down enough for me to get him into the car. We arrived at the psych hospital. My stomach twisted inside me. My heart shattered and turned to dust – readied by God to add Living Water to it, to do a new thing in my heart. I died a great death at the door of that psych hospital. The sign on the door made the place sound more like a prison than a place of help. I was terrified and prayed the entire time in my head.

The staff arrived at the door, I explained the situation, and the strangest thing came out of the supervisor’s mouth, “I think your son would be traumatized here.” That was God.

The moment my son heard I would not be allowed to stay with him at ‘this type of hospital’ (which I was unaware of), terror washed over him. In an instant, something supernatural happened in my son and I. Both of us lumps of clay on God’s Potter wheel, He’d molded us into something new. My son was ready to let me help him – for real this time – and nothing and I mean nothing else mattered but making sure my son would be okay. I put everything on God’s altar. Many more parts of me died, more Jesus parts taking their place. He says we must die to self and that I did. My son was coming home with me. Hallelujah!

“Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”…Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide” Genesis 22:8, 13-14.

We were both different kids (of God) from that day forward. God provided a lamb that day – Jesus was there protecting us, teaching us, refining us, taking our places, changing us, making all things new.

My son professed Christ at a young age and was baptized at age seven. Of course God can work in his life, too, despite a diagnosis of autism. The Holy Spirit worked in my son that day helping him to see I was the only one in his world who’d lay my life down for him, do anything to help him, and show him my love, and the love of God.

Love like a hurricane…My once non-compliant child now allows me to help him with everything. God guides me with His wisdom at every turn and with the right words. My son allows me to comfort him, hug him, pray for him, and listens to my advice. None of this was true before the hurricane. It was only bedlam continually. He even recently said, “You’re a great mother. You really know how to help me and speak to me. You’re always right about how to help me. I love you very much.” Another miracle. My heart melted. My son not cured, but changed by God.

Also, he began to comply with taking vitamins. These are not cures, but they do take the edge off of his symptoms big time. He takes high quality B vitamins, a multivitamin called Kid Calm, fish oils, and a very clean diet – no dyes, no preservatives, very little refined sugars, and all organic.

I’ve heard it said God turns our mess into our message. Our misery into our ministry. Our tests into our testimony.

God turned bedlam into His best for me and my son.

It’s a work in progress, all still very hard every day, but God is at work, He is on the case working in our lives and showing Himself strong on our behalf.

Soon after the hurricane, I played some worship music on YouTube, auto play on, and How He Loves Us, the one by Dave Crowder came on. I wept at the words…

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

These words will forever remind me that what looked like bedlam, utter chaos, was God at work, rearranging and reordering things into His best for us, helping us, and bringing change for our good as He says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Now one of my favorite songs:

A prayer for parents of kids on the spectrum

a prayer for parents

Father, thank You for blessing me with the gift of my child on the spectrum [Genesis 33:5], child’s name, who brings me great joy [Psalm 113:9]. I pray for Your help for each step of this difficult yet marvelous journey, each season of his/her life.

You have knit my child together magnificently, and there has never been anyone like him/her before nor will there ever be [Psalm 139:13-14]. Lord, help me to see my child the way You see him/her, as individual and apart from me with an entire purpose that comes from You [Jeremiah 29:11] and help me parent him/her accordingly.

Father, give me the ability to humble myself to them when I am wrong and guide him/her in a way that will point them to You and prepare them for the future You want for them without crushing his/her precious spirit [Ephesians 6:4].

I need You God. Every moment of the day, I need You. I need the right words and best actions in every circumstance and situation with my child.

Apart from You I can do nothing [John 15:5].

I can’t parent for one millisecond without You. Thank You for always hearing me whenever I speak and for the gift of prayer which makes a vast difference [James 5:16] in shaping his/her future as well as mine, and it’s in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

“I cried out to Him with my mouth;
    His praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld His love from me!”

(Psalm 66:17-20)