Sheltering with Luke’s Autism

Luke cried today. It is the first time I have ever heard him cry. He woke up and a few minutes later just started sobbing – sobbing that sad, heartfelt cry that escapes when you feel trapped with no end to the trial in sight. When upset, Luke generally cries for a few seconds then interrupts with his stim words like, “Do you want a yellow bounce house, yellow bounce house, yellow bounce house?!! I know perfectly well that it is not a yellow bounce house that he actually wants (as he is, in actuality, both fascinated and terrified of bounce houses). No, this was not that interrupted, stimming frustrated or angry cry, it was a genuine, heartfelt expression of sorrow and confusion. It broke my heart!

The struggle we have is that he genuinely cannot tell me what he is upset about, so I play the guessing game. Of course, I assume that all of the changes in his schedule and routine are the core issue, so I suggested, “Are you upset that you don’t get to go to school?”

“No School! No School!” was his eventual response. His sad, mourning cry slowly evolved to his more typical crying pattern as he interjected, “No school! No church! No school! No church!” into the bouts of screaming and biting himself. We used his favorite teddy bear, “Bahr,” and talked about it. Bahr tried to explain to him why we have, “No school! No church!” He understands much more than I realize, but he really was not demonstrating to me that it was helping. I tried to find a children’s video on YouTube that could help. The one I found pictured the Corona Virus as small red dots outside and explained that we need to stay inside. He immediately ran to the window and said, “It’s white outside! It’s white outside!” (Excellent communication as it had snowed!)

Clearly, the video did not help, so I tapped the vast knowledge of a group of special needs

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parents on Facebook, and quickly found a social story that I could print out and read to him that specifically addressed why we cannot go to school right now. This helped tremendously and he was able to move on with his day in a relatively normal rhythm. Relatively normal until my husband came home from work, that is.

Luke REALLY struggles when people come into the house – ALL PEOPLE – even his parents. For the past couple of years, we have needed to call ahead to let whoever is with Luke know to tell him we are almost home; then, once we are in the driveway we honk so that he can come out and meet us at the car and then enter his space in the house. Lately, however, Luke has been taking baths frequently when John comes home. He has been ok with us just asking if Dad can come in. That was the exact scene today. Luke had been in the tub, given permission to enter, and I was trying to dress him. But something went terribly wrong for him.

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The moment Luke heard my husband’s voice, he just started screaming, “Dad to go back; Dad to go back! Dad goes to work; Dad goes to work!” We tried having John leave so Luke could run out and greet him, but it was too late. He spiraled into a full meltdown of word repetition and crying and biting himself again. “Ride in a green Malibu! Red four-wheeler; red four-wheeler! Dad to go; dad to go! No school! Yellow bounce house; red four-wheeler! Dad to go! No chuch; no church!” It is so hard to watch. He is trying so hard to make sense of what is going on, but now he has no anchors to his day. Every day is the same, but enough different that he cannot ground himself to any kind of routine.

I suggested that we make a schedule so that he can see what to expect. He continued the

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verbal stims, but clearly wanted to see a schedule, so we wrote down what needed to happen tonight and a couple things we know will happen tomorrow. Today, he only needed to put his pants on, eat the hamburger he requested, take his medicine and go to bed. He kind of calmed down, but still refused to put his pants on and come out of the bathroom. He started asking for rides. We had just been out driving for over an hour, so I was not keen on going for another ride at the moment. He asked, “Go for a ride in the Ford Taurus?” That is at least a vehicle we own, so I was like, “How about if we find a picture of a Ford Taurus?” I googled 1998 White Ford Taurus and showed him the

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pictures of “our car.” He thought that was hilarious! He started giggling and popped right up and put his pants on then greeted Dad as if nothing had ever been a problem. He even sat at the table to eat dinner with Bahr. The rough evening quickly turned sweet and he went to bed more peacefully than he has in a long time.

I hope he rests well because tomorrow is our first day of online school, and I am dubiously hopeful that Luke will participate. We are expecting a video call from his Behavior Interventionist at 9:30, and I hope that man can work some sort of magic to help Luke understand all of this. The days forward are uncharted for all of us. I am sure that we will have our share of meltdowns, even though I have no intention of pushing Luke too hard on the academic pages. If we can get through all of the online therapies – speech, occupational, and physcial therapy -anything above that will just be icing on the cake! Meltdowns happen, but maybe that picture of the 1998 Ford Taurus will continue to save us. Here’s to hoping!

Feeling the Joy

Last summer, I had what I would think is the closest thing to a midlife crisis that I have experienced in my lifetime. I was listening to an inspirational audio book that had rave reviews. Several of my friends had read it and shared how motivated they were by the ideas the author shared. Well, I certainly needed some motivation, so I decided to give it a try. At one point the author instructs the reader/listener to pause the book and write down an idea or ultimate goal – something that really sparks joy – the instruction was to take as much time as needed and not to return to the book until you had identified and written that goal down.

I never returned to the book.

I was empty. Empty of ideas, goals, or dreams. I was not particularly unhappy, but I was certainly not sparking joy anywhere. I was in survival mode. You know that place, right? The place where you are just moving through the day, making sure the children have been adequately fed, appropriately loved, and reasonably clothed, and the house hasn’t burned down. That is where I was. I quickly gave up on this ethereal, “Ultimate Goal,” idea and focused on something more attainable – what even brings me joy any more?

It was a real quandary that I honestly stewed on for a solid week. It bothered me and kept me up at night. Of course, I had all of the standard answers of things that I love and hold dear – my faith, my family, my health – but that was not the kind of answer I was looking for. I was searching for a spark of joy – something beyond the typical answers (which sounds selfish as I write it, but just go with me on this one). At the time, I felt lifeless even though I was living a very full life.

And then it hit me. I LOVE the sweet little pictures and notes that the kids draw and write. I treasure them. They are all sweet reminders of the joyful little spirits that I created. I don’t even mind the pictures that are drawn on the walls. They are evidence of happy children and joyful creation. I thought of all of the little cards and pictures the kids had colored for me over the years, and I truly felt that spark of joy my soul needed. With that crisis resolved, I went about my life.

Not a week later, Luke developed a new hobby – a new hobby of coloring pictures and

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displaying them – displaying them ALL – every. single. one. – on the wall. When he ran out of space on one wall he just moved to another, then another, and another. So now, every wall, window, cupboard door, and appliance in my home is covered in JOY.

He has spent hours and hours and hours coloring and then carefully taping up his work to every empty space he can find. He is very generous with the tape too. None of this careful folding of little pieces of tape and only taping the four corners. No sir, baby; those picture are strapped up for life!! Every once in a while, Luke will get in a foul mood and rip up his artwork from one area, but we have never dared move or remove his artwork unannounced.

Until today.

An unexpected day off of work today led me to take a risk and remove all of Luke’s artwork from one window – the one by my kitchen sink. You see, even though I really appreciate all of that joy, it blocks the view outside my window and prevents light from entering, and now my soul needs both joy AND light! So, since I had already made arrangements for Luke, I decided today was my day to find the light.

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Top- I didn’t think to take a “before” pic until I had already taken off the pictures from the bottom of the window, but this give you an idea. Bottom left – Trying to show you just how much adhesive was smeared all over the window. Middle after soaking it for a while, this is what was left. Right – Using the steamer to remove it almost worked like a charm.

That light was not coming cheap today though. There was just. so. much. ADHESIVE! After soaking it, spraying it, and scraping at it for a while, I had a brilliant idea – steam it! This was a great idea, and it actually worked beautifully. . . . Until it didn’t. Just as I was finishing up the first window and congratulating myself on my clever thinking, I left the steamer in one spot on the window for too long, and it suddenly cracked. Dang it!! Ironically, I taped that broken glass window back together with the same stinking packing tape I had just spent hours scrubbing off!

Not to be discouraged, I put the window back together and continued cleaning up the kitchen. As a sidenote, Little A had the flu earlier this week, and has a killer cough to remind her that she had the flu. It seems to come and go, but today it was definitely coming. Poor kid just hacked all day long. At the end of the day, I was feeling pretty proud of everything I had accomplished despite having a sick little girl and Luke home for the afternoon. That was my first mistake. As I was taking care of Little A, I had T go check on Luke in the bathtub.

“MOM, YOU’RE GONNA WANT TO SEE THIS!!” Those words 100% of the time mean I definitely do not want to see this. Sure enough, Luke has dumped a bottle of shampoo into the jetted bathtub. With the jets on high, the bubbly water overflowed into the living room. It was kind of a sick and twisted blessing in disguise because I had never cleaned up all of the toilet paper that was caked around the tub surround from last week’s experiment with two full rolls of toilet paper and a jar of Vaseline in the bathtub with the jets on. The entire bath area looked like a paper mache project gone horribly wrong. This bubbly mess loosened the pasty paper from everything, so we cleaned two messes with one stone. While cleaning that up, I paused to check on Luke and found him plunging the toilet in the other bathroom. I saw no evidence of objects remaining in the toilet, but who knows what surprises will find us later. Last week, it was a hairbrush. The week before, it was a knife.

It is on days like today that I really appreciate those things that bring lasting joy – the things that I was looking past during my little summer crisis – my faith, my family, and my health. My mom came and picked up my broken window to see if the glass could be replaced. My husband came home amid the scramble to keep Luke out of the toilet while cleaning up the bathroom. He stepped up and made dinner and fed the kids while I had a little mini meltdown in my newly-clean bathroom. He also found a long-lost humidifier and got sweet, Little A all hooked up with that in her room so hopefully she can rest.

For a moment, all is right in my world. The house is quiet as I wait for Big A to get home from work. Luke is still awake and giggling sporadically as he tries to fight off the sleeping meds he took an hour ago. Little A is only coughing occasionally, and T is happily tucked away watching basketball videos. Hubby is off to bed, and I am just sitting here, staring blankly into space and feeling the joy!

Minor Miracles

I believe we see little miracles every day, all around us. I want to share this little one. We rarely take Luke out to community events because his behaviors are so very unpredictable. We never know whether he will tolerate the crowd or take out his extreme anxiety on an unsuspecting member of the crowd or just meltdown in the middle of the floor where we cannot easily remove him.

Because of this, we miss a LOT of our other children’s events. If we really want to see something, usually one parent will go and record it for the other, which is what we had planned for Little A’s halftime mini cheerleader performance last night. I was the designated attendee, but my phone battery was low, and I worried that I would not have enough juice to record her performance. On a whim, I asked Luke, “Do you want to go to the game or stay home with Daddy?” I fully expected his typical response, “Stay home with Daddy.” However, he surprised us this time and chose, “Go to the game!” He even willingly put on shoes and socks (another SIGNIFICANT daily battle).

However, once we arrived, seating was extremely limited. After surveying our options, we plunked ourselves down behind the opposing Cougar bench. It wasn’t ideal sitting in enemy territory, but it was closer to the front and made access to exits much easier.

It was here in Firth territory that we got to know a teenage boy named Seth.  Seth had the fortune of sitting in front of Luke. The moment the poor kid settled into his seat, Luke lunged at him from behind. He grabbed the unsuspecting stranger by the chin, jerking his head to the side so he could get a clear look into the young man’s face while yelling, “My name is . . . ? My name is . . .?!” about an inch away from his eye sockets. 

The poor, bewildered kid looked at me for direction, and I just said, “He wants to know your name.” As soon as he responded,  “My name is Seth,” Luke released him from the headlock, and I thought that would be the end of it. Actually, I prayed that would be the end of it because this kid had really nice hair, and I had visions of Luke wrapping his hands in those flowy blonde locks and never letting go (Yes, we have a history with this maneuver, and it is quite a difficult situation to unmaneuver.) However, rather than being annoyed with Luke’s brash introduction, quite the opposite situation unfolded. This sweet kid with longish, flowy hair quickly asked Luke what his name is and then turned around several times throughout the game to try to engage Luke in conversation.   He asked Luke how old he is, and Luke answered, “Good!” repeatedly.  When Luke bumped into him,  he would happily pass it off and joke a bit with him. It really was a pretty sweet interaction that lasted off and on through the entire first half of the game. It was one of those small tender mercies in life that could be passed off as coincindental, but I truly believe are little miracles that show God is aware of us in our struggles.

Both of us parents got to watch the entire performance in person, and then John took Luke to get a treat at the concession stand before taking him home. It was a beautifully simple experience that one simply cannot appreciate without understanding how truly complicated it normally is.

I wish I had thought to take an actual picture of the teenage boy who treated Luke with such kindness!

I’m So HAPPY!

“I’m so Happy!”

It is a joyful phrase for any momma to hear her child utter, and it is one I heard from Luke in October. One of my friends tagged me in a post that Champ’s Heart, a local charity, had a single opening on a Thursday night for a child with special needs to come for a horse ride.

So let me preface this by sharing with you my previous experience with horses and my general level of interest in horses . . . . . . . . I rode a horse a couple of times as a preteen, and my grandpa was in a bad accident while riding at a reunion when I was about twelve. . . . . . . end of my personal experience and interest in horses.

However, our neighbors have horses, and Luke has never had any hesitation about hanging with them. In fact, when he was four or five year-old, our neighbors had a large, white horse named Twister. As I remember it, Twister was not fully trained, and we sometimes watched our neighbor work with him on a lead rope in a circular pen put up in the coralled area next to our house.

Well, one day, Luke came up missing. This was not unusual, but we had looked and looked for him, and panic had set in after we couldn’t find him in any of his usual hideouts. I had started searching and calling his name wildly throughout the neighborhood. I stopped my racket abruptly, however, when I caught sight of my little man in the coral with Twister. I stopped and gasped at the sight. There was my boy, poised for business directly behind Twister’s haunches. His pants hung nonchalantly around his knees, and he held one arm up above his head, clasping Twister’s long tail between his little fingers. He held this position stoicly and watched his urine stream pour between the horse’s legs – much like he had likely seen the horse do for itself. Not daring to spook either creature, I watched the scene unfold quietly from a distance. Once he had done his business, Luke dropped the tail, hiked up his britches, and mosied along like it was nothing out of the ordinary.

My second suspicion that Luke might enjoy horses came when I took Luke to Scotty’s Restaurant for an event to show appreciation for the owner’s involvement in our special needs community. One friend had brought a donkey and a camel to the event and offered free rides on the donkey. Luke absolutely loved it! He rode and rode that little donkey, and we had to pry him off everytime another child wanted a turn. During one of these frustrating waits, Luke decided to take matters into his own hands. After all, the owner had brought two magnificent animals; why were we only riding one? He hauled himself over to the camel and jumped up a rear leg trying to claw himseld up to the camels back. Of course, this caught the poor camel off guard and he kicked a the sudden attack, narrowly missing a young girl who was innocently petting the giant beast. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but Luke repeated, “Ride a camel, ride a camel!” over and over for the next three days.

And so it was with these two memories that I decided to see how Luke would react to this generous offer to ride a horse at Champ’s Heart. I wish I could say that the first visit was perfect. It wasn’t. Luke saw one of those horses go to the bathroom, and thought that was just about the most glorious entertainment he had ever beheld! He marvelled at the mud puddle created by what used to be a boring dirt floor and giggled uncontrollably every time we passed it. He balked at a bit at the helmet he had to wear before riding too, and I really wondered if this was a big mistake. However, when he finally got on a horse, he seemed to relax a bit. He tried being silly and throwing the colored balls we used for an activity in front of the horse’s feet a few times, which startled both the horse and the volunteer leading the horse. But after a bit he calmed down and just seemed to enjoy the rhythm of the horses movement. As we walked, the volunteer at front and me on the side, I heard the most beautiful words ever escape my sweet boys lips – “I’m so happpppeeeyy!”

He said it in his silly bear voice that he uses when practicing conversations with his big teddy bear named Bear (but pronounced, “Bahr.”) But he said it! This is the first time I have ever heard him refer to himself in the first person. It was the first time he ever identified his own emotion independently. It was a perfect, beautiful sentence that told me how he felt about riding horses.

Since that day, we go ride at the arena run by Champ’s Heart owner, Larry Cudmore, every Saturday at noon. I always ask Luke if he still wants to go, and he excitedly drops everything and runs to the door as soon as hears the question (so I better be ready to walk out the door before I say anything because that has triggered more than a few meltdowns).

Since that day, I have only heard, “I’m so happy,” one other time – while we were riding the train at Bear World with his Grandma for his little sister’s birthday. He doesn’t communicate emotion with his words much, but I am always listening and watching, and even if his words don’t say it his expressions do.

I’m so happy!

Growing Pains

Growing Up

Today is Luke’s birthday! He is officially a teenager now. He is growing and changing and that is triggering some anxiety about the future for me. Yesterday, my hubby pointed out his first zit! Eek; such milestones! What if he inherits my acne-prone complexion? With his compulsion to pick at any little anomaly, he will surely skar his face badly before he emerges from adolescence. And that is only a minor worry…..

Hanging Out in the Waiting Room

I had the most encouraging/discouraging visit of my life while waiting for a recent appointment with Luke’s psychiatrist. The thing about spending 3 hours in the waiting room of a psychiatrist’s office is that you get the opportunity to meet some really interesting people – often people who understand your world on a deeper level than you ever thought possible. This was the case at our last appointment.

About 2 hours into our wait, a middle-aged man and his mother entered the full waiting room. The man quickly seated himself at the far end of the room in the only single chair still open. He pulled out his headphones and situated himself with his elecronic devise of choice. At this point in our wait, Luke was just done, my cell phone battery was almost dead, and he had resorted entertaining himself by ripping off chunks of leaves from the large, decorative plant in front of the window and stuffing them in his mouth.

I was taking this picture because he had been sitting nicely, next to the plant for about 15 minutes.  The intent was to use the picture to show him a picture of his good behavior and use it as reinforcement.  Of course, as soon as I snapped the photo, he chose to demonstrate the futility of that strategy!

Now, just so we are clear here, the entertainment for him is not in the ripping of the plant nor is it in the joy of chewing on nasty houseplants, the joy in this boredom buster activity is observing Mom’s reactions to this utter nonsense. My strategic response was a three part maneuver:

  1. Move Luke’s chair to the corner.
  2. Position myself between him and the horribly tempting plant.
  3. Engage in a sensory distraction technique to override the impulse to attack and destroy the plant. The technique of this moment was running my fingers up and down Luke’s legs. It is also importsnt to note that, on this particular day, Luke was wearing his favorite Pooh Bear costume.

Voice of Experience

And so it was in this very awkward state on the floor, rubbing my giant Pooh Bear of a boy, that I met this beautiful woman who sat on a couch near my defensive position in the corner. She smiled warmly and asked how deep into the wait we were. I pointed out the two families who were still ahead of me waiting. She smiled again and said something to the effect of, “I’ve been where you are.”

“I’ve been where you are” – these are powerful words for a girl sitting on the floor, rubbing the legs of her 150-lb son dressed up as Winnie the Pooh. I mean, I think relatively few people in this world could make this statement with any degree of sincerity.

But this woman could.

She shared stories of the struggles she had survived with her now 57 year-old son – how he had also engaged in property destruction as a hobby; how he ate nonfood items; how he laughed when she got upset. She shared the sorrow of placing him in two different care facilities in his late teen years when she and her husband could no longer safely manage their boy at home. And she shared the greater sorrow of bringing him back home, traumatized from the experience. They realized that their imperfect care was still better than what either facility was offering him.

Of course, these stories speak deeply to my greatest fears for Luke as we enter his teenage years, and I intently asked how she was able to care for him still at her age of 75. She quickly explained that he has made great improvements and is now a great joy to her. This sparked hope in my soul. After all, if her son, with so many similarities to Luke, had grown into such a self-controlled adult, surely my boy would too.

“When did you start noticing improvements in his destructive behaviors?” I probed. I will admit, my question was a selfish attempt to get a sense of how much time I might expect to pass before Luke started to mature beyond his own behavioral challenges.

She responded, “Oh, it was the craziest thing! When he turned 44, it was like he just became a whole new boy!”

She went on talking about how much his behaviors had changed, but I was high centered in the conversation – not able to move beyond that age she had so nonchalantly thrown out – 44!

FORTY-FOUR!! Are you kidding me??

Once I choked down that goodie and had the where withall to continue the conversation, I asked her what her plan for him was once she was gone. Her response to this question likewise left me reeling:

“I will outlive him,” she said. “I’m sure of it.” Old age runs in my family. My grandpa lived to be 105, and my mom is 96 now. I plan to care for him until he dies, and then I can go too.”

At this point she smiled at me and patted me knowingly on the knee, “And you will too! We do what we have to do to take care of our boys.”

Celebrate the Moment

Yes, we do what we need to do to take care of our boys. Even though his real birthday is today, we celebrated Luke’s birthday last week when he was having a particularly good day. After a beautiful morning spent riding a horse-drawn sleigh (More on that story in a future post), Luke and I went to Home Depot and bought him another train. I took him to the grocery store to pick out his cake mix – chocolate – and decorations – sprinkles and 3 different kinds of candles. He also wanted fried chicken from the deli and a pack of Hubba Bubba gum and a pack of gummies. He was so excited!

The one-horse open sleigh ride that put Luke in such a great mood that I decided it should be his birthday.  I love picking beautiful days to celebrate Luke.  It was certainly not a convenient day to work in a party, but it ended up being the perfect day for him!

Like last year, he went home and helped me mix up his cake. I wrapped his train while he wrapped everything else he could possibly cover with paper. I was in and out with church meetings, so it took most of the day to get everything ready then we had a very small party with just John and I and the two younger kiddos there. That is the way Luke likes it – small and simple with lots of presents to unwrap, but no surprises. He has to know what is in them already, or the anxiety ruins the fun. We are learning right along with him how to adapt our lives and celebrations to support him and still maintain old traditions for everyone.

The only guests at our little party with the cake Luke joyfully decorated himself!

And so, my sweet boy, I wish you a very happy 13th birthday! Only 31 more before the peaceful years roll in!

My Most Sincere Apologies

Luke has learned the fine art of cursing. I know, he’s almost 13, and a lot of kids his age start experimenting with the shock value that dropping a little swear here and there can have. That is not what I am talking about here. What I am talking about is unbridled potty mouth with no impulse control.

The other night. I was innocently sleeping, when a huge fit of Luke giggle jolted me from my bed – after all, Luke giggle=look for fire at our house. Not this time though. I listened for two tortured hours as Luke practiced the word, “Damn,” in every crazy accent and alternative pronunciation he could dream up. “Den, dahm, daahm, dawm . . .” Each darn string of words was met with peals of laughter. He was clearly pleased with his amazing creativity with this one impressive word!

Friday, we received the following report about Luke from his Behavior Interventionist at school, “He was fine in science class doing his worksheet and then out of no where he cut loose with a string of cuss words, and he thought that was quite funny. I asked him if he needed to go for a walk and talk about it and he said no and he was done, but he certainly had everyone’s attention.”

I would like to clarify that sweet Luke is not learning this particular language from home – although I will admit to saying, “Quit flipping over the d*** dresser!!” at least once. Aside from that slip, I blame the farmers on YouTube for much of what comes out of my boy’s mouth. How could I have known that those in such a noble profession could teach my boy, “You gotta move that f***in’ Quad!” We made the mistake of letting him watch regular YouTube instead of YouTube Kids because it has a greater variety of farming videos for those nights when he just needs to see a Case IH 8230 harvesting wheat. As I said, I was admittedly naive.

What really strikes me is Luke’s sense of timing to let the cursing rip. As we listened to the beautiful children’s primary program being presented during sacrament meeting Sunday, Luke muttered, “G** D***it” loud enough for us to note the shoulders shaking as the church members in front of us stifled their own giggle, and my own two children (age 16 & 22) about turned purple trying to suppress their own outbursts. Thankfully, we were perched on the very back row of the chapel, and my husband has pretty quick reflexes to clap his hand over the potty mouth before it drew extensive attention from the congregation.

At home, our strategy for extinguishing this behavior has been to simply ignore it. Turn away and pretend he didn’t say it. The more attention he gets, the more it reinforces the behavior. However, this is not a strategy I am prepared to embrace in the middle of church, so when he started on the third string of cursing, I determined it was time to remove him from the chapel. He giggled all the way out, knowing that his potty mouth was being rewarded by the escape. We spent the last 5 minutes hanging out in the coat closet, at which point Luke no longer felt moved to share his newfound vocabulary.

This was the second week of church-time cussing. The previous week he dropped the f-bomb several times under his breath, but never loud enough to be heard. Heaven help me if this trend continues – I will surely be struck down! So, if you attend church, school or any other community event with Luke, I am extending my most sincere apologies in advance. We are keenly aware of the tender ears among us and doing everything we can (which is, ironically, nothing). Hopefully, this is a short phase rather than a trend that will force us to quit attending church to avoid offending the spirit that should be present.

The Hunt….

It takes a village. It’s a saying that is common enough, but it rings especially true if you are a special needs parent. My, “Village,” is truly the most amazing place to live; it is a place where Luke’s most random desires become reality – a place where loving your neighbor can mean anything from donating a piece of train track or a toy ammonia tanker to giving up a seat in the chapel so Luke can keep his routine in place.

Tonight, Luke’s random desire was to drive by a Ford Crown Victoria. Seriously?

Let me try to think of a more elusive vehicle to request. . . . .

Nope, I got nothing.

So, being the crazy parents we are, hubby and I hopped in the car with Luke for a Crown Victoria Hunt! We hoped to spot this elusive vehicle in the parking lot of our nearest grocer 20 minutes away. No luck. We tried a fast food parking lot too – just for good measure. No luck. Defeated, we were headed home when I thought, surely someone we know knows someone with a Crown Victoria parked relatively close by. I put out Luke’s crazy desire on Facebook and crossed my fingers.

In true community fashion, we soon had not only located a Crown Victoria, but two cool teenage boys who showed up to take him for a ride. At some point, Luke kicked one of the boys out of the passenger seat so he could ride shotgun. He came home victoriously honking the horn surrounded by a cloud of glory generated from the donut spare tire. It. Was. Awesome!

Being a special needs mom can be overwhelming, but not always in a bad way. Tonight, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of people around me – people willing to drop what their doing to make my boy happy.