Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Moutain High, Valley Low

I was at church last night when something hit me during a prayer that made me really think. The gentleman who was praying said something that I have heard several times, but for some reason it really made me think last night. He said something along the lines of, “Thank you God for the highs - and the lows.” Now, again I understand this and have pondered on its meaning before, but I really started thinking about the way this works with autism as well.

The meaning of course is that in order for us to enjoy the highs in life we must have felt the lows. We must have something to compare and contrast with our joyous occasions. We have to have something to learn from. If life was just great all the time we wouldn’t know it. Think about that. We would lead dull lives.

Let me give you an example. As you have been reading in the past two weeks, our family took a vacation. It was a great time. We had fun at the beach, saw lighthouses in North Carolina, visited the National Mall and several of the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C., and enjoyed camping in Virginia.

I think what made this more pleasant was the fact that Konner was so good on the trip. In the past we’ve had some bad experiences on vacation trips. We’ve had screaming, meltdowns, and disruptions. These things really make a trip unbearable at times.

As we were in the van headed home on Thursday afternoon, and we had been in there for about seven or eight hours, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw Konner just looking out the window and enjoying the scenery. He didn’t have his iPad at the time; no iPhones, DVD players, or anything. He was just content with looking at the beauty around him. This almost brought a tear to my eye. I just thought back to how far we’ve come in just a short period of time and realize that he’s doing awesome.

On this trip we had one minor meltdown. It was in the morning, and he was upset over losing a piece of his train track. The situation was cleared up shortly and all was well.

Listen, if this is the only issue we had on the trip with him I’m good.

When we first got his diagnosis my heart sank. I know most parents feel this way. It’s natural. You learn about all the things your child is “not supposed to be able to do.” Well, it’s these lows in life, the can’ts and won’ts that make the cans and dids all worth it. Just keep that in mind for all the families of newly diagnosed children.

If it hadn’t been for the bad experiences in the past though this probably wouldn’t have been such a wonderful trip. I know this sounds crazy, but it really is true.

On a side note: Parents of Autism will meet Thursday night at Carl Albert State College in Poteau. Jennifer Moyano, training and outreach coordinator from the Oklahoma Autism Network, will be there discuss federal and state programs to assist families with special needs children. Jennifer, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist for the Oklahoma Autism Network at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Jennifer has worked with families and their children with developmental delays and disabilities, including autism since 1998 through early intervention, school-based services, and in clinical settings. Jennifer has specialized expertise in autism spectrum disorders including early identification, screening and positive behavior supports. She has provided training and technical assistance for providers who support children with autism and their families in early intervention, educational, and community settings. Jennifer has completed training and reliability in the use of the Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year Olds (STAT) at Vanderbilt University and the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (Denver Modification) (CHAT) at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. If you have any questions about this please contact me at Everyone is welcome to attend. I encourage everyone including parents, teachers, therapist, family members, etc. to join us.

Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column.

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