I had intended to try to post every day, starting January 1st, for a year. That was broken yesterday because my son AJ fell at school and broke a bone in his right foot. After spending the afternoon and evening in the local ER, we came home with his foot in a splint and are off to Children’s today.
This post doesn’t have much to do with church, but it is so difficult for a child with autism who is non-communicative to understand what is going on and to explain to him why he can’t put weight on his foot and has to wear a big splint. He kept trying to pull it off for most of the evening and kept taking our hands and putting them on the splint, indicating his desire for us to remove it, and we kept having to say “no, sorry.”
My child is usually very active, running, jumping and climbing everywhere–and it is heartbreaking to see him unable to stand up, unable to move around easily, and he is clearly frustrated by it.
It was also frustrating to have to repeat “he has autism, he doesn’t communicate” to several of the doctors and nurses yesterday. Most got it. But one nurse did not understand, and when they called in an order for pain meds, we told her (as we had told the intake nurse) that he will not take medication orally. She was frustrated and basically stomped out of the room. Incredibly rude, and not helpful–and never came back to offer another solution so he was never given pain meds in the hospital. Something we will have to report later.
But the ER doctor and the other staff were great. And AJ was able to communicate somewhat. He said “scary, scary” to us. He said, “Mommy, mommy,” when the nurse started to wheel him away (I was right behind him but he couldn’t see me) and he said, “Help, help.” He let us know what he needed, and exhausted and tired at home, he let us know he wanted juice and peanut butter and jelly, his favorite.
This was a piece originally published on [D]mergent back in April 2014 for Autism Awareness Month, about a time my son wandered off (and we had to call the police, but we did find him about a block away) and thinking of the time Jesus wandered off at the end of Luke chapter 2. As we near the end of the Christmas season (the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Christian tradition) and away from Jesus’ childhood, I thought of this and wanted to share.
Today, my husband and I along with our child went to visit one of my husband’s church members who is dying. We had another engagement to attend and needed to stop by on our way.
AJ has been to visit people dying before. I do not know how much AJ understands, or any child his age would understand, but he visited my grandmother in her last days. He seems to know something is different as we gather around the hospital bed, as oxygen lines run from the person to a machine. He crept around the bed slowly, and the woman’s eyes opened. She smiled and waved, ever-so-gently, to him. And he smiled back.
Five minutes before, he was having a meltdown in the kitchen of this home because he wanted to eat something and had opened the fridge, and I had said “no.” Pastoral visitations with him in tow have been difficult in the past–he wants to get into anything and everything. He is starting to understand that he cannot eat food off of other people’s plates, but as evidenced by the next home we visited where there was a New Year’s celebration, he took a cookie, tore off a piece and put the rest back on the platter. I had to follow behind to pick up the pieces he left on the platter, to put on his plate and remind him to eat off of his own plate.
I don’t normally bring him on pastoral visits, and neither does my husband, but every now and then it cannot be avoided. And while it can be awkward and difficult, I’m glad he visited this woman today, and gave her a reason to smile and wave one more time.