Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Autism Awareness Giveaway, Week 3!!

I am sorry, readers, for not getting this out yesterday (I like to address you as if there are hundreds of you... even thousands of you who stop by my blog daily. And I am this well known writer, full of wisdom, whose words you come to seek... it's a nice dream).

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.


We all grieve differently. Each and every one of us. Based on life experiences, beliefs, and our personal uniqueness, we all express our sorrows in different ways. Individuals who are on the spectrum, and who are not: we are all different.

This week's giveaway holds a special place in my heart; it has since the first time I read it.  And even more so in the last few months than in years past does it hold special significance for me. This week's giveaway is:

by: Kathryn Erskine

This story is written from the perspective of a young girl with aspergers who just lost her brother in a tragedy. It has an important message of grieving. I always thought the message was valuable. Then recently we lost someone who was very dear to our family... And now, the book means even more.

The boys' tae kwon do teacher, Mr. Chad, tragically passed away this February. It is the first time the boys have experienced loss in this way. Yes they have known elderly family members and elderly members of our church who have passed on. But this was the first time someone young, someone we saw often, someone who the boys considered their friend had died.

The Internet is filled with helpful information, as well as not so helpful on the grieving process for individuals on the spectrum. The one I found most helpful, was The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism.  I am a visual learner and the charts and graphs in this article broke things down very nicely for me.

When Race is having anxiety, he doesn't want to do anything. He is unmotivated- and needs a lot of push to get through the emotions. He shuts down. Something inside him hits the OFF switch. And we have discovered that, in many circumstances, Race hasn't yet learned how to get through the anxiety completely on his own. He needs a lot of emotional support.

After the immediate shock of the sad news, after the tears and hugs and counseling as a family, after family prayer and happy stories of Mr. Chad, Race didn't want to go to tae kwon do. Race, the boy that found friends at tae kwon do, the boy whose big dream was becoming a black belt- the state champion. He didn't want to go to tae kwon do. All the talking about feelings didn't matter... he still didn't know what to do about the emotions, the sadness, and the anxiety he was feeling.

"I am just so sad. And I don't know what to do because I am just so sad. I don't know what to do with the sad."

"Mr. Chad would want you to go to tae kwon do."

"I can't. I can't. I can't."

"Let's just try. I think it will help you know what to do with the sad."

And finally, after having this conversation over and over, he agreed to go.

We kicked and punched bags all morning. And Race was reluctant at first. Master Conover challenged him to hit harder, kick harder and he started to. And then after minutes of pushing his body to the max, he felt a sense of release. I could see it on his face as the tears came, "It feels good," he said as he kept on kicking that bag. And the next week, and the week after, Race, Witt, and I would run up and down the street. Hard. It was the hardest I have ever seen Race run. And while at OT, his therapist said he  just wanted to do sensory work the entire morning.

Race found what to do with the sad. And I didn't realize it then, but looking back on it now, a few months later, it was as if the sad was an actual, tangible thing. And he literally needed to find a way to manipulate it, get control of it, instead of it being in control of him. And heavy duty sensory work was how he did it.

He still goes through waves of sadness. We all do. And I think we always will. But I look at my boys and their faith never ceases to amaze me. They know Mr. Chad lives on. And they honor him by striving to be leaders. By standing for the right, and desiring fairness and honesty from those around them. Just like Chad did.

The process of grieving changes people. There is something about the depth of emotions we feel when grieving that changes us.

I am grateful for all the information that is available to support the grieving process. For good books that are out there to help bring awareness and find a way to uplift us in the midst of such intense emotions.  For hope and faith. And for the knowledge that Mr. Chad still lives and we will get to see him again some day.

*You do NOT have to be a follower to enter.  
*I will have one copy of a different book every week, so be sure to check back weekly.
 *One winner will be announced every Friday, and a new book drawing up on Mondays.
*To be entered in the drawings, please leave your name and a way to contact you in the comment area of this post.  Also, we are all effected by autism in one way or another: tell us about it in your comment if you like


Anonymous said...

What a touching story about Race and how he dealt with his grief! I hope you are able to share with other parents who might find themselves in a similar situation.

Ms. Janet (you know where to find me!)

silverladyaz said...

Teddy, your post about dealing with grief brought tears. Sharing how Race worked it out "in layers" makes me realize that indeed all of us have those layers. You are insightful, and generous, to share with us. Thanks so much!

Adriane said...

So true the part where you say grieving changes us. I know I've felt that in my own life.

Thanks for sharing your family's experiences on this topic. It's a tough one for sure. And somehow I think grief is easier to cope with when we do talk about it.

A.J. said...

I am so glad that you guys and Race especially are finding positive ways to work through your grief. I met Mr. Chad a couple times and just from the very brief interactions with him, know that he is a special guy.

Hang in there. : )

Sometimes I think that real sadness is like a whole huge bottle of the most awful-tasting medicine in the world. It is so much easier to finish the bottle when it is shared. Yes, it is still bitter and awful, but then, after it all, you are better for having taken it. There is healing after you have drunk the whole thing. Also remember the One who drank the whole bitter cup. He always shares the medicine.

Much love to you all!

Jennifer Lewis said...

It is great to see Race out on the floor and not let one moment kill his dream of being a black belt/ jedi. Mr. Chad would be very proud of him.

Janice said...

Your son amazes me! Along with the rest of the family that have to deal with the quirts of autism. Love ya, Janice L