Chapter 5: “This Child Needs More Than I Can Give”
Lying motionless on the edge of the ocean, with no breath left in my lungs, I felt the tide begin to recede. My body felt like a weighted anchor in the saturated sand as I attempted to crawl from the path of the waves. Falling into the dry sand, I again collapsed onto my back while the healing rays of the sun began to warm my drained being.
Moving ever so slightly, I repositioned the tiny new child in my arms feeling him hug me in his sleep. The gentle wind gusts felt soothing given the humid temperatures as I gazed down smiling at the tiny hairs moving upon his bald head. All felt perfect. I sensed a light mist fall down from the darkening clouds above. With not a care in the world, I closed my eyes, curling up closer to the warm body beside me who had just saved our lives. Embracing the feelings of love, relaxation, and warmth, I allowed my body to rest for the time being.
Opening my eyes once again to look out over the glistening waters, I watched in awe as the plum and sapphire clouds began to put the sun to sleep over the restless ocean. Movement diverted my attention from the waves as my child awoke. With a smile and a giggle, he tottered away on his own two feet. His little footprints led straight to the water’s edge. Together we watched him run, play, and jump within the ocean waves. Bringing my body into an upright position, I gazed into the upper atmosphere thanking God for this newfound second chance.
Approaching my laughing little prince, I braced myself as he darted off in the opposite direction. Laughing excitedly, he found enjoyment in this unending game of tag. Calling his name into the wind, I began to lose enjoyment, as I briefly paused to playfully pat the sand. Encouraging him to come back to me, yet acknowledging his own free will, I let out a sigh and began to chase him down the coast. Running off in the direction of the sunset, I followed a path of toes pressed into the sand. Scrambling all the faster, I watched as his little body gained more distance from me than I was comfortable with. Dashing at full pace, I exuded the rest of my energy in seeing him approach a pier of rocks.
He climbed onto the rocks to escape my grasp. Just as I reached him, his leg slipped into a crevice. Freeing him into the safety of my arms, he pushed away as I spun him around and around. Falling dizzily onto the sand, we laughed while he proceeded to tackle me into the rushing waves. Standing up to escape an incoming swell, I watched as his tiny feet continued to spin about. Feeling as though I had won my fight and caught my lifeline, I picked up my little one in all of his perfection and continued to spin and spin.
With no direct recognizable signs of a special need for the majority of our son’s first two years, we were initially at a loss for what was going on with our growing child. We sensed that something was different, yet we did not have the faintest idea how to help him. I wanted to believe that all my child needed was a good night’s sleep, but that did not change his behavior patterns as I had hoped.
We attempted to implement every typical behavior modification strategy that we could think of, but nothing worked as was suggested. He made us look ridiculous in public, as we ran after this child who endlessly laughed at any instruction we gave him. He drew everyone’s glances, acting as the center of attention while we tried to control a seemingly typical child. At a loss of what we should do, with a child who exhausted any adult more than one child ever should, we felt out of options. We held out hope that as his age increased, he would calm down. So, as life pressed forward, we continued to chase, laugh, and spin with Gracin. Desperately we attempted to enjoy his constant movement, but day in and day out, his game was no longer entertaining.
With an intense examination of his behaviors and more devotion to him as a person, we may have caught on sooner, but in being so young ourselves and caught up in our own lives, we missed the signs. I always believed that love, expressed through words and hugs and combined with gentle guidance, were all that was needed to raise a well-rounded child, but we were not raising a typical child. Our child was developing differently to no fault of our own, even though all eyes were on us to control our rambunctious toddler. We strived each day to surround him with love as countless as the grains of sand at the ocean. Inevitably we had to accept that our love was not enough. As time proceeded, we discovered that not only were we on a journey to discover the neurological conditions developing in his brain but also what the word love truly meant after all.
Loving the Soul Beneath the Autism is available at Amazon.com.
Read more chapters from Loving the Soul Beneath the Autism.
Copyright 2018 Janele Hoerner