Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Reminder

This morning in my inbox was a message from G., the teenage brother of one of my flute students. He sent me a link to this Team Hoyt video, with the subject"you could relate to this one," and then a quick message, "I couldn't help but think of you when I saw this-what an amazing video." He and I talk triathlon every now and then.

I have seen several of these Team Hoyt videos, and they never fail to stir up amazing emotions in me. I find them very inspiring and moving. The last time I watched one I was sobbing by the end, so I almost didn't watch the link that G. sent me. But after a minute, I decided what's one more time? Little did I know that this video would speak to my very soul about something I have really been struggling with of late.

In June, my oldest son, Ryan, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. (From Wikipedia: Asperger Syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders which are a spectrum of psychological conditions that are characterized by abnormalities of social interaction and communication that pervade the individual's functioning, and by restrictive and repetitive interests and behavior.) He has never been an easy child, and even before he started school Kel and I were concerned about how he would adjust, since he didn't seem to show very much interest in interacting with other kids. About a week after kindergarten began, we began receiving phone calls from his teacher echoing our concern. After much testing and waiting, he received a diagnosis in June that put him just within the range doctors consider Aspergers.

Let me tell you about Ryan. He is incredibly smart and creative. If you ask him what his favorite thing to do is, he will tell you, "Making things out of garbage." And, trust me, he does this very well. I actually prefer to say recycling instead of garbage, but whatever makes the kid happy. (He actually asked me today if he could have garbage for Christmas--I swear to you I am not making this up!) He makes boats and cars and robots. He has made a very cool fort for his room that has a television and a computer inside--all made of recyling, of course. He even plays with this stuff. Today he was playing with a car he built, and decided that it needed a remote control. He taped a bunch of paint brushes end to end, and then taped those to a little box, and was able to push the car around outside without having to bend over. I'm telling you the kid is a genius!

A few of Ryan's "creations," including a life size Wall-E that can actually move by remote control (in the middle), and his fort on the right.

Ryan is extremely affectionate, and most adults will tell you he is an absolute joy one-on-one. He is very funny, and, man, can you have an interesting conversation with this kid. I think he could talk about natural disasters for hours. However, when you put my very sensitive child in a room with other children, watch out. He starts acting out, getting loud and "crazy" we call it. If he doesn't get his way, he can have a total melt down that takes sometimes 30 minutes or more to work through--this sometimes happens even if other kids aren't around. He does not listen, and it is very hard to reason with him once he gets worked up.

Case in point: Yesterday I walked over to the babysitter's house to pick up the boys. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I thought they would enjoy the 10 minute walk home as we have in the past. Well, when I got to the sitter's, Ryan told me he wanted me to go home and get the car because he didn't want to walk home. Of course, I said no. He proceeded to yell at me, at the top of his lungs, sobbing all the while, for the next 20 minutes which included our walk home with a little cool-down break at a bench where no cooling down happened. I was mortified. At one point, Noah started crying, so I picked him up. I was carrying Noah plus two backpacks, with Ryan screaming at me from behind to slow down, when a woman riding a bike passed me and asked me if I was okay. I decided I just wasn't going to lose my cool, but it was hard. We finally got home, and I sent Ryan to his room to calm down. After about 10 minutes he was fine and apologized to me, but, really, this is not normal behavior for a typical six-year-old.

Anyway, I've been feeling very low and unsure about what to do about Ryan. We are still just in the beginning stages of understanding Aspergers and still trying to work things out at home. Before now, I haven't really even told very many people, because I am still trying to process everything. Then I watch this video this morning, and it just hits me. Here is this selfless father loving his grown son, who cannot even walk, without condition...just like Christ loves us. When he picks his son up and puts him onto the bike, I realized that my job is to carry my son through this hard time. Ryan is who he is regardless of a label, but it is my job to help him be victorious, because he does not know how just yet. It is my responsibility to lift him up, to advocate for him, to spend time figuring out what he needs, and to love him unconditionally. And at the end, a reminder:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13


  1. I know this struggle sister...... there are good and bad days and you have the right perspective!

  2. I can't watch a Team Hoyt video without tearing up. Great video.

    Good Luck in all your endeavors. I know you can handle it all

  3. He really is a smart kid. The first thing L&E did when Mike got home last night was show him the robot Ryan gave them.

  4. Thank you for sharing the video and a personal story about your family. Ryan sounds like a gem and I am confident that your love and support will help him be victorious!

  5. What a beautiful post about your son.

  6. I loved your comment that he wanted garbage for Christmas. That's priceless.


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