Friday, February 28, 2014

Shhh.... it's a secret

Jared started high school this year.

And like any of the other times that we have had a major transition, both he and I were anxious. 
Well not just anxious.... we were FULL of life-changing, can't catch my breath, when will this be over ANXIETY!

We have had these huge transition moments before -
going from home to special ed preschool
moving from preschool to elementary school
moving from elementary school to middle school
and then middle school to high school.

Each time both Jared and I .... well let's just say.... had some issues.

I get nervous for my other two children when they have big life changes like these.  But it is easier for them and for me to deal with.
They can verbally express what is happening.
They can let me and others know if something is not right, or if they need more support or help.
They have friends that help them through these transitions as well.

But with Jared there is more than just the average nerves.

I have all types of things that I think about:
...what if he needs help
...what if he is picked on
...what if he doesn't know how to get to a class
...who will watch over him in this new situation
...who will he be able to turn to if he needs assistance
all of which is compounded by the fact that he has such difficulty with language and communication and social skill.
(Just typing this now makes me have the heavy pain in my chest.)

But here we are.
Second semester of high school... and we are doing okay.
Actually high school has been one of the easiest transitions to date.

There are several reasons that I have come up with:
1) Both Jared and I are getting more experienced with transitions.
2) We have gotten better and better of working to ease transitions by giving him short experiences with the new location prior to the actual transition.
3) High school offers more flexibility than I ever thought.
4) Some really cool things have happened for Jared at high school that have helped make this transition much easier. 
Here's just one:

Yesterday I received an email from one of the teachers that Jared has in high school.  Jared goes to this class with regular education students.  And the teacher has been so flexible and open minded and kind and welcoming. 
Here is what she emailed:
"I just want to say what a delight it has been to have Jared in my art class. Talking with his class today we came up with an idea that I wanted to run by you. We were thinking that the art class before his May 24th run for Autism that we would throw him a surprise “good luck at your race” party. Students would bring in food and drinks, we’d have balloons etc. I know this is months away, but I wanted to hear your thoughts about it, and if it is something Jared would enjoy."

I would love to live in this moment forever!

Of course I said YES to her email!  I share it today to show some of the goodness that is in this world. If you see me in the next few days and see a huge smile on my face, you know part of the reason why.
But don't forget, that for now "it's a secret"!

Friday, February 21, 2014


LOVE books!

I actually have a book issue.... I can't get rid of any books, I can't stop buying books.... books are my 'thing'...

One of my most treasured books is a book called Souls: Beneath and Beyond Autism.
I actually have a signed copy!!!

This book combines photography and writing in the most incredible way... a portrays autism "from the inside out".

The writing describes a journey of a parent which very closely mirrors my own journey (another reason I treasure this book).

And the images are POWERFUL and filled with BEAUTY!

There is a dvd that captures some quotes from the book, uses the pictures from the book, and pairs them both with an incredible song... and the dvd has been posted to youtube.

The dictionary defines soul as "the essence or embodiment of a specified quality", "a person's total self".

If you want to catch a glimpse of the SOUL of autism... I encourage you to watch....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

21 years later....

So today is my Anniversary!
Troy and I have been married 21 years...

We met in high school..
last name Carter and last name Burns always in the same homeroom, as homerooms were assigned alphabetically....

But were we really got to know each other....was.... chemistry class!
I know, how classic is that, right?

Once again, due to ABC's of last names, we were assigned to be chemistry lab partners.  And we spent an entire year in chemistry, side by side, doing whatever we did in chemistry class (because Lord knows, I don't remember - it's been too long.)

And then the next year, we decided to take a chance, and go out on a date.  We were supposed to go to the Friday night football game, but it poured rain!  We decided to go and see a movie instead.  So we went to Chesterfield Town Center, which had a two movie theater... and saw the most romantic movie ever....NOT....

And in between then and today.... a wonderful journey.

And as cliche as it is to say... Time does fly.

Little did we know, 21 years ago, what life would bring.
So much has happened in those 21 years.

Jobs, new jobs, having to grow up and figure out how to budget.
Buying cars...buying our home...

And then the kids...

Brett... what a great day when he was born!  And then the terrifying second day, when they woke us up in the middle of the night to tell us he was having trouble...and now, he is almost 17.  He is talking about college and getting ready for SATs.  He is almost the age we were when we first started dating!

Jared...such a sweet blessing.  The craziness of learning that your child has autism.  The death of dreams and the birth of new dreams.  Learning to be the parents of a special needs child.  Jared teaching us a new depth of LOVE.

Amber... the princess was born!  Her love for life and for others continues to show us a new way to live!  And just yesterday she became a teenager.  And soon, mom and dad will have to learn how to let our baby become a woman.... but not yet....

And there have been hurts .... big hurts...
we lost my dad, your dad, your sweet Nanny and Pop...
and we held tight to each other.

And of the memories we have made in these past 21 years...
great trips, fun family vacations...
lots of smiles and lots of laughs.

I love that I have been able to share this crazy thing called LIFE with such an incredible man!
Looking forward to the next 21 years!

Monday, February 10, 2014

And today he wore a black shirt

So today, Jared wore a black shirt to school!

In most families, this was not be a big deal.  So what if a 15 year old picks out a shirt to wear to school that day and it happens to be black?!?

In our house, it is a series of tiny miracles!

You see....

Miracle #1 - Jared picks out his own clothes to wear to school.  I don't have to do this for him.  I don't take this for granted.  For a young man affected by autism, that spent most of the first 4 years of his life - running in big circles - being able to pick out his own clothes and put them on himself is a huge deal!

Miracle #2 - The shirt he choose was black.  For the past three to four years, Jared has only worn shirts with white backgrounds out the house.  Why???  Who knows?!?  But that is the way it has been.  And if we try to get him to wear a different shirt - well, that equals a huge meltdown that can last for hours.
So somewhere along the way, we gave up that fight.  And the white shirt wins.
But today, he came out of his room with a black shirt on!

Miracle #3 - Where did the black shirt come from?  Since Jared has only worn shirts with white backgrounds for the past several years, we don't really buy any other color shirts anymore.  He has one green shirt, that his cousin Cory and his wife Kristen gave Jared for Christmas.  He wears that one to bed - but not out of the house.  He has his Jogging for Jared shirt which is blue tie-dyed, which he wears each year at the annual 5K Run/Walk for autism.
Other than that - white shirts!
But.... on Saturday, Jared went to a VCU women's basketball game - without mom and dad!  He rode down to VCU with Brett and met his new friend/attendant Ryan.  Brett left Jared with Ryan since he had to go and meet up with the band for the game.
So Jared and Ryan went to lunch - Subway - where Jared got his famous "Bacon Sandwich" (which means lots of bacon on bread).
Then they went to the VCU women's basketball game!  During the game, Jared caught a black VCU tshirt that was thrown into the crowd.
The same black VCU tshirt that he is wearing to school today!
All of this, without mom and dad!
What was very difficult for me - letting him go without me, worrying about how he is doing, worrying about what he was doing ....
was making him more independent....

And today, he showed us how he felt about that.....

he wore a back shirt to school!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Celebration

Jared struggles with verbal communication...

Jared struggles with social interaction...

put the two of those together, and....

Jared struggles with making friends.

He wants to have friends, who doesn't?

He just also wants to avoid as much social communication as possible.

That is way we are thankful for a young lady named Cait.

Cait is a senior at the same high school where Jared is a freshman.

And she is Jared's friend!

She has chosen to be his friend and understands that it is tough for him to reciprocate like a "typical" friend does.

She eats lunch with Jared, exchanges texts with him, and takes his picture with her and puts it on facebook!

She is his friend!

She will probably never know what an incredible gift she has given Jared and his family, because that is not her reason for being Jared's friend.

She enjoys being around him and talking with him.  She chooses to be his friend!

Tonight I celebrate!