Miracles Come in All Sizes

January 10, 2011

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

Having a child with Autism has tested my faith and my relationship with God.  I have had to try and continue to have faith that God hears my prayers even though he has not answered them (or at least answered them the way I want him to).  Eight years ago my husband Dwight and I had two children, Drew (who was 5) and Caleb (who was 1) and we had just learned that we were expecting twins. This was a big shock and our lives were turned upside down.    In January of 2003, after being on bed rest for a month the twins, Emma and Ethan, were born – one month early.  The first few months of sleepless nights, endless loads of laundry and diaper changes were all a blur.  To add to the stress during this hectic period in our lives, Dwight and I started noticing changes in our middle son, Caleb’s, behavior and development.  He was not talking like he used to and he began to withdraw and became very destructive.  At first we just thought it was regression caused by his adjustment to the pregnancy and birth of the twins.  After all, Caleb had been the baby of the family and now there were two new babies taking all of the time of attention of his parents and grandparents. 

We tried putting Caleb in speech therapy through an early intervention program to see if that would help. After a year of speech therapy and very little progress we decided to have him evaluated again by our pediatrician.   After her evaluation she sat Dwight and I down and broke the news that from everything we had told her about Caleb’s behavior and his regression in speech and communication, it was very likely that Caleb had Autism.  She referred us to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis where they had a special center for diagnosing and treating children with Autism.  As I looked over at our sweet, blonde-haired, blue eyed little boy, who was quietly spinning around in circles in the corner of the room I couldn’t help but ask the question, “Why would God let something like this happen?”

Of course my first reaction to Caleb’s diagnosis was denial.  There is no way my child has Autism.  He’ll grow out of this ‘destructive phase’.  He’ll go back to being the happy, cheerful and social little boy he was.   He’ll start talking again and everything will be back to normal.  I started reading and researching everything I could on Autism. I read books and looked up experiences of other parents on the Internet. Google became my new best friend and I spent endless hours (mostly in the middle of the night since my days were filled with raising four children) and tried to find a miracle cure to bring back my little boy.

I would also pray every day that God would heal Caleb. I prayed that he would have the miraculous reactions to some of the treatments we tried as I had read that other children had.  There were many parents that claimed they gave their child B-12 shots, vitamin supplements or put them on a gluten-free diet and the child just woke up one morning and was talking and all the behavioral problems were gone.  They claimed that their children had been cured from Autism and that is what I wanted. So I chased every rainbow, trying treatment after treatment and praying to God, begging him to make Caleb “normal” again. 

As the months passed I went through many emotions. I was mad at God, mad at myself, mad at these people who gave me false hope in the treatments that they claimed would cure my son.  I felt overwhelming guilt. Was it something I did when I was pregnant that caused this?  Is it because I am a bad mom? What am I doing wrong? Why are other Autistic kids being “healed” but not Caleb?  I would read stories of other parents that told of how they had recovered their children from Autism and I had done all the things they had.   It just depressed me to read these stories and I kept asking God, “Why won’t you heal my son?”

I wanted the BIG miracle but as I continued praying and listening to God I began to realize that maybe God’s plan was not the same as mine.  I started to notice little glimpses of hope that God was working in Caleb’s life in small, yet amazing ways.  Some of the things we noticed would really not seem that amazing to most parents, but to us they were nothing short of a miracle. Little glimpses into Caleb’s world that let us know that God was there and he did hear our prayers.  Every time my fear and discouragement started to overwhelm my faith God would send one of these small miracles to remind me that he had a plan.

One night when Caleb was taking a bath and playing with his foam letters I noticed him lining up letters like he was trying to spell something. I saw he had a “C”, an “E” and an “A” and thought maybe he was trying to spell his name. I was so excited because I knew they had been working on writing their names at the special needs preschool he was attending.  I continued to watch as he lined the letters up trying to figure out what he was spelling.  “ICE AGF” was what he had spelled out.  I didn’t recognize it at first, but when I did my excitement level climbed leaps and bounds above where it had been when I thought he was spelling his name.  He had spelled out the title of his favorite movie “ICE AGE” and since there was only one “E” in the foam letter set he had used the “F” for the second “E”.  Not only did this mean he knew how to spell the title of the movie, but he also had great problem solving skills for a 4 year old!  This small miracle led to other miracles in communication as he went onto spell other words he learned from his movies and DVD’s. He started with words like “Lighting”, “Effects” and “Production” and then moved on to spell longer words and longer phrases.  Next, he began spelling words he could use to communicate his wants and needs like “drink”, “cracker” and “play”.  We still have magnetic letters on our fridge so he can use those to communicate if we can’t understand what he is trying to tell us. 

Several months later we were potty training Emma and Ethan and were blessed with another small miracle.  Caleb came into the family room where the twins were playing and he pulled out the waistband of Ethan’s pants and looked down his pants to see his underwear. He then pulled out his own waistband and saw his diaper.  He immediately took off his pants and his diaper and pointed to Ethan’s underwear.  I said to Caleb, “Do you want to wear big boy underwear like Ethan?”  Caleb didn’t reply in words, but he got very excited and started jumping up and down and squealing with delight.  “OK, I told him, but that means you have to go potty in the toilet like a big boy.”  I gave him a pair of underwear and within less than a week he was potty trained.  This was a big surprise because I had been trying to potty train Caleb for over a year and he had shown no interest at all.  I had read that potty training children with Autism is very challenging and sometimes next to impossible.  I was so thankful for the miracle that Caleb was able to cross this milestone with such ease. I was also amazed that it was possible because of the miracle that Caleb had noticed Emma and Ethan were potty trained.  Caleb had become withdrawn and would retreat into his own little world where he didn’t really pay attention or care about what others around him were doing.  This was the first small miracle of many where God showed us that Caleb was starting to notice the world around him and that he wanted to be a part of it.

Caleb has overcome so many obstacles and made wonderful progress over the past few years.   He is mainstreamed into a Third Grade class with an aide and is learning academic and social skills from the other children in the classroom. He has a wonderful teacher, aide and support system at school and also an excellent team of therapists that he works with two days a week to help him with speech and sensory issues.  I am so glad that we did not lose faith just because God did not give us the big miracle that we were praying for.   When we have faith in God’s plan and we let him take control, wonderful things happen.

(This is part of a blog hop for Women of Faith.  Click here to view other Women of Faith Talk Back entires)

4 Responses to “Miracles Come in All Sizes”

  1. mindy Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I must say, I had such a flood of so many emotions while reading this because even though our kids have very different diagnosis, as a parent, I know exactly what you are saying! We are going through an intense roug patch right now with the kids health and I needed this reminder today!


    • Hi Mindy – I feel the same way when I hear you talk about your kids … we go through so many of the same struggles and challenges in our daily lives. I am glad that this was helpful and I will continue to pray for you guys as you are going through this rough time. Praying that God will give you strength and bless you with some little miracles this week to help encourage you! 🙂

  2. David Says:

    Very heartfelt and well said. Thanks for sharing those deep
    and difficult thoughts. It is helpful to us all!

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