Monday, January 12, 2004

kaleidoscope

1-11-04
Without going too much into it, we formerly attended a wonderful church here called Watermark Community Church. We started going there when we first moved here and when my brother started looking for a new church home, they ended up there too. Anyway, since the girls were about one, we could never stay for an entire service because they would get so upset that it disrupted the whole nursery and they'd call us out. I felt, and everyone told me, that if we just kept at it, their separation anxiety would dissapate eventually so that's what we did. After a year of this things were not any better and we gave up. Before we threw in the towel, however, I volunteered in the ministry and the directors of the children's ministry met with us to try to come up with a solution, all to no avail. Often, I was getting them ready and taking them on my own because Jimmy's old job at Eatzi's required him to work many Sundays. It was so frustrating and exhausting, I cannot even tell you. Ugh. Anyway, when I called the church to let them know that we were no longer going to try to attend, thanks anyway, I mentioned that the "A" word had come up recently and the head of the program said that several members of the body had recently offered their services to that end, but nothing had been organized at that time. We moved on and I just resigned myself that going to church as a family wasn't in the cards for us. It was really disappointing to me, but I was worn out. Well, one night last week I said to Jimmy, "I wonder if Watermark ever did anything with the autism thing?" The next day I had an email from a friend of mine in Amarillo (who also is a MOT) with the contact numbers of some people at Watermark who had begun a ministry for parents of children on the autism spectrum. My friend's sister goes to Watermark and I guess she knew some of the people. So, I called this woman Saturday and we talked at some length about the ministry and Abby. Today I went, all by myself (luxury!!) and attended the early service and then checked out the program during the second service. It is SO awesome! There are 5 kids in there and as many volunteers/teachers. The adults are made up of parents of autistic spectrum kids and professionals in the field. It is like a mini group sensory intergration session during church so that parents like us can go worship! The church has bought all this great equipment just for them. I cannot believe it. You have to understand that this church is huge and they have done all of this to serve only five family members of the body. I am just blown away. I started crying while I watched them work with these children. Autism presents itself so differently in each child effected and I have never seen or read about a child whose symptoms mirrored Abby, but today there was a little girl in there that was just like her, right down to the way she holds her hands and walks. For some reason that touched me and brought me comfort. This seems like an answered prayer. One of the worst things about this disorder is how isolated families living with it become. It would be a tremendous support to have the opportunity to have fellowship every week and know that Abby is okay and that the people taking care of her can handle it and aren't going to sit in judgement speculating on why she acts the way she does. One of the ladies running the program even offered to come to our house and meet Abby a couple of times so that she'd have a somewhat familiar face when she goes the first time. While we wait to see if they have room for Abby, Jimmy is going to start taking Emma Jean so that she can get acclamated to her classroom and that way if Abby has a meltdown at least we'll only be dealing with one screaming mimi. This is one of the first rays of hope we've seen in the last year. I am so grateful.

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