After writing Difficulties At Church, I took a little hiatus from writing. Those posts took a lot out of me emotionally because I had to tap into those hard moments, remember those challenging times, and somehow convey the emotions while explaining the situations. I was wiped out after that week. But I'm tired of seeing that title on the front page of my blog. I know it's an important topic to discuss because so many of us are dealing with that issue, but I generally don't like to dwell on the challenging....I like to live in the present, the positive, and the victories......so here are some victories that we have experienced at church!
FIRST, I want to start with a victory that I have already mentioned in Difficulties At Church Part Three. Ethan's church teachers set up a system so Ethan didn't need to attend music in the worship room, but he could still hear the music. He was in another room but they left the worship room door open. The first day they implemented this system (which Ethan was very excited about), Ethan stayed back with a volunteer to play with puzzles. After ONE puzzle, Ethan told the volunteer that he was ready to go to music with his class.
They said he came in, without headphones, and the kids were singing the B-I-B-L-E song. If you don't know it....it's a loud one and the kids scream the word "Bible" at the end. They told us that Ethan started to get scared, made eye contact with his teacher, she mimed putting her hands over her ears, and he followed suit. No crying, no anxiety.....nothing. He stayed with his class the rest of the morning. When we talked about this at home, Ethan said that he "wanted to be with his class." So maybe he learned a lesson.....he doesn't like being without his peers.
NEXT, let's fast forward to the following Sunday. I had Ethan's church bag in my hand, but his sound proofing headphones were missing. As I was scrounging around the house for them, Ethan says, "Mom, I don't want my headphones." I looked at him....well....maybe stared.....and asked him what he was going to do during worship time? He said that he would simply cover his ears. Almost like he was saying, "Duh, Mom." Then, I asked him if he wanted his church bag at all? He said, "No." AWESOME! And......he has been doing just great without any of his sensory items. (I still keep them in the van.....just in case.)
FINALLY, this past Sunday, we had experienced a very rough night with Ethan. A common thread among those who have ASD is that they require very little sleep or they can't seem to sleep for very long. I think it's because....for Ethan.....he just can't get his amazing brain to turn off for very long. Anyway, we experienced a very rough night. Due to Ethan being up & down & crying & screaming (night terrors), I only slept from 2am to 5am....at which point he woke up for the day. We pulled him into our bed (so we could continue to doze/sleep), and Ethan watched cartoons on our TV. About 8:15am, I informed Ethan that we were going to skip church because Mommy & Daddy needed their sleep.
Ethan INSTANTLY shouted, "No, Mom, I really want to go to church!"
WOW......NEVER have these words been spoken by my child. I was so overcome with happiness! Well, that was just the fuel I needed to get my lazy bones out of bed. We frantically got ready & headed for church.
When Ethan entered his classroom, he immediately went over to a stack of brightly colored index cards....without any prompting. He found a card with his name on it, took it across the room & placed it in the Sunday School attendance pocket. Then, I watched him go over to a group of boys, who immediately included him in their play of all things "monster"....and he was so happy. I was able to watch all of this from behind a two-way mirror, and I'm so glad I was able to see that moment.
Through these 3 specific victories at church, I am more & more sure that this church is where God wants us. I also feel very privileged to see God working in Ethan's life. I see God becoming more & more real to him. And I see God working true miracles before my eyes. How blessed am I that I get to be this child's mother and witness God's handiwork right before my eyes.