Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guest Post: Spencer

To end World Autism Month, I asked a friend, Virginia, to write about her son Spencer, who has autism. I met Virginia's family through church, and still remember the first time I saw Spencer there after we moved to the area. Julianna was only 20 months old, so I didn't quite know what was going on. But as things progressed with her, I got to know Virginia more and she has been a great support to me in my journey so far. She is an amazing mom with 5 boys and I am glad to call her my friend.

Spencer’s story began on Monday, December 3, 1990. He was overdue so I agreed to have labor induced. After 5 hours of labor, he was born, weighing 8 pounds 10 ounces. He was our second son. His older brother Stuart was 2 years old.

 He was a typical newborn baby, for about a month. Then he began to change. His first change was he stopped napping. He would sleep in my arms for about 5 minutes and then wake up. At night, he slept, but never through the night. He made milestones of smiling, sitting up, and rolling over as he should. He would babble and seemed social but was also restless. We just thought he was that difficult child that every family seemed to have.

 When Spencer was a year old his baby brother Stephen was born. We now had a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old and a newborn baby. When Spencer was 2 years old, we moved to a new community. We now consisted of 4-year-old Stuart, 2-year-old Spencer, 1-year-old Stephen and one more baby on the way. Life was HECTIC.

 We began to notice very subtle problems. Spencer didn’t make eye contact, he didn’t follow verbal commands, and he didn’t progress in his speech. His 1-year-old brother was surpassing him in everything, except motor coordination. After Spencer slipped past us and ended up on a busy road by himself, we decided that there were problems. With great sadness I told the doctor I was concerned he had autism. The doctor agreed and our fears were realized.

 Soon after his diagnosis he began pre-school. He made little bits of progress, but it was slow. With intense speech intervention, our hopes were high that he would begin communicating, but it never happened. Wherever we went I had to explain to people why he was acting the way he did.  Very few knew what autism was. We were called poor parents and told he just needed to be spanked a little bit more.

 In 1997, against all advice, we decided to have another baby. We knew there was a chance we could have another child with autism. We still decided to have another, having faith we would be blessed. We soon found out another boy was on the way. My fears were increased. Then terrible news: my father had cancer and would not live much longer. In September of that year we drove 4 little boys to Wyoming to visit with my dad, their grandpa, for the last time. As I visited with him for what I knew would be the last time in this life, I found my father to be very in-tune with the spirit. He promised me that our baby boy would be unaffected by autism. He never got to see his youngest grandchild, Benjamin.

After Benjamin was born, things went from bad to worse. Spencer would not sleep, he would sneak in the baby’s room and either wake him up at all hours of the night or he would lay on him and try to smother him. He would start fires in the kitchen when food was cooking and he would climb over the back fence every day. I had to be constantly vigilant. Our school aged sons were prisoners of the house. They were afraid to invite friends from school or church over. They had to have permission to get out the door as it had about 5 locks on it. It was then that our family made the hardest decision we have ever made: Spencer would be placed in a home where his needs could be better met. Our little family would need to function normally. Although it was the right decision, it was incredibly hard. I still feel great pain with this decision.

Spencer is now 23 years old and happily living in a nearby community. He has two families that love him immensely. He has reminded me that the Lord is in charge. He has a plan for all of his children. There are those in this life that are here to teach each of us patience, compassion, and unconditional love. I am grateful for the perfect baby, now man, who was sent to me that the Lord’s works may be made manifest through him. I am honored to be called his mother.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Virginia. You made me cry. We love this boy, man.