Moving On

Day 3…. So we are slowly getting used to our new normal. It is crazy and hectic, however God always keeps us going!
Something has been on my mind recently, the world seems to see all autistics the same and this just blows my mind! We are blessed to have 3 autistic boys in our family. I feel almost as though I am being fake when I write “we are blessed”, many times our lives are turned upside down because of autism, however when I step back and watch all of our children interact with everyone no matter their issue the scales fall from my eyes and the blessings shine through!
Anyway, back to how each autistic child is unique, so we have the joy of having not one, but two “high functioning” autistic boys. For those who haven’t faced this term before it means that two of our boys are beyond smart knowing a ton of facts (that they cannot control when they come flowing from their mouths), formulas (that we will never need….really), and have read just about everything they can get their hands on including their older siblings college history books, however struggle to communicate when they feel poorly (even when passing kidney stones), answer the door or phone appropriately, and textures are either our saving grace or the root of all evil!
Even though these two boys can test gifted (if they are caught on those rare days they actually try to do well on the test), they could not be more different! One is very detail oriented and often times over thinks or over plans everything. He spends hours rearranging cards that he collects and planning the perfect deck that will win at his game nights. The second one never completes anything! You know the Charlie Brown character that is always in a dust cloud ….. yep that is what we live with. He spends more time in his head “playing in his mind” than he does doing anything else. This child takes unorganized to the next level loosing everything that he comes in contact with. More often than not it is found halfway between where he used it last and where it truly belongs!
Then there is our third guy, wow is he different! So instead of being super tuned in to his surroundings to give his input on situations he is completely in his own world. Literally we have to touch him and raise our voice before he knows we are even talking to him and then he only gets the last part of what you say! He is 13 and cannot follow 2 step instructions, he becomes irate when he does not get to do things like ride his bike around the neighborhood with the other kids, however he can’t keep track of cars, hazards in the road, or where he is! He struggles with any social interactions often coming across as rude even though he is using the right words, his body language and tone are completely inappropriate. He is the kid that tells his teachers he has done enough and refuses to move forward during class, returns home and blames his teachers for him not having the items he needs to complete assignments (like the notes he refused to take because he was done for the day), and that his teachers are rude because they try to get him redirected.
So I guess what bugs me is that people hear our boys have autism and instantly look around for someone to be drooling or grunting because they are not able to communicate at all. Then we have those people who think there are no issue with them because they are talking to them, but become extremely offended when they say something rude, too personal, or break into another session of “playing in his mind” which looks as though he seizing when he becomes bored with the conversation.
We have learned over the years that the way we have to approach each child is unique in many ways, however being consistent for them is very important! As I said on day one, consistent was not our family’s strong suit! Over the years we have learned that you have to always get dressed before breakfast and brush teeth in the same order every morning. While each child needs to be treated a little different to meet their needs, they all need unconditional love, grace (which is often the most challenging thing to give…I don’t know how Jesus does it!), and a family that is willing to follow God into the wild side to meet their needs! I guess that is the major message today… we walk through this crazy life due to our willingness to follow God’s leading.
If you are walking the path of fostering, adoption, or just raising special children I want you to know…. You are not alone on this journey and that we are all striving to do what is right for our special kiddos even when the rest of the world doesn’t see it!


Something has been on my mind recently, the world seems to see all autistics the same and this just blows my mind! We are blessed to have 3 autistic boys in our family. I feel almost as though I am being fake when I write “we are blessed”, many times our lives are turned upside down because of autism, however when I step back and watch all of our children interact with everyone no matter their issue the scales fall from my eyes and the blessings shine through!
Anyway, back to how each autistic child is unique, so we have the joy of having not one, but two “high functioning” autistic boys. For those who haven’t faced this term before it means that two of our boys are beyond smart knowing a ton of facts (that they cannot control when they come flowing from their mouths), formulas (that we will never need….really), and have read just about everything they can get their hands on including their older siblings college history books, however struggle to communicate when they feel poorly (even when passing kidney stones), answer the door or phone appropriately, and textures are either our saving grace or the root of all evil!
Even though these two boys can test gifted (if they are caught on those rare days they actually try to do well on the test), they could not be more different! One is very detail oriented and often times over thinks or over plans everything. He spends hours rearranging cards that he collects and planning the perfect deck that will win at his game nights. The second one never completes anything! You know the Charlie Brown character that is always in a dust cloud ….. yep that is what we live with. He spends more time in his head “playing in his mind” than he does doing anything else. This child takes unorganized to the next level loosing everything that he comes in contact with. More often than not it is found halfway between where he used it last and where it truly belongs!
Then there is our third guy, wow is he different! So instead of being super tuned in to his surroundings to give his input on situations he is completely in his own world. Literally we have to touch him and raise our voice before he knows we are even talking to him and then he only gets the last part of what you say! He is 13 and cannot follow 2 step instructions, he becomes irate when he does not get to do things like ride his bike around the neighborhood with the other kids, however he can’t keep track of cars, hazards in the road, or where he is! He struggles with any social interactions often coming across as rude even though he is using the right words, his body language and tone are completely inappropriate. He is the kid that tells his teachers he has done enough and refuses to move forward during class, returns home and blames his teachers for him not having the items he needs to complete assignments (like the notes he refused to take because he was done for the day), and that his teachers are rude because they try to get him redirected.
So I guess what bugs me is that people hear our boys have autism and instantly look around for someone to be drooling or grunting because they are not able to communicate at all. Then we have those people who think there are no issue with them because they are talking to them, but become extremely offended when they say something rude, too personal, or break into another session of “playing in his mind” which looks as though he seizing when he becomes bored with the conversation.
We have learned over the years that the way we have to approach each child is unique in many ways, however being consistent for them is very important! As I said on day one, consistent was not our family’s strong suit! Over the years we have learned that you have to always get dressed before breakfast and brush teeth in the same order every morning. While each child needs to be treated a little different to meet their needs, they all need unconditional love, grace (which is often the most challenging thing to give…I don’t know how Jesus does it!), and a family that is willing to follow God into the wild side to meet their needs! I guess that is the major message today… we walk through this crazy life due to our willingness to follow God’s leading.
If you are walking the path of fostering, adoption, or just raising special children I want you to know…. You are not alone on this journey and that we are all striving to do what is right for our special kiddos even when the rest of the world doesn’t see it!

Yes we take up every chair at the dentist, but they all get seen!

And then we were 10!

Day 2 of our journey! And the hits just keep coming…. So as if we didn’t have our hands full enough we have made the decision to adopt a sibling set of three. Yeah so we are doing this. Um and to top it all off the youngest is a …. GIRL! Um what do I do with a girl? After 24 boy’s we now have a girl. Ok I feel overwhelmed with this I have to admit! But I am try to embrace this new adventure. Yes that will mean our little family of four has grown into a large family of 10 total. As we work to incorporate 3 more personalities in to our family we watch our family evolve and sometimes catch fire, burning to ash I am reminded that each person takes on aspects of the family while leaving its impact on us. Lately, I find myself asking how to navigate the holiday season with 3 autistic boys (FYI puberty and autism is a horrid curse for which I am still trying to figure out what I did to deserve it!), 1 explosive disorder boy (who thank God hasn’t hit puberty yet), an ADHD boy that we are working on diagnosing to get him help, and our ever present girl that makes everything complicated because she can! I have tried to look beyond the holidays that are right in front of me, however I looked right into the realization that I now have a child in every grade from 7th to 3rd…… and then I thought about high school! Lord please guide our family through this upcoming gauntlet! In the meantime we are continuing to work on restaurant manners, store manners, and because our friends are crazy enough to invite our clan to parties we have worked on party manners. Encase your wondering why manners matter, I can personally vouch how stressful it is to have kiddos knocking off items at other customers tables while walking to your table or even better taking food off strangers plates…. Oh yes that was not a good day at the restaurant. We also learned that tag is not appropriate while waiting for the other family members to order their food at the fast food counter. Again, I wonder if the employees cringe and begin questioning just how much they need the money as our 12 passenger van pulls into the parking lot. I can’t blame them, because I often ask myself if working on these skills outweigh the frustration and embarrassment we are walking into!

The Beginning

Day 1 of this crazy attempt to blog our adventures! ……. I sit here scared, baffled, and wondering if I need the next psych eval! My name is Misty and my nuc family started this crazy adventure 11 years ago. We grew from 4 to 6 in one signature on a page, or so it seemed to the distant outsider. Our family decided we needed to help out and Child Protective Services brought us two of the cutest “normal” boys. Each boy had issues that we still live with and discover new issues 11 years later. We knew the youngest child had autism and we were enduring 5 hour long (no that is not a typo!) screaming tantrums along with such a high need for stimulation input the he was ripping his nails off and the older child had experienced such neglect that he would panic if you could see any portion of shelving in the pantry or fridge. We fostered these two amazing boys for 1 year before adopting them. Yes I did say amazing! This journey has been so overwhelming, exhausting, fulfilling, and inspiring that we would not change it for the world! Okay, so I would be lying to myself if I didn’t tell you about those days. You know the ones in which you sit alone in the closet or the bathroom sobbing about how your desire to help a child in need has ruined your ENTIRE world! …… Okay I am breathing again, I think. No one ever tells you about the daily disrespect (I am talking so far above an average child’s puberty rollercoaster), continued hours of therapy each week ranging from behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy , etc., the countless declined invites to social activities that will undoubtedly trigger behaviors that will linger for days afterwards, and the overwhelming stress of “will they ever be successful with us”. I would be lying if I said that it was always a happy family, because learning you have to lock your bedroom doors to keep these children safe and when the third or fourth new behavioral therapist asked “where do you see your son in five years” you truthfully answer juvie on the way to prison due to feeling defeated was never mentioned in trainings for this job.
Some how our family came to terms with this new version of life and ….wait for it…..decided we needed to foster teen boys because of the needs of our county and the skills God had given us. See what I mean! We have lost it right! 22 boys later we have (we think) crossed our finish line. Oh did I forget about the part where we started taking in therapeutic level boys just prior to or right after admission to a mental health facility. Boy our first two boys were just the tip of the iceberg! Let’s all face it as a parent we say statements that we never thought would come out of our mouths, however it has become second nature to say “you have the choice to say mean things and even swing at me, however you will lose all your television privileges for the day and longer if the police have to come out”. There are some amazing opportunities and experiences on this journey as well, like taking a boy from “move to a different school where you won’t fight or you will be expelled” to B honor roll and active member of his youth hockey team (yes we gave him a stick!). We see the demeanor of a child change from out of control fight or flight response to smiles, slowed breathing, and tell his teacher he is okay now and apologizes for his behaviors, but wait for it …… he was able to voice what was causing the behavior! Along this adventure we have adopted another kiddo with ADHD and explosive disorder, oh don’t forget the moderate cognitive delay. It’s always a good day when he starts your day off by punching his brother or telling you he is going to kill you as he puts his fist up looking like Olive Oil from the old Popeye cartoons but unable to hold his fist up for long.
We often here people say that we are special people to ride this rollercoaster, however with our bums in the seat I have to admit that it doesn’t always feel like we have special powers or “the patience of a saint” instead it feels like we are failing these special children, like we are letting them down as well as our own children. When these days come we work hard to not take on the child’s issues. This is so much easier to say than to do, I have resorted to the phrase “Not my monkeys not my circus”. Usually I say this to my husband as we tag out of a situation! The big thing I guess that’s keeping us together as a family and continuing to help children is that we work well as a team being able to rely on each other for support during the tough times, to laugh hysterically at stories that would make the average parents hair curl, and to beam when a boy that could not hold a fork or climb the stairs catches a football while running for the first time!