Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finding Peace in Different

Almost a year ago, Caleb was placed on the autism spectrum. In the months since, I've been plagued with questions about the accuracy of the diagnosis. I'm sure I've bugged friends and family to no end with the one burning question: "Is he or isn't he?" I know they wanted to respond with, "Well, what do you want me to say?" The truth is, I really didn't know what I wanted to hear.

After months of insomnia, lots of prayer and a little research, I've finally come to terms with his diagnosis and in my heart I feel this label fits. Once I made this declaration, I was flooded with the inner peace I've so desperately sought.

You're probably wondering why it really matters; It's just a label after all. But, it matters to me. I can't really explain it. No, it doesn't impact how I see Caleb or drastically affect our relationship. I guess the label makes me feel like I am closer to unraveling the mystery of Caleb.

Caleb's teacher referred to him this year as an "outlier." I think that fits. He is a boy functioning outside the norm in temperament, personality and intellect. Basically, it means he's different. Different can be frustrating. It can cause us to scratch our heads and weep in frustration. But, different can be amazing. It can cause us to laugh and stand in awe of someone wise beyond his years. Most importantly, different grows us all and makes us appreciate all that different can be.

I asked Caleb's doctor this week how his diagnosis would impact him later in life. She replied, "I think he'll be just fine, maybe a little quirky."

I can live with quirky. In fact, I'm learning to embrace it!


  1. My doctor told me a very similar thing about Graham. It's kind of hard to hear, but I agree that I can accept quirky. Someone sent me the poem below that I really like. It's an interesting analogy.

    Welcome To Holland
    by Emily Perl Kingsley

    I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a
    disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique
    experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like

    When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation
    trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful
    plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice.
    You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack
    your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The
    stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

    "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy!
    I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to

    But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland
    and there you must stay.

    The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible,
    disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's
    just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole
    new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would
    never have met.

    It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy
    than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your
    breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has
    windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're
    all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the
    rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go.
    That's what I had planned."

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because
    the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

    But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to
    Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely
    things ... about Holland.

  2. Becky...I don't have an incredible poem, like the one above (I cried when I read it) but I want you to know that when I read this I felt very much like I wanted to hug you and also very very very proud to be your sister. I am so glad you sought the Lord and many wise people on this matter and it sounds like He has brought you to a place of conviction and peace in your heart. My heart rejoices in this and I am so happy to hear all your thoughts and feelings. matt and I love Caleb as if he were our own and we stand behind confidently behind you and Chris in our support and encouragement as we all figure out all the various aspects of "quirky". I have no idea what that will look like next week, next year or in 10 years, but I do know that we will be there for you guys as we ride this adventure called life together....
    I love you!