Monday, April 1, 2013

Autism Awareness Month

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am linking up with some bloggy friends to bring tips, stories, and FREEBIES to help teachers of autistic children.

 I have a very special friend who is writing this post for you.
I am so excited that she has been willing to share her story with you.
 Hello, my name is Lynna Kay. I have a family of four. Joe is my husband;
Logan is our first born son; and Kylar is our youngest son.
 Logan has autism.
He was officially diagnosed at age four.

According to the website autism is:

"A devastating neurological and biological disorder that typically affects children between the ages in 18 months to five years of age. Autism currently affects 1 in every 88 children today. It is estimated there are over 1 million people in the United States alone with autism. Autism affects each individual differently and at different levels of severity. Some people with autism are severely affected, cannot speak, require constant one-on-one care, and are never able to live independently. While others who have less severe symptoms, can communicate, and eventually acquire the necessary skills to live on their own."
     When I was asked to share some of our journey with autism, I prayed about it.  God told me to write it, and share so that others would know what a parent of a special needs child endures.  It isn't all puppies and rainbows.  Families tend to feel alone, and like no one cares.  Perhaps this will help those who haven't been through a similar journey to better reach out to those trying to make it through.
     When Logan was first diagnosed, we had been to numerous doctors, speech therapists, occupational therapists and neurologists. We knew something wasn't "normal", but didn't really know how to put all of the pieces together to get an answer.  The first reaction we had, was actually relief! Relieved that we weren't crazy, that it wasn't our imagination being over active, and relieved to finally have an answer. Once you have a diagnosis of what is going on with your child, you know how to treat them. After the initial reaction of relief, we realized the severity of the diagnosis. Logan may never be able to communicate, read, write, or thousands of other things parents take for granted that their child will be able to do.  We had known he was "delayed" in skills at that point, but to know it was a lifelong diagnosis threw us into a state of grief that we survived only by the grace of God.  
     I had already stopped going to church when Logan was a baby. He screamed and cried most of the time, and that isn't something a church nursery or a new mom was equipped for.  I also saw all of the other babies that were born around the same time. They were sitting up, cooing, smiling and starting to reach all the milestones that Logan wasn't. To be around the other families and kids, was too much. It made it more obvious that something wasn't right. Both my husband and myself grew apart. We were both worried and depressed and withdrew from our church and friends. Then, we became angry.  Angry at people who had "perfect" children. Angry at God. Just angry at the world. To us, it seemed like our church didn't even seem to care that we were withdrawing. Looking back, they probably didn't know what to do to help.  Even though that was only 7 years ago, autism was not as mainstream as it is today. Society as a whole just didn't get it.  Once, I was at Wal-mart and had a "leash" attached to Logan. He was about 3, and tended to run away. For safety, I had to keep him attached to me.  He began pitching a fit, as he did every time we went to a store. (Later we realized this was because of the noises and fluorescent lighting!) An older lady stopped and glared at me. She told me that if I had better control of my child, he would behave.  She uttered a bad word regarding the leash and indicated I was "treating him like a dog". I didn't go back to a store with Logan for about a year. I was too worried about people thinking I was a bad mother.  Words hurt.  
     The best word I can use to describe this time of my life would be "isolated". Yes, I withdrew...but friends who didn't know how to react around us also stopped coming around.  I was not in a good place emotionally or spiritually. I felt abandoned not just by people, but by God. I was angry that He had allowed Logan to be autistic. I lashed out, and stopped reaching out to Him.  This honestly lasted until about 2 years ago. It was a miserable time of my life. 
     Not all was horrible during that time period, but my attitude had soured and I wouldn't allow myself to be joyful or thankful for what I did have. I had Kylar, he was born 14 months after Logan, and he was a very good part of my life.  As much as I had thrown myself into taking Logan to every available therapy, I also threw myself into making sure Kylar was loved and cared for. I was focused solely on my children.  This doesn't sound like a bad thing, but it was. I wasn't focused on my marriage, my health, or God. I didn't even realize how far downward I was spiraling. I just kept on with the "woe is me" attitude. 
     I cannot pinpoint any one thing that halted my downward spiral. In hindsight, God was working on me even though I was withdrawn from him.  He put people in my path that showed me that autism wasn't the end of my hopes and dreams for Logan.  He showed me that He could use reach others. He used Logan to reach me.  I started seeing the joy that Logan exuded.  God used Logan to bring me back from the brink of disaster.  Romans 8:28 tells us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  God chipped away at my wall. He cared enough about me to see me through and not give up on me, even when I pushed Him away. And He was gracious enough to use my own son, who we were told would never be able to accomplish much in life.  Just because a child has autism, or other special needs, doesn't mean that God cannot use them.  Even if the child is written off by society, God doesn't write them off.  Jeremiah 29:11 has been a verse that I meditate on daily. It reminds me that God is not out to hurt us. God loves us. 
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

God was gracious. What the devil meant to destroy me, and my family...God used for good.  
     I am still struggling with grief.  I do not know that those feelings will ever go away. Every time I see a child the same age as Logan, it reminds me of the dreams I had for him that will never be.  However, I now realize that Logan has a purpose in life. I am in awe of what God has accomplished through Logan, and know that He has many things planned for Logan that will bless those around him.  The feelings of grief and sadness draw me closer to God, so I will rejoice in those times and allow God to work. Though I am weak, He is strong.
     Two main groups of people have contributed to Logan's life and getting him to where he is today. He is talking! He laughs! He is starting to read! These are things we were told would never happen.  The first group is the HEAL! Foundation.  They allowed Logan to receive a scholarship for medical treatment that insurances won't pay for.  The second group are the teachers and paraprofessionals in Logan's autism class at school. They point out all the positive things about Logan. They don't say "never" to us, but strive to find solutions that will help. I thank God for both of these groups of people.
Thank you for allowing me to share a little of our journey.  
Joe, Lynna, Logan and Kylar....
Thank you so much for sharing your story!!!
We don’t know what it’s like to walk your path but we offer our prayers and our thanks for showing us how to love God more through good times and struggles.
Keep pressing on!

I'm leaving you with a FREEBIE that I hope will be helpful to many of you.
(Logan's mom helped me with it.)
It is for students who need help with following directions.
This FREEBIE pack comes with 4 following directions sheets
(1 direction, 2 directions, 3 directions, and 4 directions).
Click on the picture to grab your free copy.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
While working on this with Logan's mom I thought surely there was more that we all could do.
So I have made a full packet of these following directions sheets.
It contains 3 different sheets for each of the stages.
The full packet is now for sale in my TpT store and 
100% of the proceeds from the sale of this product will be donated to the 
Heal! Foundation and Logan's class at his school.
Please help out such a worthy cause!

Then be sure to head over to Crayonbox Learning for a special GIVEAWAY!
You are welcome to join the Autism Linky Party, but you MUST have an autism-friendly freebie on your blog post AND the Autism Linky Party graphic linked back to Crayonbox Learning at


  1. What a beautiful post! I LOVE that you dedicated your unit to Logan - PERFECT!!!

  2. Wow, Merinda, just an awesome post. What a great idea to have guest blogger who lives with autism every day! And Lynna, thank you for sharing your story so beautifully. I hope God continues to bless Logan amazing progress, you with grace to handle whatever He gives you, and your family with happiness and joy.


  3. Thank you ladies for stopping by. I am so excited that Lynna was willing to share her story!!! Hoping that it touches many others that need to hear her message.

  4. What a great post and a touching story! Thanks for allowing us to be a part of it! I am so happy Logan is making progress and has great teachers!

    The Bender Bunch

  5. What a touching post - thank you so much for sharing it! I love that you have dedicated your unit to Logan and so glad that he's making such amazing progress. Thank you all so much! :)

  6. Oh my goodness! This is the best freebie I have found so far. This will be great to do with my kiddo's. I am always doing following direction activities with my kids. This will be great! Thanks so much for all your hard-work and dedication :)

    The Adventures of Room 83

  7. Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad the activity will be useful for your kids.


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