Our Landon will be six years old tomorrow. He was born exactly 2 years and one week after his brother, Robbie. To say our lives haven’t been the same since Landon was born is an understatement! Our world was turned upside down on March 28, 2013. We were very thankful to have a healthy, BIG baby boy…but had no idea what obstacles were on the horizon. Complications at his birth caused a number of health problems for me requiring lots of help, medication, and surgery. Then fast forward a couple of years down the road to Landon’s autism diagnosis. We faced all the complex behavioral and developmental issues that accompany autism along with many more neurological, genetic, and developmental tests. Add speech, occupational, and physical therapy to that along with trying to be parents to two other kids! I homeschooled the older two children on top of that!
If you would have asked me before having Landon what the “hardest” disability to work with was, I would have told you “autism, hands down.” Working with children and adults with autism while I was working on my speech therapy degree was always the hardest to me.
The autism patients I had in school had tantrums and meltdowns, and sometimes were aggressive. They were repetitive and were basically in their own little world and got pretty upset when I tried to enter their world to work with them! One of my patients in particular was a huge, grown man whose favorite thing to do was listen to Neil Diamond. We had to listen to several Neil Diamond songs every time I worked with him and if we didn’t he got very upset! I was the only one in the room with him and at the time I thought, I hope he doesn’t try to kill me during speech therapy! So…I had some valid reasons for feeling the way I did about autism!
So back to Landon. Life was hard! Landon never slept well until he was 4 years old. He was up all hours of the night jumping on the bed, banging on the wall, tearing up books, toys, furniture, you name it. He threw tantrums and was aggressive and would hit and bite all of us. He couldn’t communicate well with us. Life was pretty miserable back then!
Thankfully God started answering some prayers! We moved and got Landon in a wonderful special needs preschool. We met a wonderful family in our new neighborhood whose oldest adult child had autism. Their daughter ended up being Landon’s babysitter! I’m not saying that everything suddenly was perfect, but we were getting the help for Landon that he needed. After trying probably a dozen different medications for Landon we finally found two medicines that help him sleep and calm him down enough to actually listen and learn now.
I can’t say I understand exactly why everything has happened the way that it has on our journey with Landon, but I think it has made me a better person. I definitely have become more patient. I know so much more about autism now and actually enjoy learning more about it. Whenever I see a child with a disability now, I almost feel drawn to them. I wonder what life is like for them. I feel compassion for them and their families. I’m not saying I’m a perfect person, but I hope I’m a better person, a more selfless person because of the journey with Landon. I understand more about unconditional love, love that isn’t earned or based on behavior, but just given. Landon has shown me that love really is the most important thing.
I Corinthians 13:3-7
3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body [a]to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [b]puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [c]thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.