|"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thes. 5:11|
As I have written in the past, this boy was my last to pull out of school to homeschool. Yes, I was fearful, I admit it. Could I possibly help him more than he is already being helped? If I can't, then I am the only one to blame.
Throughout the past 9 years since he was first diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder an autism spectrum disorder) I have been very conscious of how we have encouraged him. We have cried and pondered and hoped and wondered and prayed about his future. There is no doubt that we have made the right decision to bring him home. He has grown so much academically, but most importantly he has grown up so much more in so many other areas of his life...we are so incredibly blessed to be a first hand witness to the miraculous hand of God in this child's life.
The truth is, my sweet boy is getting older. (I know...I don't like this part!) He is becoming so much more aware of his abilities and even his disabilities. He is having a hard time accepting that he is "behind" others in his age or grade (including his twin brother...and even his younger brother in some areas). Typically we have always accentuated each of their strengths. "Oh you are an amazing artist!" or "You are such a studious child!" or "You have a gift for athletics!" They even realize each others gifts...and encourage one another by praising each other in their differences. What about aspirations for the future?
Well, in the past, I've concentrated on encouraging anything and everything he might be interested in. "I'm going to be a zookeeper when I grow up Mom!" You will be a great zookeeper! "I want to be a 'smoothie guy' (a guy who makes smoothies)" You will an amazing smoothie guy if that is what you want to be. See, that would be my encouraging him in whatever he wants to pursue.
In my prayer journal I write about my children and their future. I prayed about Kyle's concern about being..."behind". It was breaking my heart! Even though I would tell him, that he wasn't behind..he was right where he should be...it is only natural to compare yourself...not healthy but certainly natural.
I have had to dig deep, and try many ways of teaching this child so that he can remember something. Kyle suffers from short term memory problems. We're trying something new...and I think its working. After one of our school day's this week I said these words to him...and little did I know the impact. "Kyle, you are doing so well! I'm so proud of you. You know, you would make a great teacher some day!"
A few days later I'm teaching another superhero at the table and I hear Kyle and his Dad chatting in the other room. As he sits in his Dad's lap, he says these words..."You know, someday, I'm going to be a teacher. Probably I will teach reading!" I was overwhelmed with joy (which of course manifested in tears)! I didn't just encourage him, but clearly, I spoke life into him.
That night as I prayed, the Lord reminded me of a memory stored way deep in my heart. I was a high school teacher, teaching interviewing skills about 15-16 years ago. I had many of my students in several classes. This one girl in particular struggled academically. I remember always trying to say something positive to every student - its important to find something. THERE IS GREAT POWER IN OUR WORDS! They can be used to build up or destroy! I remember saying to her one year when she was in my keyboarding class that she was a great speller. She would rarely have spelling mistakes in her timed writings - so that is where I was able to "speak life" into her - I know..it wasn't much. The following year she was in my class where I was teaching interviewing skills. We had a mock interview with the vice principal and I always video taped it and we would watched them together in class the following week. When the VP asked her what her strengths were, I remember she paused, thought about it, sat up straight in her chair and said..."Well, I'm a really good speller!" I have no idea of the lasting impact of those words in her life. How those words could have made a difference.
I have no idea what Kyle will be when he grows up. But I am going to be more purposeful in planting seeds in his precious heart. I'm going to be more diligent than ever in watering and nurturing the soil of his heart. Finally, I am going to continue to not only agree and encourage all of my children in their aspirations for their future, but also dream big and pray big about what they can/will do and continue to encourage them to reach beyond what seems just a reality! I never want to limit my dreams for them or their own dreams for themselves! I trust God! I've seen him do miraculous things already! Of course you can be a police officer. You could be a lawyer, mayor, yes even president!
You could be a teacher Kyle! Yes you could. In fact, you would be an amazing teacher. So encouraging, so loving, so caring! So able! I don't know what he will be when he grows up...but I do know...he's gonna be!