Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Silent Pain Brought to Light

Kyle, Brendan and Shane

As if the transformation from boy to man isn't difficult enough, add on the social pressures, hormonal changes, and well meaning parents and it's the making of a perfect storm.

(This post was shared with Kyle prior to my posting.)

This isn't going to be an easy post, but I feel strongly that I have a small voice and if I can help someone else....well,  you understand. This has been, hands down the most difficult year of Kyle's life. As most know, Kyle is my son who was diagnosed at 3 years old with PDD-NOS (a spectrum disorder). Recently the Lord has been revealing His Word to me as it relates to our body, mind and spirit. The Lord brought to my memory today of words I've spoken in the past - words that both Kyle and I had to reread. Here is that post - He's My Superhero.

This past year Kyle has been under certain torment. Imagine the square peg in a round hole. He was finding it easier to be "himself" among people that do not know him, that can not see him, and that only know him by the words he types on a screen. So as a parent you see a pull to this environment, you naturally want to limit his exposure because after all, "these people aren't really your friends Kyle," you don't really know who they are...they are...words typed on a screen.

So, I may not know everything there is to know about all things techy, but that is why I work extra hard to be sure I'm on and in everything my kids do. They know that with every device they have - I have the ability to access it at any given time. That's the way its done around here. I had a parent tell me that their child would not appreciate knowing that I can look at a chat that they're involved in. Well, sorry - pick up the telephone and chat the old fashioned way...I'm not listening to phone calls. We all need accountability....and they are all minors. Anyway, with that said I had read some of the most beautiful words written by my son to others in this building game that he plays. His heart for people astounds me. His heartfelt prayers for people....I know it is kind of a ministry for him. However, he was getting lost in that world. I had to help bring him back.

We went to counseling and he was/is loved by his counselor. She adores him. Kyle will tell you, he had so much anger pent up inside of him. He would lash out, uncontrollably. We started not to recognize him at all.

Mike and I tried to help him by showing him different ways to handle himself. In the most loving way a parent can, we would try to help Kyle "change" so he could perhaps be more socially accepted. We didn't understand. An example would be, Kyle had this "thing" where he would want to give everyone a high five but at the last minute move his hand so you would miss. Okay, not bad right? Well, not the first 20 times, but after a while we kept thinking, everyone is going to get so tired of this. Or his crazy dancing that he would do - people may think that is odd or goofy. So we would suggest, "hey buddy, why don't you try to mix it up a bit, surprise people, shake their hand instead." Things like that. We would try to give him alternatives. Different ways to help him, so he didn't "stand out" because he was different. We just wanted him to feel loved by others. We wanted him to feel accepted, like he had friends. We were afraid that kids were not wanting to be around him. He didn't want to go to co-op, church anywhere...he just wanted to stay home and be with his online friends.  We were just trying to get him to hold back on the things we interpreted as "unusual behavior" or "awkward".

All the while, not understanding what was happening, we were trying to squeeze this very special peg in to a box that he wasn't ever meant to fit into. Well, that's painful isn't it. When the counselor said to us, "You are probably the only people who think Kyle has to change, everybody else in that youth group, or co-op or anyone that knows Kyle is not expecting Kyle to be any different." I wept and wept. My son, who was tired of living, who told me it would be better if he were not alive and if he went to be with Jesus. My boy who smiles and makes people around him smile, was dying on the inside...and the people who love him the most were just trying to make him into something he was not. As if what he is...wasn't enough. OUCH!

He is enough. He is perfect. He is a teenage boy, with a sense of humor, a style of his own. He is this child who marches to the beat of his own drum. The same boy who drew this 5 years ago...
So, as the video shows below shows, we have embraced Kyle's uniqueness. We actually try to remember to encourage it. In this we were at a coffee house and it was 80s night. My boy got up and danced his own special dance and people just came out and joined him. He was on top of the world. So we did what any proud parents would do..we cheered him on (even though it reminded me of some 80s version of jazzercise). We laughed, clapped and cheered and it was FUN! When we got in the car that night he said, "The best part about this night was when I heard you guys cheering me on - that made me feel awesome." Lesson learned! So, we love our Kyle so much. He's going through some serious stuff, I would rather have crazy Kyle, the Kyle that God created, the one that was chosen and who is greatly loved, holy, a child of God than a boy who doesn't know who he is.

Parenting. It's not for wimps. He still has limitations on his technology, I still try to encourage other avenues of entertainment. He had a life altering encounter with the Holy Spirit while he was away at camp with our church youth group. He went up for prayer for a broken heart and he came back whole! He feels like he has friends at church now, brothers. He knows what the Lord has done for him. He wants to share his story with others. He even asked if I thought he could be a youth pastor. Ummm....YES!! I have always believed Kyle was special and unique and that God created him for greatness. I got a little lost in the every day teenage hormonal storm, but I'm standing strong now. It's not easy...I'm a human being...but every single day I rely on the Holy Spirit to get me through. I am working on "supernatural parenting" as our youth pastor would call it. I'm thankful for those that have supported us during this time, this very silent time. I encourage you, do not make the mistakes we've made. Just like Kyle never wanted anyone to ever know he spoke of suicide, we never wanted anyone to know the anguish and level of discontent we were living with either. When you put that stuff in the light, the enemy loses his power. Find people you can trust, people you know will storm Heaven on your behalf. People who will speak life over your family and over you. People who will put you in your place and tell you what is what. I'm so thankful. Kyle is still going through puberty, he still struggles with many things. No question. But I see a huge change in him. I see him trying to get past the limitations his disorder has claimed in his life. We now declare over him what God's word says. Autism Spectrum Disorder...its got nothing over my boy! He is created in the image of God, whole and perfect with a destiny that will astonish the next generation!


Louise Sutliff said...

I have a new tattoo that is a puzzle piece that has become a symbol of Autism. However the puzzle lines have gaps where the four primary colors come through almost like watercolor crayons outside of the lines. I have a treble clef inside the puzzle. I wanted to express my impression of how I have been amazingly blessed by people on this spectrum.

Every child is different and every parent is different. Your families story shows tremendous victory where love prevailed. We do the best we can but, when we pay attention to whom the Lord brings into our lives it sometimes hurts but the joy of learning truth brings increased family growth. The Spirit of the Living God moved and you moved. God is glorified. I love you friend.

Doris Swift said...

Thank you for sharing Kyle's story. It's time we change the shape of the hole to match the peg. I love his dancing video. Such a beautiful family and what an amazing purpose and plan God has for your young man, who really belongs to Him as you have said many times. Parenting is such a journey in faith. We all have had different challenges with our children, yet our heartbreaks unify us somehow. So awesome how God truly does work all things together for good and for His glory. Precious!! Love you <3

Leslie Inman said...

Kyle is an amazing young man. Looking forward to each new height he reaches to the Glory of God. Never under-estimate what God can do through a willing vessel. Blessings and peace to the Engels! Love you so much, Leslie

Leslie Inman said...

Kyle is an amazing young man. Looking forward to each new height he reaches to the Glory of God. Never under-estimate what God can do through a willing vessel. Blessings and peace to the Engels! Love you so much, Leslie