A little about me:
I was born on the East Coast, but grew to love the Midwest after my family moved to the Chicagoland area when I was almost 11. I'm firmly entrenched in the typical Midwest suburban lifestyle, and I love living in this area.
I am highly organized and a doer. If you're familiar with the Biblical grace gifts, mine is organization or administration. If you're familiar with love languages, my strength is acts of service.
I love all things homemaking, including baking/cooking, gardening, crafts, and reading. I enjoy playing my flute and studying languages (Spanish and French). My favorite household chore--washing dishes. My least favorite--laundry. I can frequently be found with my camera around my neck, and I have a home-based photography business (hence the watermark on our photo above, lol!).
Because we traveled the road of autism before the Internet was widely available, and during a time when good resources were scarce, I am passionate about helping and encouraging those who are seeking answers and help regarding homeschooling their special and struggling learners. Even though a simple Google search can yield thousands of hits, I needed a place where I could organize resources, books, blogs, etc. to share with you. Thus, this blog was born!
For you, here is our story:
Marriage and children were my two biggest dreams; the Lord fulfilled the first in September 1987 when Fernando and I, Christine, were married, and the second when Joey was born in 1989. Two more baby boys, Jacob and Danny, soon followed in 1991 and 1993, and a fourth son, Tommy, completed our family in 1996.
Around the time of the Danny’s birth, we began to notice differences between Joey, 4, and his younger brother, Jacob, who was two years old at the time. Jacob prattled away, while Joey couldn’t put two words together. Jacob played as any two-year-old would play; Joey played in odd ways. He was fascinated with spinning objects, and spent hours on his Sit-n-Spin. He lined up cars and blocks according to color or size. He flapped his fingers, and he made a strange sing-song moaning. We knew that something was different, but we couldn’t quite place our finger on it.
Joey was tested, and we began to hear words such as autism, speech delay, and pervasive developmental disorder. The local public school recommended its early childhood program, so we enrolled him in the autumn of 1993. For each of four days a week, Joey spent two and a half hours at school, and two additional hours on the bus—the first to be picked up and the last to be dropped off! Needless to say, I wasn't too happy about the arrangement. Joey, however, loved the bus ride, with its defined route and planned stops all along the way. Routine and sameness were vital to his contentment.
During that year, we hard about a few families who were homeschooling. We spent time investigating this possible alternative for our son. We prayed and asked the Lord to show us what to do. His answer came the following spring. At Joey’s end-of-year evaluation, his teacher told us, “There will never be an appropriate place for Joey in the public school system.” The Lord couldn’t have spoken more plainly! We began homeschooling that autumn.
As each year went by, we continued homeschooling, adjusting our schedule and our academics as each of our sons grew older. What started as “the best option” 18 years ago has turned into a unique lifestyle ordained by the Lord, and we continually thank Him for calling us to it!
Though we love this lifestyle, we have had our share of struggles. We agonized emotionally and spiritually over why Joey was the way he was: Was it something we caused? Did I do something wrong during pregnancy? Were we bad parents or didn’t show him enough affection? These questions plagued us for many years, until, by God’s grace, acceptance, trust, and peace settled in our hearts. We also struggled financially as--not wanting to have new contact with our local public school district--we obtained private therapy for Joey.
During this time, the Lord liberally poured out His grace upon our family. We felt His love surround us as we struggled to provide the things Joey needed. The label “high functioning autism” was just that—a label. We chose to push the label aside, and the Lord was faithful in providing everything we needed, emotionally, spiritually, and even financially!
We learned that we are the best experts on our son; no one—especially a “professional”—knows him better! We learned to research, research, research. We learned to ask questions, even "dumb" ones, in order to understand the world of autism. We learned to connect with a homeschool support group that accepted us and whose members willingly and lovingly stood alongside us. We learned to be humble enough to make our needs known to others. And, we learned to be gracious to those who didn’t understand our son.
Today, Joey is now called Joseph, and has graduated from high school and living his adult life at home with us. While that is a blessing, we face other issues—job training, living arrangements, emotional issues. We wonder what life will be like for Joseph as he continues his life. We don’t know the answers to these far-reaching questions, but we do know that the Lord knows the future, and we continue to trust Him to lead us down this unknown path. We pray that through our lives and our experiences, we can be a blessing to you!
Email Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org.