‘There’s No Place Like Home’

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”  Dorothy’s famous line from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as she clicked her heels to be magically transported back to Kansas is iconic, but it has become meaningful for a different, and for us rather challenging, reason over the past couple of weeks…

Those of you who read a previous blog of mine, ‘Additional Needs Parenting: Unpredictable, Impactful, Inspirational’ will recall the problems we were having in getting James to come out anywhere with us…
(https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/additional-needs-parenting-unpredictable-impactful-inspirational/)

Well, these difficulties have increased and deepened, with James now having been housebound for the last week, and having only had one trip out of the house at all in a fortnight.  Persuasion, encouragement, bribery, visual prompts, cajoling and pleading have failed to help at all…

James just prefers to stay at home, and makes this quite clear in his own way, staying firmly glued to his sofa in his den, surrounded by his things and quite happy to remain there!  When we are all ready to go out, having given James plenty of clues that this is happening, we are greeted with laughter, which if we persist becomes frowns, which if we still persist becomes vocalised sounds of anger (James can’t say many words, but he can get his point across quite well!)  We then have to either a) all stay at home, or if this is unavoidable, b) decide who is going to remain with James.

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Church, shopping, James’ school club, planned family trips out, have all been affected.  We have a family holiday coming up, and if we can’t get James out of the house by then we won’t be going!

All kinds of possibilities are going through our minds about what is going on…  James has been struggling with transitions for a while, both at school and at home, is this an extension of this pattern?  Is he feeling a bit tired at the end of a very long term and just wants to chill?  Is he feeling a little under the weather and can’t face going out?  Or is he flexing his 15-year old identity, pushing his boundaries, and showing us that he will decide how he wants to spend his day, not us?  Or is it something else that we haven’t thought of yet?  All possible, but with a non-verbal Autistic young person with very limited communication, it is very difficult to tell!

Other than the likelihood of a cancelled family holiday, there is no major problem with what is happening at this time, but what about when the school term starts again in September?  We both work, and although I can, and do, work from home a fair bit, I can’t do that every day…  and Clare’s work at school definitely needs her to be there!

But even in the uncertainty that all of this brings, God can and does speak…  James and his current challenges reminds me of Jacob and these words from Genesis 25:27 “ The boys grew up. Esau became a skillful hunter. He liked the open country. But Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents.(NIrV)  Even in our differences, our individual preferences, what makes us content, we can see God shaping and molding us, using us for his purposes.  James remains my inspiration, the reason God has called me into additional needs ministry, the source of many great stories (one day I must write that book!), and he teaches me patience, love and understanding every day.

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Whatever the answer to this current conundrum is, we trust in God for the future.  We believe that we are in his hands and that there will be a way forward for us all in his will.  It may be that this will encourage us to seek more support and help from others, to ask for more help in caring for and looking after James…  One thing that is for certain is that whatever the journey, it will be one that continues to equip and enable us to reach out to help others.  Our experiences will be used to encourage others in a similar situation, helping them to realise that they are not alone… and neither are we…

Blessings…

Mark
3rd August 2017

Image rights:  authors own

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