It’s 2:30 am and she’s shrieking and running circles in her room. I sit up in bed, realizing that she’s been doing it for at least a half hour. Got to get there, I think as I groggily rush down the cold hallway, before she goes to the bathroom on the floor.
As I open the door, my eyes take a moment to adjust. But I already know the scene. The light is on. She has ripped all the blankets and sheets off her bed. A page from a coloring book, is torn into tiny pieces like confetti on the floor. She is unclothed, running wildly around the bed, lost, completely lost. And I’m too late. The floor is her toilet bowl.
This is the version of autism that grieves me. The version that still devastates me.
Will it always be like this?
In my disheartened, half-awake state, I clean her and the mess. Put her pajamas back on. Put the sheets back on. Put her back in bed. Turn out the light. I go through the motions, knowing that moments later, she will undo it all. There will be no sleep tonight.
It’s 10 am and I’m rushing to her school for an emergency meeting. God, give me the words. Let this be the right decision. I will tell them why we think it’s best for her to be transferred to another school. Such a hard decision. She’s attended this wonderful school for children with autism ever since she was three years old. We are indebted for life.
But it’s time for her to be in a place of great expectations.
I practice what I will say. “We underestimate her so often…”
My mind drifts back to just hours before when I looked upon her and saw nothing but a helplessly, hopelessly brain-injured child, hyper and isolated.
And then feel the hand of God steady me. Catch my tear.
“I just know there is so much more. There’s more in there, in her. No, even more than we think! I just know it. We’ve only scratched the surface. She’s shown me there’s more.”
Please dear God, help us find the way to unlock what’s inside.
After the meeting I stop in her classroom. I see her before she sees me, and I love her all over again. And then, she tentatively gets up and comes over, laughing all the way. I stoop, and she, the giggling girl, tries to climb me. “Hi,” I say. “Hiiii,” she mimics in a high-pitched voice. It’s the first real greeting in a really long time, and I treasure it.
I doubted you for a moment, my girl. But I’ll never stop believing there’s more extraordinary for you.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” Eph. 3:20