Monday, March 2, 2015

Acknowledging the Label While Allowing God to Write the Definition

We have been on a long road with our Zeke.

I believe with all my heart that the Lord has called him to greatness for the Kingdom.
I believe that God's plan for Zeke's life is HUGE.
I believe that Satan has, can and will try to derail him any chance he gets as a result of this.
I believe that Zeke was fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, just like every other member of our family.

We have a Zeke journal that we have kept since he was two years old.
This journal documents ways that the Lord has spoken through Zeke and directly to Zeke.
There are things in that journal that can only be explained by God.

There is somethings special about that boy.

He is a very complex little human.
He feels deeply.
He grieves greatly.
He excites dramatically.
He hurts in such a big way that he has to act on it, whether it is on someone else's behalf or for himself.

I have written so much about our journey with Zeke as we have helped him thrive in spite of his anxiety, ADHD and multiple other learning issues, but some recent conversations with some friends have led me to write my take on why labeling our children can be used toward our advantage.

When we first realized that Zeke was battling something we began taking notes (hence our journaling).  We noticed things that were different than his sister.  We noticed how they were different that other little ones his age.  We just began to try to keep a record of it.  Our goal wasn't to try to label him right away, it was to see if there was truly anything worth "figuring out".

The more children we added to the Colony, the more we realized just how different things really were.  His emotions were hightened. His education was dragging. His impulses were many times out of his control.

We were confronted on more than one occasion about his behavior and were advised to get him checked out.

Now, I could have been easily offended by these "accusations" about having a "special needs" child.  I mean, who wants someone to tell them that something is "wrong" with their child?  Who wants to be told that they may be missing something as their parent?  Who wants to put a label on their kid?

But for some reason the Lord softened our hearts to this information.
After all, we had a choice...
get offended and deny that there could actually be some weight to the words spoken
OR
weigh the words and see if there could be any truth to the observations and if so, look into the suggestions given.

We ended up going to a psychologist just to get a professional opinion.  She is WONDERFUL!  She actually told us she hates using the word "labeled" because of the negative connotations,  but did, in fact, label him with ADHD, Anxiety, several types of Dyslexia and a Processing Disorder.  There were some other underlying things as well, but we left those sessions with a good idea of how to help him.

To me this information has been CRUCIAL to my parenting and patience with him AND my other children.

Fortunately for Zeke, he has a mama who fights the anxiety fight on a daily basis, so we have our own form of communication.  We both KNOW what it is like.  He (and ALL my kids for that matter) is so sensitive to me on those days where my anxiety is through the roof because we communicate openly in our home about what it is, how it makes us feel, and what we need from others around us to help get us through it.

There is a lot of grace, love, patience and forgiveness in this house.

The label allows us to see the "issues" for what they are, and then gives us all more realistic expectations for the way life needs to be.

For example:

As a family with a child with learning issues, we have to praise good reports often.  Even the tiny little progresses so he doesn't feel left out with a family full of academically different children.

We typically don't do Sunday evening activities because the kids are normally up anywhere between 5:30 and 6am for rehearsal call time and are exhausted by the time the 3 service lets out.  Zeke gets mentally exhausted before he gets physically exhausted which can lead to some major meltdowns if we have a busy afternoon or evening.  And that almost always runs over into Monday morning battles to get to school and then continues on throughout the day.

It means that sleep is VERY important.
Diet is crucial.
Routine is mandatory.
And consistency is not an option.

Just like we have a different way of working through issues with our adopted daughter because of her past, we have a different way of working through issues with each of our other children because of their make-up, tendencies, and stages of life.

My point is, don't be afraid of getting your children checked out.  If it's nothing it's nothing, no harm done.  If it is something, then my goodness, aren't you glad you KNOW what that something is?

Now I KNOW why we did the same lessons in homeschool for nearly 3 years with Zeke and were getting nowhere.
I KNOW why he freaks out when the teachers in his class are different, or the classroom atmosphere keeps changing, or we only go to 1 service this week and not 3 like normal.
I KNOW why he has a hard time focusing, and why he tugs at his shirt in nervousness, and needs to start saying his goodbye's before we even enter the carpool line in the morning.

The label gives a foundation to the behavior and allows for us to find the ways to help them get through it or thrive in it!

My only advice is...don't allow those labels to define who they are.

Yes I have "anxiety", but that anxiety is NOT who I am.  I am a child of God, fighting to take every thought captive and rest in His peace and consistency.

Yes Alethia was "adopted", but the fact that she was adopted does NOT define who she is.  She is a child of God, a forever member of the Via Colony, who may always be fearful of goodbyes and being left alone, but will never be abandoned again.

Yes Jude is a strong-willed little boy, but his strong will is NOT who he is.  He is a child of God, created to lead and be persistent (oh God, the persistence you have given that boy BETTER be used for good one day!).

We all have words that can label us.

Use the label as a platform to understand, and then allow the Lord to define those rough edges into something beautiful.
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