Thursday, July 08, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #375

Nancy White Kelly

Being the second of five siblings, my life has always involved children. My parent’s last two babies came so much later in my life that I became their surrogate mother and am, to this day, second mother to a sister in her forties and a brother in his fifties. I find it hard to imagine now that I changed thousands of cloth diapers for that last brother who is now 6 foot 4 and weighs well over 300 pounds. The irony is that the sum total weight of all five grown children now would approach at least 15 times the weight of our mother who was less than 100 pounds soaking wet.

Babies grow up. After college, I became a teacher and later spend the last part of my career as a school principal. In the meanwhile, Buddy and I helped raise 12 foster children and adopted the last one, Bobby, when he was 10. He now has two children himself. Charlie, our birth son, who arrived after 15 years of earnest prayer, also has two children: Micah, age 5 and Noah, age 3.

Though the grand boys are close in age and look-alikes, they are as different as chalk and cheese. Noah, the youngest, is an energetic walking-talking dynamo. One thing I know for sure. I am not smarter than a three-year old. Noah already displays a family passion for humor and words. Last week he told his brother he had “good news and bad news.”

Little Micah came into the world a bit premature. It has been a long journey to get to a diagnosis of mildly autistic. The first clue that there might be a problem was that Micah never crawled. He got around with a military elbow pull. We weren’t overly concerned. He walked a few months later and that was all that mattered to us. Another clue we missed was that he was meticulously orderly, especially with his little cars. When Micah first showed interest those little four-wheel vehicles, family and friends bestowed him with hundreds in every shape and color. The miniature cars could not be parked just any ole way. They had to be lined up perfectly according to size, type, or color. If not, we were blasted with his version of the sky is falling. At first we all thought it was a cute quirk. Not so now. Obsession was another symptom of his autism.

Thankfully, Micah’s I.Q. measures in the mid-normal range. Yet, his speech development has been slow. His potty-training was prolonged, but finally mastered. He is a quiet, self-absorbed child who can entertain himself for hours.

From those early months, Charlie and Tori have diligently pursued intensive speech and occupational therapy. This early intervention may be the one thing that has and will continue to keep him main-streamed. Though unlikely to greet you with high-fives, most people would not even notice that Micah is autistic.

Surprisingly, he has taken up a new, intense interest which I will share another time. Who knows? Micah may become the next expert in poikilothermic, ectothermic tetrapods. I have just ordered some books so Granny can keep up.

Obviously autism has taken a toll on the family finances, especially on a school teacher’s salary. Now Charlie is feeling led to the ministry and, if all goes as planned, he and the family will be moving to Kentucky in a few months so he can attend seminary. Only The Lord knows how they will manage the expense, but that is what faith is all about. When the Lord calls, he provides.


Bob Cleveland said...


Been out of touch for a couple weeks and had not known Micah was autistic. Having met Charlie and Tori, though, I'm sure they're up to the task.

You mentioned Kentucky. Which Seminary is Charlie headed to?

Anonymous said...

We're going to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.