April 27, 2011

Lessons my Nephew Has Taught Me

I want to write something profound, something inspiring – and if I am truthful something that will garner lots of comments. But every time I sit down to type a post, I feel as though the writing is forced. The sentences are stiff, the voice not my own. So I stop, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and try to find what I want to convey.


My mind goes to my oldest nephew T*.  And as I think of him, my heart grows heavier, the tears come, but rather than stop them as I have done countless times before – I let them flow. Hot, salty pathways cut across my face….and I feel a release.



I learned that I was going to be an Aunt for the first time when I was 22 years old. My sister, who was a high school senior, called to tell me the joyous news. I felt anything but joyous. I remember sinking to the kitchen floor and sobbing. Sobbing that my sister's youth was lost, sobbing for the heartbreak that my parents were feeling, and sobbing out of fear for the yet unborn child.


In the midst of my sobs, I heard God whisper "This baby is my creation. The unborn life is one I have made…. Trust Me."


God was right!  Perhaps the circumstances of his conception were less than ideal, but my nephew was a creation of God. And he was part of me, so I could do nothing but eagerly await his arrival.


On May 6, 2005 – I held his tiny body in my arms – rocking him and singing. And my heart swelled with an overflowing love. "I love you little man. I'm your Aunt…and I am going to be the best Aunt ever."



When he was 2 and a half, I realized something was not quite right. While the other children played with toys, he hung back watching, as though he was unsure of what to do. My sister and mother brushed off my concerns


"He's just shy."


"He does not like lots of people."


But their explanations did nothing to quiet the still small voice in my head that said "Something is not right."  I started taking a closer look at my nephew – his speech was limited, he often repeated himself, poor eye contact, the list of worries grew and grew.


After careful research, I called a family meeting and asked my sister to ask his pediatrician to have him tested for autism.  World War III ensued..


So to keep the peace, I kept quiet.




Kindergarten comes, and T starts the year off with a bang. However, a few weeks into the year, the letters from teachers start coming home. T has trouble focusing, he is falling behind his peers. The teachers are concerned, I'm concerned.


The school system pushes for testing. And this time my sister agrees. After a battery of tests, visits with a psychologist, two psychiatrists, speech therapists and a new pediatrician – the diagnosis comes down.


T has attention deficit disorder and pervasive development disorder – not otherwise specified. A.D.D. is not a new diagnosis for our family. My father and sister both suffer from the disorder; we are all familiar with the medications that will need to be taken, the learning adaptations that may need to be made.  It is the P.D.D. – N.O.S. that shakes me to the core.


Just like 3 years prior, I begin researching.  It is hard to describe what PDD-NOS is, other than its being an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some people diagnosed with PDD-NOS are close to having Asperger syndrome, but do not quite fit. Others have near full fledged autism, but without some of its symptoms.


T has some autistic behaviors, but in most ways he is atypical. However, he will need speech, physical and occupational therapy to help him catch up with his peers. Educationally speaking, he will need to have lots of one on one time with teachers, and will work in small group settings. It is highly likely that he will need to repeat kindergarten.



And so I sit, crying – tears of relief that we can finally get T the help he needs, tears of anger that my sister (and other family members) did not listen to me 3 years ago, tears of regret that I did not fight harder for T, and tears of fear for the obstacles T may face in coming years.


Once again God whispers "T is my creation. His diagnosis was no surprise to me. Trust, Kimberly, just trust."


Thru tear clouded eyes, I see the bigger picture…. that the amazing God I serve has a path laid out for T. Perhaps it is not the path that we would have chosen for him, but God's path is always better. So I am letting go of the anger, the pain, the regret and I am going to watch God do remarkable things thru T.

After all, God has already used T twice in his short life, to teach me a few lessons on trust.

1 comment:

Erica said...

Great post. I'm glad that T finally has a diagnosis and that the healing can begin. I bet T will accomplish amazing things