One day while still in the midst of the school placement crisis, I was grocery shopping with Luke. The younger siblings had not come along this time; it was just the two of us. That was when the Lord spoke clearly to me about what it was we needed to do. You see, grocery shopping used to be a nightmare. Taking Luke out at all would sometimes be a nightmare! We’d had more than our share of painful and embarrassing experiences. Luke’s progress over the years had been so gradual that I often failed to appreciate how far he’d come, but this day was different. I watched him, enjoyed him, and took it all in. He was calm. He was cooperative. He followed directions. He was helpful. He spoke politely to the cashier. He walked alongside me, not running ahead or falling behind. Here he was, exhibiting the exact opposite of everything they were telling me about his behavior at school. Had a teacher or professional therapist worked to accomplish these goals? No. We’d simply lived life together, day after day, through understanding, consistent discipline, and training—and here we were, with far to go, but quite a long way from where we’d started. That was when I got it. I knew what I was meant to do. The Lord had indeed heard and answered our prayers, by showing so clearly the path He intended for us to take.

Our family life completely changed after we pulled Luke from school. My stress level dropped through the floor. No longer did I have to rush to prepare special lunches each morning (Luke is on a restricted diet). No longer did I have to coerce sleepy children to get dressed in a hurry. No longer did I have to pray our way through insane morning rush hour traffic because I refused to put him on a school bus. No longer did I have to write nasty emails to teachers and aides who were ignoring Individualized Education Program requirements. And as an added bonus, the children went through that entire winter without getting sick even once! The calm in our home was so thick we simply breathed it in deep while playing “learning games” (as the kids called them) on the couch in our pajamas. Basically, we just took a few months to recuperate. Luke started playing with his siblings again, and he began enjoying “school” again (I did not use a curriculum, just covered the three Rs and pursued his interests through unit studies on bugs and critters and such). He’d always loved learning, and it was good to see that glint back in his eyes. True, I was overwhelmed at times about the years ahead and how this would all play out in the long run (sometimes I still am!). But in truth I was so relieved after what we’d been through that no amount of worrying could convince me that “school” was better than HOME. That point was settled.

Well, back to the present. Luke is 8 years old today. He is a thriving second grader doing grade-level work, despite the obstacles. His specific challenges involve various “symptoms” of Asperger’s syndrome: verbal and auditory processing delays, struggles with working memory, attention challenges, general “busy-ness” (sometimes negatively referred to as hyperactivity), literal-mindedness, dependence on routine, and social “naivety.”

We have several methods for helping him deal with these challenges; I’ll share just a few. Luke’s mind requires associative learning—I must find some way to connect new information to a “file” already stored in his mind. Without associations I might as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher, harping, “Wah wah wah wah wah.” This process looks different for every lesson but often involves having him do something related to the lesson (experience) or using a piece of media (a DVD or computer game) before presenting the “formal” material. One recommendation I will offer is a website called time4learning.com. Their service does have a monthly fee, but I have found it well worth the investment. Luke enjoys the interactive lessons, and after he completes them on the computer he is better able to attend to and make sense of my lesson on the same topic.