Earlier this week, we celebrated a great success in following directions! It was Palm Sunday, and our church invited all of the children to wave palm branches for the processional hymn. Simple, right? One of the wonderful Sunday School teachers realized that this might not be so simple for Herbie, so she had the kids practice with the palm branches and instructed them on how to place them at the altar. (Let's just say that the Christmas pageant was a learning experience.......) Anyway, the practice was comical, with Herbie running in every possible direction around the sanctuary, up and down stairs, in and out of closets, and I was a little worried. But when the time came, he did his part, put the branches in the right place, and sat down. Then he fully absorbed himself in a new Highlights Hidden Pictures magazine (his latest obsession) for the duration of the hour. Miraculous.

I'm so happy to celebrate the little things. Like Herbie following directions, the Wise Old Owl drinking 2 ounces of flax milk almost every day for the past couple of weeks, and a loving church that is unfazed by unusual behaviors. And that is one of the blessings of autism, realizing that there are things to celebrate every day.

With this being Autism Awareness Month, I feel like I should say something deep and meaningful about how to spread awareness and compassion. Alas, I am an engineer, and not a terribly eloquent writer. So here is what I'll say, something practical and easy to accomplish. If your church family is not aware of your child's challenges, give your pastor a copy of this informative summary of how autism affects your family and your ability to participate in a faith community. Or just email him/her the link. It's an easy way to start talking about your child's disability, if you have not gotten comfortable with that yet. If you cannot be open and welcomed in your own church, then it's time to either educate the people there or else find a new one. We visited many churches and joined one that was small, without too many distractions or potential for sensory overload. That's what worked for us. And we look forward to going every week. The kids are welcomed and loved and taught about the love of Jesus. And that is exactly how it should be.

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