Miracles are in the Eye of the Beholder

My son Noel is eighteen years old and on the autistic spectrum. What this means is that his ability to interact with the world around him and the people in it is significantly impaired. We – my husband, Brian and I – consider ourselves fortunate to have him in our lives. We feel blessed that he can – and does – tell us that he loves us. His disability is not so all encompassing that it consumes us. It is part of him but he is much more than that. He is smart and funny and handsome and, like every teenager, sometimes he drives us crazy. He plays his music too loud, drops popcorn kernels on the floor, and rarely puts his dirty laundry in the hamper. He is the center of our universe.

About a month ago, on the advice of the psychologist and the psychiatrist who have been treating Noel for many years, we began giving Noel a very low dose of a medication called Zoloft. There has been some research published recently on the use of a similar drug with youngsters who have autism spectrum disorders that indicated that it might be useful with Noel. It has been simply amazing. It’s not that I have a different kid – it’s that I have the best version of Noel, the kid that I used to see about 5% of the time. Now I get to see him 95% of the time. He is chatty and warm and eager to interact – not always appropriately, but hey, he’ s autistic. He told me the other day that he is concerned about his health and his weight – so he’s cutting back on the pizza and trying some new foods! He answered a Skype call from his Dad who was mightily surprised when it was Noel’s face and not mine that filled the screen. Before being on the medication, when he was tired he would meander off to bed. Now, he makes sure to tell me that he’s going – “Night, Mom, I’m off to bed.” So many things that I can hardly remember all of them. He cracked me up the other day. We were dropping off the “samples” for the medical tests that the Saudi government require before they allow people into Saudi Arabia as residents. Noel was totally grossed out and insisted on riding in the backseat of the car – wearing a blindfold. I just prayed that we wouldn’t encounter a cop. I didn’t know how I was going to explain why I was travelling with a blindfolded teenage boy in my car.

Every day, I want to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. These are small things but, to me, they are miraculous and amazing. It is just so lovely to see Noel be so comfortable and so relaxed.

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