My first meeting at an autism therapy center was a surreal experience. I just couldn’t believe that it had come to this. I had spent the last nine months of my life hoping that I would wake up one morning, and words would start spilling out of Luke’s mouth, reassuring me that all my worrying had been for nothing, but here I was. On the other hand, I was excited, too – thankful that Luke would finally be receiving the treatment he so needed.
I came through the door, and was met by a girl’s smiling face. She had to be even younger than myself, feeling ancient beyond my years at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. She introduced herself as one of the therapists at the center, and assured me that the person I had come to see would be there any moment. Then, she showed me to a playroom at the back of the facility.
As she observed Luke and spoke with me I was so encouraged. There was a maturity and confidence about her that made me trust her. She spoke of Luke’s progress in such concrete terms like, “once Luke masters this skill,” or “they can teach Luke to do that.” She pointed out positive things that she saw in Luke’s development up to this point. She asked me when I would like to schedule Luke’s therapy and I told her that mornings would be best for us. She indicated that she had other obligations at that time. I was disappointed. Finally, my appointment arrived and the angel of mercy I had just met vanished into another room.
She was so different from all the other doctors and specialists I had met up until then, who would only use non-committal language like, “if” or “possibly” or “we’ll have to see.” I hated that. I remember telling a doctor once, “I know you can’t tell me for sure, but just give me your opinion of what I should expect.” He answered, “Well, I can’t really say.” I understand it better now. It isn’t quite the gargantuan cop out that it seemed to me then. Children with ASD are so different from one another in so many ways. Children that appear to be only mildly autistic might progress very slowly. Others that seem to be very severely affected can advance quickly and overcome their challenges. It is very unpredictable. Still, as a parent, I wanted answers – educated guesses – and no one would give them to me – until her.
The following Monday, I arrived for Luke’s very first session. Greeting me at the door with a cheerful, “Hello!” was the smiling girl. “I rearranged my schedule so I could work with Luke,” she shared. In true Jerry Maguire style, she had me at “hello.”
At that moment, she had this desperate mother’s undying love and appreciation. She had seen something in my son – something that made her believe in him like I did – something that made her want to be a part of his journey, and in the past two-and-a-half years, through many changes, she has remained a constant.
Today, my son has four guardian angels. They may not be what you would expect angels to be like. They don’t have wings or halos. They don’t wear white robes, and as far as I know, none of them play the harp. Instead, they carry designer handbags, have tattoos and drink Red Bull, but they have comforted me when I was hurting, they have brought hope when we were despairing, and we have seen miracles happen through them. They have been God’s instruments of grace and mercy to us, and they are full of such unspeakable beauty.
It still amazes me to think that the first person I met after Luke’s diagnosis became so instrumental to his progress. I am certain that she was sent to us from the very hand of God, and when I see how difficult it can be to find good, dedicated therapists, I know that we have been blessed beyond measure to have four such incredible people!
The following is a video that one of Luke’s angels put together for an application we are making to be a part of a therapeutic program that involves swimming with dolphins called Island Dolphin Care. This is yet another example of their dedication and how they go above and beyond job descriptions and work hours. It illustrates many of the miracles we’ve beheld.
If you are looking for an angel to work with your little one, I recommend Breaking Barriers.