Adam’s Story (written by a former student of mine)
Adam was a happy baby and toddler who developed seemingly normal. Upon entering kindergarten, his parents were asked at the conclusion of the first day of school for their consent to have Adam tested for social and behavioral problems. Apparently, his first day had not gone well and his teacher seemed stressed and upset. His parents were immediately confused, concerned, and afraid their child would be “labeled”, and needed to respond to a crisis without a lot of time to process what was happening. Adam’s parents consented to testing, and within a few months, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Being from a rural area, the school had not provided services in the past for a child with this particular diagnosis. Every decision to come would be an experiment, which set this family on a path that served as a test of love’s foundation within their home and among school personnel.
Adam’s parents had many discussions about their love for their son, and how they wanted to advocate for his best interests, while trying to support the school psychologist, social worker, and other specialists. The process was painful at times, as his parents often had to listen to staff detail hurtful information about Adam’s negative behaviors at school. Adding to the stress and confusion was the fact that Adam did not exhibit the behaviors at home when he was in an environment that was predictable and safe. Throughout countless meetings and communications between the parents and school, numerous changes were implemented and altered between kindergarten and third grade.
The parents chose to acknowledge the work school staff was doing on Adam’s behalf even when they did not agree with all the decisions. They made choices to build upon anything positive, while letting go of things out of their control. They purposefully wrote letters of gratitude and appreciation to teachers, personal aides, and other staff to let them know they were valuable people to this family. The more the parents positively engaged school workers, the more responsive they became to Adam and his needs. The family’s love for one another, their commitment to acknowledge the strengths of others, and their willingness to remain hopeful in the midst of dismal circumstances transformed the ways school staff approached their work with Adam.
In the three years since his diagnosis, Adam, his family, and those who work with him have gone through some extraordinary changes, which include tons of tears, laughter, heartache, and most importantly, the transforming power of love. Adam is a child who goes to school with joy and anticipation knowing that those around him think he is special. When love is put into practice, it has the potential to literally change how others think, feel, and behave.
Adam is my child and he has taught me how to get up and keep moving when others do not understand. He has challenged our family to educate ourselves, to forgive others when they lack knowledge, and to hug someone else just because. Without the bond of love that binds each one of us together, we would have missed out on the opportunity to open the door to future parents and their children who will on day follow in Adam’s footsteps at school. The relationships formed in the process are grounded in love and we consider each teacher, social worker, and educator an important and intricate part of our lives. Simply stated, we love them. The family truly is love’s crucible for transformation. May we all be willing to accept the call to love (Anonymous student, 2010).
Surely, the example of this family is a statement of the living truth that the family is love’s transformation. And this is the way I believe God intends it to be. The family is called upon to learn about selflessness, sacrifice and service to one another in myriad ways while living out their lives together. This requirement for love’s expression will challenge and pummel us. There are many roles love plays in multi-generational family configurations. All of these present opportunities to be of service to others and to grow in love.
Excerpt from The Reincarnated Child’s Family
Dr. Celeste A. Miller