When good things happen, people often attribute them to fortunate coincidences or lucky breaks. Today, on St. Patrick’s Day, one might even give credit to "the luck of the Irish.” However, I know that these benefits are not simply random events but are instead blessings, and I’m constantly looking for the hand of God in everyday life. Last week, I didn’t have to look far, as we saw God’s attention to detail as changes in plans made our lives easier.
Two weeks ago, Alex was scheduled to have his regular six-month cleaning and check-up at the dentist. Up until a few years ago, we took him to pediatric dentists who specialized in treating disabled patients, but then we switched him to our family dentists. Because our dentists and their staff are so kind and understanding of Alex’s needs, Alex loves going for dental appointments. He is especially fond of his hygienist, who is wonderful with him, kindly explaining what she is going to do beforehand so that he’s not taken by surprise and constantly praising him for doing a good job.
The day of Alex’s scheduled appointment, the office called to tell me that his hygienist would not be there that day. They gave us the option to keep his appointment and have another hygienist clean Alex’s teeth or to reschedule another appointment with his regular hygienist. Knowing that Alex would prefer to see his beloved hygienist, I opted to reschedule his appointment for next month.
Last Wednesday morning, I was surprised to receive a call from our dentists’ office telling me that Alex’s hygienist had an appointment available that afternoon if we wanted it. Although this was another sudden change in plans, I thought Alex would be pleased to see his hygienist sooner than expected. After asking him if he would like to go to the dentist, he decided he did, and we took the offered appointment that day.
The day that Alex was originally scheduled to go to the dentist was a bitterly cold and windy day. In fact, I had considered canceling his appointment because I wasn’t certain that we could convince him to go in the bad weather. By contrast, last Wednesday was mild and fairly warm, and we knew he would be fine going out in the pleasant weather. Even his dentist remarked on what an improvement in the weather there had been between the two days. I have no doubt that God rearranged the details to make things easier for Alex, and in turn, for us.
Alex’s appointment went remarkably smoothly, as he interacted nicely with his hygienist and dentist and handled the cleaning and check-up with complete calm. His hygienist commented that Alex keeps getting better and better every time she sees him, which was encouraging. An added bonus was that Alex had no cavities, so he doesn’t need any additional work and doesn’t need to go back for another six months. Despite the changes to the original plans, or perhaps because of those last-minute changes, Alex adapted and handled them better than we could have anticipated.
The following day, Alex was scheduled for music therapy. As I have explained in previous blog entries, Alex is still adapting to having music therapy at his therapist’s office instead of having in-home sessions. After sensory issues overwhelmed Alex for the last session, his therapist decided to do the next session at our home. As I expected, Alex did very well in the more comfortable home setting for this most recent music therapy session.
Besides the session going well, we were also thankful Alex was at home for another reason. Shortly after his therapist left, I could hear the local tornado sirens sounding, and the television weather reports issued a tornado warning. Since Alex has anxiety about tornadoes, we calmly took him to our basement and reassured him that we were safe there. Fortunately, the tornado warning did not last long, and the tornado that caused the warning to be issued was small and far from our home. However, had we gone to the music therapist’s office that day, we would have been driving home with the tornado sirens blaring and Alex likely having a meltdown all the way home in the car. Once again, we felt blessed that God had arranged, or rearranged, the plans in our favor.
Seven years ago this month, we made our most difficult decision as parents to have Alex hospitalized for debilitating anxiety. After trying for months to help him ourselves and unable to find anyone locally who knew how to help, we took him to a facility in an adjoining county. As upsetting as that time was, we know that God had arranged those plans, too. From that difficult experience, we gained a team of dedicated professionals who knew how to help Alex and how to support us as parents.
Through the guidance of the hospital social worker, we learned how to navigate the state system of getting disability services. In addition, we learned the value of having medical power of attorney for Alex and were blessed to have an attorney friend who came to our home on a Sunday afternoon to draw up the needed paperwork right away. The psychiatric nurse practitioner assigned to Alex has the reputation of knowing more about adults with autism than anyone in our area, and she continues to oversee his medications. After this time of crisis, we gained an excellent case manager to act as Alex’s advocate and oversee his state disability services, a phenomenal behavioral therapist to help him deal with anxiety, and a trusted respite caregiver who treats Alex as a friend. Additionally, we were able to reconnect with his outstanding music therapist after taking a break due to Alex’s anxiety. God knew that we needed all of these people in our lives, and He brought them to us to help make Alex better.
Although things seemed to be falling apart at the time, God was assembling all the pieces and putting them together for us in ways we had never considered. Whenever I fret about what the future holds for Alex, I need only to look back at the past to see how God has always provided what we need. Certainly, there is no reason to worry because I believe that His hand will continue to move people and circumstances where they need to be. Moreover, I have no doubt that God’s plans for Alex are better than I can even imagine.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11