This is NOT what I signed up for…

There I was, standing next to my car, with my keys in my front pocket, ready to leave my family and NEVER come back.

I was angry, I was frustrated, I was hurt. “This isn’t what I signed up for” I screamed internally.

There was nothing I could do. My family was failing, nothing I had tried was working.

I had no choice.

IF…

I was to have ANY chance at happiness, it would not be here, it would not be with this incredibly dysfunctional “slaves to autism” family. It didn’t seem possible under these circumstances.

“THIS ISN’T WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!”

Then… a memory of a lesson my Dad had taught me popped in to my mind and changed me… and my family… forever.

 

It all started on a Saturday morning like any other… EXCEPT… my son on the autism spectrum had awakened our family… at 6:30 am… with a BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Somehow, he had been tipped in to a meltdown and HIS FURY became the entire neighborhoods alarm clock.

Typically, one of his meltdown might last between 15 and 90 minutes. This one lasted more than 4 HOURS.

Every time we’d think we were starting to get him ramped back down, something would send him back in to the stratosphere.

There were holes kicked in walls, shattered glass, my 2 oldest typical sons had locked themselves in to their own room to avoid his wrath, and my wife (Shelly) and I felt like we were in a war zone. We were seriously afraid…

Of a FIVE-YEAR-OLD.

When he FINALLY ramped back down after more than 4 hours, Shelly and I aimed our frustration at the person we were supposed to love the most as we hurtled angry insults at each other. “If YOU had only” and “If you wouldn’t have” and “You always make it worse.”

This was a fight like no other before. But it was a long-time coming.

For years we had struggled with the stress of raising our son on the spectrum. We’d tried everything. We’d done everything the experts had suggested.

But still… THIS.

I stormed out of the house to get away from the arguing and to cool off.

“THIS ISN’T WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!”

I headed for the car. I was leaving this life for good.

That’s when my Dad’s words popped in to my head. The words he’d said to me after a little-league baseball game.

It was a game I was playing in when I was 13 years old. I was playing short-stop and we only needed one more “out” and the game would be over. A sure victory for our team.

Then it happened.

A routine grounder was hit directly to me. I’d made that play easily a hundred times before. But this time was different.

I fumbled the ball (an error) and the next few hitters made it on base and they kept scoring… and scoring… and scoring.

We lost, they won, and it was all my fault. If I had just made the simple play, the game would have been over.

It was my fault.

I walked over to Dad with my head hung low and said. “I wish the ball hadn’t been hit to me. Then maybe we would have won.”

My Dad looked at me and with compassion in his eyes, said THESE WORDS.

“Son, that’s not the way WE do things in life. You don’t want to leave YOUR success or failure in someone else’s hands. You want to be THE REASON for success. WE NEVER GIVE UP OR RUN AWAY. You won’t always win, but if you’re ever in a situation where you’re going to lose… DON’T GO DOWN WITHOUT THE BIGGEST FIGHT YOU CAN GIVE.”

There it was.

The words rang in my ears. “WE NEVER GIVE UP. DON’T GO DOWN WITHOUT THE BIGGEST FIGHT YOU CAN GIVE.”

But what could I do. I’d tried everything. My family was failing, my marriage was failing. I was failing.

There were no books, there were no guides, there was no one who understood or could even imagine what I and my family were feeling and going through.

So, I did another thing Dad had taught me.

I pocketed my car keys, I dropped to my knees under a big giant pecan tree in the front yard and I poured out my heart in prayer.

I don’t remember the details of what I said, what I asked for, or even how long I was there. I DO remember the look on Shelly’s face when I came back in the house.

She had changed – I THINK she must have seen me on my knees.

Then when I said to her, “This isn’t what I signed up for but I’M GONNA FIGHT LIKE CRAZY FOR US” she KINDA said the same thing back. “This isn’t what I signed up for either – and me too.”

We knew that if it were going to get better, it was up to us. WE’D have to be the reason for our success.

Do you want to know what we did?

Do you want to know how we’ve become the family OTHER family’s look to for help and guidance if they’re living with too much stress?

All you have to do is ask… well, that’s not all… but it’s not hard.

Reach out to us and we’ll tell you.

Why? Because maybe what WE did can help your family do the same.

We’ll , not MAYBE.

We’re SURE we can help you. Like we’ve helped so many others families

We’d love to see if we can help you, too, have your breakthrough moment.

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Entitlement Generation?

They’re bigger and faster and more athletic. I can’t even get a shot off!

My Dad patiently listened as my 9-year-old self, complained about my basketball conundrum.

Then he said something that changed my life forever.

You need to understand, it was the late 1970’s, there was a lot of racial tension in my neighborhood (or, what most people called, THE HOOD) and I was the only white kid who’d even DARE to force myself in to a game of hoops. I was determined I was going to be a star.

Who cares if I was white, couldn’t jump, wasn’t only slightly athletic, and was… well, – a STICK FIGURE – at best. C’mon, just look at the picture.

KyleHoop

Well, THEY cared. There was NO WAY anyone was going to pick me on their team and if I DID get in a game they were going to make me PAY dearly… PHYSICALLY… and MENTALLY.

I was NOT “one of the gifted” on the playground courts of inner-city Dallas.

So, you can see why I was complaining.

Dad would have none of it.

When I finished my fuss-fest (that’s what he later called it) he hugged me… told me he loved me… wiped away my tears and then, albeit in a kind and loving way, HE SAID IT!

DON’T WISH IT WERE EASIER… WISH YOU WERE BETTER.

I didn’t want to hear it then… but it BORED a hole in to my soul.

So, I went out and worked like a maniac. I mean, as much as a little, white, manic could.

It wasn’t the LAST time I heard it… DON’T WISH IT WERE EASIER… WISH YOU WERE BETTER. But it WAS the last time I heard it from him.

I heard it again and again – in my head – as I grew up and had difficulties arise in my life.

When times got real tough… DON’T WISH IT WERE EASIER… WISH YOU WERE BETTER.

When life seemed too hard to handle… DON’T WISH IT WERE EASIER… WISH YOU WERE BETTER.

When I considered walking out on my family because of the autism stress and tension… DON’T WISH IT WERE EASIER… WISH YOU WERE BETTER.

Can you imagine?

Who says that to a 9-years-old?

I’ll tell you who. My Dad. The wisest, most loving man I ever met.

My Dad has now passed. I miss him more than you can imagine.

But he’s there with me every time I need him, whispering in my head… DON’T WISH IT WERE EASIER… WISH YOU WERE BETTER.

Let me now… whisper in your ear. The same way he did for me. In a loving, kind, helpful way.

Shhhhh… Listen closely (I’m whispering.) “Don’t wish it were easier… wish you were better.”

I hope it helps you as much as it helped that skinny, scrawny, unconfident, lost little 9-year-old stick figure named, “Kyle.”

By the way, up until I quit playing basketball – in my late 40’s – there was STILL noone that could guard me.

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A Friend?? Remembers Me Way Back When

When They’re At Their Worst, You Have To Be At Your Best

If you would have known Kyle back in high school, like I did, you would barely recognize him today.

I mean, he still looks basically the same. Same size, same hair, same energy. He even has the same thick Texas accent.

But I’m telling you, he’s a whole different guy now.  To read the rest CLICK HERE

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Seriously. It’s Not Your Fault

Here’s the deal.

The world KNOWS that the number of kids diagnosed on the autism spectrum is rising and along with that has come a slew of… I hate to say it… but… PREDATORS. Continue reading

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WAY TOO MANY Difficuties

WAY TOO MANY families with kids on the Autism Spectrum are having WAY TOO MANY difficulties. Please share this link with EVERY Autism family that you care about:

https://thriveinchaos.net/mini-workshop-welcome/

It’s a Mini-Workshop that shares what other families are doing to “THRIVE IN CHAOS.” Together, let’s make the Autism world a less stressed, happier place.

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Kyle’s Autism Story… OR… How I Got REAL Happy.

I’ll admit it. I am a flawed human being. But I’m trying my best. It feels like I always have. Of course, I’m guessing most people would SAY that. But until I had two sons that were diagnosed with autism, and I knew they really needed the “best” me I could be, I didn’t truly understand the effort I was capable of and to what depths I was willing to go, to give them what they deserved. And I could have never imagined that in doing so, I would find so much joy and growth (and a deeper kind of happiness) in this world. Let me explain: Continue reading

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All in the Family

We don’t get to travel very often because… well… there’s the cost (and we don’t have a lot of discretionary money – for obvious reasons – we have two (2) affected by autism) among our 6 kids and then there’s the even harder issue of… with whom do we leave our kids when we go anywhere? The truth is… trust comes hard with our circumstances.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Continue reading

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TRIGGERS: The REAL Answer to, “HOW Do You Actually Do It?”

I meet people all the time that like to TALK the TALK. But rarely do I meet those that WALK the WALK. That’s right, I said it. And it happened again just recently as I met with a group of Dad’s that all had the answers to why “each of the OTHER Dad’s” were struggling even as THEY WEREN’T able to apply the information they know for themselves… and subsequently were unable to find the joy and happiness in their OWN lives and THRIVE as they served.

Yep, they all KNEW they should manage themselves in a way that allowed them to serve their kids best – they knew WHAT to do, but when things got tough, or they got tired, or the “right” buttons were pushed, almost none of them could admit they DID what was best. They almost all admitted they failed to “manage themselves” optimally – even though they knew what they SHOULD have done.

And THAT’S why they were missing out on joy and happiness that was there for the taking; THAT’S why they weren’t THRIVING as they served; and THAT’S why they were meeting with me. They didn’t need to know WHAT to do, they needed to know HOW. Continue reading

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Pain… the FUEL of Rewards

When we experience what may seem to be never-ending difficulty, the emotions we experience – like sorrow, heartache and anguish – can be a natural consequence. It’s natural for those emotions to happen. The purpose of sorrow, heartache, anguish, suffering – or whatever you want to call it – is NOT to make you feel worse – OR to help you feel better. These are just emotions. That’s the way it is.

But in my humble opinion… sometimes people allow these emotions to cause more damage than necessary. Continue reading

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I Am Who I Am. Or AM I?

A few weeks back I had a phone conversation with a friend who expressed to me that he was a bit frustrated because his wife was having an extended “tough time.” When I asked for more detail he went on to tell me that recently he had expressed to her (in the most loving way he could – he assured me) that all her screaming and yelling and crying and complaining was over the top and unhelpful and that she may need to think about… somehow… toning it down a bit.

When I asked him how THAT went for him… he said, that SHE said, “I shouldn’t have to watch what I say or do around you. I should be safe to be ‘MYSELF’ and not be judged by you.” Continue reading

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The Fire… Um… FUN Never Ends

Just when you think you start to get it under control. There’s a FIRE… literally. Yep, that’s right, Saturday morning while I was at the “Run for Autism” my wife (Shelly) called me with a bit of bad news. Continue reading

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