Hi, I'm Sara. When my son was two, he went into a fog called Autism. He is seven now, and my family is on a mission to bring him back. Together, we are Finding Jackson.

Archive for April, 2013


Jackson and NathanBlood gushed from my 18 month-old’s nose after he kissed the pavement outside in the backyard. While I tried my best to curb the tide and determine whether stitches were in order, Jackson stepped inside after me and did something I had never seen him do before: He stepped closer and leaned in to look at his wailing brother. A puzzled look flashed momentarily, then…what was that??? Concern? Maybe even COMPASSION? His bottom lip quivered before his eyes screwed shut tightly, and he burst into tears.

Unfortunately, but also fortunately, I’ve had several opportunities to see this reaction to his brother’s injuries lately. He is definitely showing concern when his baby brother gets hurt, even reaching out to touch him, to comfort him. For a kid who defines classic autism descriptors like, “Incapable of seeing another’s perspective,” or “Unable to feel empathy for another” this show of emotion on behalf of his brother’s pain is epic. This is the other awareness that has seemed to be lost on Jackson most of the time. In the past, he might have left the room, complained in annoyance at the loud crying, or even LOL-ed. If I am able to multitask, I usually try to vocalize and encourage empathy (take Jack’s hand and touch his brother, explain that his brother hurts, model, “Are you okay?” and hugs). I was beginning to think it was all for nothing, but we just had an “Eureka!” Moment I will cherish.

I’ve read so many “takes” on Autism, especially the adamant arguments for and against Autism being a blessing, just part of who a person is, or a disorder to be fought. I absolutely think Jackson is a tremendous blessing in our lives and will continue to be whether he remains as he is or is completely healed. Obviously I have a hard time accepting that Autism defines Jackson, that it is just a part of who he is, who God designed him to be. We saw him develop as a typical kid for the first two years of his life, and then he withdrew, lost language, and lost skills. That was hard to swallow…I saw Jackson…and then I couldn’t see him so well past that glassy-eyed stare that preferred the tree tops outside our window to his mommy’s face.

I think it was the loss of relationship, the ability to connect, to know his mind, to really know him that hurt the most. I believe we were designed for relationship, so anything that attacks relational abilities seems to be an attack on Jackson’s design, and not what God intended for him or for our family.

It’s true, Jackson is primarily a happy little guy, and for this I am constantly thankful, but there are too many times when the words he wants desert him, inflicting huge frustration and isolation. The joy of being with friends and family is overshadowed by the overwhelming stimuli or too many peers invading his space. His inability to control emotions, transition, or let go of obsessions many times cannot be overcome with hugs, games, and cuddles. In these daily occurences, Jackson’s autism is anything BUT a blessing.

Yeah, yeah, I know the longer we go, the harder it is to know…what is his autism, and what is Jackson? Are they so entangled? Are they one and the same? I know his Autism has shaped him as well as us, no question. He’s a fierce overcomer, and so are we. We fight to know more, to see more little pieces of our boy. Jackson is emerging s-l-o-w-l-y, but still, he’s making a comeback. Discovering each new tiny piece is truly like, “Oh yeah! There you are! Welcome back, Buddy!” I love those moments. I live for those moments.

So this recent show of compassion is one of those pieces that seems so small, but in my eyes is a huge advancement in Jackson’s cognitive, social, and spiritual growth and our connection with him. To empathize. To see pain in someone else. To be touched by how someone else feels and respond appropriately. So now when lips meet pavement, I have two boys to console, but I am SOI (Smiling On the Inside).


We’re back to riding lessons again (yay, Spring!). Last fall was the first season we were able to go every week instead of only once or twice a month, thanks to the kindness of Jeannie at Wild Ones Youth Ranch. This consistency helped Jackson slide right back into it so quickly, I was a bit amazed. The helmet went on without a fight. He jumped down into the corral, stomped up the 3 steps of the mounting block, swung his leg up (flashing everyone in sight with a ghastly plumber-esque view), and sauntered off on faithful Sahali’s back like a professional cowboy. The ranch hands on either side of him reminded him to hold on to the pommel. Before the first lap around the corral was complete, he was humming happily to the world. Continue Reading


peaceful anticipationI’ve been reminded again how much I need to journal as a processing tool as well as an invitation for God to speak. I never get started because I’m stuck on how little time I have for such a healthy endeavor. I just decided…if all I have time for is a single sentence per day. I guess that’s a start right? Here are my sentences from a few weeks ago:

Monday: I asked God to give you words that would stick around til tomorrow
Instead of fading away with the light of the sun. Continue Reading


Jackson by riverI have read several blogs since the beginning of April, and I am noticing a common thread: awareness is not enough. What our kids, our families, and we as parents are really longing for is love, support, and family that is bigger than our immediate family. A family who helps hold up our arms, who picks up the slack when we are spent, who loves our kids no matter how unloveable they are, and who offers hope and physical help instead of heart-felt platitudes. Continue Reading


Finding JacksonSo today’s the day we ask the world to notice–to be aware of–our kids who have autism. And not just know the definition of Autism, but know the preciousness and wildly different personalities of our kids, to understand the things they suffer, the confusion they overcome, the effort it takes to just be. Autism is that fearsomely prevalent neurological disorder that has swallowed an alarming number of our children and cast a thick fog over personality, abilities, thoughts, and relationships. So here are my 7 little tips for you to increase your awareness, to know my son and the sons and daughters everywhere who have to fight to be known because of their Autism.

1. My son has a personality…and it’s not an autistic personality. Continue Reading

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