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Since I can't send you all a Christmas card and our family Christmas letter, I thought I'd share it with you here! A special thanks to Alexa Ferris for taking such fabulous photos of our family this year!
A very Merry Christmas from us to you this year! Though we started out the year struggling in many ways, Our Father in Heaven has blessed us in more ways than we can count. We have been filled with peace and come to a better understanding of God’s plan for our family.
In January, Jason lost his job working at a residential addictions recovery house for adults. In March he was offered a full time job, working at Walmart, in shipping and receiving, with every Sunday off. With no other prospects at the time, Jason took the job. To our surprise, he loves it. We could have never anticipated what a blessing it would be to Jason, and our family, for him to land a job working at Walmart. When returning home from work, he’s happier than he’s ever been.
In May, Jason was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, an Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD. The process of receiving these diagnoses included an assessment by his primary care doctor, who then referred him to a specialist. The specialist interviewed Jason, Renae, and Jason’s mother in order to obtain past and present information about education, work, relationships, social situations, etc. Jason was then put through adaptive and cognitive testing.
To some, these diagnoses may come as a surprise, and are perhaps unbelievable. To others, they make complete sense. But after struggling for years in the work place, at home, and in other social and sensory overload situations, Jason is very confident in the specialists’ diagnoses. He is thrilled to finally understand himself better. All areas of his life have improved, as he’s learning to function at his best.
Renae is busy at home. Her days are spent taking care of the house and homeschooling the four kiddos. In March, she started blogging professionally at http://everystarisdifferent.blogspot.com. Renae provides Montessori-inspired activity ideas, free educational printables, and support for families with children who have developmental and social-emotional disabilities, along with those who have special dietary needs. Shortly after starting her professional endeavors, she was approached to join in a partnership with Russian blogger, Anastasia at www.montessorinature.com. This has been an incredible experience for Renae. She is also in the beginning phases of writing her first book for parents of children with special needs. It is her hope to finish it by the end of 2015 and then move forward with publishing.
Dinomite turns 8 in January and has decided to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has been a great blessing to watch Dinomite mature. He has always had such a strong desire to choose the right. When he was little and first diagnosed with autism, we didn’t know what to expect, or if he even could be baptized. He has grown so much in the past few years.
This year Dinomite has mastered reading and LOVES it. He picks up pretty much anything with words and reads it. When it comes to learning, Dinomite loves zoology, geography, and history. Outside of the classroom he continues to love all things LEGO, animals, knights & dragons, superheroes, and sports.
Bulldozer turned 6 in August. He has made unbelievable progress in the areas of fine motor and sensorial skills this year. Due to his autism, Bulldozer has always struggled in these areas. He’s also made advancements with reading and writing. When it comes to learning, Bulldozer loves earth science, astronomy, and meteorology. This year, Bulldozer has developed a new love for food, now enjoying burritos, Kalua Pork Roast, hamburgers and more. When it comes to play, he loves all things Star Wars. Bulldozer also loves video games and anything LEGO.
Princess turned 5 in July. She continues to astound us every day. Her developmental pediatrician is amazed at the progress she has made recovering from past trauma she experienced, prior to her coming to our home. Princess’ Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder behaviors are now manageable without medication. HOORAY! When it comes to learning, Princess is brilliant. She can pick up any children’s picture book and read it with ease. Her math abilities are that of a 2nd or 3rd grader. Princess loves to write. When not learning new things, Princess continues to love all things Disney Princess related, especially Elsa from Frozen. She also enjoys playing with her My Little Pony figures, LEGO duplos, and dress up.
Sunshine turned 3 in November. This year has been quite an adventure with our little girl. Early in the year Sunshine was officially diagnosed with Mild Cranial Facial Microsomia. In the Spring, Sunshine had her first developmental pediatrician appointment. We were definitely not prepared for all we learned that day. Sunshine is developmentally delayed and meets criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Due to neglect and possible abuse, prior to her joining our family, Sunshine has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Sunshine’s last diagnosis of the day was a Sleep Disorder. Since Sunshine came to us, she has struggled with eczema, unexplained rashes, gagging and vomiting. In July, Sunshine was diagnosed with 14 food allergies: beef, peanut, egg, soy, sesame, dairy, corn, oats, banana, citrus, berries, melon, tomato and celery. They are not life threatening, like Bulldozer’s 30+ food allergies, but definitely affect Sunshine in big ways. We know we still don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle, when it comes to understanding our little girl, but for now we’re just working with what we do know.
Despite so many struggles, our little girl continues to be a ray of Sunshine in our home. This fall she joined her older siblings during learning time and LOVES it. Her favorite subject area is art. Sunshine loves to play with LEGO duplos. Her favorite playmate is her big brother Bulldozer. They definitely have a special bond. Sunshine is well versed in Star Wars and superheroes and seems to love them as much as her brothers. She also loves “Anna” from Frozen.
We are so thankful that despite their own struggles, our four children are healthy and happy. When we have prayed for answers about how to better serve the needs of our family, we have received them. With those answers have come the means to provide, peace, contentment, and a clear understanding of the Lord’s plan for our family. We never planned to have four special needs children. We did not know about Jason’s disabilities when we married. We certainly never planned to have two daughters with Reactive Attachment Disorder. But the Lord knew all of this. He knew the order in which everything needed to happen, and when we needed to know. For that we are thankful. May you be able to count your many blessings this holiday season, as you look forward to a new year filled with hope and love.
The Eddy Family