Entries by jason

Doubled by Wonder

Really, it was a small thing. Just a silly text message. My son Jack, who has autism, is a child of routines. He wants to know what’s happening so he can know what’s happening next. Over the past month or so, he has added something to his Sunday routine. He’s started watching football games with […]

When the Bad News Slimes Us

I had to close my laptop this morning. I couldn’t take it anymore, and that’s probably a good thing. Man cannot live on bad news alone, after all. We can’t survive on a steady diet of devastating exposés. But how can we avoid them? Our lives are full of open windows. National tragedies, investigative reports, […]

When we Can’t Carry them In Anymore

Our church’s special needs classroom used to be a safe haven for my autistic son, Jack. It was a respite for him; a twenty-third Psalm reprieve from the throng of kind, caffeinated congregants hoping to win a “good morning” from him, or at least a hi-five. Not anymore. Six months ago, we moved his beloved […]

Autism, Anxiety, and Stillness (A Letter to Jack)

Dear Jack, I heard your footsteps at midnight last night, fast and frantic. They took you to the sofa in the dark. I found you there and asked if you were okay. “Did you have a bad dream?” You didn’t answer. “It’s okay. It wasn’t real, buddy. “ I tried to lead you back to […]

Autism and the Gift of a Metaphor

There were fingerprints all over the screen, and the NBA Finals game was about to start. I tried to scrub them off, but they were sticky. “Jack, this is gross. You’ve got to stop touching the screen, especially after you eat those cookie balls.” He wouldn’t acknowledge me, except to parrot back a few words as […]

“When I was Young I Knew Everything”

It was twenty years ago. A lifetime. We were walking the streets of Manhattan late in the evening after a Broadway Show. There were ten of us — seven graduating seniors from a tiny Christian school in east Texas, and three adults. The big city awed us southern kids in all the ways you’d expect: the bright lights, […]

Let This Carry You

Sunday afternoon, our whole community showed up to support him. Monday evening, he melted down again. Anxiety attacks have haunted Jack nearly every day this month. They’re not temper tantrums. Rather, they’re like onslaughts of sheer, icy panic; floods of emotion he can’t hold back. He runs toward the nearest glowing screen and starts pushing […]

The Lament of Martha of Bethany

Note: Good Friday posts have become somewhat of a tradition for me over the last few years (I’ve put past poems and stories here, here, and here), so I’ll add to it today. This is one of three pieces I wrote for tonight’s vigil at my church, and I can’t wait to see my friend Karli perform it onstage. […]

Autism, Fatherhood, and the Lure of Isolation

There was an article in the Boston Globe last week about how men tend to let friendships slip away over time. The resulting loneliness has dramatic implications on our physical health, to say nothing of mental health. Why? Because we are hard-wired for “phileo”. We talk a lot about the need to be loved, but […]

On Learning to Love a Tow Truck

If you’ve read anything I’ve written this year, you know that Jack, my autistic eleven year old, loves the movie Cars 2, and I don’t. I’m a grown man and a Pixar apologist (there should be a badge for people like me), but I cannot abide the studio’s version of The Fast and The Furious. […]

Autism, OCD, and the Longing for Home

We all heard him screaming; not everyone knew who it was. But I’m Jack’s dad, and I know his voice. I was in the auditorium, teaching a Wednesday night class on the book of Acts. He was in a different classroom across the hall. It’s our church’s special room for kids with developmental delays. We […]

A Clash of Gray and Gold: A Reflection on Self-Pity

“What do you want to talk about today, Jack?” my wife asked our autistic eleven year old. “Cars 2.” Sara is good at this “work time” thing. She takes him into his room, pulls out a big alphabet stencil, and asks him questions. Sometimes he waits for options before he answers. He likes picking options. […]

Dear Perfection (A Letter on Valentine’s Day)

Dear Perfection, It’s an honor, first of all. I mean, there are so many of us who are online begging for your attention, so it means a lot that you would read this. I’m talking about the Valentine pictures, friendaversary videos, and those filtered collages of vacations we actually hated. You know what the good […]

To Be Satisfied by Wonder

It’s not supposed to be snowing. Not like this. And yet here we are at the base of Oregon’s mild Willamette Valley, with windfalls of white drifting down like cotton silver dollars. My boys are behind me in a sled we thought we bought for the mountain pass, and I am pulling them down the […]

When Life Loops

We were standing on a narrow beach in Northern California, my family and I, when came my favorite moment of the year. The girls were exploring the fresh water stream with their mother and the little boys behind me, and I was staring over Jack’s head at the swells of water elbowing their way between […]

Story Advocacy: The Genius of “Life, Animated”

I have this old pixelated video of twelve month old Jack learning to walk. He is  stumbling back and forth between me and his two sisters like a tipsy teddy bear, his mouth wide with triumph, and his eyes alive with laughter. They are so clear and cloudless. Sara is behind the camera offering whoops […]

To Be Worthy of Your Trust (A Letter to Jack)

Dear Jack, Up until now, I’ve only written you letters on your birthdays, but I’m going to change that, because you might look back on days like yesterday and wonder, “what was that even about?” Well, I’ll tell you. Mom woke you up at midnight and wouldn’t let you go back to sleep. She pulled […]

To Give Him a Super Power

Our family is a story family. When my daughters were two and three years old, we began creating our own family mythology. We invented Teddy and Marianne, the child jockeys; Ricky the Ostrich and his magnificent submarine; Cowboy Pete and his fearless deputy, Rocky Raccoon (my apologies, Mr. McCartney, sir). Those characters became woven into […]

A Reflection of Aching Joy (A Poem for Jack)

Update: The Facebook version of this video went viral, hitting 1 million views in 4 days, and going on to get over a million more. On the original thread, scores of parents began posting photos of their own autistic children; their “beloveds.” It was a beautiful and inspiring thing. You can visit that thread and […]

#Blessed in the Land of Unanswered Prayer

Yesterday, I read this heartfelt post by Phoebe Holmes, the blogger behind Herding Cats. Like me, Phoebe is the parent of special needs child, lives in the Pacific Northwest, and laments the exuberant overuse of hashtags. Here is an excerpt: I see this all the time. People who are all “God answers prayers!” and hashtagging photos with […]

In Defense of Jeremiah 29:11 (For the Graduate)

“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, NIV) Jeremiah 29:11 used to be a safe sentiment; a well-respected, if predictable, sliver of scripture to write on a graduation card. That isn’t true anymore. We are […]

To Preserve Their Innocence

It’s a crisp evening in small-town Oregon, and the boys and girls of summer are out early, crowding the metal bench in  numerical order from the white numbers on the backs of their navy blue jerseys. Aligned like this, they look like too many birds on a wire. They are first and second graders, and […]

For Those who Ache on Father’s Day

I know this day sucks for you. You’ve been ripped off in the dad department. Most days, you hardly even think about it. Sure, there’s that dull ache in your psyche, but you can usually ignore it now. You’ve taught yourself how. Just like you’ve taught yourself all manner of things. Does it help you […]

To Know What Would Have Happened

I will spare you the melodrama and tell you plainly what happened last weekend. It was one of the scenarios parents of autistic kids fear most. For the first time in two years, Jack ran off. We were having a perfect Saturday. The kids were playing outside in our freshly cut lawn, Sara was making […]

Barabbas Speaks (Five Years Later)

Oh, you’re leaving, are you, friend? That’s fine, that’s fine. You’re going to the Passover feast, then? Well, be careful now, be careful. There’s a particularly nasty man out there from Tarsus hunting down people like you, who follow “the way.” People are starting to disappear, they say… Go with you? I don’t want a […]

A Foot in Both Worlds: My Interview with Stuart Duncan

If you have spent any time in the autism community online, chances are, you’ve heard of Stuart Duncan. Even before he created the now celebrated AutCraft — the world’s first Minecraft server dedicated to autistic kids — he was blogging all over the place about his own experiences as an autistic father of an autistic […]

That Time I Had Coffee with My Two Selves

I like to write early in the morning, provided I can get past my snooze button. As a positive incentive, I started setting my coffee timer to 4:55 AM, because a fresh cup is at least 8.5 times as wonderful as a stale cup. I smelled it when my alarm went off this morning, then […]

For Anna and Simeon (A Poem on Advent)

(This poem was formerly called “When the Soul Felt its Worth,” since it carries threads of “O Holy Night,” but I changed it because it works better as an Advent piece. I wrote and performed it a few years back for our church’s Christmas program. It works better as a spoken word piece, but I […]

When We Thought You Might Die

“Six years old,” I say to myself, looking at my son from across the little MacDonald’s booth. He is disassembling his bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. I tell him he can eat it like a sandwich. “I know,” he says smiling, continuing to pull his food apart. He is always confident, but today is his […]

An Ode to Stubborn Optimists (And One in Particular)

Dear Madame Optimist, In darker days like these, when the screams, the tantrums and the safety helmets are close by, I wonder whether you will change your mind about our boy’s potential. I pray you won’t. You have this abounding faith in him that I envy, even in my doubts. You hear him mimic Nemo, […]

Autism, Baseball, and the Whispers of Beauty

Sometimes a moment grabs you by the collar like Liam Neeson, throws you against the wall and demands, “remember this” without giving any further explanation. I had one of these moments two weeks ago at a minor league baseball game. Jack (my 8 year old autistic son) knows nothing of baseball, except that you’re supposed […]

In Defense of Happy Stories

My friend Janae only wants to watch “H.E.A.” movies (Happily Ever After.) If it doesn’t end with with the shy guy and the pretty girl riding away on the gilded stallion, she’s not terribly interested. Every time I make fun of her about it, she makes me this falsetto Chewbacca growl and tells me to […]

Walk-Off Moments for Special Needs Dads

My friend Mark is a great father to three neuro-typical kids, and he is currently floating on the highest cloud in the Dadosphere. His son Zach–a sophomore in high school–just hit a walk-off home run to win the Oregon 2-A state championship. I know, right? A walk-off home run! For. The. State. Championship. I expect […]

You Have Permission (A Letter to New Autism Dads)

Dear Autism Dad, This past weekend, I went backpacking with some friends through Big Indian Gorge in Eastern Oregon’s Steens Mountain. From a distance, Steens appears as a tall, wide rock with some snow on it. A two dimensional cutout along the horizon. But when I started toward it, the entire landscape opened up. Steens […]

Regression and Renaissance

Back when “Early intervention” was a new term and a thin hope for us, I used to drive my son to school every afternoon. We were lucky to get him in the program. He was four years old. Just months removed from his diagnosis, and two years from the initial regression that took away his […]

On Praying Dangerous Prayers

Once, there were three brothers who found a magic lamp. They were good brothers, passionate brothers, with a deep affection for justice. So when the Genie emerged and offered them three wishes, none of them even considered themselves. They all thought of the terrifying lions which had long threatened the safety of their village. The […]

For The Ones Who Burn

I see you circle up when that Proclaimers song starts to play. You laugh, stomp, and dance for five hundred miles, then five hundred more. There is a childlike cluelessness in your arm-waving lunacy, as if you don’t even realize you’re being watched. You do, of course, but it doesn’t matter. You really don’t care. […]

Savoring Somersaults

When a five year old yells out, “Wanna see a somersault?” it is not a question. When he is already dressed like Superman, you had better be watching. I was watching, from five states away, through my 3.5″ iPhone screen. I watched him plant his head into the carpet, kick up, then fall sideways. Enthusiastic […]

An Open Letter to Death

Dear Death, Well, that was really something you did, taking out a 3 year old girl. By everyone’s account, she was sweet, adoring, and perfect. She could have been the poster child for Life itself. And her family… I barely know them, but I know they deserved more time. They are the best kind of […]

The Big Sister Speaks! (A Guest Post)

I haven’t had any guest posts here before, but what better time to start? My daughter Emily (the one on the left) is eleven, going on twenty-three. I wrote about her and her sister earlier this year, but she topped me with this, which she wrote for school last week. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s […]

Waiting in the Land of In-Betweens

It happened at the end of a long church conference. I was exhausted, but the preacher was in no hurry. I hate it when they don’t hurry.  “If you are the parent of a special needs child, come up and get prayer.” I wanted to slip out the back, but six of our church staff […]