Trick or Treat

I have mixed emotions about Halloween. When it comes to that day on the calendar only one thing interests Jacob. CANDY. As a little guy, I’d dress him up and we’d go to a few houses in our neighborhood or maybe hop in the car and go to see what yummy treats (think – chocolate) grandparents might have to drop in his orange jack-o-lantern bucket.

But, how do you explain the concept of trick or treating? Dress up in something fun or weird or scary, carry a bag or bucket, knock on a door, and scream ‘trick or treat’. Seems simple enough. In a twisted sort of way. Jacob either didn’t get it or got it and was much too smart to play along. I’m going with the latter.

We enjoyed a few Fall Festivals when he was young and that was probably more fun for him than the door-to-door aspect. Either way, he got more than his share of candy and didn’t miss out. Unfortunately, I could only find a few pictures of my little cutie.

Now, we pretty much ignore the day. I know. We are such scrooges. We don’t turn on the outside lights. We even try to make it look like we aren’t home. The doorbell ringing constantly, along with the dogs barking nonstop, is too much.

One Halloween, years ago, I dropped him off at his day program. A note had been sent home earlier in the week indicating that everyone could dress up, if they’d like, and there would be trick or treating in the building. Well, I knew Jacob wasn’t interested in wearing anything out of the ordinary. So he went as himself. Best way to go, right? Goodness, some days I can barely get him to wear clothing of his choosing.

It was a rainy, dreary day that set a depressing tone. I dropped him off at the center to greetings of witches at the door and painted faces lurking. And drove away knowing he’d get more than enough candy.

A few hours later as I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch, I got a call, ‘Mrs. Pigford, Jacob is having a really tough day. It might be good if you could come get him.’ I phoned my friend to cancel lunch and headed toward the center. When I got there, he was visibly upset. I could see that he was stressed as he had been biting his hands. I appreciated the call which gave me an opportunity to, hopefully, relieve him of whatever caused his ill mood.

I realized two things that day. First, Jacob is bothered by costumes. Maybe not from a distance but up close he is not having it. And, secondly, Jacob cannot be trusted when candy is being given out freely. He assumes anything in reach is fair game and that he should have it all. There is no reasoning with him that everyone gets a Hershey bar. He doesn’t understand ‘share what you have with others’. Never has and probably never will.

One other thing that I considered afterwards. Barometric pressure. I honestly think it was not what caused his trouble then, but I do believe the weather wasn’t in his favor and added to his anxiety.

Don’t get me wrong. I so wish Jacob could participate in the fun and games. I thoroughly enjoy seeing little ones dressed up as unicorns and bumblebees and super heroes and princesses. Such wonderful memories of those years with our other son.

It’s just one of those days, each fall, that didn’t and doesn’t makes sense to Jacob. Who needs Halloween when he has a stash of all his favorite candy in a drawer at the ready?

And, I’m perfectly okay hanging out with my guy, at home, on October 31st. Letting him sleep late, if he wants, and choose his favorite candy. After breakfast, of course!

Trick or Treat. Sweets can’t be beat. Give me something good to eat! If you don’t, just beware, I’ll show you my underwear.


Let There be Light

When our boys were in Elementary School there was an emphasis on saving energy. Teaching kids to be mindful about turning lights off, the concept of going green, recycling, etc. Hopefully, that is still part of school curriculum today.

It’s fun to have a Watt Watcher at home making sure they, and their family members, are not wasteful. However, Jacob never had a good grasp of that concept. He wants lights on! Whether he is in the room or not. And if turning a light on and off repeatedly is wasting energy, then he is king of that. To go from his bedroom to the garage, he may turn every light switch, as he passes, off and on several times as he is leaving home.

Sometimes when I am waiting for my fella to come out at pick up time in the afternoons, I know when Jacob enters the hallway because I see the hall lights going off and on. He would be good at checking all lights in a building to make sure every bulb is in working order.

And, he is particular about which lamps he wants on around the house as well. Sometimes he will come get us or a sitter just to turn a lamp in his room on or off. He has trouble with the fine motor required on most lamps. We even have a guard on a few wall switches around our home to keep him from ‘flicking’ a switch constantly. Imagine the garbage disposal being turned on every time he passed by.

Another fun fact while we are talking about lights; he has Christmas lights in his bedroom all year long. No shame here—he loves it. Thankfully blinking lights don’t have an adverse effect on him like they can with some people.

Jacob has never seemed afraid of the dark. He doesn’t have a night light in his bedroom but occasionally he will turn on the bathroom light before falling asleep. I can’t help but think about how the Bible talks about Christ being the light. He lights the way for us both naturally and supernaturally.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Jacob lights his way physically by using the power of electricity. He’d choose light over dark every time.

He is the opposite of a Watt Watcher. What is that? A Watt Waster?

Chill Pill

It was a hard morning. Not that it started out difficult. Jacob was groggy and slow to get moving but he finally got up without extra coercing. Something was a little off though. He was spinning more than usual. Getting him dressed made me dizzy. In the end, all articles of clothing, socks, and shoes remained on so that was a win.

He wouldn’t eat or drink anything before leaving home which isn’t unusual. He didn’t appear to be upset at all. Just nothing interested him. But as we started toward the garage, he became agitated. I still don’t know what set him off. Had I known what the next 30 minutes were going to entail, I could have given him a chill pill. Hindsight is 20/20, right? I have a couple of options in our arsenal that could help calm him but I didn’t see this coming.

For some reason he started chasing our two dogs. He never does that. Neither of them ever bother him but they were underfoot in the hall as we were headed to the garage (which is typically where they are every time we are leaving home). It seemed like he was out to get them and frankly they were frightened by his behavior. Both had their tails tucked. The male is usually pretty cool with any behavior Jacob exhibits. He’ll wait for me at Jacob’s bedroom door even if he is bouncing off the walls. Our female is more ‘sensitive’. Let’s just say, if Jacob is acting out, she goes to the other side of the house to be clear of him. I think this particular day it was a matter of them being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently, he was going to take his agitation out on anyone or anything in his way. They probably could have used a chill pill, too.

As a rule, I have low blood pressure but I could feel it rising! Once I got G & L separated from him, he took it out on me. Grabbing at my clothes and my arms, swatting at me, both of our elbows flying, pictures being knocked off the wall. It. Was. Crazy. Town.

Finally, I got my arms around him in a bear hug and into the garage. Where, you guessed it, he didn’t want to get in the van. Refused. Circled it fussing and pulling on me. At one point, I got in the driver’s seat and cranked it, trying to ignore him. Hoping he’d settle down. Eventually he got in but then would not let me buckle him up. Had me by the wrist, at arm’s length, where fastening the seat belt was impossible. Twice I got back in the driver’s seat to give both of us time to calm down before trying again. Once I got him buckled, I was out of breath and in tears.

I backed out of the garage but just sat in our driveway bewildered at how quickly he was out of control and how helpless I felt. It was one of those moments where I prayed he would forget whatever made him mad to start with. And, that once he was away from home and away from me, all would be well in his world.

I drove the few minutes to his day program in silence. Too angry, too upset, and way too frustrated to even talk to him. On good mornings, he is buckled up without the added safety clasp that keeps him from unbuckling. This wasn’t a good morning so I had made sure to use it. Now that we were at the center and it was time to unbuckle and get out, he wouldn’t let me release the safety device. A wrestling match ensued where after some time, I accomplished what I set out to do. Once unbuckled, I quickly got back in the driver’s seat to give him space to exit. After a while, he tired of sitting in the hot van, got out, opened the driver’s door, and grabbed me. He wasn’t giving up his bad mood easily. Realizing I was not getting out nor giving up my, now, bad mood either, he headed toward the building.

The entrance looked safe enough. No one was standing in the doorway. (LINK – Clear a Path: There were two fellas sitting on the bench outside chatting and enjoying the breeze. He walks past them many mornings without giving them a thought or glance. This wasn’t one of those mornings. He got to the door only to turn around and grab both of them. A staff person on the inside and I saw it at the same time and both hurried to rescue them from Jacob’s grasp. It was upsetting enough that they weren’t doing anything to bother Jacob. But, on top of that, they are legally blind so Jacob’s touch rattled them both terribly. The staff member remained calm assuring the young men that Jacob didn’t mean to scare them and he was going inside. Once they were free of his grip, Jacob started to run away but I grabbed him and literally wrangled him into the building. The staff member took over and escorted him down the hallway toward the kitchen.

I got in the van shaking. Now I needed a chill pill. How did the morning go so wrong? There was nothing to indicate he was sick. Would I get a call to come pick up my disruptive son? His behavior was scary to say the least.

Instead of running the planned errands, I went home to let tears flow. To hug our sweet Golden Retrievers so they’d know all was going to be okay. To pray the day would get better. I didn’t see how it could get much worse. To weigh the pros and cons of letting him stay home and sleep in the next day or take a chance. A chance that there would be a repeat performance.

There are moments when I feel, I know, that what I need most is to rest in peace. To embrace God’s spirit. The spirit that pours over me to sooth my soul was my chill pill that moment. Did you know chill pills come in many forms? Not to be flippant but seek the Holy Spirit when nothing is going right. A few other ‘pills’ that help me – rest, prayer, tears, reaching out to a friend, and one of my favorites, a mocha frappuccino!

I am so very thankful for new mornings. Thankful that the next morning I determined to try again. And he was like a different person. He was fairly cooperative getting dressed and out the door. He tried to keep me from buckling him up but that didn’t last long. Once at his drop off point, he got out within a few minutes and walked in without incident.

Clap your hands all you people, shout unto God with a voice of PRAISE!!!

Serve One Another

That’s a tough one. And, in the name of transparency, one I’ve been convicted of lately. Many years ago, I realized that God gave me the heart of a servant. Finding joy and purpose in helping others is a result of following that call. I also know God gave me Jacob. Meaning, being his mom and serving him would be a life-long task. God made me exactly the way I am to be able to best take care of the gift He gave me 40 years ago.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

Galatians 5:13 NIV

Something I’ve started doing, that has brought me a great deal of pleasure, is hosting tea parties. As I prepare for a party and serve my guests, I have the second part of Galatians 5:13 on my mind. Serve one another humbly in love. My heart is full as I demonstrate that simple act. The first part of the verse talks about being free. Listen closely, being free in Christ doesn’t mean focusing on myself (indulge the flesh) but being free to show Christ to others, by serving. It doesn’t cost me anything to serve in love.

So, here is the ‘confession is good for the soul’ section: Seems like every time I get settled in to read a book, or watch a movie, or watercolor, or …., Jacob realizes I am ‘free’ to serve him. I don’t know how he does it. Waits until I am done in the kitchen. Or sitting with my feet propped up. And he will do whatever it takes to get my attention. Sometimes he will lean in to get close to my face and give me his sweetest, melt his mom, smile. Truly I can hardly say no to that! Or, take an opposite approach. Become demanding and pull me toward his room or the kitchen refusing to let go. Unfortunately, I let those little things get the best of me. Some days I have no patience left to spread. Can’t I just focus on what I want right now? Just a few minutes?

Don’t think so. No, here he comes handing me an empty cup. I let that simple act frustrate me way too much. He’s thirsty and needs my help. What kind of mother am I? One that hears Satan say, ‘you’ve been serving him for 40 years!’ And I’ll think, that’s right. That’s the truth! Not once has he poured himself something to drink.

Then he brings his DVD player wanting to watch another movie. Or the huge case of DVDs. The word wait is not in his vocabulary. I’ll carefully explain to him that I’ve just helped him select another one and to go watch it. He’ll study me seeming to listen intently, then turn and walk away as if he is going to do just that. Mike and I may look at each other and give a thumbs up. He’s actually going to obey. Only to return less than 5 minutes later as if it has been hours. I fully believe he tried to wait. Again, I let his need aggravate me. Bless his heart, why shouldn’t he get to watch another movie? He changes his mind more than anyone I know. But, I change mine, too. What was I doing that was more important? Serving myself, that’s what!

Quickly God called me out on my attitude. It needed adjusting. Was I serving in love? NO. Jacob was gifted to me to grow my faith, my patience, my endurance, and so much more. To stretch me beyond my capabilities so I quit trying to do it on my own. I cannot do it on my own. And, guess what? I don’t have to. God knows it isn’t easy but His arms are open wide to lighten my load.

There’s a fine line between serving Jacob versus taking away his ability to do it himself. “Lord, teach me to know the difference.”


This week marks a year since I started blogging. Facebook has been my platform for sharing Jacob stories for a number of years. While those posts were met with support and understanding, I often wondered if there might be a different audience who was walking the same sort of journey. Who had a similar story. Maybe outside of my circle of friends.

Several times my Mom has said, “I wish you’d write a book. Surely, there are others that could be helped by your experiences.” A book isn’t in the works in the foreseeable future. But, if you know of a family, a teacher, a neighbor, or a friend who knows someone, who knows someone, who might take away something positive from Problem Free Philosophy, I hope you’ll share. Thank you for making this first year as a blogger, therapy I didn’t know I needed.

On to today’s post:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Raise your hand if you have ever said that silly children’s rhyme. I know I did. Probably to a kid in my neighborhood who hurled an insult my way. However, we all know that statement is simply not true.

Words can and sometimes do hurt. Immediately and indefinitely. Words cannot be taken back. Words can haunt us for a long long time. Proverbs 12:18 says, thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword. Ouch! If you’ve been cut by words you know the wound is deep. And, the sting is oh so very real.

On the flip side though, words can also help and have healing power. Ever be in a hard situation and get a message from a friend? It is amazing what a few genuine words, spoken from the heart, can do to turn our perspective around. Psalms 16:24 says, Kind words are like honey. Sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Yes! Yes, they are!

Recently, I’ve spent time focusing on those healing words. Those words about my son that renew my energy. Bring peace, comfort, and joy. Some of these words, put together into phrases, will not mean anything to you. And, no doubt, I haven’t listed everything wonderful that has blessed my heart. But these words, from friends, have been good medicine when I needed it most. You may see something here that you’ve said to me. Know your words make my heart smile from the inside out.

“I like that Jacob knows what he wants!”

“I enjoyed staying with Jacob today.”

“Jacob cracks me up.”

“I like hanging out with Jacob.”

“He is so smart.”

“I loved getting to see Jacob.”

“Think of Jacob as a gift.”

“I am Jacob’s friend.”

“I love watching Jacob twirl and dance.”

“Jacob is welcome here.”

“Will Jacob give me a rain check so I can visit him another time?”

“I’ll watch your son if you want to fish.”

“I wouldn’t stay with Jacob if those things bothered me.”

“Tell Jacob we missed him.”

“I will be glad to give Jacob a haircut.”

“Jacob had a great day.”

“I love that Jacob!”

“Jacob has the most beautiful eyes.”

“Thank you for sharing Jacob.”

“I added Jacob to the prayer list.”

“Jacob can ride with me.”

“Jacob is listening whether you know it or not.”

“I’ve known of Jacob all these years but I’m finally getting to know Jacob.”

“Jacob just tickles me.”

“Jacob smiled at me!”

“We want to come see Jacob.”

“Good job Jacob!”

“People with autism are my heart.”

“Jacob pays attention even when he seems uninterested.”

“I saw Jacob smile today!”

“Jacob is so handsome!”

“Jacob let me sit by him.”

“Do you need me to stay with Jacob?”

‘Bring Jacob!”

“Can I help?”

“Jacob held my hands.”

“Jacob was glad to see me and I was glad to see him!”

See what I mean? Affirming words go a long, long way in lifting someone’s spirit. In changing their day. You cannot put a price on the value of words. They don’t have to be ‘profound’ to have a profound impact! It’s the little things words that mean the most.

I’ll close with two little words that can have mega power, thank you.