Zion. Zion. Zion.
When we chose to name our son Zion we thought that people would probably think that we named him after the cherished underground city in the Matrix movies. Few would think of the hill near Jerusalem. At one time, there was a Jebusite fortress that stood on that hill: A fortress on a hill. The fortress was eventually conquered by King David and named the City of David. The part of the city where the fortress used to stand was called Zion.
When Zion was first diagnosed with autism there was no other better term for him than a fortress. We were all standing outside trying as hard as we could to break down the outer walls so that we could see what the city on the hill had within. Maybe there would be treasures’ and bounties or maybe there would be stillness and solitude. We had no idea what lay within. Jason and I were hoping for bounties galore!
When he was three years old we started a rigorous therapy program. It included all the therapies he got in school (Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy), but also Floortime therapy everyday from either a developmental therapist or mom and Applied Behavior Therapy four nights a week by certified therapists. We were trying to break down the walls and see what was inside.
To be honest, after what the neurologist expressed to us (that he would spend his life in assisted care), I wasn’t as hopeful as everyone who surrounded us. Thank God for friends and family! The truth was--they didn’t know Zion like I knew Zion. They never saw him at stores or tried to talk to him in depth. They never saw the meltdowns. They didn't know what we went through on a day to day basis. They only saw him when he was in my arms or at church when he could do whatever he wanted; which consisted of sitting in a corner and just watching the world pass him by. I am glad they didn’t see him everyday, because then they might have lost a little bit of hope too. Don’t get me wrong. I never lost complete hope, I just felt like I was doing all this work for a goal that was so far in the future –it was hard to imagine.
Another name for Zion, the city on the hill in Jerusalem, is the Promised Land. I can’t say that we are definitely in the Promised Land with Zion, but we sure are getting close. He is behaving like a neuro-typical kid on so many levels it is miraculous. He is participating in social programs with enthusiasm and loves being an active part of our family. His play is at age level and his schoolwork is astounding. He is the most empathetic child and loves his sister and brother with vigor.
I have moms come up to me asking for advice. They ask me what we did that got Zion to the place he is today. Most do not believe that Zion was that severe. They don’t let themselves be that hopeful (I was the same way!) But I have witnesses!!! Zion used to be a boy who was scared. He couldn’t communicate. He couldn’t express his feelings. He could not play. He could not control his behavior (still working on this). He could not open his gates and let people see what was inside. He lived within the fortress and peeked out every now and then to make sure we were still there.
My answer to these moms is- I have no idea what the special formula was or why he responded so well while other children we know do not respond. I don’t know what the key was. But I do know that Zion, the hill in Jerusalem, was also the place where the king lived. It is also the place where our king lives today. He lives in my little boy’s heart and has been the constant companion in the dreary days since Zion’s diagnosis.
From that day the neurologist told me he had autism and would never be "normal" (in so many words), I prayed over Zion, I prayed for healing and wholeness. Today I can contribute his wholeness to many different things, but mostly I give the glory to God.
Zion is a miracle among us. His body was a fortress. We stood outside the walls and begged to be let in and when we finally were allowed to see what was inside, we found riches and jewels galore. More than we could have ever imagined!