Home Schooling My Autistic Son Helped Me Start Again

This is a guest post in a series called My Resurrection Year which shares stories, reflections and experiments from Resurrection Year readers. Lisa Saul is a fantasy fiction writer (check out her blog at the end of the article). As she explains, she needed a resurrection year. But who’d have thought it would look like this? If you have your own Resurrection Year story please get in touch.


Like many writers, I’ve had my successes. A two-book deal with a major publisher was an answer to many long of hours of work and many prayers. But like many writers, I’ve watched rejection letter after rejection letter arrive from publishers too. After a fifteen year fight to survive in this brutal publishing world, I needed my own resurrection year. I just wasn’t expecting how God would provide it.

I’m starting to think we all have sub-plots going on in our lives, and it is these subplots that God eventually makes the new purpose of our lives while we’re busy chasing what we think is the ‘main’ plot. For me, that subplot is in the form of a little boy given to us nearly nine years ago in extraordinary circumstances.

After many years of infertility and grief, I eventually accepted my situation and surprisingly found myself relieved that we couldn’t have children. I saw that children were a struggle and hard work, and thought God had been kind to spare us that.

Then after a year or two of settling into childless life, God gave me a dream one night of a little boy holding my hand as we walked down an Edinburgh street (where we’d lived years ago). A little brown-haired, brown-eyed boy with glossy straight hair. There was an incredible bond between us that defied explanation. I woke up from that dream knowing I had just seen my son, and that he was coming. A month later I conceived.

Tristan was born. And even though he was born with curly blonde hair and blue eyes, I knew he would eventually be brown haired with brown eyes (quite unusual considering I have blue eyes and my husband Jeff has green eyes) and that his hair would straighten. When Tristan was three, his eyes and hair turned brown and the curls just dropped to leave glossy dead-straight hair.

That vision became a life raft during eight of the most turbulent years of my life, as we tried to raise a very complicated special-needs child with autism.

I thought God was cruel to do this to me when I had accepted life without children. I railed against motherhood, and found I could not connect with Tristan, even as we fought hard for answers to his autism and saw a very different child emerge from the one originally locked inside himself, unable to communicate with us or let us love or even touch him. At times I clung on with my fingernails to that vision, that promise of peace and a bond between us. I admit that I became very bitter before I arrived at a numb state of acceptance by the time Tristan went to school.

After completing my fourth book last year, God started to speak more clearly to me than he ever had. I felt he wanted me to home school Tristan – my high-needs, anxiety-ridden little boy who was struggling more and more to fit in with the school system. There was no doubting the message.

Before 2013, I would have fallen apart if God had asked me to home school. But after reading Resurrection Year I knew this kind of change was exactly what I needed. While Jeff and I were burnt out from Tristan’s issues, I was even more burnt out by writing. Sheridan left his radio show to go overseas when he hadn’t wanted to, but the result was his own resurrection year. Inspired by this, and much to the surprise of friends, I said an enthusiastic Yes to God about home schooling.

And so this year I have thrown myself into home education.

And I have loved every second of it.

For the first time ever there is peace between Tristan and me. Tristan is actually happy. He smiles. He laughs (which he never used to do). He is starting to love life and understand what was once confusing for him. It is actually the most peaceful, restful year I have ever experienced.

Had I picked a resurrection year for myself it most certainly wouldn’t have looked like this – and I would have missed out on so much. I am glad God chooses our paths for us. The relationship between me, Tristan and my husband grows every day. We are starting to bond in ways I couldn’t imagine, just like in the vision. I have gone from resenting my child, to loving having him around and enjoying doing things with him.

And guess where we will be in August this year?

Through the twists and turns of yet another sub-plot, we will be in Edinburgh.


Writing under the name LR Saul, Lisa is the author of four gripping fantasy novels: Bloodline: Alliance, Bloodline: Covenant, Sacrifice and the newly released Redemption. You can find Lisa’s books here and check out her blog here.


  • May 28, 2014
    Amy Robinson

    Well, here’s a subject close to my heart! And now I’m fascinated to know more of this family’s story: especially what kind of ‘cure’ they found (I’m not sure that trying to ‘cure’ my girl is right, though trying to help her is paramount!) and what methods are helping her in homeschooling (something I’ve been very tempted to try). I’ll have to check out that blog.
    Thanks for posting this story! See you in two days…

    • May 29, 2014

      Lisa has revised the sentence. I can only imagine if I were in your and her position I’d be interested in tracking both the medical advances towards a ‘cure’ for autism, whilst recognising that your child is precious as s/he is.

      Yes, looking forward to meeting you (and your daughter?) at the Writer’s Retreat this weekend!

      • May 29, 2014
        Amy Robinson

        I think the revision is better, though I didn’t mean my message to sound like a criticism. When I say I’m not sure, I really mean I’m not sure at all whether seeking for a cure is right! It’s just one of the many questions that have been playing on repeat in my mind since this time last year: what the heck is autism? If I took it away, what would be left of the girl I know? Why do autistic adults say they don’t want to be cured? Why do some children seem to just grow out of some of the worst problems, while others remain unable to communicate or look after themselves? Will there be autistic people in heaven – with all the good things and none of the bad?! So many questions!

        No, Abi will be having a lovely restful weekend with her grandmother, while I will be enjoying the novelties of sleep and silence. See you there!

  • May 29, 2014

    Beautiful story!

  • June 1, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading Lisa’s story and am so glad it is working out for her and my heart sang when I read that Tristan is smiling. Our school system can be okay for some children with autism (given the right support) but for others it is so inflexible, demanding and stressful. I really wish we had a better system that enabled children like Trsitan to be properly included. I like the look of Lisa’s books – just my genre…and it was great to meet you at Scargill this weekend, Sheridan. 🙂
    Lynn (www.includedbygrace.wordpress.co.uk)

    • June 4, 2014

      I wonder if you’re the one to create that system, Lynn. Yes, really good to meet you too.

  • June 14, 2014
    Clare Alice

    Oh wow, beautiful. I nearly cried reading this. Thanks for sharing this story Lisa, it’s just filled with the golden light of hope. Sometimes in our dark & resentful seasons things can feel like they will never change. Your experience just gives such hope and encouragement to keep on trusting God. His answers can come right out of left field and change things for the better in an instant.
    PS I remember your name . Didn’t Sheridan or Leigh interview you on Open House? So lovely to hear of your new and happy season.
    ~ Clare Chate


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