A Christ-centered young boy on the verge of manhood with a brilliant mind, bubbly personality, generous spirit, affectionate heart and caring attitude. That is who Grant Taylor is. But those are just a few edge pieces to the large, magnificent puzzle that God so perfectly created. No one is perfect. I know that full-well. But God creates them perfectly in His eyes and that is how we see them as parents.
It will take years to finish the puzzle. To find the corners, to find the rest of the smooth edges and to finish building the interior. I’m excited about that but definitely not overly eager. If we put the puzzle together too quickly we might take it for granted….make a mistake. Well, I know we will make mistakes. That’s where God’s Grace comes in. We might even miss something, lose something. God has all the pieces and he is giving them to us a few at a time to recognize and to cherish. I am thankful for that.
Back to describing Grant Taylor. The very first remarkable memory of Grant was when he was nine months old. He had pulled himself up around a Leap Frog toy that had the alphabet printed around the top. He walked around the toy sounding out each letter of the alphabet perfectly. Shortly after that, I realized he could read words at the grocery store (“thank you” on the cart, the name of the store, and employee badges). Within months, he was reading everything, everywhere we went. He even picked up his own chart at the pediatrician’s office and read from it at thirteen months. At this time, he still could not say Mama or Dada or any other typical first baby words. Those precious moments didn’t come until years later. However he loved to read bedtime stories to his sisters by the time he was eighteen months old.
By the age of two we discovered his love for math, science and anything electronic. Not only did he love them, he was excellent at them. He could master a computer as well as typing skills. He was a master at math. He was a genius at all the Leapster games and he chose the ones at the highest age range. He would watch educational videos and shout out the answers before they were revealed then cheer for himself. It was a joy as a mom watching her two year old in amazement.
At the same age, he took a Fisher-Price Magna doodle on a two hour road trip and taught himself cursive using the educational strip by the time we got to our destination.
Grant would also change the language settings on his electronics and on the televisions to play in French, Spanish and sometimes German to memorize the other languages. He doesn’t remember that now but at one point he could recite the entire movie, Toy Story, in French!
Although Grant could read entire books and recite full length movies, it was almost impossible to get him to tell us what he needed, what he was feeling or to call any of us by name. I was determined, I never gave up. It was important to me to keep a routine going. Each night I read books to him, or he read books to me as we rocked together in his room listening to the same music CDs that we listened to since we first brought him home from the NICU unit when we fostered/adopted him. Once we finished reading we would say our nighttime prayers. One night when he was about three and a half, he looked me straight in the eye (which was also rare) and said his very first sentence. www.Isaymyprayers.com. Be still my mommy heart! Needless to say, David and I checked to see if that was a real website right away. It wasn’t. He completely made it up and applied it to what we were doing at the moment, so we purchased the domain and still own it today. One day, he can do whatever he wants with it! Something that will be amazing I am sure.
We finally found a physician that understood Grant. I mentioned a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome to him after a family member had suggested it. He confirmed that Grant does have Asperger’s Syndrome but his type was a unique or rare form and if nurtured or handled correctly then “watch out, world”. He said most individuals with Asperger’s show interest in one, maybe two things. Grant will show interest in anything he is exposed to but not only show interest in it, but most likely he will master it if the people working with him will help work with his style of learning and his personality to make it a positive experience. If so, then he will most likely make a significant impact on this world. He went on to say there have only been a few people like Grant ever recognized.
Because of his diagnosis, one of our most favorite annual traditions is the Texas Tech Burkhart Walk for Autism Awareness which happens to fall right after Grant’s birthday each year. Grant designs a t-shirt with a theme or font based on his current hobby. The front always says, “Grant Taylor is….” The back always describes him. This is where we got the name of the website/blog. Our family and supporters have proudly worn the shirt each year for the walk since 2007. We have sold some of the shirts across the United States and to people as far as Australia, Canada and England. We give a huge thank you to Scarborough Specialties for helping us with our designs.
By the time Grant was three we made the decision to start him in the early childhood program to begin public education and social skills. I hated letting him out of my sight but he absolutely loved going to school and he thrived in the environment. Although he was above the academic material that was being taught, he excelled socially. He began taking video game instruction manuals, DK textbooks, apologia textbooks, Parragon non-fiction encyclopedia books and other types of reading materials to keep him occupied during any free time throughout the next few years. I believe it was at this young age when he developed his first pet peeve; finding spelling errors! It drives him nuts. He loves to point them out. He finds them in newspapers, magazines, published novels, websites, legal documents, instruction manuals, educational materials and yes: even the dictionary!
His teachers worked diligently to keep him challenged but there came a time in first grade where that could no longer be successfully accomplished. That is when I decided to homeschool him from the end of first grade through fourth grade.
Although homeschooling was not an idea I had ever entertained, it was definitely one of the many pieces to Grant’s puzzle. God hand delivered that puzzle piece to us in His perfect timing.
Grant has always been very affectionate, very loving and for the most part, very verbal since he started communicating. During these three and a half years we were able to spend quality one on one time on the academics he loved most and we were also able to focus on social skills, self-help skills, public safety skills, and daily therapies such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. All of these things he had been involved with since he was two but we had not been able to give full attention to them because of starting school at age three.
We were also finally able to get him into voice lessons and piano lessons. He had self-taught piano by ear, but obviously there was a little (or a lot) more in that area as well. He began performing on stage in voice recitals for two years. We quickly learned that he loved entertaining an audience and being the center of attention. When asked how he handles anxiety or stage fright, his standard, quick response was, “I don’t have stage fright!”
During Grant’s homeschooling years was when he had his first experience with the Spelling Bee, he immediately fell in love with the drill, routine and rhythm of how a spelling bee flowed. I knew he would, considering his zeal for words. In fourth grade he placed sixth in the Lubbock Avalanche Regional Spelling Bee and won Most Enthusiastic Speller. At that time, I think he was most proud of that achievement. I had no doubts he would be back!
By fifth grade I began looking for something where he could receive academics, social benefits and Godly influences both in and out of the home. I discovered Lubbock Christian School. They offered a part-time homeschool program. We loved it so much, Grant became a full time Eagle. Grant gets the opportunity to excel academically with teachers who love all the students unconditionally and pray over each one of them. He participates in band which was a new musical endeavor and each day is a new social experience. He has friends that have his back and completely adore him.
We recently returned from Washington, D.C, where Grant competed in the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Over eleven million children across the world participated in spelling bees this year and only 283 made it to nationals in D.C. Grant was one of those. He tied for 50th place in the end. He is already studying for next year. He is so disciplined and dedicated. As he continues his schooling at Lubbock Christian School he will be in Junior High. He will also continue piano with Sarai Brinker at 88 Keys who recently verified that Grant does have perfect pitch, which is very rare. It’s exciting to see where that part of his creativity may lead. We are still waiting for those puzzle pieces. He will also begin voice lessons again.
As his parent, we have learned to ask him questions in very specific ways, make each experience positive and sometimes be creative as well as find people to work with him that can do the same. We love Grant unconditionally. The Mother’s Day card that HE picked out for me this year said, “You just get me”. That made my heart smile bigger than I can even describe. I do. I just get him and I couldn’t without God placing that puzzle piece within me. I pray that everyone that works with Grant gets their very own puzzle piece to Grant’s Godly designed, one of a kind puzzle. What a special charm that will be for them.
We have been blessed to find people that genuinely want to help him succeed. Each day is a new day. Tweaks always need to be made but I believe that applies with any child, not just with individuals like Grant.
I pray for Grant, each day that through his journey on earth that he continues to allow God to direct his path with each puzzle piece he gives him as he gives it to him. I pray that Grant is a blessing to others but also opens his eyes and heart to see how others bless him so that in return, he may leave a legacy to his children and those who he touches as he passes by.
I pray that he will remain humble, joyful, and thankful.
I pray for self-control, obedience, wisdom and maturity.
I pray that God will surround him with courage yet surround him with safety.
I pray that he will make a difference in this world for others…in honor of God.
And Lord, I pray that he will always see the glass as “actually more than half full.”
So, who in the world is Grant Taylor, you ask? Well, he is my son. My awesome son that God blessed me with. I hope you get to meet him one day. He will be so honored to meet you. He is putting together his puzzle piece by piece without any desire of looking at the front of the box, the final result, before it’s finished. And the best part is, he enjoys every minute of it.
Jennifer Poss Taylor