Love leads the way
A Conversation with Dee Huntington
“He…shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isa. 40:11) Talking with RVRN parent Dee Huntington and learning about her experience raising three children with special needs, one can’t help seeing the gentle hand of divine Love guiding them as they navigate this terrain.
“All three children were diagnosed with autism,” Dee shares, “and two of them have developmental delays.” Dee’s oldest son, Daniel, despite concerns, graduated from high school with a diploma and now lives in his own apartment, has a job, and even takes solo road trips. Growing up, he had the opportunity to attend summer camp at the A/U Ranches and an academic summer program in Denver. Dee attributes his ongoing progress to Christian Science healing.
Their other two young adult children live at home with Dee and her husband, Don, in Littleton, CO. Because of their children’s unique needs, Dee has no back-up or respite care at home. Social services come with a lot of oversight and reporting. “Having one special needs child is doable, but three is more difficult,” Dee comments.
The pandemic shutdown created happier conditions for their middle child, Johnny, for whom trips into the community are very stressful. During the past two years, they’ve focused on in-home relationships. “We’ve grown in the pandemic. In fact, opportunities opened up because more things are available online now,” adds Dee.
Celebrating every step of progress
Becca attends a day program, which offers outings to cultural sites as well as day trips around the state. “The kids continue to make progress. I’m really happy that Becca is in a regular day program because it simplifies things. After exploring a variety of program options, they identified the right fit. “That was a healing,” says Dee.
Like all parents, Dee cherishes every step of progress in her children; and those moments help when the picture is tough. Dee has no help at home with Johnny because it’s difficult to find a caretaker to meet his personal needs. Dee remarks, “In many ways he’s like a toddler.” She goes on to say, “About two weeks ago, Johnny wanted to go outside in the backyard, and he hadn’t wanted to do that much recently. This too is progress! It’s sort of slow, but when we have a breakthrough – everyone smiles.”
Dee has learned how to pave the way for her children to participate in church. Becca was blessed to have a one-on-one arrangement with her Sunday School teacher. “I’ve learned how to ask for help,” Dee reflects. After Becca graduated from Sunday School and began attending church, the board created a space for her in the boardroom where the service was piped in, and Becca was free to vocalize. It came with flowers and a sign: “Becca’s Room.” “Even better was when church went online during the pandemic,” she says. They still go to church, park in the parking lot and Zoom in from the car. Becca sings with the solo and follows the readings quietly with her Full Text Quarterly.
Dee, too, has found time and opportunities to support church. Earlier this year, she was elected as chair of the board. She has found a new voice and is well suited to run the meetings, drawing on skills she’s developed advocating for her children.
About five years ago, Dee got involved with RVRN. She and Becca have attended the family enrichment program at the A/U Ranches’ 100 Elk Outdoor Center – three times. “The staff have been very supportive,” she says. In addition, Becca really enjoyed RVRN’s online Christmas Gathering. Dee participates in the Family Support Network parent gatherings and has been active in focus groups exploring respite and long-term housing solutions. She and Becca hope to attend RVRN’s youth specialty program this summer in partnership with CedarS Camps.
Becca is already familiar with CedarS through their Sunday evening online hymn sings (now monthly). Becca, who is learning to play the piano, often practices after singing hymns. It’s a favorite routine now. “She picked up the piano really quickly, but has to be shown.” Sometimes Dee helps Becca move her fingers on the keys. She also sings the letter of the notes that Becca needs to play. Becca even takes part in recitals. “When she focuses, she’s pretty good!”
Leaning on God
Dee is learning flexibility and listening for “the voice within” (Christian Science Hymnal 416:1). It’s a process for all parents – learning to lean on God. “I’ve had a healing myself, you know, of getting out and doing the stuff that I need to be able to do.” This realization has been a breakthrough for Dee.
Following divine unfoldment, their family was led to move out of the city last year to an ideal location in a neighboring rural area on a 1.75-acre horse property. Dee’s husband Don, an engineer, finally has a place where he can have an outdoor hobby – using remote control vehicles. Also, Johnny can enjoy the outdoors far removed from other people. Dee is taking a small-scale farming class at the Denver Botanical Gardens. Together they look forward to doing more things as a family outdoors in their new community.
One of the uplifting thoughts Dee has leaned on over the years is, Mind unfolds all things harmoniously. “I rely on Mind to make things run smoothly.” The one Mind, she explains, governs everything that applies to her family and all those they interact with – including teachers, counselors, service providers, and others. “The harmony is already there,” she adds.
Dee and her daughter, Becca, enjoying s’mores at the Family Enrichment Program.