In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, I am reposting this autism-related post from a few months ago. A new post related to autism will be posted at the end of April.
“’Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise”
These words speak to me. They aren’t mine, but they are powerful. If you aren’t familiar with Laura Story’s song, “Blessings,” I encourage you to check it out. It’s a beautiful testimony to how God can bring good out of tragedy in life.
I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago called You Don’t Know What Goes on Behind Closed Doors – Raising a Child with Autism. If you haven’t yet read that post, I suggest you do so, as this post is a follow up from that one.
By now, you know I’m a mom of a son who has autism. If you’re also a special needs parent, you know the extra challenges involved. There are things that parents of typically-developing children don’t have to think about often, like extra therapies, taking longer with homework, struggling to dress your child, dealing with meltdowns, and trying to figure out what they want when their communication is limited.
Having other parents who understand the struggles I face has been vital to my journey as a special needs parent. I’ve been a part of a support group for the past four years, and about three years ago, at one of our meetings, talk of faith and God came up. While this is a secular group at meets in a library, faith plays in important part in many of these parents’ journeys.
Questions arise: Did God really think I could handle this? Why does my child have to suffer from _____? Will my child ever get better? Where is God in all this?
It felt like God was prodding me to lead a study on this topic. I found a great resource called Unlocking the Treasure – A Bible Study for Moms Entrusted with Special-Needs Children, by Bev Roozebloom. It was almost too easy how everything fell into place. I talked to the right people at my church and secured a meeting room and time. I got a group of about ten women to sign up and meet every other week for six sessions. The resource was easy to find, and everyone agreed that it was perfect for our needs as a group.
That Bible study was very meaningful for those women and for me as the facilitator. Every so often, I run into one of the moms who participated, and she shares with me that she still remembers it and how much it helped her.
Many of us have heard the phrase “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” This simply isn’t true. There are times when we are overwhelmed and cannot possibly handle everything on our plates. That’s when we need others. God works through others to carry us through hard times. So, where is God in the day-to-day challenges of raising a special needs child? Right here, working through other people who are blessings in our lives. If we feel alone, that’s simply not true. There are others out there who understand and who can and want to help.
While there are no easy answers for why some children suffer from certain disabilities, I do believe that God works through them to bring good from the bad. If my son didn’t have autism, I don’t think I would have the awareness I do about all the people out there who struggle because of developmental delays and such. I do not think I would be as open-minded, patient, or compassionate of a person toward others, in general, who may have any sort of disability, especially the “invisible” ones.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I love this quote because it speaks to the essence that we’re all different. We all have different abilities and talents, so let’s remember that just because someone has autism or some other sort of special need, that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as important and worthy of love as anyone.
To learn to be a better person by being more accepting and loving is a blessing, so at the end of the day, I can find some peace. I can see that elusive silver-lining in the storm clouds that sometimes fly in during the journey of being a special needs parent.
I encourage you to find those blessings, too. They are there.
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