Special needs children bring so many challenges to our life, so it’s important to remember the blessing that they are as well.
A need to accept my son’s autism and what comes with it.
Our son has Asperger’s. That means that he has autism that is “high-functioning”. I have been reminded by mothers at autism support groups that I should be glad that my little one can talk. Yes, that is true and I need to be reminded of that. However, one thing that he does is talk. All the time. His mind, and hence his tongue, rarely ever shut off.
I will go into more of why I think this is so in a later post, but just suffice it to say that though I like conversation and interacting with my son, constant conversation and repetitive questions can be extremely tiresome.
He is awkward in public, though that has gotten better.
He has high anxiety. That comes and goes.
He has a problem with attention deficit. No official diagnosis there, but believe me, he has it. Whatever it is.
He has life-threatening food allergies and extreme sensitivity to sugar. Probable issues with gluten. Sensory issues. He has phobias about things like fireworks and feathers.
Oh, but I love him.
He also has an amazing memory.
- In 2009, he placed 3rd in a local Bible Bee competition and then in 2010 placed first locally and 27th nationally.
- He remembers the names of people we met years ago and while I am stumbling over their name, he reminds me.
He has such an innocent heart. Very rarely have I known him to try to do anything to hurt anyone.
He has stamina. Little things often shake his world, but he can weather “big things” like a real trooper. Like when he rode 50 miles in a Right To Life Bike-a-Thon — with a fever (we found out about the fever after he came home :-).)
Ah, my son.
In any case, today has been a day of real frustration. A day of frustration at him and his idiosyncrasies, but more so at myself. I was so impatient today.
He argued with me about not wanting to eat certain vegetables. And argued and argued and negotiated…on and on and on.
He had a near tantrum over being late to a hockey practice due to our car getting stuck in the driveway in a snowdrift. It took about 10 reminders for him to unload the silverware in the dishwasher and then it still wasn’t done. I could go on but there really is no point.
I was impatient because–well, because he wasn’t doing things on my timetable. His disability gets in my way, takes my time and is an annoyance. And far too often I go against the command of the Bible and show my annoyance at once (Proverbs 12:16).
I need to remember the good and give thanks to the Lord. I need to accept.
A number of years ago, a dear friend gave me a poem about accepting disability. We were on the cusp of getting our son diagnosed, though unwillingly. We just wanted to know what was going on so that we could deal with it better and have some real resources.
This friend had a 20-some year old daughter with autism at the time. She was in full-time Christian work in the US with her husband and I later found out that she was struggling with leukemia. I read a transcript of a conversation she had on a radio broadcast of Family Life during which she mentioned that her child had autism, searched for her on the internet, and made a bold phone call.
She called me back and mentored me through the beginning stages of dealing with what we now had in our family; a child with autism.
She called, prayed, and shared.
Then this past year, she died.
I had never met Kathy, but her death left a hole in my heart. She also left this poem, from The Clowns of God by Morris West, Hodder, and Stoughton, 1981. I hope that it helps you, whatever your lot in life.
You Need a Sign
You need a sign.
What better one could I give
than to make this little one whole and new?
I could do it; but I will not.
I am the Lord and not a conjuror.
I game this mite a gift I denied to all of you-
To you he looks imperfect,
but to Me
he is flawless,
like the bud that dies unopened
or the fledgling that falls from the nest
to be devoured by the ants.
He will never pervert or destroy the work
of My Father’s hands.
He is necessary to you.
He will evoke the kindness that will keep you human.
His infirmity will prompt you to gratitude
for your own good fortune.
He will remind you every day that I Am who I Am,
that My ways are not yours,
and that the smallest dust mote whirled in darkest space
does not fall out of My hand.
I have chosen you.
You have not chosen me.
This little one is my sign to you.
I don’t know about you, but I sure needed this reminder today.