Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why I Tell People My Son Has Autism

A conversation I had today spurred the topic of whether or not special needs parents should share our children's diagnosis with people. This, of course, is referring to a diagnosis that can't been seen.  Most parents are pretty passionate about the issue. I will never imply or assume that my way of parenting is the correct or the best way, nor do I judge people who make different parenting choices than me.  I get things wrong a lot. The only TRUTH I believe in is the Bible.  I know that this post will completely contradict what many special needs parents feel to be true. In reality, I can see both sides.  I understand there may be just as many arguments against what I am saying, but I thought it may be helpful to new "autism parents" to read a different perspective.
There is a stigma surrounding autism.  I can sort of understand why. Autism is hard and scary and expensive with many, many unknowns. When I tell people that Jacob has autism, I almost always will hear how sorry people are for me or a complete avoidance and change of subject.  Its not a fun thing to talk about typically.  In fact, many parents do not discuss their children's diagnosis.  I totally get it. I get that parents don't want a label on their child.  I get that they want to give them the decision to tell the world if they decide to.  I also understand that they don't want their child to be treated differently.
But I would love to share my perspective.
Here are the TRUTHS that I know.
Psalm 139:13-14
13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
Exodus 4:10-12
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
John 10:10
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 

John 9:2-3
And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

 I know and trust that God is perfect; totally without error.  I know and trust that he created Jacob just as he would have Jacob be.  As Jacob grows, I want him to understand that God created him and allowed him to have autism along with many other wonderful qualities.  Although we don't always understand the why, we can trust that this is God's plan for Jacob's life.  I am thankful that God is sovereign over all things, especially the challenging things, because I know that He can use those things for His glory and our good.

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

I hope that Jacob will see his unique qualities as a gift from God that can be used to glorify God in whatever way God desires. I want him to grow with an understanding that God made him different and that is not only ok, but exactly as it should be. Our God is wisdom and is faithful and is trustworthy and also is Jacob's perfect creator. 

I understand that some people don't share the autism diagnosis with others because they feel that their child may be treated differently.  This is a real concern.  However, as I have read testimony after testimony of adults with autism who did not share their diagnosis, most were treated differently anyways and struggled with making friends and bullying. I am hoping that some people will show Jacob compassion knowing his specific challenges and love him for him.  Do I think that everyone will love him and no one will hurt him if we tell people he has autism?  No way.  I know that God has not promised that Jacob or our family will have an easy life, but I am certain that He will bring us through any trials we may have if we trust in Him and seek Him.  I also know that this life is not our own, but God's.  I want Him to be able to use "autism" in whatever way he desires for Jacob and our family as he already has.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I have always felt that if I keep this part of Jacob's life a secret and I tell Jacob that he doesn't have to tell anyone about his autism, I may be setting up an environment for him to believe that maybe he shouldn't tell people, or that something is wrong with him.  As crazy as it may sound, I want him to be thankful for his autism, whether he grows to be fully independent or not.  I hope and pray that he will be a man of God that seeks the Lord with all of his heart and honors God by sharing his testimony and how God guided him through his struggles.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I want the environment of our family to be fully accepting of autism.  I want to talk about it, cry about it, rejoice about it, be thankful for it, and overall give all the glory to God for everything He has done for us, our joys and struggles. God is good.