Recently, I was asked to be a guest writer for Heartfeltramblings.com, and share a short message about raising our 10 year old son who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Here is that piece:
Two weeks before Christmas, my 9-year-old son asks me, “Mom, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure”, I replied.
“Well,” he began, wringing his hands together and looking down at the floor, “I just wanted to say that at 6:00 am in the dark, I went into your room with the night vision goggles to look at my presents.”
“Oh,” I said, encouraged by his confession. “And how do you feel about that decision now?”
“Well, pretty sad, because they weren’t bright enough and I couldn’t see my presents.”
“Hmmmm, I see. And is not being able to see your presents the only thing you feel bad about?”
Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone. I respect the challenges and situations that every mom and dad have to face when it comes to God’s highest calling, and I would never assume that our difficulties are any more trying than anyone else’s, they’re just different.
Our son, Samuel, has High Functioning Autism (or Aspergers) and parenting him comes with its own set of rules, most of which, we’re still learning. But much more important than discovering our son’s practical parenting needs has been the lessons that God has taught my heart along the way. It’s learning how, not only to allow God to interrupt our plans, but coming to fall in love with those interruptions.
“’For I know the plans I have for you’ Declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29:11
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” – Proverbs 16:9
This journey hasn’t been easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Truth be told, there are many days where I just don’t know if we’re going to make it, and all I have left in me to do is cry out to the Lord for help. But trusting the Lord means allowing Him to write our story, even when we think we could have made the plot better, or we don’t see how He is going to tie it all together.
Holding my baby son, I had already written his story according to my desires: Straight A student, football, college, marriage, and grandbabies. But God is the sovereign writer. He directs our steps in spite of what we think is best, then creates a masterpiece that is so much more beautiful than anything we could have come up with on our own.
The days of frustration may sometimes outnumber the days of joy, but they definitely don’t outweigh them. As difficult as Aspergers can be, there is also great wonder in discovering the world through Samuel’s eyes.
We have jokingly come to refer to him as Mr. Spock since he views everything through a literal lens, which has also made him a master loop-hole finder. This has caused us really raise the bar with our communication. Not just with Samuel, but with all of our children as a result. He has a gift of memorization and music that takes my breath away, and is always creating outside of the box.
Next year, we will be embarking on the adventure of homeschooling Samuel after having a very difficult time in public school. This decision started out of necessity, as the classroom is no longer a healthy environment for him, but the more I prayed about it, the more I began to see all of the amazing doors that this move is going to open up to him. We’ll be integrating occupational therapy techniques into the curriculum and will have every opportunity in the world to build and develop him in his unique areas of gifting.
And the best part is, we’re not going at it alone.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. I believe it takes a Church family to raise a child with Aspergers, and we are so blessed to have ours. This is a group of people who have come around my husband and I and prayed with us, supported us, and occasionally taken our children when I just needed to take a walk and gather myself.
A few weeks ago, Samuel received his first award at the school and we were so blessed to see such a large group from our church show up to cheer him on as the principal called his name.
I don’t know why God chose us to raise Samuel, but I am so thankful. He has an incredible plan for his life and we’re humbled to be given this responsibility. It takes a reliance on the Lord’s strength and careful listening to His voice to know how to tackle each and every challenge, but He has been faithful to give us everything we need to help our son live long and prosper.