This is a guest post from my good friend, Bruce Humphrey. He serves as the High School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana. He is also an avid bass fisherman, participating in several fishing tournaments a year, and a gifted communicator, speaking regularly in MPCC’s high school environment on Sunday nights. You can follow him on Twitter and read his personal blog in addition to this post.
“He has what?”
I remember those words when my son, Bauer, was diagnosed with autism (ASD). I am a father of a five-year old autistic child. In October 2010, he was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. I did not choose autism, but autism chose me, and I did not like it. Let me begin by saying that I believe God is all knowing, ever-present, supreme and the Creator of all things. He does not make blunders, never needs a secondary plan, and will never be caught off-guard. As such, I am comforted in knowing that my son’s autism did not happen by misfortune or my personal sin, nor did it take God by surprise. Because of God’s permissive will, He allowed this to happen.
As a parent, there will always be times in the life of your child where your family will journey through some type of hardship.
No matter the circumstances, your situation is not the end of the world.
It’s scary. You want your child to be successful and normal. Coping with your situation needs to be done at your own pace. Another thing I learned is to never allow anyone to make you feel guilty for the feelings you are experiencing. Feelings are not facts, and they often betray you. I recall going through the many stages of grief. I remember saying, “Why did this happen?” or “Why me?” I even remember emotionally fighting with myself about how the doctors were wrong. Desperation hit me–hard.
This is one of the most common reactions that parents have when their child is diagnosed with any ailment. With autism, I found myself searching for answers and treatments, spending hours and hours on the Internet hoping to find anything that might “cure” my child.
In spite of all of this, my son was ok. In fact, he was dealing with it better than I was.
Special Needs is Special Needs.
To label or not to label… that’s one of the biggest hot button topics of the special needs world. Why does it bother parents, educators, and the outside world so much? I believe everyone sees a label as something totally different, depending on their personal understanding of the particular diagnosis. As parents, we tend to take these little differences in our children personally. I dislike the label my son has, but he needs it. After the initial diagnosis, my wife and I struggled with the label. Yet, it opened the doors to special therapies, schooling for him, and available grants. Today, he is light-years away from his former struggles with fine-motor skills, limited verbal skills, and other sensory obsessions.
Every day Bauer brings joy into my life. He is smart, very creative, and ambitiously energetic. Be grateful and realize God is the answer to your frustration about life’s circumstances—especially in the life of your child. He wants you to be the best parent for your child and has already given you the necessary tools to help you along the way.
Question: Have you ever been blindsided by a special needs diagnosis? What did your personal journey look like? Join the conversation and comment now.