Psalm 127:3 (NASB) “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
An Extraordinary Gift from God
Children with autism bring many blessings which have power to change our perspective and…us. What an extraordinary gift!
You may not feel like you’ve been blessed.
I’ve been there.
Progress can be excruciatingly slow. Discouragement sets in when we look at the volumes of information, understanding, and skills we must help teach our children. Therefore, it is important to celebrate every victory, no matter how small it may be. These celebrations help our children and help us as well.
My daughter, Hannah, lost all her language skills just before she turned two. Her speech therapist started teaching her sign language which would stimulate the language center of her brain.
Every need and desire Hannah had was used to teach her sign language and to try to get her to make the beginning sounds of words. There were hundreds of these “teaching sessions” every day, but in the previous year she had only learned to speak two phrases: “Get it” and “Got it.”
Trepidation on Halloween
On Halloween, before Hannah’s third birthday, I dressed her up as Pebbles Flintstone. She was a natural for this with her red hair. With trepidation, I put her in the stroller and gave her a plastic pumpkin for her candy. Will she freak out when we go to houses of people we don’t know? What are they going to think when I say “trick or treat” and Hannah doesn’t? When people talk to her, she can’t talk to them! What if she has a melt down and throws the candy? Will they be offended? How will I explain?
I knocked on the first door. A smiling, middle-aged woman opened the door.
“Trick or treat,” I said.
“Would you just look at that gorgeous red hair!” She tried to put some candy in Hannah’s pumpkin, but Hannah grabbed it out of her hands and stashed it in her lap. The woman burst into gales of laughter while I giggled nervously. She didn’t seem to notice that Hannah had not said a word. I thanked her and we moved on to second house where the same scene was repeated.
Hannah was bouncing up and down with excitement. I was practically floating on air as I pushed the stroller to the third house.
Thank You, Lord, that this is turning out so well.
“We Will Get that Door to Open!”
Suddenly, as I was approaching the door, Hannah squealed, “Open it! Open it!”
I stopped dead in my tracks. My. Heart. Was. Pounding. Did I hear what I think I heard? Was that…
“Hannah!” I rushed to the front of the stroller and tried to hug her as she continued bouncing, while pushing me away, and again yelled, “Open it! Open it!”
“Absolutely! We will get that door to open!” I knocked on the door. The scene repeated, but with one big difference: this mama was beaming from ear to ear!
Many doors opened that night: as well as doors to get candy, there was the door to Hannah’s speech, the door to my hope and the door to celebrating victories. Yes, Hannah is an extraordinary gift indeed!
Qualities that are Indisputable Blessings
Children with autism have many strengths. I focused so much on shoring up the weaknesses, that I couldn’t see them. Consequently, I didn’t see the blessings, but there are qualities that are indisputable blessings.
Here are a few that I discovered as Hannah grew and as I got to know more children with autism:
Children with autism are genuine. They don’t morph into someone completely different because a certain person walks into the room.
They are extremely loyal. Once they make a friend, they are friends forever.
They have a keen understanding of right and wrong. It is of the utmost importance to them to follow the rules. They also encourage their friends to stay on the “straight and narrow.”
If you’re in the midst of a difficult season, take time today to slow down. Observe your child and catch a glimpse of his amazing qualities. He is also an extraordinary gift.
If your child is still quite young, be encouraged in knowing that these are assets possibly lying dormant within your child too. Consider them potential “coming attractions.”