Gaining the trust of someone with autism includes the realization that God put that person in our path and take time to treat him as if he was Jesus.
“‘But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’” (Luke 10:33-36)
Gaining the trust of someone with autism
- Go to them – see them
- Have compassion
- Bind up their wounds – pour on oil and wine
- Let them ride while we walk
- Give them shelter
- Care for them
- Pay the Innkeeper
Let Them Ride While We Walk
To put a wounded person on a horse or mule is not a task for the faint-hearted. We must lift them up…higher than ourselves. This means we must cast aside our pride – our need to always be right and look good.
We must meet their needs in the time and order they need – even if we end up looking like we failed. For example, when my daughter, Hannah, was a child, she needed to learn how to talk again, use gestures, and relearn the names of every common object such as spoon, table, chair, and ball. She also had to be taught how to play with her toys and how to pretend. At the same time, she needed to learn what other children were learning such as shapes, colors, letters, and numbers.
This took place simultaneously with digestive issues, seizures, doctor appointments, hospital stays, speech therapy, 20 hours per week of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, and occupational therapy. Once she started school, the list grew exponentially.
Over the years, various people have let their disapproval be known by saying, “Why haven’t you taught her ________ yet?” To those people, I looked like I failed. But I’ve learned to be okay with that. I’ve learned to look at all God has done in Hannah’s life and I see nothing but His success.
Give them shelter
This is where things start getting really complicated. As parents, family members, teachers, and friends, we want to do what’s right, but what is right when it comes to sheltering someone with autism?
We can’t go by advice from professionals, because they have conflicting opinions. I’ve received advice that includes:
- “Shelter her less.”
- “Shelter her more.”
- “Let her learn by failing.”
- “Set her up for success.”
- “Be less involved in her life.”
- “Advocate for her more.”
I have found only one answer that works: prayer. I pray for Hannah constantly. When I believe God is telling me to advocate for her or shelter her, I do. Otherwise, I don’t. I’ve made mistakes, but because I look to Him, He has always taken great care of Hannah even in the midst of those mistakes.
Care for Them
“Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day…” This part of the verse shows the good Samaritan took care of the wounded man throughout the night.
Inherent in gaining the trust of someone with autism, we must care for them during their “night” seasons – when it’s dark, scary, and things seem hopeless. We do this by listening to them without judgment.
Let’s remember that it’s difficult for them to open up and talk, because it makes them feel like they’re exposing their soul. So when they do, it’s important to listen – even if they cry or seem angry. Many times, what seems like anger is actually fear. In either case, they need to know that we can be trusted with those emotions.
Let’s also keep in mind while we’re listening, they speak a different language. Let’s tell them what we think they’re saying and give them the chance to clarify.
Additionally, we care for them by praying with them. Let’s give them the opportunity to hear us thank God that they are in our lives.
Pay the Innkeeper
In looking back over the years of raising Hannah, I’ve realized she has made so much progress solely because of God’s grace. He has consistently had us at the right place at the right time to receive what she needs. That doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing. Sometimes, the “right time” has been at the end of extreme difficulties, but He’s always been there and met her needs.
I believe the Innkeeper is the Holy Spirit. He is due thanks and praise for doing what only He can do. Gaining the trust of someone with autism is no small matter. So, let’s be sure to “pay the Innkeeper” for the gift of people with autism in our lives and their gift of trust, as well as for the opportunity to be a part of what He’s doing.
To read Part 1, click here: http://www.myhopeforautism.com/gaining-trust-someone-autism-part-1/