At the time my son, Bubu regressed and was subsequently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder what I most worried about was how I was going to communicate God, His message, His love and His Words to him. You see as a Christian living in an epoch marked with great spiritual awakening and advancement, a time when people are personally experiencing advances in their knowledge, love and worship of God; keying into divine wisdom and insight I just could not fathom how I was going to pass on this spiritual baton to my son and I worried. My worry was not ‘WHY GOD?’ cos I knew that God has a unique and magnificent purpose for every child after all He knew them even before they were formed, my concern was on how the deficits of an asd would hinder his spiritual development.
At the core of autism, what we see physically are children seemingly cocooned in an abstract world, alone, isolated, with little or no speech, challenging behavior and processing difficulties. The day to day life for every family with a child with special needs is filled with lots of inputs from specialists and therapists, special diets, limited school options, stigmatization and discrimination etc, at times depending on the child’s severity just making it through each day intact is a chore much less the thought of teaching God – something that isn’t physical to an individual whose learning method is solely visual.
I didn’t know where to start from either but I had made a vow that despite the obvious difficulties presented by his lost speech, that I was going to put the Word of God in his heart and mouth, and I just said “God I know enough of You to know that nothing is impossible with You, so I am going to ensure that Bubu is so filled with your Words that when his speech is restored, Your living Words are what will flow from his heart”. To put this resolve in context a bit, Bubu was born contrary to the doctors conclusion that he couldn’t because of my damaged reproductive organs following from multiple surgeries caused by fibroids. So having experienced the super power of God through the miracle of his birth, the certainty of his restoration following his regression wasn’t a debate for me even in the face of a lack of ‘evidence-based science’ at the time to support my belief.
The very next day, we started with the Word in music both audio and video, declarations, memory verses and prayers and we have never looked back. We use a lot of Word related visual aids repeatedly and from wondering whether he would ‘get it’, we have become convinced that God reaches him in a way we possibly couldn’t. Fast forward a few years and by Gods grace he has made and continues to make tremendous progress and each day when he prays loudly “God is the strength of my life, I can do anything with Jesus in me”, I say “straight from your mouth to Gods ears kiddo”.
Autism as challenging as it is, cannot be a deterrent to raising a child in the way of the Lord. As their caretakers, we must continually ask God to help us find ways to guide them in developing a strong spiritual path; they too like all God’s children are created in His image and have different gifts according to the grace given them. And I know He will.
GREAT RESOURCES ON AUTISM AND SPIRITUALITY:
• The Bible
• Autism’s Hidden Blessings: Discovering God’s Promise for Autistic Children and their Families by Kelly Langston
• Autism and Alleluia’s by Kathleen Deyer Bolduc
• Autism and the God Connection by William Stillman
• Autism and Your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism spectrum Disorder by Barbara J. Newman