Many of us can recall as children being allowed to turn flips, grow gardens, try out for cheerleading, join the band, perform in talent shows, play sports, read for hours, sell lemonade, attend birthday parties, spend the night with friends, and sew your own clothes. Some of us were dropped off at Vacation Bible School, participated in youth church activities, and went to the movies with friends. At any point, do you believe that your mother or father feared you trying things by yourself? In most cases, they may have had some fear but supported your trying.
How distressed were your parents when they encouraged you to do something that you did not want to try and the outcome was pretty bad? Maybe they pushed you to try out for track, and it turned out that you were not a future Olympian. Matter of fact, you finished last and did not make the team. They knew that your hurt would fade away with time because all of your other activities and friends provided a distraction from your emotional pain. They had faith that you would be fine, so your parents kept calm and allowed you to carry on trying. When you think back, you can see how trying something new positively impacted your life as an adult. Some may say that you gained character from your experiences.
If what I described captures your childhood experiences, does it apply to your autistic child or a child with special needs? Two important lessons that my autistic son, Zay, has taught me are to have faith and to allow him to try.
You may have noticed that you or mothers with a child on the spectrum seem to be in a constant battle for resources, fairness, a voice, equality, protection, time, and a moment of rest amongst many other things. Many mothers like me would give up all that they possess to ensure that their sweet child grows up to feel loved and at peace. For a long time, my sacrifice was more out of fear than faith. Out of fear, I over-protected my son from emotional pain caused by disappointment, rejection, and defeat that could be self-inflicted or caused by others. Truthfully, I protected myself from the hurt of my child hurting.
“The fear of mankind is a snare,
but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.”
To allow your child to try is a demonstration of your trust in God. Remember that He protects His children, so have faith and allow your child to try.
For several years I worried about losing my job because I often had to leave for an hour or so to calm down my screaming non-verbal child at daycare. That experience caused me to fear the possibility of Zay attending school. My husband agreed to support plan A, B, and C to pay for other alternatives like homeschooling. With much prayer, we stepped out in faith and placed him in public school. If I did not allow Zay to try to attend school, he would not have asked to run for student council vice-president and be elected in the 6th grade. The Lord protected my son.
Zay barely made Ds and Cs during 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, and his communication skills were that of a 4 year old. When a school psychologist told me that she believed my son was intellectually gifted, I truly thought they were attempting to end my advocacy for intervention. After the school performed tests that supported their theory, I paid for independent tests to validate their results and to put my doubts to rest. Though pessimistic, I permitted Zay to be enrolled in the gifted program. If I did not allow him to try, he wouldn’t have met kind-hearted Zach and loving Ainsley in the 4th grade. Both appreciated my son for his sense of humor, intelligence, and love of Pokémon. Whenever Zay was overwhelmed by work, felt sad for any reason, or showed signs of distress, Zach and Ainsley rallied and loved on him like a brother through the 6th grade. Again, the Lord protected my son’s try.
Jeremiah 1:8 says “Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to rescue you. This is the Lord’s declaration.”
Recently, Zay made the choice to try public middle school, despite having the option to attend a private Christian school. I’ve chosen to put my faith in the Lord and optimistically support my son’s try. I anticipate that God will continue to place wonderful people like Zach and Ainsley into his life. God has a special calling for my son, so I refuse to hold him back by not supporting his try.
Over the years, God continues to provide wonderful resources to support our son. In addition to teachers, healthcare providers, administrators, employers, friends, and family, the websites below helped us through our journey. I’ve seen Zay achieve miraculous milestones and the best are yet to come!
Fredricka Boles is a wife to an adoring husband and mother of two exceptional young sons. Due to the influence of in-house artists, she has grown to enjoy the fine art discipline of Lego creations and is an avid collector of exclusive anime drawings. Both of her boys are blessed with many talents, and one has intellectual gifts that require advocacy and tailored support. When experiencing the emotional tugs of raising a child with special needs, Fredricka turns to her faith in God. She praises the Lord for the transformation that has taken place in her son’s life and her family’s spiritual growth. When away from home, Fredricka spends time with her LifeWay Christian Resources family serving as Human Resources Business Partner for the Resources Division.