I’ve been toying with writing several topics on autism. And since April is Autism Awareness Month, I figured it was as good of a time as any.
Those of you who know me, know my son, Adam. He is an awesome kid. He’s sweet and kind (most of the time), and quite smart if you look past his disability. And those who have the pleasure to know Adam, love Adam. Everyone loves Adam.
Before he started school, I prayed that he wouldn’t be targeted by bullies. And God has been faithful. They not only not bully him, but he gave Adam a class of kids that not only like him, but they also support and defend him. And I feel blessed that he has given him the classmates he has. Matter of fact, throughout the years, teachers have all talked about what a great group of kids the class of 2019 is. And they are. A few years ago, I was talking to one of his teachers and told her how I much I love his class, and how great they are. And her comment to me brought me to sobbing, ugly tears.
She told me… “That class is special. And I think they are special because of your son.”
Now… How can I deny God working through my son after hearing those words? I don’t deny it. God has used my son without him even knowing it. He’s impacted those around him. However, one thing I don’t agree with is that God made him that way. Not any more than a child getting cancer, becoming blind, or paralyzed from an accident. When Adam was born, he was not autistic. He slipped into autism.
God didn’t design him to be autistic; he allowed him to be.
As much as I see the impact he’s made on people, I still pray for God to heal him. And yes, I believe autism can be healed. When I tell people that I pray for him to be healed, many times I hear something along the lines of “God created him that way.”
But I don’t believe it for one second.
The other thing I hear is: “Well if he didn’t have autism, he wouldn’t be Adam.” This is even more untrue. Adam is special because he is Adam, not because he has autism. Autism is holding him back from being even more amazing.
Autism keeps him from forming deep relationships. He can’t drive. He can’t date. He won’t marry and have children. He won’t go to college (at least in the near, foreseeable future), and more than likely, he will live with us until we die. And worst of all, It keeps him from a close, personal relationship with God. He knows about God (as much as he knows about bedtime stories), but he can’t connect with him or serve him or speak to him like a normal person can. The bible is too much for him to read, and his autism makes him selfish to care about serving others. And as much as it hurts my heart to see him miss out on all the experiences and relationships of life, him not being able to have the joy of serving God is the worst of all.
When God created man, he designed man to be in his image, to be in a relationship with him. Autism interferes with relationships. God would not create someone who cannot be in a relationship with him.
And… Adam is mild on the spectrum. I can’t help but think of those who aren’t so mild. Of thousands of children who are even more disconnected, who injure themselves. Kids who smear poop on the walls. Kids who bite themselves until they bleed, or bang their heads. Children who turn into adults and have to be put into institutions because they hurt their caregivers or themselves. Kids who don’t talk, don’t communicate. God wouldn’t create people who can’t be in a relationship with people or be able to serve him. There are people who have no quality of life because they are affected by autism. God wouldn’t create autism.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Autism doesn’t allow this.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
Autism takes away empathy and makes a person selfish. It is hard for them to think of others.
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Someone trapped in their thoughts, quoting the same YouTube video, banging their head on the wall, can’t do good works. They can’t serve God. God has prepared his creation to serve and love him, and autism doesn’t allow this.
So I pray.
Just like the blind man he made to see, I pray.
Like the crippled man Jesus made to walk, I pray.
Like the man with the withered hand, I pray.
God didn’t create my son’s autism. He created Adam, who is amazing. But I know that he is still trapped in the box of autism. I can’t help but wonder what he could accomplish without it weighing him down. And I often think about how incredible it would be for Got to heal him, of all the people who would see and believe the power of God. Yes…God may choose to use him with Autism still, and he may not want him to be healed of it. But even so, like the parable of the widow who kept going back to the unjust judge, I will continue to pray that cage will be removed from his mind. Until the day comes when I talk to God myself about my request, I will pray my big, bold prayers. If Jesus can make a dead man to rise again, he can repair what is broken in my son’s mind. I believe this. But I also know that the final decision is God’s.