I asked my good friend, Tenderrlee Hughes, to write a piece for Autism Awareness Month. I really wanted her to share how her faith has played a role in being a mother of children on the Autism spectrum. Hope you're blessed.
As some of you may know, April is Autism Awareness month. I am a struggling older single mom with two young adult children (out of four) remaining at home who are both special needs: Asperger’s, autism, severe ADHD, OCD, PDD-NOS, Bi-polar, learning disabilities. You name it, I probably deal with it daily in my home!
I am 57 yrs old and with the Lord being my strength and my portion, I have raised all of my children pretty much single-handedly, especially the two youngest, Isaiah and Genesis, my two “special” kiddos.
Life, raising one child with special needs, let alone two, is not for the fainthearted and is a life of sacrifices. Our “road” traveled the last 23 years has been quite a rocky one: Frustration and tears over sometimes not understanding my children and what they are thinking, what to do about the extreme behavioral issues….. I have asked myself numerous times, “How could ANYONE do this without the Lord and survive?” As I have met many other parents of special needs children along the way, through school, Special Olympics, and work, I have found the answer. Without the Lord, most parents DON’T survive and end up deep in despair, find mental health professionals and meds for themselves if not alcohol for their comfort and escape.
I could go on and on about all the trials over time with special needs children: the holes punched in the walls, the numerous IEP and special education meetings at school, and many visits with teachers, and principals because of outbursts or usually because of the constant bullying done to them…. and doctors and even police visits…..but….
I have always tried to make speaking to and about the Lord and using God’s Word in our lives, as daily as our 3 meals a day. Isaiah, at 23, has had the greater struggle. He has only embraced his autism just in the last couple of years and that because of the Lord in his life. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times he would tell me when he was in high school, “Mom, I just want to wake up and be normal.” Because I have always prayed with the children every night for as long as they can remember, we began praying that one day, Isaiah would accept how God made him and want to be used for whatever God wants, special needs and all.
Genesis, 22, has always embraced who she is and made a decision to follow Christ when she was in grade school. She is a bubbly one who can talk the hind leg off a mule, but this girl has put my faith to shame at times! I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of an example:
After nearly 10 years (including times of separation) of living with a very verbally abusive husband, (the children’s stepfather), a threat was made on my life, the police were called, then our family counselor was called for a meeting the following night. The plan was for Isaiah & Genesis to have their say about what happened, then they would be dismissed to their rooms so the adults could get down to “brass tacks.” Isaiah had his brief comment, then left. Genesis got up out of her seat and I cringed to think of what she might say as she was so unpredictable. She looked right at him and said, “Daddy, you are so mean and hateful to us….but I still love you.” Then she turned and walked away.
Autism and Faith collided.
I would like to think that I have been instrumental in nurturing my special kiddos in the Lord. (And it definitely helps to have wonderful support from older siblings and a great church family to assist in that!) But it is Isaiah & Genesis who have helped ME grow in the Lord!