Posted By Christina M on June 3, 2012
Several times in the past year or two I have read or heard someone talk about the “devastating” news that their child had autism. You know what? That kind of talk makes me mad. I mean, really mad.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not entirely unsympathetic toward parents who face a difficult road. Having special needs kids myself, I know how rough it can be. If I were in the hospital after giving birth and learned that my newborn that I’d eagerly awaited had a condition that would limit his or her life, I would feel a lot of conflicting feelings. And yes, maybe one of them would be devastated. But autism is different.
You see, babies aren’t diagnosed with autism. By the time your child is diagnosed, you already know him. You have already had a chance to grow to love him. And putting a word, a name, a diagnosis, to the way he is doesn’t change a darn thing about what you already observed in him. It doesn’t mean that the child you thought was going to be easy will suddenly be hard. It doesn’t mean that the child you communicated with will suddenly stop communicating. It simply means that the kid you already knew you had is the kid you have, and that the reasons for the way he is have a name.
Are you going to suddenly stop loving him because of a diagnosis?
If anything, a diagnosis should be a relief. He isn’t throwing fits because he’s undisciplined; it’s sensory issues, or frustration over not being able to communicate. He isn’t making noises to mock you, he is expressing a tic. And he isn’t difficult because he is hopeless; rather, because you now have a name for his condition, you now have hope for help. You can now begin learning what his special needs are, so that you can meet them.
In this society of designer genes, I think some people think there is something shameful in having a child who has some imperfection. But the reality is that God doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, and if you have a child with a special need, God is expressing his incredible trust in you by giving you this unique and blessed calling. Besides, there is no such thing as a perfect child. At least, not by the designer standard. If those who don’t “meet up” to such high expectations are a disappointment, a mistake, maybe you should ask yourself if you are, yourself, a mistake. Because you aren’t “perfect” either.
And that’s a good thing. We have a God who designed us the way we are, so that He could show His love for us. A God who died for us, even while knowing our flaws. If He can die for each of us, even while knowing that some will reject the gift, I think we can love our own children, surprises and all, without demanding or expecting superficial perfection.