Ten truths for parents of kids with autism…Colleen Swindoll-Thompson

slide-jonathan-colleen3Colleen Swindoll-Thompson’s new book When Life Isn’t Fair: What They Didn’t Teach Us in Sunday School will be available as a premium to those who donate to Insight For Living during the month of March. Here’s a post she shared with our readers several years ago…

Shock. Disbelief. Anger. Hopeful. Bewildered. Relieved.  Words that represented my feelings leaving the doctor’s office that day; and feelings that wave through my soul like the sea swells through the oceans.  My son was diagnosed with Autism 16 years ago; 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with the same lifelong, no cure disability.  The icy, windy winter afternoon, it was clear that Jon’s life, my life,  and all of life would not fit the picture I had painted.

In it all, I want you to know, you are not alone. Finding a “new normal” is not easy.  Life is challenging. But you are never alone.  There is much loneliness, but you are not alone. Jesus Christ experienced everything you endure; He walked through the anguish and walks with you today. He encountered social battering,  religious rejection, and was betrayed by His closest friends.  Christ had siblings who didn’t understand their brother. He wept, He begged God to find another way, and eventually, He was killed.  But, that was NOT the end of his life; this was the beginning of life eternal.

Colleen's bookToday, 17 years into Jon’s life, his complicated disabilities have not been reduced, they have grown.  His diagnosis includes: severe Tourette ’s syndrome, autism, intellectual and global developmental disabilities, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and complicated trauma syndrome. He has endured bullying and profound mistreatment. Yet, in it all, I have more freedom, more joy, more hope because it is birthed and grown by the grace of my sovereign, faithful, good, unlimited God and Heavenly Father.  Dear friend or parent, if I may offer you some rays of hope in the dark tunnel of autism, may our Lord be honored and your soul be filled with hope.

Limited to 10 truths, I pass along the following lessons I’ve learned:

1)      I have learned: You cannot handle the burdens of life. If you could, would you need a Savior. Strength to carry on is given by God alone so depend on Him.

2)     I have learned:  There is a profound purpose in loneliness and isolation.  Darkness reveals the true condition of your soul which is being refined through fire.

3)     I have learned:  Rejecting the help of others reveals pride, not strength.  Part of soul care means humbling oneself under God and accepting His grace.

4)     I have learned:  Misplaced hope is not true hope.  Therapies, studies, doctors, specialists, examinations, report cards, school advocacy, diets, answers will never provide you with a final answer and renewed hope.  Hope comes only from the Lord.

5)     I have learned:  True forgiveness is tough when judgment, rejection, and betrayal come our way.  Forgiving or resenting is a choice; forgiving is a command. Asking God for help to forgive opens our soul.

6)      I have learned:  There is a vast difference between ‘the God of my Bible stories” and “the God of the Bible”.  Abiding faith does not come from false beliefs but from the truths of God; immerse your mind on what is true.

7)     I have learned:  God is NOT required to answer our questions.  Entitlement demands answers; God is never required to give an explanation.

8)      I have learned:  Resentment reflects my selfishness. Finding relief is not what God promises; becoming self-less brings relief.

9)     I have learned:  God’s love is unconditional.  Authentic faith is cultivated when we believe God embraces us with His love.

10)    I have learned:  accepting Christ as my eternal Savior is the only way on the journey of life with autism. In Christ, there is eternal hope and joy.  Life is tough, but God is always good and faithful.

Updated March 5, 2015

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Square Peg Round HoleKey Ministry has assembled a helpful resource on the topic of Asperger’s Disorder and Spiritual Development. This page includes the blog series Dr. Grcevich and Mike Woods developed for Key Ministry, links to lots of helpful resources from other like-minded organizations, and Dr. Grcevich’s presentation on the topic from the 2012 Children’s Ministry Web Summit. Click here to access the page!

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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