One of the things I struggle with the most as a parent of two children on the autism spectrum is the question, “Am I doing enough?”
I think most parents could identify with this question. However, for John and me, things that most kids intuitively ‘get,’ we have to address and teach our boys. For children on the autism spectrum need prolonged instruction on perspective-taking, on cause and effect, on how one thing/event can be generalized and applied to another thing/event. New social situations can be difficult; for Jake, especially. Helping Jake understand that we do not necessarily know what will happen in a new place, but yet trying to give him a sequence of possible scenarios is tricky. Sometimes it works. Other times, it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, Jake often gets stuck.
There are hundreds of books that address the needs of autistic children. However, the thing that I know is that once you have met a child on the autism spectrum, you have met only one child on the autism spectrum. Every single child on the autism spectrum is his own person with his own unique personality, and social, emotional, behavioral and academic needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. For our family, we have two children on the spectrum. Jake and Caleb’s autism characteristics present themselves in different ways.
We need help to parent our sons. Whom do we seek for assistance when there is no one-size-fits-all approach to their parenting?
A long time ago, the nation of Israel, sought help for their challenges. They didn’t have any parenting self-help books or parenting classes on ASD children, and their difficulties were nothing like ours, instead, they centered upon keeping their nation safe from enemy attack. They chose a man-made solution to their problems:
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses who trust in the multitudes of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or seek help from the LORD. Isaiah 31:1 NIV
I am grateful for this verse today. I can identify with the Israelites and their desire to be kept safe by a strong ally. Sometimes, I too, want to rely on some one stronger and mightier and wiser to help me with my boys.
I am reminded, though, that misplaced trust leads to ruin. Instead of looking up to their God for help and salvation, the nation of Israel descended to level ground where they could only see the strength and power of Egypt’s chariots, horses and their riders. They failed to envision the full majesty, surrounding strength, and holy power of their God.
I am capable of doing the same thing.
When I see only what is before me and all the work and effort that is needed to help my boys grow up to be fully-functioning members of society, I am leveled. I sink. I descend into a pit of discouragement and become just as stuck as my son Jake in a new situation where he feels out of control. I see how far we have left to journey and fail to remember how far we have come with the help of our of gracious God.
For yes, my God is gracious and He is good.
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him! Isaiah 30:18 NIV
The Israelites were unwilling to wait for their God to act on their behalf. They sought help from a human source who actually could not offer a long term solution for their needs.
For my family and for me, I want to wait for our God to act on our family’s behalf. We seek a supernatural source of help who can provide a gracious, fulfilling and eternal solution to every single need we present before Him.
We need to look up, not down.
Just as Jake and Caleb need instruction on perspective, I do too. My God offers His gracious perspective and His blessed solution for our family’s cares and concerns. We trust Him to lead us on as we strive to do all that we can for our children to address their very real needs.
I may continue to question if I am doing enough for my boys. However, that’s not really the question. The question is, where will I look for help with my children? The answer is found in the leadership, guidance and compassion of my God. He will help me do what is right, prudent and best for my children.
This helps me be at peace as I entrust my children to His care. The answers come with time, patience, love, and by seeking my gracious God.