Posted by: debstake | August 23, 2008

How Do You Find God in a Disability?


I am on a group on yahoo that touts 380 central Pennsylvanian families dealing with some form of Autism. Be it, Autism, Aspergers or PDD/NOS. The above question was asked by an individual on that group. The question was:

“How do you find God through a disability?  I didn’t find God in autism or my son’s diagnosis.  I had a close, personal relationship with God well before my son was even born.”

There were a good bit of conversation on this question. So I am posing the question here: How do YOU find God in a Disability? Here is my response:

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When JR was first diagnosed I went thru a time (about 5 years actually) that I truly hated God. I didn’t understand why an all merciful God would allow this to happen. Not just to my son but an entire generation of kids. When I discovered the vaccine connection (and yes IMHO there is a BIG connection) I couldn’t understand why God would allow the greed of man to destroy so many lives all for money. This attitude I had went on for a very long time. Every time something negative would happen (a dirty look in public because of a meltdown, aggressive behaviors, whatever the “negative” was) I would hate and blame God.

Then from October of 2004 until March of 2005 Rodney lost three beloved members of his family. His brother in October,  his Grandmother in January 2005 and his Stepfather in March 2005. That was it, that broke the camels back we had enough. We couldn’t stand anymore. And the healing process began from there. We found via a co-worker of Rodney’s a bible study group and we began to attend in May of 2005. We started to attend because of the deaths initially, but as time went on and we came to terms with those loses we were faced (or I should say I was faced) with dealing with all the rage, hatred, anger that this thing called autism caused in me. It was directed in so many directions, God, the drug cartels, our government for its roll in all this, I mean I was bitter in every way.  I was finally able to get a handle on it, look at it objectively and begin to realize that the rage would kill me if I didn’t get it under control. That small bible-study group helped me do all this. We were attending the bible study group for about 8 months before we stepped inside the church the group was attached to. I was very hesitant about going to this or any church. Past experiences with JR caused great hesitation on my part. We now attend the church because they love my son and accept him for who he is. God provided the path and we chose to walk down it.

Then I read Erma Bombecks story about how God chooses mothers of special needs kids. It’s called Patron Saint. As corny as this sounds that story got me through some of the darkest moments of this journey. So much so that I have it hanging framed on my living room wall. And I still look back on it when times get tough.

I have come to several conclusions over the years about why God allowed all this to happen to our family:

  • He saw what was coming with these dreadful vaccines and he needed warriors to fight the war.
    • I have a big mouth
    • I have very concrete opinions
    • I am not afraid to voice them
    • I am not afraid to take on the big boys
    • I love a good battle

Another thing about God (IMHO) is that he may give you trying times, tests if you prefer, but he never leaves you hanging out to dry to fight the fight alone. Because of autism I have met so many people along the journey that have helped our family. (edited by author) D.LeF. immediately comes to mind as does S. B. I did a lot of crying in the beginning on S’s. shoulder and in her ear and she was always there for me and my family. And all the other people I have met online and in real time who have given me bits of information on how to help JR. I first heard of bio-medicals via online chat forums from other parents.

Also, another benefit of autism is how it has brought my family together to fight the good fight. It has saved my marriage and made Samantha (my 14 year old) a much more empathic person, more aware of what life is like in a good sense and helped her to understand what it means to fight the good fight. We have been blessed in other ways as well. JR as most know here, goes to Vista and has been for six years now. Our school district has been so supportive of his placement and progress, they even purchased his Dynavox for his use. And Vista, all I can say is WOW!!! The progress he has made because of the dedicated staff there is just amazing. We never thought we would see this kind of progress in such a short period of time.

All of these gifts came I have no doubt, from GOD. Yeah we had to go thru a lot of hell to get to this level but looking back on it all and seeing how far we’ve all come has made it worth the journey. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. JR has been my greatest teacher and I thank God every single day for him, warts and all.

I guess in short what I am saying is God + Autism = Faith.

DEB

So, with so many parents raising a child with some uniqueness I put the question to you again:

HOW DO YOU FIND GOD IN A DISABILITY?

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Responses

  1. Eric,
    If one believes in God then one must also believe in the devil and the other way around. If there is good then equally there is evil. It is this evil that produces perverts, rapists, murders, and those who worship money (drug cartels, government, medical establishments etc etc etc) above what is right. The worship of money is why we have so many neurologically impaired individuals to begin with.

    At the same time God gave us free will. With free will comes heavy responsibility. I am responsible for the welfare of my son. And it may be “grace” as you say to accept things as they are. But I have never been that graceful a person. I believe in righting the wrongs and not just accepting things as they are. Without some form of justice (or the righting of the wrongs if you prefer) then there would never be anymore good. We would all be surrounded by evil all the time.

    I don’t know about you but that option is unbearable to me.

  2. Deb if god is actively involved then why would he put a paedophile in the men’s changing room at the YMCA or anyplace for that reason to violate your son? Raising an autistic child or one of the millions of other difficulties people around the world face is either all part of god’s plan and should not be challenged, but accepted, or there is no god. The Amish community that lost those precious children to a crazy guy, had the grace to accept that it god’s plan. My problem is that when we put everything down to god, it is often used as a do nothing solution to not make improvements in the world where their is injustice, famine, fear and poverty. I suggest you do the same, or ditch god and accept the reality of your situation and persevere to make small improvements when you can.

  3. Melissa,

    Being impatient I can really relate to. Samantha helped with that but again JR was my real test, my real teacher and without the support of Samantha, Rodney and so many that I can’t even remember some of them now, I would never have survived this journey.

    Autism is very challenging in many ways. And yet it is very rewarding as well. Seeing the milestones as he gains them is a thrill and something I NEVER take for granted anymore. I also don’t care how long it takes him to learn, the fact that he is learning is enough. Or as Greenspan is quoted saying: “who cares if the child with autism doesn’t learn to tie his shoes until he’s 10, when he’s 11 it’s not going to matter how long it took.”

    DEB

  4. God has a purpose in delivering such precious special gifts to all of us. I like to believe that I was such an impatient person before my gift of Hannah arrived, now my patience has no end! I thank God every day for trusting me with this child and I cannot imagine her to be any different than she is today!

  5. Kayla,
    Thank you for the kind words. It has taken me a very long time to reach this level of peace. And still I struggle with it, daily sometimes. Forgiving is so much easier than forgetting.

    And frankly when the dust of this autism war settles I don’t think we should forget, lest it happens again to another generation.

    DEB

  6. I enjoyed reading your story Deb. I enjoyed living it too!! You have greatened my knowledge in so many aspects of my life and being there for me (and our whole family). I am very thankful to have had you along side of me and to tell me of all the progress I’ve made. Well, let me tell you…I am very proud of you Deb!! You have come so far, so far these 5 years ago…this point of view and knowledge wasn’t there and I couldn’t have imagined this happiness and this “peace” about the autism connections that i see now inside of you. I am so thankful to say that even though my parents are dead, that you & Rodney are my earth-bound parents and your children are my siblings. 🙂 I will always love you Mom!

  7. Many of your reasons for finding God in autism may have some truth. I thought of many of them myself as I was working with autistics over the decades, but then I got to talk to them using FC and what an eye opener that was!


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