When Autism and Faith in God Collide


A few weeks ago, many in the autism community observed "Autism Sunday," also known as the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger Syndrome. The annual event, which takes place during the second week of February, encourages people from all denominations across the globe to pray for those affected by autism spectrum disorders. The response to this year’s event was extremely heartening, knowing that so many other people were committed to praying about something that is responsible for affecting over 67 million people.

As a person of devout faith, one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with during my Christian walk was learning of my son’s autism. When he was first diagnosed at the age of three, some of the many questions I posed to myself included why me?, am I being punished? and how could this have happened? Since that time and after many highs and lows, I’ve not only been given the answers, but I’ve also been able to encourage others who posed these difficult questions themselves.

Let me begin by saying that I believe God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and the Creator of all things. He does not make mistakes, never needs a plan B and will never be caught off-guard. As such, I am comforted in knowing that my son’s autism did not happen by accident nor did it take God by surprise.

When we first received his diagnosis, I remember initially feeling angry at God and my faith was tested in a major way. After all, it took me over two years to get pregnant and I felt as if my child was a direct answer to prayer.

The questioning and doubting that ensued is something that most parents struggle with at some point in time during their autism journeys. For those who do not share the same beliefs as me, the questions may come in different forms, but I think at some point, we all ask why we’ve been dealt such a difficult lot in life.

I did not choose autism — it chose me. It came and kicked in our door as an unwelcome guest. With that in mind, I know that God has entrusted me with my child’s autism, knowing it was something I and my family could bear. Not only has this been proven correct, but we have been able to witness and experience many miracles, joys and triumphs in the past six years. Our child is a gift and I would not change a hair on his head. His uniqueness, talents and personality were all created the way God intended.

As a believer, perhaps the best answer to the question of "why me" can be found in the ninth chapter of the book of John.

When encountering a man who was blind from birth, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

Whenever my family faces challenges associated with my son’s condition, we are encouraged by knowing that despite our struggles, he is being used by God to impact other people’s lives and glorify Him in the process.

Additionally, my son’s condition is not a "curse," nor is it an affliction, but rather a gift that is being used to enrich and bless those around him, beginning with me.

21 Responses to When Autism and Faith in God Collide

  1. Lawrence says:

    I share so many of your comments it is unreal. My boy is 39 soon and he and his condition have certainly changed me and my perceptions of the world, and he cannot speak a word.

  2. Susan says:

    This same sense of acceptance and purpose can come philosophically and existentially.

  3. Ivonne says:

    I didn’t know about this day, thank you for sharing message. I think the big gift to ourselves is watching how our kids change us. My personal experience has been thinking that I was my son’s advocate and therapist, always looking for ways to help him grow and succeed. With time, I realized that he was changing me too. I became a much patient person, more tolerant and sympathetic. My son taught me to love unconditionally and I became a better person from having him in my life. He learned to communicate with a letterboard and is currently earning his high school diploma. He just took his first CAHSEE test and looking forward to getting the results. He’s come a long way and I’ve seen God’s hand throughout his life. He’s been Blessed with so many good people, I call them God’s angels, that have helped him get to this point in his life. What a Blessing indeed. :)

  4. Ruth Snyder says:

    Amen! I thank God that you see the miracles that few see…in autism…like me.

  5. Marc Bordeaux says:

    What did Jesus mean by “… this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him?” I don’t understand the connection between a “work of God” and Him having created someone with severely hindered mental or physical abilities. If someone is blind, they can’t see the beauty of nature. How is that a good thing?

  6. Salvatore LaRosa says:

    To Marc Bordeaux: Goddoes not create the affliction but uses it for good. God knows all things from beginning to end. He uses each of our lives for His glory. He will take care of the afflicted. Where does it come from (the affliction)? I cn’t begin to say but I know in my heart it does not come from a loving God.

  7. mindy says:

    We also have a son who still has an Autism diagnosis. I felt as you did, and often wondered what life was going to be like for him, and for all of us until we die. Then, God reminded me that he is not the author of confusion. In the children, in the family, in our lives. As I began to study and follow His lead, I met Jehova Raffah, the Lord our Healer. I realized that the same Lord that delivered children in the gospels (they didn’t have a word for autism back then) wants to deliver/heal our children as well. He wants us to open our eyes to the truth of what all of this is and fight for our children. Have “boldness in our hope” of who He is and who we are. Who are children are intended to be. Please, be encouraged. He loves you, He loves your children, and all the promises of God “find their yes in HIM!”

  8. Mabel says:

    I know of a woman who is refusing to accept that her child is autistic. I am an early childhood educator and have worked with special needs students for over three years and I can clearly see that her 12 year old son is in need of proper diagnosis and help. She allowed the school to evaluate him and they told her he was fine, but the education system in Florida (esp. in Collier county) is subpar. The mother has no medical insurance or government assistance to seek the professional opinion of a pediatrician or psychologist. She and the people at her church state their faith is strong and the Lord has healed the child, but I just cannot as a Christian and an educator continue to see this going on. What suggestions do y’all have to help me get help for this child???

  9. Nancy says:

    To Mabel: I would say you need to get the mother to buy into the fact that her child needs help. Autism takes a lot of work by the family, and if mom is not on board, the helping is not going to happen.

    On another note, I’ve been recently struggling with God’s purpose for children with autism. Often I hear that their purpose is to teach patience and long-suffering to their loved ones and care-takers, but I want to know if it goes beyond that. Can those special gifts from God, the children who have autism, have a purpose in their own right, one that goes further than simply to refine the character of those around them? Not that the patience-growing is wrong, or a minor thing, but I’m looking for the “something more”.

  10. davidtrainman says:

    i too wonder why should a child have ASD diagnosis or some other disability , but there are no easy answers. I certainly, and as I get older too, get more patient and understanding and my 13yo lads ASD has changed our life a lot and contributed a lot to us. when my wife was pregnant with him, we almost lost him via a miscarriage and we often wonder – what does God have in store for this lad, us and the world?

  11. david says:

    2 autistic sons one 19 and one 7 has done nothing but to weaken my faith, and keep my family from being active in church like we were before we had them. How is that for “The Glory of God”? No I’m not bitter, I just do not understand.

  12. Anna says:

    I’m autistic and without it, I wouldn’t have my doggie friends, my beautiful praying mantises, two snails, and two fish. I wouldn’t be listening to Tobymac and Third Day. I would just be average (my iq is 138!). I would not be posting this comment. Autism is God’s creation. It’s the sin of exclusion that should be stopped.

  13. Melissa says:

    For David, the temple of God is not inside a church it’s where anyone gathers to pray together. God’s very breath is inside you. God is everywhere. He is with your heart and soul. Pray and worship where you are. Did the apostles always have a place to worship? No but they took the news of God’s Words everywhere to share with others. I have a 5 year old at home who has autism and a 16 and ten year old who do not have autism. Look up the words: Worship in the dictionary to find how to worship: It means to show honor, respect, count worthy, show homage. That is all you need in your life to do.

  14. Anna says:

    David, I’m autistic and have a strong faith in God. You need to surrender to His will and let Him work through your sons. All you need is God. He has a plan and your sons are a part of that plan. Maybe God is saying that they are your church and that you don’t need a large congregation. For me, it’s like I don’t have a film between me and the world like normal people do. As a result, the world seems more cruel, but at the same time more beautiful. That way, I let the Lord guide me through my life. Just so you know, I’m 12 years old and the Lord is working through me every day.

  15. Kathy Omalley says:

    that is beautiful Anna,,, so insightful ,

  16. nani says:

    I just want to say thank you for posting talking about the story in John with the blind man cause that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today.

  17. L says:

    My husband and I have two children that have had diagnosed with Autism back in 2005 and 2006.

    It has not been easy. We went any and everywhere to see every specialist which has almost bankrupted us. We have seen improvements but the Autism never went completely away.

    Last January our oldest (11 at the time) was healed by God in a dream. Life has been very different for her since then. She is so different! We love both our children unconditionally, but is wonderful for her to feel good in her own skin now.

    Our son (9) is on a path to wholeness and I believe he will be in excellent health soon.

    I would not begin to think I get this Autism thing! Or arrogant enough to think we did something to deserve our daughter being visited by God in a dream. However, I know that God has a plan for my children’s life. A plan to give them a hope and future with our without Autism!

  18. LGM says:

    To L: Thanks for writing this. It is just good to know that God still works miracles and autism is not to hard for him. I have a 9 year old son who suffers with this disease. It is very difficult and hard on me and his older brother, as dad is not in the picture. I am praising God for your message as it gives me hope.

  19. colton says:

    I am 15, I deal with asperger’s syndrome. I myself have been tested myself not with my own behaviors but of my conscience. Autism and Schizophrenia do have some in-commons between diagnostic fields for example, auditory and visual allusions and misconceptions.

    I have heard a voice when I was 7 that was evil when it told me God was stupid. The same voice came at me when I was 9 when it told me I was going to die in a matter of minutes and be in hell. My mind saw fire, I don’t know if the image was sent or created. I had a scary experience with Satan. When the week preceding Christmas 2012. I told my parents about how overwhelmed my soul and life was and about the Newtown incident. Then all of a sudden I was panicking and telling my parents something bad is happening and my mind felt a presence of serious evil which told me to threaten my parents with a gun. I screamed Go away Satan, he caused me to shiver and grind my teeth. My parents said a prayer over me and I was at peace. After New Year’s I had a chemical imbalance had an allusion and God and Satan were talking about me and I didn’t know what to do because I was groggy. Since then at one point late last month I had gloomy thoughts at a restaurant and once I got in the car I became bizarre but crying then aggressive at one point where my dad tried to tell me to back off. Afterwards I was deeply overwhelmed and I told my Dad that I thought that I didn’t feel God’s touch and we prayed to receive grace.

  20. alexis says:

    i really need help guess. im 17 and both of my brothers(the only siblings i have) have asburgers. i dont see what god is trying to tell me or my family. my parents have been in and out of the picture all of our lifes. so i motherd my brothers alot but all i got from this exsperiance was villance. all villance. the younger one is really sweet but he talks aboutmy mom burning in hell alot bc shes never there for him and it hurts bc i almost lost my mom to suicide my older one IS VERY VIOLENT. hes been in jail for the past three years bc he beat my grama. he tried to kill me when i was 9 he was abused bc he made my dad so mad and ive never seen a change in him i lived in fear all my life and still now that some one will get hurt my brother has a lot of charges from vilant things and he had to move out at 16 because he became uncontrolable. im constantly living in fear i dont understand why god will put me through all this and im scared to have kids beause of it bc i dont know how to love all ive seen is hate and vilance what could god passible want from me.

  21. ron says:

    I think all of you who posted here and say you are autistic must have a mild form. My son could not put 3 words together much less post on a website. autistic vs has autism.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
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