When Autism and Faith in God Collide

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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.