Many of you know that our six-year old son was diagnosed with autism several years ago. Prior to his diagnosis, we were really struggling with his behaviors, not knowing what to do. Afterwards, we sometimes struggled with accepting the diagnosis, wondering why the Lord would allow these difficulties to enter our family dynamic.
As he has grown and matured, we have seen tremendous improvements in Jonah’s behavior. He can carry on conversations, he can sit and listen to a story, he can READ those stories (!), and he is generally able to play with other children his age.
But he continues to struggle with attention deficits and impulsivity. He has difficulty controlling his body and understanding personal space.
This year, Jonah has a wonderful kindergarten teacher and he has flourished under her nurturing care, but frankly, I worry about how he will fit in when he starts first grade.
He will not be able to sit for hours in a desk.
He will not be able to keep his mouth closed for hours while listening to his teacher.
It’s disheartening for me as his mom because I’ve been in those first grade classrooms, and I know the expectations required of the children. I’ve seen first hand how the “rowdy” kid, the one who just can’t seem to control his impulses, gets sent to the principal’s office time and time again.
And I’ve seen the defeat in that child’s eyes.
I don’t want that for my child.
I don’t want that for any child.
Recently I was listening to an interview with Sally Clarkson and her adult son Nathan. Nathan had been one of those “hard to handle” boys. You know the kind I’m talking about. The ones who never sit still and who can’t control their impulses. Boys like my Jonah.
While listening to this interview, I could certainly identify with Sally’s feelings as a mom. But what really stood out to me was this statement.
“I realized that God wants my son to be different. To be impulsive. He wired my son that way so that when God tells him to go, he will go.”
Now read that again. And insert the name of your “hard to handle” child.
“I realized that God wants ________ to be different. To be impulsive. He wired ________ that way so that when God tells him to go, ________ will go.”
It brings tears to my eyes.
Isn’t this what we want for all of our children? For them to follow God to the ends of the earth if that’s where He leads them? To be bold, to be impulsive, to be courageous while chasing after Jesus?
Those three little sentences spoken in that interview encouraged me to shift my attitude from frustration over impulsive and hyperactive behaviors to gratefulness that the Lord wired Jonah the way he did.
And as I listened to the interview, I was reminded of a conversation we had with Jonah a few weeks ago. We had recently seen the Disney movie “Moana” and of course the main character had to overcome lots of adversity throughout the course of the movie. After watching the movie and processing it for a few days, Jonah said this:
“If something bad like that happened to me, I wouldn’t give up.”
Oh, how I love his tenacity and perseverance! And little does he know all the things he has already overcome in his short life.
I’m so thankful that the Lord keeps speaking truth into my life. He is so kind to remind me that He has a plan for my children and our family.
And He has a plan for your family too.
So, Mom, when you get frustrated with your child’s imperfections or diagnoses, remember that God intimately knows your child and He has hard-wired that child to do great things for Him.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.” Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV)
And for more encouragement, check out my devotional, Mommy Has Crinkles, on Amazon.