I want to ask the question, what role does faith play in your life with autism? That question is somewhat rhetorical but it’s something that I think so many of us need to ask ourselves. With the struggles that autism can present, the frequent meltdowns, the anxiety (for our child and for ourselves), trips to the various therapy sessions, the hours of homework that really should only take 20 to 30 minutes, and the constant questions we share wondering what the world holds in store for our child after we are gone. For some of us, there are the periods of grief we may have after find out our child has autism, we may feel that we have failed our child, that it was something we did (or didn’t do). We may have mounting frustration from the ignorance of others, a lack of understanding or simply not knowing what we can do to make the world easier for our child to live in or ensure the world understands who he is. When we sum it up, we simply wonder and worry.
Where do we get our strength from? Our spouses, absolutely! My lovely bride is in many ways a rock for me. She provides me with a different point of view, companionship and can often feel when I need that reassuring word. What about our support groups? Of course, we come together to share stories and relate, there are times where our struggles lead us to tears but we have one another to lean on for comfort. There is a great place in our lives for this and in many ways that is why F.A.A.S.T. has become what it is, because of the families who lend support, an open heart and an understanding, nonjudgmental friend who’s been there or is there. That said, there is one place that we can look to that is always there, always at the ready; our faith.
I will be the first to admit I have not always been the go to church every week, religious individual. I have a strong belief in my faith and my church, I have a testimony of the gospel and the teachings of my church, but at the same time I’ve had challenges that have tested my faith, just as each of us have. I’ve asked the questions “why me” and “why him, what did we do wrong for him to have to face a world that struggles to understand him?” Why? Well, in every individuals life, there comes those challenges that present themselves and we often hear, “God doesn’t give us a challenge we can’t handle”which I completely believe. I do believe that our Father in Heaven gives us what we need, when we need it and He also gives us the challenges we need for our own growth. For a long time, I struggled to understand that concept. What it came down to is I did not have the faith I needed to be taught the lessons that I needed to learn.
So I’ll ask the question again, what role does faith play in your life with autism? As I was in church today, I entered a moment of reflection and thought about all the great people who I have met through our small group of families, our network of friends we’ve met through F.A.A.S.T.. I thought about the voice that I have been given because of my now 11 year old son who inspired my wife and me to start this little adventure. I thought about the lessons that our sons diagnosis has taught us; patience, adaptation, action. I thought about the great opportunity I have had to tell our story to Senators and Representatives, to strangers and to friends, to find my voice, my mission in life. I’ve thought about how my sons’ diagnosis has improved my faith in the plan our Heavenly Father has for each of us, starting with me. It is clear that God gave us our son, the person and the individual he is, to teach us, to guide us and to lead us down the path he wants for us. He has given us Kian because with him, brought the lessons we needed to learn, the things we could not see before, to improve our faith in Him.
In whatever way you define faith, whether it is “confidence or trust in a person or thing” or “belief that is not based on proof”, I have found a great deal of peace in myself because of my faith. It is not because of one scripture or one persons teachings, but because I have faith that our Father in Heaven has given me the gift of a son who happens to have autism. I have faith that the world Kian lives in will be kind, helpful and fruitful. I have faith that our Father in Heaven has given me this voice because it is what I am here to do and because of that, I will do what I can do to prepare the world for Kian and Kian for the world until my last breath on this earth. And, I have faith that when that time comes and I can no longer be here in body, Kian will be ok, regardless of his autism.