Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.
Special Needs Children & Special Needs Families
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).
My second child, Kyle, was born May 24, 2002. He was a big, healthy baby and was, and will always be, a tremendous blessing to me. We noticed at an early age that he was not reaching the typical milestones for babies and toddlers in terms of walking, talking, etc. We had him tested for hearing loss, brain function, blood tests and more. All of the tests came back normal, but his development was not normal. In particular, he showed little interest in talking and had a very limited vocabulary.
Eventually, we received a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (pervasive development disorder – not otherwise specified). I remember looking at that and thinking, “Okay, now we know what we have, so let’s make a plan to fix it.” However, I later realized that his autism is a spectrum disorder with no known cure, and the spectrum covers patients identified as high functioning to severe. To me, the diagnosis sounded more like — We don’t really know what your child has so we created a category and called it PDD-NOS instead of WDK (we don’t know).
Families with a special needs child have special needs of their own — schools, churches, restaurants, dentists, etc. that are accommodating to special needs children. We were blessed to find an excellent Pre-K program at Southdowns Elementary in Baton Rouge. However, Kyle aged out of the program and we were left looking at options that ranged from lousy to expensive. We declined lousy and hired a private teacher to work with our son. Also, our church was accommodating and invited us to attend several meetings to discuss setting up a special needs Sunday School room.
I have heard some parents say that when they received the diagnosis of autism, they felt as if part of their child had died, that their dreams and hopes for their child had been shattered and that their child would not live a “typical” life. I never felt that way. I believe in continuous improvement. So Kyle goes to school all year long. This is expensive, but it is best for his development.
I realize that there are many things he will never do, such as get married, drive a car, or play high school sports — and that is fine with me. I focus on the things that he can do. He can go for walks with me and hold my hand. He can go to the movies with me and share a tub of popcorn and a soda while we enjoy an animated movie. He enjoys playing fetch with our dog. And he can give the best hugs that will cure a headache much better than any aspirin.
A child with special needs certainly puts a strain on any marriage. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin at Madison found that parents with ASD children were nearly twice as likely to get divorced than couples without disabled children. The study revealed something else interesting: the divorce rates in parents with disabled children did not increase until the children became teens or adults. My own marriage ended after 20 years when Kyle was 12 years old.
Kyle has a bright future, and I want him to become as independent as possible. Like other children, he yearns for his father’s approval and I try to always acknowledge every good thing that he does. So there is no need to change or “cure” Kyle. He is perfect just as he is. He is a child of God and a tremendous blessing to me. I want him to live a happy life.
We hold hands and pray before each meal. I offer the blessing and then gently squeeze his hand at the end and he clearly and proudly says, “Amen!” Kyle is a blessing to me and has taught me so much about what is really important in life.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of children. Be with us as we raise them to reach their full potential as Your children. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
We welcome your comments below.
Liked this post?
Read more below or search for more topics...
Seeing Jesus Through the Crowd 1 “Jesus was going through the city of Jericho. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus, who was a very important tax collector, and he was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because he was too short to see above the crowd. 4 He ran ahead to a place where Jesus would come, and he climbed a sycamore tree so he could see him. 5 When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today.” 6 Zacchaeus came down quickly and welcomed him gladly. 7 All...
A MAN’S ROLE IN THE FAMILY AND IN THE CHURCH A man must model genuine godly masculine behavior to his children so that they will grow up as godly people and seek godly partners for marriage. That was part of the message from Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin at the September Man Up men’s ministry meeting at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church. More than 175 men attended. Interim Senior Pastor Tony Perkins says the men’s ministry program had become less active in recent years. His father, Richard Perkins, had to vacate his position as director of men’s ministries in 2015 due...
Owners and Stewards "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it" (Malachi 3:10 NIV).Stewardship at most churches is an awkward topic because most of us look at it as a means to give up “our” money. We all have worked hard for our money and naturally want to protect it, which is in fact good stewardship. According to...