One of Sketch's favorite things to do is to pick up his First Act guitar, and strum confidently on the out of tune strings and sing the song Brooke Frasier sings on Hillsong: The Desert Song. One of the lines in the chorus is, "No weapon forged against me shall remain" a song crafted from the Scriptures, Isaiah 54:17 "no weapon forged against you will prevail".
As I was listening to him one day, singing his heart out and mimicking Brooke Fraser perfectly, it struck me that so many people think of autism as a weapon forged against them. It comes across in the way they talk about autism being a "dragon to be slayed" or that they want to "stomp out the autism" to save their child, or to get their child back.
It is very, very hard to watch your child loose skills they once had, to retreat into a world of silence and aloneness. (I have one through this twice, so I don't say what I'm about to say lightly!)
But, what I would like to propose is that trying to rid a child of the symptoms of autism by stomping it out, discrete trial-ing it out, or going to all lengths to eliminate the symptoms so they "look" normal, is not the way to to go about "helping" a child with autism.
The "dragon", the "thing" to stomp out, is not in the child: it is in the mind.
Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes autism really does stink. Sometimes I really can't see the treasure in the circumstance surrounding a massive tantrum, and I really, at times, feeling like stomping myself!
But, the autism is NOT the enemy.
God created these kids this way for a purpose. (for more on this, you can visit my previous post, Autism with a Purpose) He wasn't unaware in the womb when they were forming. He was there, intimately involved in every step... forming organs, creating neurological pathways, opening eye lids in just the right place, etc. And when we come down to the nitty gritty, we are all made the same.
Slight tangent coming:
We are all held together by Jesus: "He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together." Col 1: 17.
If any of you have heard Louie Giglio's talk about Laminin in "How Great is Our God", you know that Laminin is the cross shaped protein in our bodies that holds our cells together. Here is a link to the section of the presentation. Jesus holds us together, with his cross imprinted through out our entire body!
Isn't that cool, I mean, when we feel like we are coming "unglued" or that our kids are coming unglued, there is Jesus, holding us together. I've often been surprised that I (or my children) haven't once actually fallen apart!
Anyway, back to the point:
The weapon we are dealing with is not autism, the weapon is our own thoughts about autism.
The enemy's main battlefield is in our minds, not our children.
Not that autism is not a problem -- don't get me wrong. Sometimes it just plain stinks...well, sometimes the stink isn't "plain" at all but quite pungent. Like last week with Sketch, for instance. He ran away again, threw a fit upon being found, threw a major nutty in the car on the way to church, etc.... it just plain stinks sometimes.
And I'm not one of those people who thinks there is nothing wrong with them, that they're just different... (I wonder about those people because they continue to take their kids to therapies and want help for them, so somewhere they must realize that it just isn't a "difference")
There are negatives, we are all aware of that fact, but that does not negate their value in Jesus eyes.
It doesn't negate the "holiness of God" in relation to how he made them...
It doesn't diminish the treasure he's planted in them.
It doesn't take away his purpose for them--it probably enhances it!
My kids with autism can talk freely about Jesus and sing songs about Christ in school--and no one tells them to stop! Actually, most of the time the teachers say they appreciate it.
And really, those super stinky things that happen because of how their brains process things, is not really any worse sometimes than what NT kids do. When an NT kids says mean things to their parents--like Nemo (from Finding Nemo) when he told his father he "hates" him. Or when a teen gives into peer pressure and gets into drugs, or sex outside of marriage... That all stinks too...
I don't think I'd switch my child who throws tantrums when he's not in the car he thinks he should be in, for a child that is addicted to drugs.
Here the problem is not the autism... it is sin. And sin is a result of our nature and the plans of the enemy... "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph 6:12
Our stuggle is not against autism...but against the lies the Enemy tells us about it.
Those lies have no power when held up to the light of the truth in the Bible. When listed next to what God says about his creation... they are cast down. They cannot prosper... No weapon formed against you will prosper... Autism will be here... But the false ways we think about it, well, that will not prosper.
Some headlines I've seen recently are: "Overcome the symptoms of autism and be recovered" or being "released from the clutches of autism" This ways of thinking make me cringe!!! The clutch is not autism. Overcoming the symptoms is just robotic training, not valuing the person as God made them.
How much more helpful and respectful would it be to focus on showing them the value of relationships instead? Instead of forcing them to make eye-contact in order to get a reward, what if we earned the eye contact by interacting in a way so that they want to look at us? Now that would be an awesome mutual reward! When they feel the value of relationships, then they are internally motivated to interact--it's self-rewarding! And then, their self esteem is lifted up, their confidence boosted... The person God created them, is honored.
So lets stop our dragon slaying, and start aligning our thoughts with the thoughts of God!
2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."