This is the first time I’ve written about autism. It was not on my radar for a long time, but we have several families with children with autism in our church. I came to realize while I caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s that autism and Alzheimer’s have a lot in common. Individuals with both of these disorders often tend to exhibit inappropriate behavior, poor social skills, and even violent outbursts. They don’t want to behave as they do, but the Alzheimer’s or the autism takes control.
Recognizing that there are many differences between the two disorders, seeing what they had in common helped me to understand and appreciate what parents and siblings of autistic children contend with. Parents love their children so much, but caring for them is challenging. One mother of a sweet little boy with autism said, “I love my son, but I hate autism!”
I was flabbergasted to learn from the Autism Society:
the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys.
Autism is a development disability, a very complex one, and many people with it exhibit different symptoms. You can learn more at the Autism Society website.
The image in this post is the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Ribbon from the Autism Society:
The puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope—hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives.
Often we see children misbehaving or acting in unusual ways, and we assume their parents haven’t trained them well. But maybe it would be good to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the child has autism, and in spite of how well his parents train him, there are times he can’t control his behavior. Instead of muttering to ourselves about rowdy kids and irresponsible parents, maybe we should take a minute and pray for that family. If the child has autism, they certainly need prayer. And if the child is just behaving badly, prayer will still be helpful.
O MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon all people with autism and their families for whom our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy; endue their souls with patience; comfort them with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.