Living with a child with special needs often means also living with expenses that you didn’t plan for when you first began your family. A lot of services may be covered by insurance or through the state’s government program like Medicaid. But not all services are easily accessible, if at all. What are parents supposed to do when there is a therapy treatment available that they know would help their child, but they can’t afford it and insurance doesn’t cover it? Sometimes even life-sustaining treatment like medicine is held at arms length, and parents wonder, “Will my child still be alive by the time we get the medicine?” I had a friend who was in that very boat a couple of years ago. From right next door to hundreds of miles away, friends everywhere got on their knees to pray for her son. Despite the anxiety and the questions in the still of the night, I am writing today to tell you that God provides for His children. He will not leave you alone.
Let me nuance that last statement a bit. “He will not leave you alone.”This is true. We see over and over in Scripture how God provides for every aspect of His creation, from the number of hairs on our head to every sparrow that falls from the sky, to the lilies of the field. Friends, we serve a great and mighty Creator God who cares about His creation. “Cast your burden upon the Lord for He cares for you.” This means that he cares about your child. He cares about their wants and desires. He cares about their needs as it pertains to their daily sustenance as well as their disability. He cares about your son with autism and his need for ABA therapy (applied behavioral analysis.) He cares about your daughter’s occupational therapy needs. He cares about medicine. But the way in which He cares about those things might lead us to think the opposite; that maybe He doesn’t really care.
My son, Samuel, is currently 8 years old. He received ABA therapy when he was two years old through the state’s early intervention program. ABA coupled with speech therapy was a miracle worker for Sam. (Thanks be to God!) Not every therapy works for every child, but Sam really responded well to ABA. Speech, ABA, occupational, and physical therapies along with help from a feeding clinic helped to give him words so he could communicate. Tools so he could cope with daily life. Behavioral techniques to help him through a meltdown when his senses were overstimulated. I felt like I was getting my son back.
And then he turned 3. Once a child turns 3, they age out of early intervention which provides in-home therapy, and they have to go to a special preschool. Sam is now finishing third grade. From the time he aged out of the program until he began third grade, he did not have any therapy. We were on our own. We simply couldn’t afford it, and the state insurance our children had did not cover it. I fought and fought to no avail. We used what we had learned in that one precious year to the best of our ability, yet constantly felt like we were failing him. He was growing up, which meant his needs and challenges were changing, and we felt severely ill-equipped for the challenge.
But during those interim five years, God still provided. He didn’t provide ABA, which is what we had determined he needed since it had been so successful before. “So, God didn’t really provide for us, did He?” you might ask. Because Sam needed therapy and he didn’t get it. God didn’t make a way for us to afford it, and he didn’t get it. Therefore, God didn’t provide… right? Wrong. God provided in ways I will never fully know or comprehend. He gave me friends who had become an ABA therapist just so they could help their own child with autism. I still had my friend who was Sam’s therapist. At any time, I could call on one of these friends and explain a particular difficulty we were facing and they helped by giving me ideas to deal with it. He gave me wisdom in the moment – many, many moments. God still provided, even though it looked different than what I wanted.
When Sam began third grade, I was still fighting for therapy, and getting more and more nervous about challenges we were starting to face with his behavior. I felt desperate for outside help – in-home, deeply involved outside help. We had been denied every grant we had applied for that would provide assistance to pay for therapy. But God provided yet again. This time it was my sweet brother who stepped in. He offered to help out for a short time of about four months, if that would be helpful to us. We gladly and humbly accepted. Sam began the long-awaited ABA therapy near the end of September, and it went until December. As December approached, I remember praying to God, thanking Him for the incredible blessing that He had given us through my brother. I remember telling God that even though therapy was ending, I was still trusting Him to provide for us however He saw fit. I felt even more confident that whether it was through our therapists or through His wisdom, He would still provide Sam with what he needed.
At Christmastime, my husband came home with a letter he had been given by a dear couple at church. He sat me down and told me to read the letter. It was one page, front and back, handwritten. This couple decided several years ago that instead of giving each other gifts that they would later find unopened in a closet, they would pray for God to give them a family whom they could bless instead of each other. She wrote that every time they prayed about a family to give to, God kept bringing our family’s name to mind. It went on to say that they did not know the purpose of their gift; they had no knowledge of any particular need we had, only that they were now certain that God was directing them to give to us. Their gift was extremely generous and it brought both my husband and I to tears. We had lots of ideas for it, but we knew it was the answer to prayer to use it for our son’s therapy. Because of that gift, Sam was able to continue therapy through the end of the school year, which had been my secondary prayer.
Summer is nearly upon us, and oh, how wonderful it would be to have therapy through summertime too, when schedules and routine are more difficult to keep. Have you ever looked at a situation that, on paper, looks impossible but then somehow ends up working out perfectly? According to our current financial position, therapy through the summer looked impossible. But praise God that nothing is impossible with Him! As I crunched the numbers yesterday, it would seem that we just might be able to take therapy all the way through summer after all! It will run out by the time school starts, but we will have been given one whole year of therapy that we never expected.
I don’t know what your “ABA” therapy situation is. I don’t know your child’s particular needs or your prayerful desires for him. But I do know that God cares about those needs. I know that God will indeed provide because He cares for your child. He cares for you, dear parent. Nothing is beyond His ability. We were recently denied a rather substantial grant that would have certainly provided therapy through the summer and probably through December, if not into 2015 as well. As I cried when I first received the news of denial, I looked myself in the mirror and said out loud, “Do not fear. God is not bound by a grant.”
Whatever your limitation, whether financial or otherwise, God is not bound by limitations. His resources are limitless.
“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him to knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” ~ Matthew 7:7-11
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