C.S. Lewis has a quote that I love…“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” I think most of us have felt alone in our circumstances at least once in lives.
I certainly felt alone when my son received the diagnosis of Autism at the age of two and a half. My son Ryan, will be twenty in a few months and the years have passed like the blink of an eye. When we became members of this club that no one ever asks to join, there were not as many children who had Autism as there are today. At the time, I didn’t know anyone that had it. Unfortunately, there are few who can say today that they do not know someone who has Autism. The number of children diagnosed with Autism has increased so dramatically in seventeen years. Much more is known today about Autism. There are many more resources available now and there is definitely a greater awareness about the disorder. The need for support for families dealing with Autism, however, has not changed through the years.
I have spoken with thousands of parents who like me, found after a diagnosis that their inner circle not only changed, but became smaller. Friends and family members distanced themselves because they didn’t understand how drastically our lives had been altered. I found as so many do, that when one door closes, God opens doors that you didn’t even know exist. Suddenly, you make connections and find yourself bonding with total strangers…other parents who “get it,” because they belong to the same club. Many of these friends we will never meet face to face this side of heaven. We may only know them from their written words on a computer screen, but they become valued friends and life lines, none the less.
Through the years, as we’ve peeled away the layers to discover more problems and more official names for the things that my son deals with, God has allowed us to cross paths for every diagnosis, with people who have also faced the same or similar issues. I have found through experience, that other parents in the special needs community, have been the greatest source for information, support and encouragement. We help each other because we understand the heartache, the fatigue, the red tape, the limitations, the life changes, the disappointments, being misunderstood and all the baggage that comes along with a diagnosis. We also appreciate the little milestones and accomplishments that so many others take for granted with typical children. We find ourselves, as it says in Romans 12:15, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. I think most of us with special needs kids, can relate to the saying, ” family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs.”
We are told in 2 Corinthians 1:4, that God comforts us so that we can comfort others with the same comfort which we have received. It is hard to be a parent. The difficulty increases if you have a child with special needs and if you are a single parent on top of that, it’s harder still. I know there are many who are reading this, who also suffer with your own health problems on top of everything else. I deal with the same issues and I want to offer support and encouragement and let you know that I understand the challenges that you face.
My son is the joy of my life. I never knew the depths of love my heart could hold until I had him…but our journey has been difficult and challenging. Life has become easier in so many aspects the older he has gotten… but with age, there are new issues to face. We have found with every heartache and every accomplishment, God has been our faithful companion. He never leaves us alone. He loves our children more than we do and He equips us for what He calls us to in this life. When things get rough, we might know these statements are true, but we don’t always feel them in the midst of our difficulties… sometimes we just need someone to come stand beside us, give us a hug and remind us that everything will be okay and we’re not alone in our struggles. God understands…I understand… this group understands. You are not alone.
Blessings to you,