Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Autism Awareness and the Gospel

Joshua is on the far right of the picture
Once again, our family is doing everything we can to raise awareness of Autism in light of April being Autism Awareness Month.  April 2 is Wold Autism Awareness Day where many buildings and people light it up blue.  We participate in these activities in honor of our precious son Joshua (8 years old) who has Autism.  He has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS), which is a moderately-functioning form of Autism.  A year ago, his diagnosis was changed from Asperger's Syndrome (high-functioning Autism) to PDD because of concurrent mental health issues he now struggles with which decreases his functionality.  If you are not familiar with what Autism is, please see the description at the end of this post.

I have been very burdened to pull the Gospel into Autism Awareness.  Too often, we look at the deficits those affected by Autism have rather than seeing them for who God made them to be.  God has made each person PERFECTLY - He does not make mistakes!  If there is any doubt, read these verses:
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13-14a,ESV)  
"Then the LORD said to him [Moses], 'Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?'"     (Exodus 4:11, ESV) 
"...bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43:6b-7, ESV)
God made my son and others with Autism exactly the way He had designed and intended.  Josh's Autism is not a mistake.  It is God's design to show the glory of God in a lost and broken world. Joshua is VALUABLE.  What some may see as a weakness, God deems IMPORTANT.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31, ESV)
"On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable..." (1 Corinthians 12:22b, ESV)
"But he [the Lord] said to me [Paul], 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (2 Corinthians 12:9a, ESV)
Joshua is NOT Autistic!  He has Autism!  He is not defined by his developmental disorder!  It is simply a characteristic that God placed in Josh's life to proclaim God's glory!  Joshua is an image-bearer of Christ, a child of the King.  His sins have been forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, and by God's grace through faith, Joshua has an eternal home waiting for him in God's eternal presence where Joshua will some day have a perfect body without any limitations where he can continue to glorify God for all of eternity!

God has some incredibly big plans for this young man!  We feel overwhelmed yet honored at the task God has equipped and entrusted us with in raising this child up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord for God's honor and glory!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)
The next time you hear about Autism or see a person with Autism, don't forget to look at them through the lens of the Gospel!  Praise God for His handiwork!

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder are the umbrella terms for a range of developmental disorders that cause difficulty with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviors and often, many other struggles as well as some special gifts.  These difficulties present in varying degrees in different people.  I heard the saying once, "If you have seen 1 child with Autism, you have seen 1 child with Autism."  That statement is so true!  Each individual with Autism is uniquely themselves with their strengths and weaknesses.  The disorders under the spectrum classification of Autism from lowest functioning to highest functioning are:  Autistic disorder, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger's Syndrome.  For further information, check out the Autism Speaks website or see my previous blog posts linked below.

As of last year, 1 in 88 children in the United States have Autism making it an epidemic.  It is our responsibility, especially as Christians, to raise awareness and help these children and adults alike know how important they are and to help them feel accepted as Christ accepts us!

Past blog posts about Autism (most recent to oldest):

Russell World Autism Awareness Day 2012

The Impact of Autism

Lighting it Up Blue for Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Month

1 comment: