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My autistic son can’t talk, but God still speaks through him


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Patty Knap - published on 06/21/17

Even with his communication challenges, he found the perfect message for moms with unplanned pregnancies.

For so many of us with children with special needs, especially young adult children, the path is paved with worry and prayerful questions endlessly swirling in our minds: What does the future hold for him? Is there any purpose for the seemingly inexplicable behavior? Is it okay for me to pray for my child to “get better”? Will he ever be able to drive? Does all this effort and exhaustion have any value?

My son, Jimmy, 17, is autistic. While friendly and sweet, it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation with him. Yet he has a remarkable verbal gift.  He’ll come up with spectacularly precise words and unusually advanced phrases now and then. Several times now, he has said something that I know was a divine message for me.

Not long ago, Jimmy was creating some wood projects in his high school shop class. After the standard cutting board and napkin holder, he made a rather large three-shelf unit.  He was clearly proud of it and wanted it in a place of honor. Without any place for it at home, I first suggested we give it to his brother for his dorm room, but it turned out that he had no room for it either.

The carefully cut, sanded, and nailed shelving piece stood in everyone’s way on our porch while I tried to think of a use for it. One day, while at work at the local pregnancy center, I realized we could use Jimmy’s shelves there to hold literature we give out to our clients. Jimmy has a vague understanding of how the center helps young moms in unplanned pregnancies, and he was thrilled with the idea of his project being put to good use there daily to hold our brochures.

I decided the bare wood could use some paint. I set up the shelving unit in the back yard one afternoon, and Jimmy and I set to work with our paintbrushes.  As we were finishing, I casually said, “Maybe we can think of something to draw or write across the top to make it even more special.”  Immediately and spontaneously, Jimmy said, “How about, ‘Every child has a destiny’?”

Wow. I put down my paintbrush and stared at him, thinking, “God just spoke to me. And he also just spoke to all the young moms who will see these shelves at the pregnancy-care center!”

For a pro-life pregnancy center, what could be a more appropriate statement?  If 10 friends had thought for a week about a good saying to put across the shelves, would we have come up with anything so perfect?

A few days later, when the shelves were dry, we lettered Jimmy’s terrific quote in gold paint across the top. The next day, I put it in my car and brought it to the office. I had just sat it down in the corner and was putting a few stacks of brochures on it when a new client came in for a pregnancy test. I mentioned that my son had made the shelves, and I’d just brought it in. “Oh, it’s great. And that’s my name: Destiny!” she responded.

This was a bit beyond mere coincidence!  I’d never met anyone named Destiny before that day, and I haven’t since.

Sometimes in our daily struggles in raising our children, it’s easy to overlook the gifts and blessings we’re given. We can become so immersed in our worries and burdens that we fail to open our eyes and “see” what is before us as we face our challenges.

And sometimes we fail to see how these gifts actually help others. This was a perfect, and rather direct, reminder that I am truly not alone in my trials and that God does have a purpose and a plan for my son, for me, and for all of us. If I prayerfully look for it, God will give me unexpected blessings to help me along, and through these blessings, others will be touched by him, too.

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