Saturday, August 10, 2013

Don't Go it Alone!

There are so many challenges in life on a day to day basis that if you try to live life solely on your own, you may feel at a loss, frustrated and lonely.  Life is not meant to live alone, but in relationship with others.  Community is so important!  We find this true on so many levels, even when it comes to raising a child on the autism spectrum.  We have two families that we are in close relationship with that are also raising children on the spectrum as well as two other families who have walked through a bunch of the process with us and are there every step of the way.  Without these friends in our lives I think we may feel lost, lonely and helpless.  We feel that God has placed each of these relationships in our lives for a reason and we are blessed to call them friends!  Before we even knew our son was on the autism spectrum we knew these families.  They have watched us, cried with us, laughed with us, talked with us, prayed with us and are living life with us and are like family to us.

It is challenging raising a family and even more so when you have a child or children who is/are on the spectrum.  We have a son that is diagnosed on the autism spectrum and possibly a daughter who may be on the spectrum as well.  We have read many books, researched many hours, talked with many people, met with parent trainers and are still learning.  Each child on the spectrum can present differently and can be very difficult to find that "perfect" balance for your child or children.  Knowing your children and how they function is key.  God has given you the tools, knowledge and wisdom to raise your children according to His purpose.  One of those tools is the relationships we are in.  These relationships share a lot of the same core values when it comes to raising children.  They have been supportive, loving and encouraging of us and our children and have been given permission to speak into our lives and give us feedback as we walk this road.  

As we continue on this journey with our family, we are praying and listening to God as we seak His direction.  We listen to each other, and talk with and listen to our close friends and feel we are doing life as intended.  Does this mean we are perfect and there is no room for growth or change?  No way!  We do, however, know that we are headed the right direction.  We have seen growth in our son that amazes us, but may not be the typical growth a person may see with a neurotypical child.  They may seem small to some, but to us, they are huge, especially knowing how hard it is to teach social intricacies to these kids.  It takes time for these children to learn what is socially acceptable, like manners, respect, communication, social hierarchy, etc.  We have to work in small steps with him, one step at a time and there is always a new step that arises.  He is different and will always be different and our job is to help him to blend in with society, to perform in social settings, but still be the person that God created him to be.  We not only know, but have also been told by each of our friends as well as those who have watched us over the years, that our son and other two children will be who God created them to be and are going to do great things!

Wether you have children on the spectrum or not, I implore you to not live life alone.  Live in community.  This world is big and will try to push and persuade in directions we may not want to go.  We need people to help us maintain those boundaries, to have the support, encouragement and love we need as we walk this journey called life.  Living in solitude will allow depression and loneliness to set in, but living in relationship will bring life in many ways!  If you are living in that lonely place I encourage you to take those first steps and build those relationships.  Don't wait for people to come to you.  You've got to step out, take the risk and you will not regret it!