Hope For Parents Of Children With Autism

Rachel PennerSpecial Needs0 Comments

“Your son has autism.” These words would change my life forever.

From birth Jaden would not make eye contact and did not want physical contact. As he grew he appeared deaf, had no fear of danger and could not talk. I asked the doctor about it when Jaden was two but was told, “That’s just boys!” So I went home feeling hopeless. Judgement was already pouring in from all sides about how my child as “out of control” and how I needed to read a book on raising a strong willed child. I felt the only thing left to do was stay in my house and do the best I could for Jaden.

“Your son has autism.” These words would change my life forever.

I did not know how my older son could be doing so well while I was failing miserably with my youngest.

He growled like an animal instead of trying to speak. He tantrumed several times a day – tantrums that would last hours and involved kicking, hitting and head butting. Tantrums that left me physically and emotionally exhausted.

I cried over him, prayed over him, disciplined him and tried everything I knew how to do but could not get a break through. He had no fear of danger and ran everywhere. He would sneak out of the house and run down the sidewalk with me chasing him in my pajamas and pulling my older child along with me. He seemed to need only a few hours of sleep at night so 3 to 4 hours was all I could get. We put locks on the inside of our doors to keep him from getting out. We fenced our yard so I could have a fighting chance at keeping him from being hit by a car.

Finally, the diagnosis came and I knew once and for all what I was dealing with. When I read the definition of autism it described Jaden to a T.  How could the family doctor I took him to have missed it? After all, I had unknowingly at the time, given him the 5 signs of autism and now here at the children’s hospital it took them less than an hour of observation to tell me that he was not just autistic but severely autistic.

The words hit hard and I needed some time to process them. Then came the mourning. I needed time to mourn for the life I thought my child would have and accept the life he was going to have. My hopes and dreams for his future would need to change drastically.

I knew I needed to educate myself to know what I was dealing with and how to handle it and educate myself I did but the tantrums continued. We heard about programs that would help Jaden and prayed about what we should do but the programs were incredibly expensive.

God’s words were so clear: “No person or program will take the glory for what I will do in his life.”

It was during this time of turmoil that I had two unforgettable encounters with God that would change everything. The first came as I was praying about whether or not we should put Jaden in a particular program. God’s words were so clear: “No person or program will take the glory for what I will do in his life.”

The second came in a time of sheer desperation while Jaden was tantruming and I cried out to God. “Whatever your instinct is, I want you to do the opposite.” When your child is head butting you and kicking, the last thing you want to do is hug him, so that’s what I did; I sat on the floor, opened my arms and asked if he wanted a hug. He growled at me and looked away. I asked again and waited desperate for God to come through so I knew I had heard correctly. Finally, he came, fell in my arms and cried and I knew that I had heard from God.

The rest of my story is pretty simple. Miracle after miracle right before my eyes. I can’t tell you how many times I would say, “Jesus you need to speak to him, he doesn’t understand me!” and the tantrum would stop. At age 6, Jaden began to speak, something the doctors said he most likely would never do and we should begin using pictures to communicate. Jaden could not and would not take any type of medication so we had to lay hands on him whenever he was sick. It got to the point where he would take my hands and put them where it hurt and say “Do it, Mommy!” One day after he sprained his ankle he came to me with those exact words. I told him he should “do it”. He looked down at this ankle and said, “In Jesus name, ankle be healed!” and we watched as the swelling went down before our eyes and he ran away to play.  Miracle after miracle!

We continue to be amazed at how God is taking care of Jaden. He has provided the exact workers that we need and is always a step ahead of us. His plans are so much more than I could ever even dream of. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our family in the future.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that his man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  John 9:1-3

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About the Author
Rachel Penner

Rachel Penner

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Rachel has been married to Collin for 23 years. They have two sons, Jules (21) and Jaden (19). Rachel has spent the last 25 years working with youth as a voice instructor and volleyball coach. She has also worked as an educational assistant for Hanover School Division for the past 14 years.

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