I’ve been meaning to write to you for quite some time but thanks to you, I’ve been pretty busy as you can imagine.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day so it seemed a good time to finally write this letter. Of course as the parent of a son with autism, every day is autism awareness day in our house.
Over the years I have cursed at you, yelled at you, cried at you, and tried my best to understand you. The more I have learned about you, the more I realize how little I know about you.
But there is one thing I haven’t done.
I have never stopped to thank you.
That’s right. I need to stop and thank you for a few things today especially since this is your big day.
You probably don’t get a lot of thank you notes mixed in with all your hate mail; so let me try to explain why I’m writing.
You see you robbed my son of his speech. Because of you he is non-verbal and has no language.
But when you robbed my son of his speech, God decided to give him a voice and a platform.
He may not speak, but God used his life to inspire, bless, and teach others around him. He inspired my wife and I so much we started a special needs ministry and now we are helping encourage other families like ours on the same journey.
Hey Autism, do you remember that cave you tried to lure us and other autistic families into for the rest of their lives? You know, the isolated dreary cave where you want all autistic families to live in without hope?
We tried it. It just wasn’t for us. So now we do search and rescue, returning to the cave over and over to show others the way out of the cave and to a better place.
Autism, there are so many other things you’ve robbed us from for which I need to thank you.
You’ve robbed me from my own pride, selfishness, and greed.
You’ve robbed me from my tendency to put my work above my family.
You’ve robbed me from living for myself instead of in service to others.
You’ve robbed me of only caring about those who are just like me.
You’ve robbed me of believing there are some struggles just too big for us.
You’ve robbed me of never finding out what God’s plan and purpose is for my life.
I know you don’t like to talk about God much since you know what he plans to do to you someday. Ever read Revelation? But I do need to talk about Him for a minute.
He made a couple of promises in a book he wrote. He promised to take what was intended to harm us, and use it for good. Then he promised to make all things work together for good to accomplish his purposes.
I don’t know that I ever fully believed him until we met you and you came into our lives.
Speaking of coming into my life, I have met some amazing people because of our common association with you. Therapists, teachers, assistants, service providers—dedicated and passionate people who have crossed our path and have become part of our story—people I never might have met if it weren't for you. Thanks to you I've also met some amazing parents raising their own heroes with autism, who inspire and encourage me.
What you don’t know Autism is that God didn’t take away the struggles, the pain, the challenges- he just simply used them in ways I never dreamed or you never expected.
He has used them to teach me unconditional love
He has used them to teach me the essence of grace.
He has used them to teach me to find joy in all things.
He has used them to show me how to be content in the little things.
Really you can say he has simply used them to draw me closer to him, help me understand him, and make me stronger through him.
In trying to destroy us, all you did was prepare a stage for God to show his glory.
You really helped me take my relationship with God to a much higher and deeper level; so thank you so much! I’m so grateful! Now I rely and lean on him now more than ever.
I also want to thank you for drawing my wife and I closer together in our relationship. We have learned to cry together, laugh together, grief together, and stand strong together because of you.
So you see Autism, I have quite a bit of gratitude for you. Of all the things I’ve said to you and about you, I’ve never thanked you.
Who knew that out of my seeds of hate for you, could grow such love for my son!
I know you will keep trying to harm us and other families. That’s just who you are and your style.
And my God will continue to redeem all of your evil and harm for his glory. That’s just who he is and his style.
So consider this my thanks to you. But let’s be clear just so you know, I still loathe and despise you with everything in me.