Thursday, June 23, 2016

Abortion and Autism

I have heard increasingly frequent reports of parents who decide to abort their unborn child upon the discovery of some special need or other in the fetus.  I have prayed much on how to address this and to keep my fiery nature, sometimes sharp tongue and very passionate feelings balanced with compassion and understanding toward those adults considering taking this step.
 
My friends, let me speak peace to your mind.  I know that it must prove overwhelming to discover that your child has what we generally term a disability.  Allow me to share with you my own experience in raising an autistic child. 
 
Tests during pregnancy did initially tell me that something was unusual with my daughter's brain development.  Further tests conflicted with each other and the doctor assumed she would be neuro typical.  But from the beginning I could tell there was something very marked and different in my firstborn.  I could feel her excited spirit.  I could tell she had a passion to take this world by storm and turn it upside down.  During pregnancy she kicked me so hard that a bruise the size of a silver dollar appeared on my waistline.  Her active antics and some external factors sent me into preterm labor a few times over and the hospital nurses nicknamed her "the wild child." 
 
 She was bright and watchful from the beginning and it wasn't until later that I realized something was wrong.  At first the doctors blamed me for her hysterical meltdowns.  I was the bad mom, the unfit parent because my daughter would scream hysterically, kicking everything in sight and even hurting herself for hours every day.  She could readily say nouns but nothing else and in the end a team of specialists had to teach her to speak in sentences. 
 
It was difficult.  It was challenging. I surrendered to the idea that she might never learn to potty train and prepared myself for a teenager in diapers. 
 
But to my surprise, toilet train she did.  Her first sentence, stuttered out in her precious little baby voice was "Pwease hewp me (please help me)."  You may imagine that the moment she uttered those three magic words I fell into uncontrollable tears.  I would help her.  I would believe in her.  I would do anything for her.
 
Julia has touched many lives in her short ten years on this earth.  She has survived being hit by a semi on the freeway, she has shared her beautiful testimony of God and her Savior Jesus Christ with many people, and she has proven both a blessing and a challenge to many of her teachers.  She has knit hearts together in service in a way no one could have imagined.  Her spirit has melted walls of stone and sliced through hearts of granite.  She used to have a team of specialists to teach her to control her body and use her fingers.  It took two years to learn to consistently hold a pencil appropriately.  Today she stands as the most advanced student in her martial arts class and against all odds has taken to piano and music with a passion that surprises and delights all who hear her.  She enjoys sewing clothes for her stuffed animals and has served as a model for several beautiful paintings.  She used to melt down when around other kids.  Today, though she still needs her space after a while, she has friends over nearly every day and is studying with all her heart to become a good babysitter someday.
 
My friends, what we call disabilities are really some of the greatest blessings bestowed upon humankind.  Julia knows full well that she has been blessed with autism and she loves it.  She reports that having autism makes her feel full of light and happiness.  She knows who she is.  She is a daughter of God, a daughter of light, and each day proves that autism can be a joy beyond anything a parent might have comprehended.  She has learned to control herself so much that now she throws fits much less than most children who we generally term "normal."  Beyond that, she has become used to the idea that improvement is part of life and she is excited to continue to improve and develop in a way most children would never consider. 
 
I implore you for your own sake, gentle reader, do not throw away one of the greatest blessings you can possibly have.  A child with what we call disabilities is a joy and a reward in himself.  Face this decision not with fear but with faith and love.  I promise you that if you will see it through it will be the best choice you will ever make. 

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