On March 3, 2003 (3/3/3), my cousin Kevin and his wife Beth became parents for the first time when their son Sam was born. He was healthy, perfect and hitting those developmental steps right on track until 18 months when he began to show signs of verbal regression and failure to make eye contact.
As a nurse anesthetist and dental hygienist, Sam’s parents knew plenty of people in the medical field, so they began the multiple-year diagnosis process. Finally, months and years later, the diagnosis was complete: He had autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but time and therapy would tell what that would look like, where he would be on that spectrum.
After a while, two little girls were born to Kevin and Beth, and they were, of course, watched very closely for signs of ASD, which there were none. Through the years there have been prayers, doctors, sadness, counseling, therapists, schooling, more prayers, tears and divorce.
It hasn’t been an easy road.
Sam is now sixteen years old, and he communicates with his iPad. He has always had incredibly caring therapists who work with him. Recently one of those therapists sent an image to Beth, who forwarded it to Kevin. The following is a Facebook post from him:
“My friends, I just wanted to give you a small post to encourage parents of children with special needs and even parents of children without them.
Don’t think for one second that God is not moving or listening.
Don’t take for granted the ability to take your kids to the Lord’s house to let them hear the God’s Word.
Lastly, don’t always assume that your kids are not listening, don’t care, or don’t understand.
You all know that I have my sweet Sam, a sixteen-year-old, non-verbal, autistic son. For most of his life, I did not take him to church. I didn’t honestly go consistently myself.
However, the past four years I have made taking my family to church a major priority in my life. I feel that it is so important to expose them to God’s love. I have always taken Sam to sit with me to hear the message in church, but I must admit, I truly didn’t know how much, if any, of the message Sam understood.
Beth shared this assignment that Sam worked on at school by himself.
My heart was so full of joy, but I was also ashamed that I questioned the Lord’s ability to reach my son. Nothing is impossible for God for those that will just listen to him and hear his words. My son hears my God and this fills my soul with so much love.”
Sam has been listening and God has reached beyond Sam’s limitations to speak to the heart of a child who may seem unreachable. “I put God in a box,” Kevin says. “I doubted that he was even hearing or understanding. Now I know God is way more powerful that I ever thought he could be.”
In Jeremiah 32:17, the prophet praises God for his limitless power:
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Let us never put God in a box that limits what a disabled child can understand or what can be accomplished in a precious life.
by Holly Meriweather