Questions

  • What are your hardest struggles with raising a disabled child
  • How has raising a child diagnosed as disabled affected your marriage and your other children?
  • If you could ask God one question or tell God one thing, what would that be?
  • What support has provided the most help/the least help?
  • Roger (Hunt) Frost

    Praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the 1980’s I drove school bus for special education students. Now I seem to bond well with my 3 year nephew of down syndrone. Could my slow ness, not stupid, (as Forrest Gump used to say) could pronounce my own adult possible autistic challenges and possibilities. Praise God for however we learn of our full potential and promises, and wait for HIS timing. Amen

  • Courtney

    When I heard Chuck talking about how there will be a special needs series today on the radio,my heart just melted!Then I heard about Coleen!! What an answer to prayer!!This means everything to me,it’s like the hand of God reached out to me today and then He wrapped His arms around me! What a blessing your ministries are to me!
    1.I am surely in a place that is very isolating,stressful,and weary and I have to handle it alone as a single-mom. I have a severe form of Fibromyalgia,so I am in pain all the time,my muscles feel like they are twisted in knots and I have burning all through-out my body,I am 28. My son has ADHD and at-risk for autism,he is 4. He is high-functioning with alot of behavioral and aggression problems as well as a severe speech delay. I thank God for every good day!!
    2. I would ask God the question, “Why do I have to do this alone?” And I ask Him that quite often! Raising a child with special needs is hard enough when you have your health. It does not bring out the best in me,and it breaks my heart for my son to see me falling apart on a daily basis. I try to be strong,and I have a very close relationship with God because of all my wearines. It is His strength I have in me,I couldn’t do this in my own strength!
    3. One thing I do is read all kinds of books,listen to messages and radio ministries constantly. They are truely for me.I also write alot and keep a journal of how God helps me through these challenging days. I use it to look back on for encouragement for myself or others. Also I can describe the meaning of the book of Psalms now, I understand why it was written and how God uses these chapters to reveal God’s infinite love,mercy and understading to His children.

  • When I heard the introduction to this series tonight, I cannot tell you what relief I felt. I’ve been on this journey – mostly alone – for 9 years. My son has so many special needs. And his future is looking less bright. I have never had a group of other mothers of special needs children to share with, cry with, just talk to… Until Nov. ’06 I single parented him & held down a highly responsible job (which I once loved). But meeting all his needs came first. I am not permanently disabled due to the heavy burden I could no longer carry alone. I am so hopeful this will help us.

  • This was such a blessing to me today. I have four children, three of which are special needs. My fourteen year old daughter and my nine year old son both have Asperger’s Syndrome and my twelve year old little boy is fully Autistic.
    I love these kids more than life. Our oldest who is sixteen, does his best to understand and is fiercely protective of his siblings. Yet it has been a hard road to say the least.
    My youngest was diagnosed last year and on the way home from the hospital, while he slept peacefully in the back seat of our car, I cried harder than I think I ever have before, it broke my heart. I had watched his older two siblings go through the looks, stares, comments, the abuse of school mates, etc, etc, etc, and I just did not want that for him too.
    I will admit that I came home that day and could not bring myself to pray. I wanted answers to questions like “Why? Why all three of them” and then there were the issues of guilt, blame and just grief.
    Their father was out of the picture before this and yet God has blessed them with a step father who adores them and who they adore in return.
    He came into our life and knowing what he was getting into, jumped in with both feet and has never looked back.
    This journey has not been easy, it’s not always been what I had envisioned and yet I KNOW that God’s grace is sufficient and that I am blessed. I learn so much from all four of these special, amazing people and in Matthew where it says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” well each time I read that, I know God had special need kids in mind.
    I am so grateful for this series. It’s like a balm to my heart and Colleen thank you so much for being so honest and transparent. You spoke a lot of what many of us only think about and for that I am grateful. I am looking forward to this series with much anticipation.

  • Sharon Oliphant

    Giving birth to two daughters in the 70’s, I unwrapped the tiny pink blankets with no other concerns except that all the cute little parts were there in their proper place. Thirty years later I watched the nurse give my grandaughter her first bath, never guessing that 5 years later she would be diagnosed with Asbergers. I’ve cried with my daughter for this beautiful little girl and I thank God for Colleen’s sharing of this personal message. You moms are pioneers and my prayers are with you that you will band together and God will use you mightedly to sustain each other and to victoriously run this course that he has designed for you. You all give a whole new meaning to the title and responsibility of “motherhood”.

  • Cheryl Samples

    I am excited that you have revived the Special Needs section again from a few years ago, and have included this blog!
    We have 4 boys; 15, 13, 11 and 8. Our 13 and 8 year olds have XLIS, (X-linked Lissencephaly). Both are non-verbal. Our youngest also has seizures. Although our 13 year old is seizure-free, he has Sensory Integration Dysfunction issues. Our family also includes a still-born twin of our first-born.
    1.My hardest struggles change, depending on the age/stages of our boys. Currently, my biggest struggle is feeling like there isn’t enough of me to go around and that I’m failing at it all. All of my boys (and my husband), need my attention in one area or another. It’s a challenge to make sure our non-disabled boys and my husband don’t get lost in the mix.
    I also struggle with other’s lack of understanding and/or acceptance of my boys from others. I’ve accepted the fact that as far as others go, I will always be an educator/advocate for my boys. But, nevertheless, it does get tiring; especially, when people who’ve known our family for years still don’t get it.
    My other struggles often have to do with communicating with my two boys. They both are effective communicators through the use of Dynavox talkers, PICS, very limited vocablulary, and, of course, their smiles, frowns, tears and yells. But there are times when I just don’t understand…like when they lose their glasses for the 5th time and can’t tell me where they’re at!
    2. Our marriage: I think we are closer because of the loss of our still-born and having boys with special needs. We’ve endured a lot together. At the memorial service for our son, our pastor told us that this could either pull us apart or bring us closer…so resolve to pursue the latter. That was great counsel for what was ahead. It hasn’t been easy a lot of the time, but God has never given up on us and we have never given up on each other.
    3.Oddly enough, I wouldn’t ask God, “why”. I stopped asking that after our son died. God has shown me Himself, that HE IS, that He knows why and that THAT is enough. I would ask God why there are those who just don’t/won’t see any value in these Special boys. To me, one of the primary ways God reveals Himself/speaks to our world is through those with Special Needs (children, adults, those who don’t have a voice). And perhaps, maybe that’s the answer; that they don’t want to see God. I have learned so much about God, who He is, my own humanness, and who I am through the gift of being these boys’ mother.
    4.God has blessed me with a husband who walks with God, is strong, steady, compassionate, sacrificial and who really loves all our boys! I think, these days, there are very few men out there who would wholeheartedly walk this journey.
    We also have a really strong educational support system. Both boys have had a couple of the same therapists since they were two. We also live in a community which has excellent Lifeskills/Special Ed programs. Our boys wouldn’t be where they’re at if it weren’t for these committed teachers/therapists/paras etc.

  • Thank you, Colleen, for serving us in this way. This ministry will be so helpful to so many!

  • Thank you, Chuck and Colleen, for the comfort and affirmation of this series. As the mother of a grown son who is bipolar, I have been told at church that he is demon-possessed, and that I just haven’t prayed enough or correctly. Where other parents eagerly share the progress and milestones in their adult children’s lives, my husband and I sit silently, grateful for a month of emotional balance or a season of employment for our son. I try to focus on the fact that God is at work in our son’s mind and that He rejoices each time my son makes steps to manage his disorder. I work (and sometimes it’s very HARD work) on finding joy in each situation, learning to love and value and enjoy my son in the same way that God does. Please include parents of emotionally challenged children in your messages. Thank you for reminding me that they are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

  • About a week ago I was told that my unborn baby boy has a lethal skeletal dyspasia called campomelic dysplasia. He has a very small chance at living and we are told that he may live days or weeks, but these babies usually have respiratory problems that take their lives. There are children that survive and in the last few days I found a group of parents for support. My husband and I are struggling with the question of why God would allow our child to be born only to suffocate and hearing the message today has opened our eyes. I look forward to the rest of the series and ask for prayers for healing and survival for our baby boy. Please also pray that we will understand God’s will in our “special delivery” – God Bless- Jenna

  • My hardest struggles involve feeling as though I am not doing enough for each of my children who have disabilities.
    I have 7 children: my 17 year old daughter has Tourette’s and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). My 16 year old has Asperger’s & Tourette’s. My 10 year old has Asperger’s & Chiari Malformation (type 1). My 7 year old twins (boy/girl) both have Chiari Malformation & tethered cord and have had 3 brain surgeries & 2 spinal cord surgeries between them. My son also has Autism & ADHD. My 5 year old son has PDD-NOS, Apraxia & Dysarthria. And my 3 year old son has Spina Bifida, Chiari Malformation, Gastroparesis, is g-tube fed & cathed every 4 hours. He is currently being evaluated for a mitochondrial disease, has had 14 surgeries & has 2 more scheduled on July 7th. All 7 of my children have a connective tissue disorder.
    (How has raising a child diagnosed as disabled affected your marriage and your other children?) My husband works hard to support us so I can stay at home and take care of the kids (I also homeschool) and their medical needs. He does not get involved with the medical side of things ~ he doesn’t cath our son or tubefeed him, he doesn’t take kids to appointments or therapy and he never deals with our youngest when he’s having surgery. My husband and I are friends and we do love each other, but there is rarely any time for intimacy and, as such, we’re more like friends/roommates than husband & wife. The constant stress of having multiple children with multiple special needs takes its toll.
    (If you could ask God one question or tell God one thing, what would that be?) I would ask God to show the doctors & myself what is the underlying condition causing my youngest’s ongoing medical problems & to provide a way to treat it so that he could grow up to live a “normal” life.
    (What support has provided the most help/the least help?) Online friends have provided the most help… talking to other moms and realizing they often go through the same weird experiences I do and therefore understand perfectly how I feel about things has been a tremendous help. Just knowing I’m not alone is helpful. On the flip side, seminars & conferences aimed at parents of ONE autistic child or ONE disabled child… or seminars that are so prohibitively expensive that lower middle-class parents can’t possibly attend are UNhelpful. Oh, and doctors/therapies that are too expensive for the average American to afford are not helpful, either. Being told that I may have to “get creative” to afford treatment my children need (speech, OT) is extremely unhelpful, as well, because if you don’t have the extra money, you just don’t have it, and it’s not like there are any organizations out there that want to provide a van with a wheelchair lift that is also large enough to transport my entire family or other things that would make life easier for my children… parents don’t need to have guilt from society heaped on them for not being able to “do” everything possible for their disabled kids, especially if they’re doing the best they can.

  • I would like to thank Chuck for the disabled teaching today 6/3/09. I happened to tun the radio on when teaching. It grieves me that more aren’t contributing to the ministry you do so much excellent teaching I do pray God opens the mighty windows of heaven pouring blessing into the ministry! My wife and I have two children with down syndrome, Adam & Cori, boy and girl 16&15. I’ve learned many things with them and my wife’s help, she used to teach pre-school. Five years ago she lost her leg above the knee due to infection from the surgery. I, too am on disability with two challenges. Each and every challenge we have faced Jesus has brought us through. Thank you and your daughter! Blessings always,
    Keith and Shery

  • Peggy

    I’m a divorced mom of a 22 yr old son who has autism, mental retardation, OCD, is non-verbal, and has had occasional periods of severe aggression. Let me tell you, I’ve been thru the wringer. Every day, sometimes every hour, is a challenge. Stares in stores, water in my ketchup bottles, receipts eaten. Faith gets me thru and I’ve received many answered prayers. Why me God? Because I will be by your side and I chose you because of your patience and your love of children. That’s what I believe to be true.

  • Nancy

    Thank you for sharing your lives with others. Thank you for starting a conversation where God can come in and heal. We have two sons, the oldest is in college, and is typical. The younger is 13 and is deaf (25 percent hearing loss) and Autistic. Your entry about going to the Doctor’s office, and getting the diagnosis; that is my experience too. We have done all those therapies you listed, and each one helped. 1-My hardest struggle is with patience. 2-How affected our marriage? The diagnosis of Autism is like a bomb going off in your house. The shrapnel flies everywhere and hits each family member. Only you don’t see where they are hit and bleeding because it is emotional shrapnel. 3-Question for God? Tell God? I don’t know. 4-What support helped the most? My husband. He loves our disabled son and is proud to be his father. When we needed extra money (for therapies and doctors that insurance did not pay) he took a second job so I could continue to stay home with both of our sons. He is my hero. Thank you for a place for Brothers and Sisters in Christ to talk about this topic. God Bless

  • Christine

    Thank you for this series. It has come at a God-ordained time, as we welcome our 22 year old daughter back home. Since her fathe abandoned us when she was born, I have struggled to help my daughter, when it became evident that something was wrong. I have wept and prayed – and still do – as what is some kind of mental illness creates such chaos in her life and ours. We continue to seek an accurate diagnosis, to seek help as a family on how we can best cope with the emoptional outbursts, anger, broken relationships and struggles as school has not worked out and keeping a job seems so hard for her. I am thankful that the Lord provided us with a godly man just 5 years ago who is such a blessing. I am so thankful for Chuck’s compassionate, truthful and solidly scriptual teaching in this series. As I listen I have wept, given thanks and taken strength and insight for our living. Thank you. God bless.

  • Patricia

    Thank you so much for this series! I am a divorced mother with two daughters, the oldest with Asburger’s syndrome, among other nervous system impairments. The youngest is extremely bright and resentful that she ended up being a surrogate mother in the afternoons after school, because I was forced by the (unwanted) divorce to work outside the home. Before the divorce, I was a stay-at-home mom, and it was impossible to properly take care of everyone, because the disabled daughter required so much of my time and emotional energy. The hardest thing to deal with was her extreme emotional volatility and waves of depression, where she blamed God for her frustrating life. My husband, who also displayed some symptoms of autism himself, was like a 3rd child competing for my attention, rather than a father to my children. In the middle of this impossible situation, the Lord brought me to my knees, where I cried out to Him — “Help! I can’t do this anymore!” And He did — bringing me across the country to a church where people who knew Jesus in a deep way helped me through a very dark chapter of my life. The children are grown — ages 34 and 30 now — so this is largely history. However, the scars of all the emotional trauma to our family still remain, although the Lord has been very gracious to bring us through a very dark valley. He provided the proper resources to help my daughter out of a very deep pit of suicidal depression when she was 29. At that point, she was finally able to leave home and rent a room somewhere and provide for herself. Hallelujah! I praise the Lord so much for that! Now, however, she does not let me see her anymore, probably because she is afraid of falling back into dependence on me. That is very hard. Has anyone else experienced something similar?

  • Deanna

    I prayed for one thing only before each daughter was born. That they would be average. “Please no disabilities, and for heaven’s sake, give the beautiful geniuses to the millions of parents who seem to want them so badly! Average is fine with me!” And each time God said no.
    Tomorrow is D-day. (diagnosis day) For my sweet, amazingly pure hearted and loyal Gracie I anticipate moderate dyspraxia, Tourette’s, ADHD, Sensory processing disorder, along with Celiac disease, allergies, and a somewhat severe vision problem. A lifetime of struggles.
    And child number two–the “golden one” who shows tremendous aptitudes in all academics, music, sports, animals, dance, as well as overwhelming beauty, charm and insight into people and situations. Not to mention being motivated and ambitious and tenacious. May I say that giftedness can be it’s own disability of the soul! Proud, stubborn, wise in her own eyes–foolish–determinedly so.
    I feel so stretched, and brokenhearted over both girls right now. To say that I am equal to the task would be like saying a drop of muddy water could quench the thirst of an army.
    But God…
    Thank you for your openness about feeling angry and having very dark seasons. I am in a valley of shadows right now, and just hearing that others go through it and there is still light in the world was so encouraging. Sometimes I think that if I start crying, I may never stop. So I live in my head–in what I know to be truth, and press on. But sometimes I forget to grieve–hearing you speak opened that up for me again, and I thank you. I am refreshed by it.
    Blessings to you, and I look forward to meeting you in that place where there are no more tears and sharing stories of God’s faithfulness, and love, and provision, and grace.

  • Annette Balzano

    First of all thank you for your ministry.
    1. The hardest part for me was telling my son he was different from other kids and trying to answer his question…Why did God create me this way? As I was going through my own battle of Why.
    2. Divorced from his father, he didn’t accept the fact he had a disability, he left us both.
    3. This stage of both our lifes, I would tell God Thank you for a wonderful, beautiful son He had given me because I couldn’t even imagine not having him this way (my son has Aspergers).
    Don’t get me wrong it took us both a long time to get here my son is now 21 yrs old.
    4.The best help is speaking with other mothers that are going through the same thing and knowing you are not alone. God blessed me with friends of kids that have Aspergers (some Christian, some not). Unfortunately, I would have loved to say youth groups or even church but it wasn’t the case because they didn’t get my son. My child would tell me they are no different then kids at regular schools. To this day he still cringes thinking of being in any group. He will go to church with me to hear the Word but that will be it. He loves the Lord, and since he is literal takes God’s Word literally. (Love that part).
    Bless you for your ministry and I look forward to reading this blog. We all go through things for a reason right.

  • Rose k.

    Patricia, I have a 28yr old son with Down Syndrome and a 32yr old son who is in denial that something is mentally wrong with him as Personality Borderline or ADHD undiagnosed who is very smart and bright. I didn’t experience his anger, outburst, high and lows behavioral in early years. He cannot keep a job, he has seperated himself from the entire family, his outburst of emtions is out of control, he has no repect for me as his mother and show no remorse, also his thinking is distorted. Therefore, it’s good to know someone else understand the pain. Sometimes, I really want to hate my son but God keep showing me His kindness toward my weakness and who am I to give up on my son. I thank God for not giving up on us as parents in the midst of our pain with our childrens no matter what’s the age or disability. I realize God grace is sufficient and my son belongs to Him now and my job is to never give up and to never stop praying but to trust His will. The patience of Job that teaches us about endurance and humility.

  • Christine and Annette: I want to express my sorrow for your situations that continue. I often wonder if the Israelites-oppressed and beaten during the Egyptian captivity-felt this way too. Exodus 1 speaks of the Egyptian enslavement as “ruthless”; becoming worse as years past. Their children were killed, the plagues were horrid, yet God remained sovereign. One of my favorite verses in Bible is found in Deuteronomy 8:2 and I paraphrase the words of Moses…remember how the Lord God led you in the desert for 40 years…to humble you, to test you, to examine what was in your heart; whether you would keep His commandments. I don’t know the purposes or plans of God, but I am told that such desert-like circumstances are allowed as I am tested and humbled through them. I wonder if Jesus also felt this as His own father allowed His death for a greater purpose we now are offered called grace and forgiveness. While you endure the hardships, may you find hope in the word of God. Though we don’t understand suffering, we can remember His promises are true and that He is faithful. May your obedience be honoring to God and a witness to others. Colleen

  • Holli

    Thank you for this series. It has been very encouraging. Thank you so very much.!!

  • Holli

    Here are my answers to the questions:
    1. Some struggles are : a. realizing that so many people, even christians ,do not really understand your child’s condition even when you have exlpained it many times. I have quit trying to explain her condition, it is so rare most will never understand and it really does not matter anymore. We love her beyond measure and know how to care for her and God is right with us! 🙂
    b. Being let down by fellow church members and friends at times.
    c. Finances sometimes.
    d. Knowing there is currently no treatment or cure and very little research.
    e. Not getting invited to birthday parties of other kids the same age.
    f. Seeing Grandparents not spend time with her when they could.
    #2. I think our marriage is stronger. We look to the Lord and I think as a family we are more connected and more considerate of each others feelings now. As for my other child, she has done amazingly well. She is special too in her way, and is very mature for her age. We don’t always get to go to things when little sister is sick and sometimes my other child wishes we could but when we can go ,we do and it all works out!
    #3. If I could ask God one question, several years ago it would have been why my baby? Now, I am not sure. I really don’t know.
    #4. The most support I think has been from God! He gave us a precious angel and we thank Him for her every day. He has provided her needs and some of the best support has been from therapy, school system, old friends, Childrens Rehab. , and of course wonderful doctors.!
    Again, thank you for this series.
    God bless.

  • Stacy Williams

    I am so excited about your new blog. It will be a blessing to follow along with you.
    Special needs has rocked our world. Both my husband and I had worked with special needs adults and children and loved them with all our hearts, but when we we had twin autistic children things got much harder. My children are 5,5, 3,and 2. My boy twin is often violent when afraid or confused, but others simply see it as rude, and me as a bad mom-even family and church members.
    We ended up leaving our church due to a teacher biting my son in the face. at age 3 for him trying to bite her. So my hardest struggles is the judegment that your are a failed parent, or not a God fearing parent by the struggles my children endure. I also struggle with lonelyness.
    My marriage got a lot strong because we started this marriage with God first…and that one little fact has made the difference. When my husband and I disagree I take it to the lord and get new strength for each day. Strength to strength I walk. But if we did not have that we would have not survived. Hospital bills, special food costs, family and friends leaving, takes its toll.
    My one question to God would be could he give me some assurance that my childrens souls are sealed since I can not say they will every be able to verbalize or make that clear. I can not find anywhere in the bible where a family member can save a child or adult. This hurts me that I have to live my life not knowing if my children will ever believe.
    My best suppport has been the few brave women in my ladies bible study that approch me like I am normal ,for a hug, or a back pat and a hi, when I have a little boys teeth sunk into my arm. I can not say how two older women has keep me on my knees before the lord instead of running away like I so wanted to do. We are a family that still needs love even though we look scarey.

  • Stacy Williams

    I am so excited about your new blog. It will be a blessing to follow along with you.
    Special needs has rocked our world. Both my husband and I had worked with special needs adults and children and loved them with all our hearts, but when we we had twin autistic children things got much harder. My children are 5,5, 3,and 2. My boy twin is often violent when afraid or confused, but others simply see it as rude, and me as a bad mom-even family and church members.
    We ended up leaving our church due to a teacher biting my son in the face. at age 3 for him trying to bite her. So my hardest struggles is the judegment that your are a failed parent, or not a God fearing parent by the struggles my children endure. I also struggle with lonelyness.
    My marriage got a lot strong because we started this marriage with God first…and that one little fact has made the difference. When my husband and I disagree I take it to the lord and get new strength for each day. Strength to strength I walk. But if we did not have that we would have not survived. Hospital bills, special food costs, family and friends leaving, takes its toll.
    My one question to God would be could he give me some assurance that my childrens souls are sealed since I can not say they will every be able to verbalize or make that clear. I can not find anywhere in the bible where a family member can save a child or adult. This hurts me that I have to live my life not knowing if my children will ever believe.
    My best suppport has been the few brave women in my ladies bible study that approch me like I am normal for a hug, or a back pat and a hi, when I have a little boys teeth sunk into my arm. I can not say how two older women has keep me on my knees before the lord instead of running away like I so wanted to do. We are a family that still needs love even though we look scarey.

  • Pam Oliver

    I hate my life right now

  • Liz

    Pam: I’m sorry you are in so much pain… many of us know what that feels like and have spoken those very words. I’m praying.
    Almost 5 years ago my oldest child was diagnosed with classic (“low-functioning”) autism. Looking back I have no idea how we ever got to today (much of it’s a blur anyway)as we’ve “roller coaster road” our way through self injurious meltdowns, 2-3 year wait lists for services, sleeplessness, black eyes/bloody lips, rude comments/stares from strangers, destruction of valuables and years of silently waiting for the words “Mama” and “Dada”. Over the years I have questioned God’s goodness, sovereignty, wisdom…well, you name it I have questioned it and probably shouted about it! But at the end of the day if I push past the frustration and pain, I know God IS Good (and it’s good for my head to write these words, since I’m particularly frustrated today.
    1. Some of the hardest things for me raising a disabled child are: Exhaustion, unpredictability of each day, balancing needs of everyone in our family, loneliness, exhaustion (oh yeah, already said that), confidence as a parent, “lost dreams”,in-laws (they blame me), cruel comments/judgment from those who do not know, finances on occasion, what if I die who will take care of the kids?, helplessness that comes with being unable to communicate with our child or witnessing self injurious behavior etc.
    2. Some days are really good ones for our family and others are really bad. Just like some situations have been strengthening for our marriage and others have been testing/taxing. Every once in a while we get a “chocolate cake moment” like last week my two daughters were chasing/tagging each other in the back yard and laughing together…on a scale of 1-10 that was an 11.
    3. If I could ask God one thing it would be “Please make room in your kingdom for my daughter”. I’ve never really found any biblical clarity on salvation for babies/disabled people and I worry about this often. It is particularly concerning when dealing with a child like my daughter who is NOT considered mentally retarded but who struggles so severely with communication and abstract concepts.
    4. God has put some wonderful people in our lives both christian and non who have been a real blessing to us. I remember one very terrible day in the early years where I packed the girls in the stroller and went to the grocery store just to get some fresh air. The girls were both asleep by the time we got to the store (the first and last time that happened) and I just walked through the store like a zombie when this lady walked up behind me put her hand on my shoulder and said “Your doing a great job, your kids are so lucky to have you as a mom”. I whispered “thank you”, walked out the door (to keep from crying in front of her)and never saw the lady again. That 30 seconds got me through months of bad days and may have saved me from driving off a bridge that day(seriously).

  • Annette Balzano

    Just wanted to add one more thing..first thank you for your response because it was a confirmation for me. Second confirmation was when Pastor spoke through Job because I have always called my life a Jobette minor (my son gets a kick out of that) but as he has grown, he understands that this life on this earth in our temporary place and we will live in paradise. I have such a peace now in my life knowing that he loves the Lord and he has been trully saved. We struggle in this world, but its only temporary. I just keep looking up.Thank you again for this ministry it has been long awaited. May it catch on fire in churches all around.

  • I found the stories that many of you shared here to be SO inspiring! Despite the struggles each of you overcome on a daily basis, you persist in turning to God and honoring Him through your words here, and through your actions at home.
    I’d like to share a different perspective. I’m a physician who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry, and I lead a very dedicated team of staff and volunteers in an outreach that seeks to equip churches (completely free of charge) to minister to families of children with special emotional and behavioral needs. I had been sitting around all smug and satisfied after some very big ministry successes this week until Colleen E-mailed me to suggest I check out the stuff you were posting on this blog. I’d like to thank Colleen for exploding what had otherwise been a very pleasant day.
    After feeling inspired by the stories many of you shared, my next reaction was one of intense anger. Part of Christ’s mission was to allow us to experience His Father’s Kingdom here on Earth, restoring things to the way they were meant to be. Jesus’ healing ministry was a tangible means through which people experienced the Kingdom, and men and women flocked to Him from great distances partly because of His reputation as a healer. The church has the responsibility, guided by the Holy Spirit, to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus and the representation of His Kingdom until He personally returns. It’s obvious to me from the stories you’ve shared that we as the church have totally dropped the ball and have failed miserably to share Christ’s unconditional love with families impacted by disabilities. THIS CANNOT STAND! We need to reclaim this territory back on behalf of God’s Kingdom.
    Think about this: How many other families do you encounter in clinic waiting rooms, at therapy sessions, in support groups and in your social networks struggling to get through the day who don’t have a relationship with Christ to fall back upon during the most difficult times. Families who would appreciate the smallest kindness, gesture or encouragement? I don’t believe God ever wastes a hurt. Might He use your experiences and stories to alert churches of the desperate need for love, acceptance and support they might address through reaching out to families in circumstances similar to yours? Could your stories be the inspiration that spurs others to serve? How might He use the gifts and talents he gave YOU and YOUR CHILDREN to minister to the needs of other families in your community, or to others throughout the world through the use of technology. Could God use your circumstances through inviting you to partner with Him in building His Kingdom? What could be better (or more fun) than playing for God’s team while doing work of lasting significance?
    Thanks to Colleen and her family for having the spiritual guts to faithfully pursue God’s call in the midst of the adversity they’ve experienced and place this issue squarely on the church’s radar screen. In the next few days, every one of our ministry staff, volunteers and supporters will be encouraged to visit this blog, read your stories, and be reminded of why we were called to do the ministry Christ placed before us.
    On behalf of Key Ministry, we’re looking forward to providing whatever information, encouragement and support we can to those of you touched through the ministry Colleen has established with Insight for Living.
    In His Service,
    Stephen Grcevich, MD
    President, Board of Directors
    Key Ministry Foundation
    http://www.keyministry.org

  • Maria Mechem

    It’s so nice to find encouragement from other parents or family members of children with special needs. My husband Todd and I started this journey along with our precious daughter Hannah a little over eleven years ago. My first sonogram showed abnormalities and at first I was filled with fear. I remember feeling much like Job did in the Bible; I wished I were dead. But right away my husband began to pray ;hearing his words of faith encouraged my spirit and prompted me to turn to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Six months later our beautiful daughter was born with several birth defects including blindness. I’m still not sure how I made it through those first few fragile years. All I can say is God is faithful. My daughter’s heart defects are now both repaired and we are learning to accommodate her blindness, autism, and developmental delays. She is such a blessing and I can see how God uses her to strengthen my faith and character. My most difficult challenge is learning to work on simple skills with my daughter at her pace. For example she walked at four instead of one. It took a year and a half to potty train:) I thought that would do me in. Right now we are trying to learn Braille. Our marriage has only been strengthened through this but I give God all the credit in that. I think the decision not to place blame but to just trust God was vital. Also my husband has been a very hands on dad from the start. I’m so excited about God’s plan for Hannah’s life; I really want to ask him to show me all the people she has impacted for Him that I am unaware of. The best support we have received has come through the love shown by family and friends. The most discouraging thing has been trying to deal with the local school board. Not the teachers or principals just the board:) I’m so thankful for this great opportunity to share and hope God will use it to encourage someone like me.

  • Dave Hummer

    Yes,
    I am a single parent with two sons 14 and 13 with bi-polar disorder. The 14 year old has high functioning autism. I need some extra help with just the day to things working getting the kids to school meals activities ect. My oldest son just spend 6 months at a residental unit and I want to keep him from going back, do you know of any resources or church helps for familys like ours in the state of Colorado (Lakewood)
    Looking for Gods Direction and Help.

  • Cristette Cadriel

    I knew it was just a matter of time that a voice of someone with influence in the Christian Community would change the view of our friends in the church. I am so encouraged by this blog. For those of us with similar stuggles we have a place to turn to that is tangible. I am a mother of three boys. My youngest who is eight, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome two years ago. It has not been an easy road. Before his diagnosed I often felt like an abused wife but it was my four year old who was beating me up. His eyes of evil were very scary. I can remember hating life. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. My husband would say to me”he doesn’t act like that with me. It must be you”. Needless to say, I did not like my husband either. Fortunatley, I did not give up (even though I really wanted to) but persevered in learning everything I could. I don’t doubt for a minute that our calling is to impower others and to encourage our fellow families with disabilities. I am so excited for this blog and ministries like “Key Ministry” who will help us educate the body of christ. The heartache a parent experiences with children of special needs is so undescribable that only those who have experience it can truly comfort us, outside of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. As I read so many of the post, I am thankful for my little boy. It could be so much worse. There was a time when I hated people saying that because there are days when I still don’t feel that way. However, now there are so many days that I do feel blessed. Don’t ever stop crying unto the Lord. He really does care.

  • Jon

    Thank you for this wonderful gathering point Colleen!
    God has blessed my wife and I with two children with albinism, the youngest of which is legally blind. He also has ADHD and an anxiety disorder.
    The biggest blessing we see through my son is an appreciation for the little things. Each time he is able to do something he has never done before we rejoice. Even if it is something as minor as eating peas with a spoon, or sitting still throughout an entire church service!
    I encourage every parent with a special needs child to not overlook the small steps your child has made. Don’t focus on what they cannot do. Rejoice daily in their life, regardless of its trials.

  • Cindy

    Thank you so much for this series. My family and a very close friend of mine have both family members with disabilities. My mind has been plagued with fears and pain for my friend mostly. My deepest pain comes from feeling that I can’t do a lot for him. Your program this morning was a conformation of what I needed to hear. It is amazing how God answers questions and hurts of our hearts within a small amount of time just to let us know He knows. The Lord is so good. I just pray that my friend will find that too even through this tough time.

  • Cindy: Your question is fantastic! It’s very difficult to know how to help-especially when one is not familiar with the disabled population-or it’s a friend whose overwhelmed by the adjustments and grief. Like I mentioned on the radio today, helping a family with a disabled child has very little to do with the disabled child. .Helping a family through the grief , the crushing of their dreams, the ways of living that are foreign…is done by being a consistent presence on the journey. Your help will be most appreciated by assuming some of their daily responsibilities…doing their wash, folding laundry, cleaning the bathrooms or kitchen’s, giving special time to a sibling, helping with the yard, washing the car, getting gas for them, have en email connection in which the family can communicate a grocery list, their needs, their grief…these behaviors are most powerful. I have a few documents at Insight for Living which I can send you if you call or email and request such. It’s vital for those who help to be accepting of family’s pain, behaviors, emotions, forgetfulness, chaos, and so on…if not, there will be a loss of trust, security, and comfort. My prayers are with you and those in need.

  • Carol

    I heard your program on the radio this morning and had to laugh with joy at God’s timing in all of this. I have a son with autism. I had just finiished speaking to a group in Lafayette about autism and was driving home. God blessed me with the opportunity to share my faith in God with this group of people. I truely hope I was a good witness to them. I was also feeling a bit isolated because we are so bombarded with all the negative things in life and those who do not trust in Jesus do not comprehend the concept of my being thankful for my son’s autism. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I am truely thankful and it was just great to hear that someone else is thankful for the challenges too. God has given me the courage and strength. I pray for His guidance daily and hope to continue to be obedient to Him. I thank you!

  • Jay

    How in the world do you explain Asperger’s Syndrome to the rest of the children.I have 5 ranging from 20 to 8.The child with ASD is 8 and has a twin sister.This has been a very hard issue to deal with as the ages are the same.If not enough I have 2 sets of twins.I am not complaining as each is a special gift,but now the 20 yr old is rebelling from God.So I have to deal with his fits of anger ,which does not help the ASD child who is plagued with anxiety which causes migraines for her.I have had to look him in the face and say OUT or STAY,if you stay the next time you throw something or verbally abuse, I will call the Law.He really got mad on a road trip and threw his laptop and hit 2 others in the head.I feel like my life is so messed up with all of this.And I feel like a failure as a Christian,let alone a Christian Mom

  • nicci

    I would like to start by saying A BIGGER THAN LIFE THANK YOU TO insight for living and the Swindoll family..
    I have a disabled and autistic 9 yr old young man.. Who was born with a birth defect and then later found out that he had autism..
    The hardest thing for us is the fact that he talks very little and we don’t really know how to communitcate with him.. he has his certain phrases for the basics(need drink, hungry, potty) but other than that he don’t talk much he plays alone with his cars collection or certain safe sights on his computer or loves to swing or just be outside. all and all a very happy boy…
    The effect it has had on my other children.. we have had to explain to them that thier brother is different and unique. he doesn’t see things like they do if sometimes like we do which is a big challenge. things that they get upset at he thinks is funny he has a very high pain tolerance so things that hurt his siblings he also thinks is funny. our marriage has gotten stronger we both have the want same what is best for all three of our kids and our kids come first. we was unsure what to expect because we never heard of our sons birth defect before or even how to handle someone so fragile.. but with prayer and paitence and alot of questions to different dr’s and such we are getting better at understanding him and his needs all the time.
    If I could ask god one thing or tell him one thing.. I would say Thank you for such a special person… It took me awhile to understand why me and now I know it was gods plan for my life and that would be lost with out him and i am VERY BLESSED to have him and his siblings. So god THANK YOU for blessing me with children and a special gift being my son.
    Who has provided the most help would be his teachers. they have brought my son out of his shell he is becoming more vocal all the time he is wanting to be involved more in the things we do and I can see him growing by leaps and bounds.
    who has not helped is some of the family they don’t understand him and they don’t know how to interact with them so they just stay away.. the church in our area just ignores him.. we have found another church and he is accepted there and loves to go, he even ask almost daily either if he is going to school or church..
    It sometimes is hard to take him places becuase he don’t understand that he just can’t have what he picks up so he has a spell( drops to the ground and or scream or cries aloud and uncontrollable) and me or my husband has to take him out of the store during the spell and people just look at us like we are hurting him, they just stop and stare.
    In closing I just want to say again thank you and god bless.

  • Melanie Shostak

    WOW I feel so humbled…I have 3 children, 2 daughters,21 (well not a kid now!), and 15yr old, and my 11 yr old son has high functioning autism, now. he wasn’t high functioning in the beginning. I read all these stories, and know they are just a grain of sand compared to all the pain and difficulty that we don’t hear about…it has been a VERY difficult 10 yrs..the divorce rate of families with children with autism is near 80%. It is a blessing to read about so many men stepping up to the plate, given the divorce rate of typical families and these men running out cuz they aren’t “happy” !! My own left recently and never accepted the diagnosis. Now my son sees him 2 days a month.. but i use every moment I can to share the Lord with my son, who has accepted Christ a couple yrs ago (yes they being literal …the Bible says it– so it’s so!!) I heard at one of my first autism seminars an adult with autism say that people with autism can’t believe in God cuz He’s abstract…well he said he was there to defy that myth! I thought to myself anyone who thinks that doesn’t KNOW MY GOD! My son is truly specially wrapped, and I am going back to school to work with special needs…I wonder where I got that idea from? hmmm?.. We Love you Lord and all your ways Thankyou for being OUR GOD and being YOU- one day we’ll fully understand why we were specially chosen for these specially wrapped kids (btw I love that title Mr. Swindoll!)

  • Chuck’s messages and Coleen’s words have been so healing. I have rarely heard one since the beginning of this series where I have not had to hold back the tears. They are truly healing to a very tired mom who longs for other to enter her world. Eight months after my son was born still, my 5 year-old daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. It is a 2 and a half year chemotherapy protocol and because she is high risk the chemo was aggressive and she will most likely have long term issues. We only have 3 months to go if the Leukemia doesn’t come back, if it does it is a whole other story. You live with the constant wonder of what God has in store and if he will keep the cancer away or if He will chose to take her home. She deals with a lot of physical pain from neuropathy and bone death both from the chemo. It can be so isolating living in a world that seems so unaware of the world we have entered. Thank you so much for sharing your story and thank you to the ministry for speaking out on this issue. My daughters website is
    http://www.hannahshope.wordpress.com
    God bless you guys for what you are doing!

  • Evie Baldwin

    I am so excited to have heard about this link from the Insight for Living broadcast. My husband and I have 8 children, of which the youngest (just turned 10) was in a car accident 6 years ago and was left with a traumatic brain injury. She is very delayed mentally and suffers from seizures daily. Unlike some of the posts I’ve been reading, Jessie’s disability has brought out alot of problems in our marriage, that were no doubt already there, we just didn’t see them as clearly. God has been gracious, though, and we are still together and working through things. I am thankful for that!
    I am so looking forward to connecting with others who are facing similar struggles/challenges with their children. Thanks for your willingness to share yours with us! Those broadcasts have been such an encouragment to me.

  • What a neat opportunity to share with our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ! I’m Tena, 31yo blessed wife to James of 11 years. We have Caden (6, Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome – mental retardation), Avery (4), Declan (17 months) and we are expecting identical twin girls any day now! Our life is anything but normal and we are busy surviving the parenthood thing right now! Feel free to follow us on our blog at http://www.thisisournormal.blogspot.com/ On to the questions:
    What are your hardest struggles with raising a disabled child?
    For us, the most difficult thing is Caden’s lack of speech. He is a communicator with sign language and grunting, but he often can’t get his point across and we all become very frustrated.
    How has raising a child diagnosed as disabled affected your marriage and your other children?
    We are stronger because of Caden’s special needs. We have dug deep into our marriage and we work hard to get the services are are entitled to so that we can go out as a couple without kids and reconnect. We do notice that we have some behavior issues with our 4yo daughter that seems to stem from seeing her older brother’s behaviors, but we are working on this.
    If you could ask God one question or tell God one thing, what would that be?
    I think I would ask Him to give me some insight as to how He views us as a family. Sometimes we feel like we are barely keeping our heads above water and we feel very much like we aren’t doing all we could/should, but I’m sure to God we are doing just fine! I’d like to view us from His awesome perspective.
    What support has provided the most help/the least help?
    For us, having our families close by is the best support imagineable. When days with Caden are very hard, he goes to grandma and grandpa’s house (either set!) and he has a blast while we get a break. It’s crucial that every family member helps in his care.

  • carolyn

    I have listened to Chuck since the beginning of the radio ministry. But the special needs brought tears of joy to know that someone understanding the sorrow and grief that one experiences when the realities of life overwhelm. We love our grandson and want him to have the help he so desperately needs.
    Our daughter is desperate to find a doctor or therapist in Memphis, Tn who can help with her son who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He has a number of issues that need to be addressed, we have prayed and begged God to help us find the help he needs before he reaches a point of no return.

  • Jennifer

    I am 28 years old. I have a 4 year old with autism and a 2 and 1 year old. I struggle almost everyday to not be angry at God. I am a christian. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE WITH THIS I tell him. I hate my life so much I dont want to live sometimes. My doctor tries to give me antidepressants but I need a new life! For a small amount of time I am ok with this and then something else pushes me over the edge. WHY ME? everyone else seems to have it so simple. They have time to SHOWER. I barely have time or energy to think straight or even spend time with God. I am heartbroken and tired and lonely and judged.

  • Deborah Hoffman

    Dr. Swindoll and Colleen, what a blessing you have been to me over the years and to those who have heard your radio program!
    I was listening one day when I heard you both talking about developmentally disabled children. I would like to make you aware of a wonderful program for those who are adults. It’s a place called Disability Resources, Inc. (DRI) in Abilene, TX. In 1987 a group of Christian leaders met to form an organization which would assist developmentally disabled adults in reaching their full potential in a Christian atmosphere. Currently, there are 49 individuals living in seven homes and working in a vocational center, where they are paid, and most of all where they have a sense of belonging and have friends and co-workers.
    As a part-time relief house manager, I am constantly amazed at what our “folks” (what we call them) are able to teach US! Because we are a non-profit organization, we have to have many fund-raising events. One new event, started this year by a Plano high school student, was the “Plano Dinner”. For more information on DRI, please go to http://www.driabilene.org and view the photos of the folks and events and maybe order some products made by our folks! Sometimes it helps parents of young children just to know that there is a place available to help when their children become adults.
    God bless you in this endeavor to help struggling parents.

  • Samia: Thank you for your honest, heartfelt comments. I cannot imagine the moments of discouragement you have felt! I have been reading a book titled “Always looking up”, authored by Michael J. Fox. While I have chosen not to offer my personal opinion on books mentioned here, I will share things I find encouraging. The author offered his belief about impossible or unchangeable challenges by saying such humanly insurmountable problems can only be faced by greater than human strength. Such is you situation…more confusing than you can handle in your human strength. My suggestion here is that you find strength for today instead of thinking on what ‘may’ be ahead. Romans 8 states our human mindset is unable to be at rest because it focuses on earthly desires; the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace. Simply put, it’s vital consider those challenges that come moment by moment. Philippians 4:6-8 commands the believer in saying do NOT be anxious about anything, but pray and petition your needs to the all powerful, all knowing, Almighty God. In this, He promises to provide a strength (not a recovery from or answer to), but a strength which in our humanity reaches beyond our understanding. Further, this God-empowered mind set will guard your heart and your mind, supplying you with transcending peace. Thus, your job is to take captive every worry or thought, refusing to focus on the unknowable tomorrows, and have your mind in the moment by moment activity of today. Such peace will come when you choose to focus on what is noble, right, true, lovely, excellent and worthy of praise, trusting God for every moment of your day. I hope this helps. God’s peace and strength to you, Samia. Colleen Swindoll

  • Julie

    I noticed that the last comment was written on July 7, 2009. Is this blog still active?

  • Julia, It’s Colleen here. Yes, this is still an active blog. I’m not sure why many have stopped visiting; I’m sorry if you have felt forgotten. There are many great things happening in our disability ministry. We are about to add 5 new folders including: General information, FAQ’s, Ministry, Education, and encouragement. Please, please send anyone you know who needs encouragement or information this way. Get the word out, many good things are coming along. Also, the topical page will carry those catagories in detail; the blog is for relational support and connectedness. Thanks much! Colleen

  • Our church as three elementary school autistic children, I am looking for a special needs sunday school curriculum to use with these children, and any books that might be helpful for our children’s ministry staff.
    Thank you!

  • Vicky Booth

    This is the first christian based blog for special families I have found. Thank-You! I am A grandmother of a special needs child who has severe disabilities and seizures everyday. I have read all your comments from these families and I can in many ways relate to all of them. My grandson Logan is a wonderful blessing from God he has taught me more about the unconditional love of God then I could ever comphrehend. His sweet and long-suffering spirit teach me life lessons daily. Is it tough? Yes! physically, emotionally,and every other way.But no matter what he to us is a blessing! Thank-you for letting me say this! I needed to let someone know you are not alone!! God Bless!

  • Vicky, what an amazing perspective you have about life! Your grace, your faith in Christ is revealed in what you wrote. Thank you for encouraging everyone who reads your note…”His sweet and long suffering spirit teach me life lessons every day”. How mysterious are God’s ways; yet how one’s character is forged through the crucibles of life. Please give an update on Logan when possible…also, please share with others about the blog so they may also be encouraged and comforted.
    Colleen

  • Teresa

    I came upon this blog tonight, by God’s intervention – I’m sure. It’s been 19 years of raising our daughter with special needs and I still pray and depend upon God everyday for the strength and wisdom we’ll need to keep pressing on. She gives more than she takes, but she takes a lot. So, we are richly blessed. People say that she’s lucky to have such great parents. I say that we have learned to be great parents because of her. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. There are still daily struggles but God provides.

  • Teresa, what strength you have been provided by depending fully on Jesus Christ. We often forget eternal hope comes when we have used every human resource which, we learn does not provide what the soul must have. Your story is full of humility, abounding in grace, dependant on God’s unending care. I would love to know how you are doing today. In safe keeping, Colleen

  • Raising a child with a disability offers a host of rewards that may not be evident in the early days.a new sense of personal competence for parents, the thrill of watching your child make strides, and increased appreciation of family and life in general.