A challenge to individuals, the church, and the community to focus on the gift rather than the burden.
In Australia, one person in a hundred- or roughly 230,00 people- has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That's an huge number and constitutes the largest disability group in the Australian NDIS.
But I was blissfully unaware of this startling statistic... until grandson #3 arrived with all the activity and excitement of a new birth in the family.
And he was a cheerful little guy ... he delighted in music and listening to singing .. always ready to wrap his chubby little arms around your neck in a big hug... laughing all the time... still does. I cared for him quite a bit while his parents were working so I got to see a lot of him when he was little.
Murphy loved his cousins and followed them around giggling delightedly when they chased him or bounced with him on the trampoline. His eventual diagnosis with Autism Spectrum Disorder affected his cousins not at all. They copied his 'happy hands' movement when one of them jumped especially high on the trampoline or flipped a somersault and Murphy laughed louder than anyone. The boys explained Murphy's difficulties to their curious gymnastics team members. So the whole team adopted Murphy's 'happy hands' wave during competitions to encourage one another. Cute!
But yes, living with Autism is not cute- it's not all laughter and 'happy hands.' So I was interested to read Ausomely Blessed by Beth Frank.
Actually, the book is more a compilation of stories and articles by numerous friends, family and specialists. All of them have a personal acquaintance with Autism Spectrum and special needs kids. You'll find chapters included like Ausome Opportunities, Ausome Potential, Ausome Friendship, Ausome Influence and more.
Caring for a special needs child can be an isolating existence. Autistic kids respond well to routine and repetition..So it's easier, and less stressful, to stay at home; a simple outing is fraught with the hazard of sensory overload resulting in an embarrassing meltdown. And parents of children with autism, many of whom are non-verbal, just don't have anyone or anywhere they can relax, unwind and talk to about these concerns. Unless you've experienced it yourself it's hard to relate.
Find encouragement for the everyday struggles
Ausomely Blessed provides just that type of encouragement. It doesn't sugar-coat the problems. It describes heart-rendering, relatable and real situations- the sort of situations where other parents can say, "Yes! I know what you mean. I've experienced something similar."
-- 'A diagnosis isn't a mandate to watch life from the sidelines, but a call to a destiny of greatness.' --
Focus on the gift, not the burden
Ausomely Blessed does more than just offer encouragement and support. It's so easy to spend all your time listing the problems and yes, there are many.
But there are also so many positives. God didn't make a mistake when He made these kids and neither was He surprised by the problems. He knows it all. Each child is an individual who is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Our family would be the poorer without Murphy's laughter and happiness, his excitement to be with friends and family and his hugs. The problems are just one side of the coin and reading this book is a reminder to look for the joy.
-- 'Every individual with special needs has ausome potential.' --
Look for the hidden potential
Ausomely Blessed also takes time to encourage you, as parents, to look beyond the current circumstances. Each child has potential that you can develop. So take time to regularly challenge your child. Jumpstart their imagination. Turn everyday events into learning experiences. Encourage them to dream. Keep it fun... and remember, God loves to open doors.
This small clip was created by SOAR Special Needs Ministry, and mentioned in this book. It's a reminder to look for the hidden potential in everyone and especially those with special needs.
-- "The greatest legacy is not what we leave for people; it's what we leave in people." --
Become agents of change
Community's perception of those with special needs has changed greatly but still more needs to be done to break down barriers and build understanding and acceptance of individuals and families of those with special needs. It's only when special needs kids and their families are included as valuable members of the church and the community that they will bless others as they also are blessed.
Ausomely Blessed encourages you to be an agent of change, to encourage change in the community and in your church. This type of change has already resulted in a heightened understanding of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Change has created an increased understanding that those with autism are often highly intelligent, hard-working and willing to go the extra mile to achieve a desired task outcome. Consequently, many employers realise it makes sound business sense to employ these people.
Change has also resulted in some supermarkets introducing quiet hour each week for those who struggle with sensory overload. So, for an hour, lights are dimmed, registers and scanners are turned down to the lowest levels, trolley collections and PA announcements are avoided and trained members are available to help customers... and more customers support these innovations and shop at these stores.
Maybe the next changes will be initiated by you!
Check out this book and discover how 'ausomely blessed you really are!'
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