Below is an e-mail I received from my sister recently. I thought about writing something on Autism Awareness Month with the prayer link you'll see below, but I think the words she writes are much more powerful and give a greater insight into the experience of a family living with the reality of an autistic family member. My six-year-old nephew Seth is autistic.
My sister's e-mail is below.
Dear family & friends,
I'm writing to thank you for all the prayers you've offered for Seth & our family over the past few years. I am confident that the prayers of God's people have carried us through the many challenging days of life with autism. April is Autism Awareness month and with this approaching I've had many emails arrive in my inbox with various programs and activities that will take place in observance of this focus in the coming month. The link below was attached to one such email that especially touched me with the focus on prayer for autism in the month of April. At this site you can print an April Prayer Thrust Calendar that gives specific areas for prayer for each day of the month. I receive daily devotionals from this ministry that have been a great encouragement to me and we would welcome you joining us in "Turning the Tide, A Prayer Thrust for Autism Awareness Month". The link is here.
Seth's progress continues to be slow, but we are working with a new doctor and are hopeful that this new relationship will help us get Seth further down the road. Tomorrow I travel to the doctor with Seth for his 2nd appointment with the new doctor. We've started 2 new biomedical treatments with this new doctor, but have several more to investigate and try. He continues with his in-home therapy program and speech and occupation therapy totaling about 25 hours a week, along with his homeschool lessons with me. He now has an assitive communication device (small, touchpanel computer that speaks for him), which he enjoys and uses quite a lot. His head banging and teeth grinding continue along with mild-moderate tantrums, depending on the day or week. We pray for God's intervention into Seth's life to bring healing, and recognize that ultimately God is the only One who can bring this about in his life.
Even though that report sounds a bit bleak, we are doing pretty well as a family. I think we've adjusted to the additional stress that autism brings to our lives and are able to have fun and joy in the midst as much as most "normal" families are able to. Life with kids is stressful for everyone, this is just a fact of life. Our two older children continue to enjoy school and are usually a big help with Seth, for this we are so thankful. We hope this email finds all of you doing well and trusting God for all you need. We covet your continued prayers and invite you to join us for this month of prayer. I'm sure we are not the only family you know dealing with this terrible disease; my heart and prayers go out to the families that don't have faith to carry them through this journey. Indeed families and children all over the world who are facing this challenge are in need of prayer. Thanks again for your prayers.
If you are so led, please join in praying and utilize the link above to learn more about the prayer needs of autistic children and their families. And please do pray for Seth, my sister and brother-in-law and their other children. They are on a hard, hard road and this disease has brought them great emotional, physical and financial stress. I know my sister will be encouraged by knowing that you are praying.
Sister, be encouraged today, knowing that your love and labor on Seth's behalf is not in vain! You're doing a great job and the way you love and serve Seth is such a testimony!