This is my nephew, "Sweet Boy". Sweet boy has the sweetest spirit, cleverest mind and most warped sense of humor. He loves the beach and, like all big brothers, is adept at harassing his little brother.
He also has autism.
At age 8, Sweet Boy and his parents have been on this journey for quite some time and with my view from the cheap seats I've seen a few things: Like the way my sister and brother-in-law have loved this precious boy with a depth of "move the mountains" passion that can only come from the throne on God Himself. And the way they delight in the wonderful little quirks that make Sweet Boy an indispensable member of the family. And the way they fight for him each and every day spiritually, medically and therapeutically.
They never complain and they certainly don't have a martyr complex so much so that it could be easy for the casual observer to miss this one thing. It's hard.
It's hard to see amazing progressions that lead to enormous joy and hope only to be followed by a regression and discouragement. It's exhausting because autism doesn't take a vacation, it doesn't back off just because a parent or sibling is sick. You can't say, "Sorry autism, we're just too busy for you today. Come back tomorrow."
If you asked my sister and brother-in-law 9 years ago if they had what it would take for this journey, they would have said no. Because they didn't. But they do now and they'll be the first to tell you where they got it. Every day God is there giving them a stamina that only He has to give. I've watched them grow into these amazingly strong people because they cling (and I mean CLING) to Jesus to be their source of EVERYTHING.
And if you asked them to line up all the boys in the world and pick out a son, they wouldn't bat an eyelash. They'd pick the boy with the deep blue eyes, infectious laugh and the angel face. The one who delights in teasing his family and listening to his Daddy sing. They'd choose Sweet Boy.
There are Autism Awareness ribbons all over the place these days. So what has Sweet Boy made me aware of?
- He's made me think twice before I roll my eyes over the mother whose child is having a meltdown at the grocery store. He's made me reach for compassion instead.
- He's shown me that state legislation matters. His life has been directly impacted by the decisions our representatives have made regarding healthcare and education funding.
- He's reminded me that I have to be the advocate for my kids. Doctors and teachers can have great intentions, but my husband and I are the only ones who will take it to the mat for them every single time.
- He is a walking example that prayer works. There have been so many times, so many circumstances where we've seen God answer prayers prayed on Sweet Boy's behalf.
That's just four examples of what I've learned from Sweet Boy. Only eight years old and he's had a tremendous impact on so many people. So fearfully and wonderfully made is this boy. Our family would not be the same without him.
If you want to read more about Sweet Boy and his family, visit here.