Well, this one is bound to stir the pot a bit. Please forgive me as I roll thoughts from my brain around on the page/screen.
We started a new sermon series at church on heaven and hell. I’m sure our pastor didn’t mean for me to take his words to this particular place, but as the mother of an autistic child, I, of course, went there. He spoke of heaven being a better place, which I fully believe, and a place where the pain and suffering of this world is left behind. We are whole and healed in heaven. This I also firmly believe. So through my head ran the thought, “Will Little Man still be autistic when he gets to heaven?” And then I thought, he has nothing to be healed of, so why wouldn’t he still be autistic? Thus began an argument with myself which has persisted for two days, and which I’m sure is a theological nightmare.
To believe he will no longer be autistic in heaven is to believe he has something to be cured of. I’m not sure I fully believe that. Would I change things about him to make his life on earth easier? I’ve written before a hearty “Yes!” to that particular question. But in my heart of hearts, he is not broken, he does not have a disease. He is just different. He does not need to be cured. He just needs to be understood.
I think this is a common argument among the autism community. Do autistics need to be “healed”, or do we just need to provide whatever we can to help them function in this world, and work towards acceptance and understanding of their different-ness? I think I stand firmly in the acceptance and understanding camp, but then if you told me there was a magic pill/food/treatment that would take away all the hard parts for him, I’d likely be on it in an instant. It sucks to watch your child struggle to do the most mundane things. It’s heartbreaking to see him falling apart when it is all just too much, knowing there’s very little I can do to help him, and I certainly can’t make it all go away. It breaks me when he says it’s too hard to keep going. It’s frustrating when he yells, “Just leave me alone!”.
There is so much about him that’s amazing, gifts he has been given by God alone. He was put in our family for a purpose, his own as well as ours. There are days I beg this burden to be lifted from him, from me. There are days I think we won’t make it one more minute, when I fear I will fail at helping him successfully navigate to adulthood and beyond. But then I circle back to this, he is not broken, he is just different.