Until a few days ago, I thought I knew what my daughter Rachael does for a living. Then she shared an article on Facebook. Since anything about my daughter is important to me, I read it. How glad I am that I did.
Rachael is a miracle worker. She is a behavioral technician with a gift for working with children with autism. We have watched her grow into this calling since she was a teenager – and we have grown with her.
Before she stepped into this field, I paid little attention to people with autism, or for that matter to anyone with special needs. They were not part of my world, so I had little cause to learn about them. Now they are part of my world because one I love dearly has chosen to devote her life to them.
How did I miss this before? How is it possible that I overlooked the world of autism, where real life drama happens? As one might expect, there are genuine heartbreaks there, but there are also genuine triumphs. There are beautiful people in that world. Most of them I do not understand in the way Rachael does, but I have begun to appreciate the picture of the Creator built into each face.
Yes, His image is there, in each girl and boy who processes the world differently than I ever will. And maybe that is why they are with us. Our impersonal Western civilization has endeavored for centuries to reduce human beings to formulas, stamping a cookie-cutter identity on every individual in the interest of efficiency. Along the way we have forgotten that efficiency is not what God is all about. He is intent on relationship, which means getting to know people individually. And that is where it gets really, really hard. Relationship means vulnerability. It means hard work. It means awkward silences, penetrating questions, quality time, and loving forgiveness when unintended offenses come. That is why the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves – and why we cannot really love God with all our hearts unless and until we learn to love our neighbors.
No one is exactly the same. We do a great disservice to each other and to God by trying to fit everyone into some kind of mold. Maybe that is why He has gifted us with so many people with autism. If we will learn from them, they will help us remember the uniqueness within each one of us, and the uniqueness of our relationships with our Creator. Maybe if we learn that lesson, we will stop trying to put God in a box and just let Him be God.
Thank you, Rachael, for helping me understand what you do. Thank you for doing it.
The article Rachael shared is by Chrissy Kelly, a mother blessed with two sons with autism. Enjoy her explanation of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and the difference it has made for good in her family. Then take a look at her blog, Life With Greyson + Parker, and see what you have been missing. Maybe you’ll find a new way to make a lasting difference for good right there where you live.
Originally published May 16, 2012
on Life With Greyson + Parker
When I first learned that my son needed to have intensive all day therapy also known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), I was sick to my stomach. I was so angry that my sweet, beautiful, blue-eyed 2 year old boy was going to have his childhood stolen away from him. Sick that I was actually the person responsible for arranging for it to happen. While other kids were playing at the park, or going to the zoo with their moms, my son would be at home…screaming, oftentimes while in a little yellow chair whose site I already hated from Early Intervention Preschool.