She was such a sweet, happy baby. Cheyenne had tight cork screws of dark brown hair springing all around her pretty little face. When she heard her Daddy’s truck rumble into the driveway after a long day, she would toddle at high-speed for the door. We called her our ‘genius’ baby because she had hit developmental milestones early or was right on time. She was climbing shelves at 8 months, walked at 10 months and knew several words by the time she was 11 months. She would chase our dog Molly all over the house, squealing, “Tickle, tickle!”
As I thumb through her baby books, I wonder how I could have missed the signs of Autism? How could I have been so blind to it for so many years? They say hind sight is 20/20 and I do remember Cheyenne becoming moody and uncontrollable at times when she hit the terrible three’s. I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary.
Yet, here I sit, picking up the pieces of a mess I had on my hands this afternoon. Not realizing she has a need for her room to look and feel a certain way, I wonder how she will handle public school next year. Today, I decided to surprise her by cleaning out loads of laundry and putting a new comforter on her bed.
The shock, yelling, tears, and hyperventilation was not how I expected her to greet her mama. Cheyenne has autism, more specifically, she has Aspergers on the autism spectrum and has sensory disorders combined with her Aspergers. Most people don’t realize she is Autistic until they speak to her. She usually doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t understand sarcasm, jokes, humor, or understand facial expressions. In a world where at least 75% of our communication is non-verbal, it becomes frustrating to her. (And, yes I have her permission to share this part of her life).
Autism is becoming more common, 1 and 88 children will be diagnosed with Autism. If you ask me, it’s another way for God to work through our weaknesses. He gives each of us a set of gifts and abilities, along with weaknesses and flaws. I believe Cheyenne was created this way on purpose–for a purpose. As frustrating as it is to see her struggle, deal with meltdowns over changing her bedding, she is being tempered, molded, and shaped for her future. A future that will glorify God that is completely unique to her.
Like you and I, she has her own set of struggles and she has her days when she wants to give up, knowing someone else could do it better than her. But I always remind her and myself when I’m ready to throw in the towel of what Richard Stearns once wrote:
“One of the most common mistakes we can make is to believe that we have nothing of significance to offer […] Deluded, we sit on the bench, and watch the game from a distance, content to let others play.”
So do you have a child with severe autism, down syndrome or other life threatening disease? I can’t speak for you as if I know your pain, hurt, worries and fears. I do know this:
- YOU are the only one that can mother your child the he or she was designed. NO ONE can take your place.
- Your child was created specifically for a purpose–great in the eyes of our God.
- With your faith, your child will live his or her God given purpose.