Two mothers struggling to raise their children with autism ended up finding strength in God and church community.
“Nothing about autism is easy,” one contributor to Huffpost commented. “You can embrace it; you can find coping mechanisms and you can find small ways to make daily life a little easier. But that doesn't make autism easy.”
A ticking clock makes focusing on even the most mundane tasks nearly impossible for her son. Sometimes only apple sauce can fend off meltdowns.
Numerous other parents of children with autism report that it is tremendously hard learning how to raise an autistic child, feeling frustrated by their poor behavior or others’ accusations of poor parenting, finding the correct resources, realizing how finances are crunching thanks to doctor and therapist appointments, but most of all being afraid for their children’s futures.
Some have found their marriages on the rocks or friends drifting away because the challenge was too much.
Others find circles of friends and family who will encourage them through the marathon that is raising a child with autism.
Guilty Secrets Come in Twos
As soon as it opened, Vera came to the food bank program that World Challenge’s partner in Cork, Ireland had dedicated themselves to running.
Her 17-year-old son was autistic, and she felt terribly isolated in her care for him and herself. She wrestled with suicidal thoughts and a grimness whenever she thought about the future. To make matters worse, she had two guilty secrets bearing down on her shoulders.
First, she had a gambling addiction. Surely, the kind food bank people would get angry when they heard and turn her away.
Second, her son was under investigation for child pornography. Ireland’s cyber crime bureau regularly investigates any reports they receive of “child abuse material,” and when Vera heard that her son had come to their attention, she was horrified and crushed.
She was shocked when the Feed Cork ministry not only didn’t turn her away but continued to treat her kindly, ask her how she was and help her whenever they could.
After a year and a half, she called on Christ to save her.
All of the love the believers in Cork showed her couldn’t save her from her own addiction or her son from his struggles; only this God could, and Vera experienced a genuine breakthrough. Some days were still tough, but for the first time, she felt free.
She now attends the church and is a faithful volunteer in the Feed Cork ministry, offering help and hope to those whose pain she understands all too well.
Weathering the Worst Storms
Marie came to the food program broken and bitter.
She had married a Muslim man. When they discovered that their first child was autistic, it was a blow. Money was tight, and every day was difficult. Their second child came along, and Marie felt dread growing inside as she began to notice a familiar pattern of behavior and problems.
Doctors confirmed her fears: both of her children had autism.
She was a regular through the Feed Cork doors every Wednesday. The team offered to pray with her almost weekly, and she stiffly allowed it. Through building a consistent relationship with her, the ladies won her trust bit by bit.
She started to attend church, then she gave her heart to Christ at almost the same time as Vera. The hardness and bitterness that once clouded her mind lifted. She began to increasingly feel full of joy and confidence since she had been touched by Christ.
Her husband, however, was deeply displeased by her conversion to the Christian faith. He decided to leave her and the children.
It was a painful moment, but Marie had already weathered so many storms. She held firmly to her new faith. She joined the Cork Church team alongside Vera.
Together they have a unique sympathy for the people they serve.