My Beloved Autistic Grandson
As a poor girl from a low social class in China who rose to become a senior engineer and an adept writer, I could rightly take pride. I considered myself both lucky and blessed. During my youth, I was lucky to have survived several calamitous crises. During college, I credited my success to hard work. And, as a mature adult, through my own initiatives and efforts, I single-handedly nurtured superior sons, daughters, and grandchildren. This was my thinking—before I became a Christian!
My daughter’s seemingly healthy and lovely baby boy brought sunshine to our family. He was a happy baby, so cute, who would play contentedly with his toys. But at a year and a half, things began to change. This cute little child would cling to a favorite photo all day long, or run around with exhaustive energy paying no attention to anyone. He never resisted when his older sister snatched toys from him; he just hid himself in a corner and played alone. After subsequent tests, physicians diagnosed my grandchild as “autistic.” Hearing that awful word was like a heavy bomb descending on our family. We imagined all the possible terrible symptoms that autistic children may develop—and we grew more and more apprehensive. The darkest gloom clouded our minds.
I watched as my grandson’s symptoms worsened and was gripped with anxiety. I could not do anything about this situation! Neither my prowess nor hard work would change the outcome.
The child’s behavior grew more serious over time. His movements had to be restrained both day and night—to avoid danger to himself. When awake, he would repeatedly bump his head violently on any object near him. He would often cry himself to exhaustion. And at times, he would turn his body around and around in circles on the same spot.
Watching my grandson’s ability to recognize things and his power of speech regress was heartwrenching. Seeing his little forehead so bruised, raised my anxiety to a new level. And I felt the additional pain of observing my daughter’s weight loss and her pale face as she carried the heavy burden of mothering an autistic child. Tears were common many days in my life.
My anxiety reached a peak when the grandpa of my autistic grandson was getting ready to go back to his native country of China. He had spent several years helping with the child, and I was concerned over how the child would respond when his grandpa was gone. This situation was so fearful for me that I developed a paranoia-like panic.
At this point, I willingly called out to God! I knelt down and cried my heart out: “Oh, God, please save the life of my grandson! I am willing to trade off my aged, fragile body in exchange for my grandson’s normal health!”
After this prayer of surrender, relief came suddenly. Grandpa, with luggage in hand, was ready to leave when my son-in-law flipped open the pages of his dad’s passport and exclaimed, “Dad, your passport expired three months ago!” So Grandpa could not leave without a valid passport—and I felt momentary relief and comfort!
This unexpected turn of events gave me a reason to start going to church—to thank God and to show my gratitude for lessening my anxiety. I also began to study the Bible fervently. The words of God became like a beaming light guiding my daily life. I learned to, Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances—for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). My heart became enlightened with spiritual insight. I started praying according to the teachings of God’s Word, and I started listening intently to know the will of God. I was changed from the inside out.
Before I became a new person in Christ, I rejoiced over my luck at being able to survive crises. I took pride in my own efforts to succeed. After becoming a Christian, I understand that all my accomplishments and “luck” were really blessings given me by the Lord. I realized there is never any reason for discouragement even when the medical practitioners have no way to treat my grandson. This child is a gift from God, and we love him dearly, regardless of the wild and uncontrollable behavior he exhibits. Today, as I play and sing with my grandson, our home is filled with merriment and laughter, not anxiety. I have no doubt our Heavenly Father will carry this grandson He has given me through all his life until the end.