Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Praise Report

Back in mid-August my son, Todd, started undergoing evaluations because he is behind in his speech development. At two and a half years old his speech is still very unintelligible, his vocabulary is not as large as it should be, and he’s barely putting two words together. I actually had concerns when he was around 18 months or so, but under the advice of his pediatrician, I waited. Well, by the time Todd was two years and three months he started getting frustrated and tantruming when he couldn’t communicate what he wanted. The doctor finally agreed that we should do something.

It’s amazing how God works all things together for good. A caseworker comes to see Sadey to monitor her speech development because of her ear, so that if she needs interventions, the caseworker can help us get access to the services she needs. So the caseworker started the evaluation process for Todd (a process that has felt painstakingly slow to me because I want answers!). Because we’re going through this program to get Todd services, rather than our pediatrician, the services are free to us. God is using government funds to provide us with what we need!

Todd’s initial evaluation was the day before my birthday. I wrote in an earlier post (A Testimony) that my birthday started out rough in part because I had received some difficult news the day before. Well, during the evaluation, Todd showed delays in all five areas where he was tested: communication, social/emotional, adaptive (dressing himself, etc.), cognitive, and physical. The caseworker and I had been concerned that Todd may not even score low enough to qualify for the program, but after he was tested, his scores were low enough that he qualified in four of the five tested areas. The test administrators began suggesting that Todd may have a form of high functioning Autism. I was dumfounded, and not at all in a good way!

In the past after receiving such news, I probably would have retreated into myself, gotten angry at God, and eventually become depressed and ineffective. But I determined that I would not go there. Instead of retreating, I called some people for prayer and support. I also decided that I would keep my focus on God no matter what.

I knew that something was not normal with Todd’s speech development, but I did not feel that Autism was the right diagnosis. I’m fortunate to have a friend who works with autistic kids all the time, and she did not feel that Autism was the right diagnosis, either. Todd underwent a speech evaluation a couple of weeks ago, and the therapist also did not feel that Todd was autistic. She did, however, determine that Todd has mild and moderate delays in his comprehension and expression of language, and severe delays in his articulation, so he definitely qualifies for speech therapy.

So that brings us yesterday. Todd had an evaluation with a developmental pediatrician to determine what diagnosis he should have, if any. I had people praying before we went. Todd was very well behaved, I was able to receive all the information the doctor was giving me, and after considering all the information, she determined that Todd is definitely NOT autistic! Praise God! What a relief! She said it is possible that down the road he could be diagnosed with Apraxia (a speech-related diagnosis that can’t be diagnosed yet because of his age) or a learning disorder, and gave me things to look for.

If it had been determined that Todd was autistic I would have accepted it and done what was necessary to help him move forward. I wouldn’t have liked it, but I would have done everything in my power to help him recover. I do not believe it is right to avoid the diagnosis just because I didn’t want it to be or believe it could be true. God puts people in our lives that have more wisdom about some things than we ourselves have. Denying something doesn’t make it any less true. Denial can cause us to miss the help that God is trying to give us with something that’s too big for us to handle on our own.

As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t matter what was said yesterday, my response would have been essentially the same: no matter what life brings I am determined to keep my eyes set on Jesus. He is my Mediator and He gives me the strength, grace, wisdom, and power to overcome any obstacle that wants to trip me up. The fact is God is bigger than speech delays, Autism or any other diagnosis we may have. The amazing thing is that he can take those things, give us the power to overcome them, use them to bring glory to Himself, and then draw men into the Kingdom through them. But if we deny them, we deny God the chance to use them in our lives.

As I said yesterday, while I wish we had started this process sooner, I'm very grateful that we are taking steps to help Todd grow and develop as he should. I'm grateful that God has brought people into our lives who can help us determine what needs to be done and will guide us through the process. I'm also grateful for the people we will have access to through this that we can influence for God's Kingdom that otherwise we would never meet. God has already shown me that Todd will be fully restored (I’ll talk more about that later). I'm praising Him that we're not fighting for victory, but from victory! And today I’m praising Him that He was faithful to answer our request! He is a wonderful God!

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