July 31, 2013

Faith Through Autism - Shirley Williams

We're pleased to once again have Shirley as our Guest Blogger on InScribe Writers Online.

Recently we commemorated World Autism Month, and I would like to share a family experience and how God put it all into perspective!

As we stroll around our local ‘arena walking track’ tonight, a hockey game plays below. We listen to cheers and music and watch boys our son Joe’s age, win against the visiting team. The noise is too loud for Joe, so he puts on his large red headphones. (Unfortunately these are the only ones he can wear). Everyone notices him as we walk around the track; especially other teenage boys. They watch as he comes around to their side of the arena; waiting, it seems for a chance to get him alone and tease him for looking different. This would not the first time Joe might be teased/bullied on this track, at school, or in our community.

Joe doesn’t have to wear headphones to get attention as he walks. Though he is fifteen, he walks like a younger child. He skips along, humming, or reciting movies along the way. Joe is different from other teenage boys his age; different because our dear son Joseph has autism.

Sometimes reality catches up with me as we walk around the track and through life. The reality that our son IS not normal, as other boys his age. Without autism he could be playing with the hockey team; but instead he walks friendless along the track with us.

It brings a tear to my eye as I compare Joe with the other boys as we walk, noticing stares toward him (regardless of headphones), knowing that he is so easily victimized, and being very aware of our huge lifelong responsibility. As I ponder this, these thoughts soon give way, to thoughts of how very special Joe is, regardless of his differences, and how God has given us so much love for him!

I recall how he can quickly recite information on history, movies and most animals and dinosaurs! He is compassionate, innocent, honest and funny. Joe is an awesome artist and wants to become an animation film producer someday. Joe is Joe all day long; he doesn’t play emotional games. He truly is who he is. This is so refreshing in today’s society.

Joe doesn’t skate or do well on a team. He’d rather do things alone or with a few others. His sensitivities make it difficult for him to live in today’s world; though live in it he must. He is doing his best to adapt to a world that is ‘too noisy, too bright and too overwhelming’ for him. He will navigate the world differently than most of us, but with help and love, he will be ALL THAT HE CAN BE someday. Thank God, that is enough, regardless of what the world says. Joe will never be another ‘Wayne Gretzky' but neither will those boys ever have a fantastic mind for memory or detail that Joe has. When I review the differences, though disturbing at first, then interesting, I realize that Joe and each of these boys have different gifts, abilities and purposes; very special and unique paths for each one.

Sometimes I struggle accepting Joe’s special needs, but mostly, I rejoice in his special abilities and how well he is doing. I can see that God has a special purpose for Joe, the boy’s hockey team, the hecklers and for all of us. We are all ‘a work in progress’. May we all accept, appreciate and be patient with the unique process each one of us goes through in life, special needs or not! (See Jeremiah 29:11-13)


  1. Oh Shirley... I so appreciated reading your post. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your life and that of your precious son.

    I can only imagine your mother's heart as you watch him and I am glad to know that God is helping you see so many good things in the midst--or in spite--of the hard things.

  2. Shirley,
    What a beautifully written post. I can sense your love, caring and gentleness in its words. Bless you for seeing how special each of us is to God. Thanking God for giving Joe such a special mother. He knows what He is doing. And yes we are all a work in progress.
    Many blessings,
    Janis www.janiscox.com

  3. Shirley, thanks for sharing. I walk a road very similar to yours and understand the sorrow and joys you express. These kids give us a special glimpse into God's love for all of us.

  4. Thanks for this, shirley. It is a great reminder that we all need to focus on God's gifts in our lives, not try to be someone we aren't.

  5. Marcia Janson10:29 pm GMT-7

    Thank you for this heartfelt and insightful glimpse into your life with Joe. You've communicated so well the joy and the pain you feel at different times as you walk through life with him.

  6. Amazing post and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!
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  7. Your story is heartfelt and well-said, Shirl. Thanks and blessings on you and your family. May God help Joe to find his special place in life.

  8. Shirley Williams10:45 pm GMT-7

    Thanks everyone for you comments, and kind, understanding words. Too often as special needs parents, we feel very alone and misunderstood. You wouldn't believe how a good word, goes a long way to strengthen our resolve! Our situation is unique and I have learned that over the years, though we feel alone or that no one cares, we can know for sure that God cares and provides his Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps. We understand too that special needs are "scary or confusing" to others so they tend to stay away, but we do know that caring friends pray for us, even when they don't know how to help. For this we are thankful. God is not surprised or overwhelmed etc. by autism or special needs, as society is. He is more than capable to help, bless, encourage, enable and have victory in our lives, no matter what we are experiencing. Be of good heart and courage special needs friends and friends of special needs...God is with us!


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