It’s About Love

It’s About Love

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25 March 2017

It’s About Love

Recently I was asked the pertinent question: “How do you reconcile the idea of a good God with the immense challenges parenting a child with autism?” The first thing that came to my mind: It is precisely because of the many challenges I face that I’m so thankful God is good.

What challenges do I face? Let me first explain what autism is. The autistic brain functions in such a way as to result in poor communication and social skills, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviour. These traits are evident by the time the child turns three.

My son, Calder, was diagnosed with moderate autism when he was three. He couldn’t communicate in words. He couldn’t even understand our words. Even at six, he couldn’t tell what was socially appropriate. He took French Fries from another table and reached for drinks not belonging to him. He insistently jabbed at lift buttons and bounced in excitement when he entered a lift. He couldn’t stand still in a queue and would step on feet in front and behind him. He turned faces with his humming and hand flapping. The hand dryer frightened him, noisy environment overwhelmed him, warm weather irritated him. He became anxious when there were changes to routines. In fact, he was so easily agitated that I used to wonder in the mornings: what time of the day he would have his meltdown.

Parenting such a child was not easy. How do you explain changes to a child who does not understand your language? What do you do when your child cries in a heartrending manner yet cannot tell you what is bothering him? How do you calm a child who behaves like he cannot stand his own skin? How do you keep calm when he’s tearing down the house? How do you carry on when you lose your calm and feel like you’re the worst Mom in the whole world?

That is why I’m so thankful that God is good. When I’m helpless, I call out to him for rescue. When I’m lost, I ask him to show me what to do. When I fail, I lay my errors before him and seek the strength to carry on.

It occurred to me, one day, that the fruit of the Spirit does not include intelligence, or even wisdom. I saw then, that God has given me Calder not to test how capable I am in fixing him. The test, instead, is: Can you remain loving even when he does not improve? For all the commandments hinge on the word “Love” (Galatians 5:22).

But God is good. While I persist in loving Calder, he also effects improvements. At seven, Calder called me Mommy for the first time. He learned to brush his teeth. He began to read and write. His meltdowns ceased. He basked in simple delights like taking transport or watching videos of himself.  At 12 this year, he finally learned to bathe himself. Calder is no longer the tornado or the landmine in our house. He is our treasure, a most precious gift from God.

Second April is World Autism Awareness Day. I’m writing to help you understand what autism is, and what it means to parent a child with autism. Not all autistic children present the same challenges, but the journey is difficult for all parents. You can help by praying for us. Find out more about the condition so you can offer assistance when the situation calls for it. Smilingly welcome our child in your midst. Let your child befriend our child and our child’s sibling. Speak to us words of encouragement and not criticism.

May the Lord make your love grow and overflow to become a rich blessing to families in need, for his good purposes and to his glory.

Brenda Tan is the writer of “Come into My World: 31 Stories of Autism in Singapore” (www.come-into-our-world.com). She has two children: 12-year-old Calder and 9-year-old Ethel. Calder attends Shalomkids at St Andrew’s Cathedral and looks forward to it every Saturday (2:30 pm - 4 pm).

爱的见证


最近我被问到一个问题:“面临着养育自闭症孩子的巨大挑战,你如何坚信上帝的慈爱?”我的第一想法:正是因为我面对许多挑战,所以我更感激上帝的美好。

我面对什么挑战呢?让我先解释什么是自闭症。自闭症患者的大脑跟正常人的运作不同,导致患者本身在沟通和社交上有困难,并且倾向重复的行为。这些症状在孩童三岁之前会显露出来。

我的儿子在三岁时,被诊断出患有自闭症。他不能用语言来沟通。他甚至不了解我们的话。即便到了六岁,他也不了解怎么适应社会环境。他会从别人的桌子上拿炸暑条,并且去喝不属于他的饮料。当他进入电梯前,他会陆续按电梯按钮,进入了电梯也会兴奋的跳上跳下。他不能安定的排队,他往前往后,总要踏在别人的脚上。他会发出嗡嗡声,并摆动双手,引人注意。厕所内用来烘干手的吹风机的声音会吓到他,吵闹的环境会刺激他,太热的天气也会让他烦燥。当日常生活有些变动时,他会变得焦虑不安。现实中,他的情绪很容易被激动。我常常在早晨问自己:今天什么时候他会失控?

养育一个自闭症孩子并不容易。你要如何向一个不了解你言语的孩子解释生活中的变迁?当你的孩子很激动的哭泣,而他又不知道如何表达他自己的困扰时,你该做什么呢?你如何安慰这样的孩子?当孩子大闹到好像是要拆了屋子的时候,你要如何保持冷静?当你感到失去力量时,你如何继续努力?可能你会觉得自己是全世界最糟糕的妈妈。

当我面对这些挑战的时候,也是我经历上帝的时候。上帝是慈爱的。当我无助的时候,我祈求祂的帮助。当我迷茫不知所措的时候,我祈求祂带领我。当我软弱失败的时候,我祈求祂给我力量,继续前行。

有一天我发现,圣灵所结的果子,不包括聪明甚至是智慧。在那个时刻,我醒悟到,上帝所要求我的不是懂得如何“修理”儿子的智慧,而是一颗爱孩子的心 - 就算儿子没进展,我是否能够爱到底?因为全律法都包在“爱”这个字之内了。(加拉太书5:14)。

上帝是美好的,当我就这样靠着祂的力量去爱我的孩子的时候,我儿子的情况慢慢有了改善。当他七岁时,他第一次叫我妈妈。逐渐的,他学会了刷牙。他开始读与写。他激动的情绪慢慢的平复了。他喜欢乘车或观看自己的视频,在这些简单的爱好中享受着属于他自己的快乐。他现在十二岁了,他不再是我们家的龙卷风或地雷。他是我们的宝贝,是上帝所赐给我们的珍贵礼物。


四月二日是“国际自闭症日”。我希望大家能够明白什么是自闭症,也能够了解自闭症孩子对家庭的影响。并不是所有自闭症孩子的表现都是一样的,但他们的父母都面对着挑战。请大家为这些家庭献上祈祷。也希望大家可以索取有关的资料,更了解自闭症,以便在有需要的时候,可以提供帮助。请用微笑欢迎自闭症的孩子在你们当中,让你的孩子和我们的孩子一起相处,给予我们鼓励而不是批评。愿上帝叫大家的爱心增长,充足,让我们成为别人的祝福,成就上帝的美意。

本文作者是杨厝港福音堂的会友:Brenda
Tan 。她有两个孩子:12岁的自闭症儿子甘泉9岁的女儿甘恬,曾出版《进入我的世界:31个新加坡的自闭症故事》一书 (www.come-into-our-world.com)。