Facing Ordinary Life With Extraordinary Kids

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Jojo Ensslin

Chuck Colson’s daughter refuses to let autism hold her family hostage.

I wouldn’t sign up for skydiving. And I’d never swim with sharks, at least not on purpose. But there is something that often grips me with that same rush of adrenaline: getting out of bed in the morning.

Facing ordinary life with extraordinary kids, whether they have physical, neurological or behavioral challenges, is something akin to bungee jumping. Parents bounce between educational meetings, therapies, work and home. We push forward because we desperately love our kids. But sometimes the challenges become too great. The bounce goes out of our bungee, and we’re left hanging.

It happened to me. I was a single mother and raising a child with autism. My son, Max, was 9, and the behavioral challenges alone were often enough to keep us on house arrest. Every night, after Max had finally fallen asleep, I’d sit in a rocking chair and stare at the wall. I was completely spent, and I felt trapped. There was nothing left in me. I wouldn’t quit, but I just didn’t know how I could keep going.

I couldn’t continue life this way, hiding from the world while bracing for Max’s next tantrum. So one night in my rocking chair I took a leap of faith. I decided to fully trust that God had a bigger plan for our lives. Autism, and our circumstances, would no longer hold us hostage.

That was 10 years ago, but the moment is still vivid in my mind because the decision was the hardest, and ultimately the best, decision of my life. It allowed Max and me to start seeing the ways we could break free from the control that autism had over our lives.

In the years since that night, Max and I have learned to:

Face each new day as if it were our last. We don’t stay home out of fear that people might stare or the outing might end in disaster. If it truly were our last day, why should I worry about such things?

Never aim for perfection. It’s highly overrated and not at all a realistic goal. But we do strive for laughter.

Accept that not everyone understands. Some people stare or even make hurtful comments. But they will learn something about my child — and about loving someone with special needs — by simply watching.

Live creatively. It’s OK to build a tent out of sheets and sleep under it or throw a blanket on the living room floor for a picnic.

Realize we’re all works in progress. I’ll do all I can to help Max learn and grow. But God didn’t give me Max just so I could help him. God gave me Max in order to change me.

Enjoy the little things. There will always be therapies, teaching and work to do. But those things should never replace the little moments of joy. I love to see the world through my son’s eyes and savor his thoughts and ideas.

Refuse to accept failure. Max and I have had the kind of catastrophes that would make a hurricane look like a spring drizzle. But when an adventure backfires spectacularly, we can’t leave it in the loss column. We go back and try again.

Some days, I don’t have the strength or self-confidence to keep going. But I push on, knowing that I have a power source stronger than the grip of autism. The same God who has called me to this grand adventure gives me strength for the journey.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Raising Your Kids to Defend the Faith (1)

Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith

“Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith” is a series of five short videos, created to get you started in teaching your kids the fundamentals of Christianity, so they can understand it, explain it, and defend it.
Book Cover: Aftershock A Plan for Recovery

Aftershock: Overcoming His Secret Life with Pornography: A Plan for Recovery

This book is for women who have discovered their husband’s struggle with pornography and other sexual infidelities. Based on biblical principles and psychologically sound advice, Aftershock is designed to help women heal, grow, and receive restoration for themselves, their husbands, and their marriages.
Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author