Hope for Parents of Kids With Special Needs

Illustration with six frames of a dad offering a rose to his young son. The boy rejects the flower in each frame until the last when he finally accepts it.
Shahar Kober

The voice on the other end of the line was a whisper.

"What's up?"

"Why are you whispering?" I whispered back.

In a guilty voice, the 35-year-old father explained that he was calling from a closet. He was hiding from his 5-year-old son, who was hunting for his favorite children's DVD. His son with special needs had a tendency to play the same video segment over . . . and over . . . and over.

Today matters

"Joey drives me crazy playing that song a thousand times a day!" he said.

I reassured him that I'd felt the same at times. I remembered watching one of my son's tantrums and wondering what it would be like to move to Australia. Why Australia? Because it was far, far away.

Parenting a child with special needs is a mixture of the happiest moments of your life mixed with ones that make you want to run from the room screaming. If you've ever thought, How many times do I have to repeat myself? or When is he ever going to stop that? you're not alone. But hear this, weary parent: What you do today does matter, even if it doesn't seem like it.

Don't grow weary

Let me share a moment I had one night as I tucked my son Jacob into bed. He's on the severe end of the autism spectrum and isn't inclined to spontaneously comment about anything.

For months, as part of Jacob's bedtime routine, I'd been telling him, "Jesus loves you, Jacob."

He'd look away, seemingly more interested in the clock on the wall. It appeared that my words fell on 
deaf ears.

Night after night I would remind him, "Jesus loves you, Jacob," hoping for some type of response. Something. Anything.

Then finally, one night it happened. Before I could open my mouth to speak, he smiled, looked at me and slowly said, "Jesus . . . loves . . . Jacob!"

I reflect on that treasured moment often. There were so many times when I'd felt as if what I did as a father didn't matter. But those three words — "Jesus loves Jacob" — proved me wrong.

Running off to Australia might feel like a good idea sometimes, but let's hold tight to God instead.

"Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). 


Michael Woods is the director of the Special Friends ministry at First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida.

This article first appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled "A Thousand Times a Day." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2014 by Michael Woods. Used by permission.

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