Autism Dad

This is blog post that original appeared on the SGM Radio blog.

When I got married, one of the things that I was really looking forward to was becoming a dad. I was excited about the idea of playing with my kids, teaching them things and being with them through the milestones of life.

Bedard FamilyWhen our first son was born, I was so proud. He was a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy. He had a cheerful personality, slept very well and was exceptionally smart (often in a mischievous way). He was developing well, or as well as any parents can tell with their first child. He had the right amount of words for his age.

But then something happened. We did not notice right away, as my wife was recovering from a horrible car accident while she was eight months pregnant. But our son lost his words. All of them.

Our doctor sent us to a developmental pediatrician to “rule out” autism. After some tests, the pediatrician came back with a box of tissues and we knew it was autism. We were devastated. All our hopes and dreams were taken away with one word.

But we still had our daughter. She was the one my wife was pregnant with during the accident. Miraculously, both mother and child survived the car rolling over three times and narrowly missing a hydro pole.

The pediatrician asked if they could put our daughter in a sibling study to work at earlier diagnosis of autism. We knew our daughter was fine but we agreed if it would help other families. A year later we had a second autism diagnosis.

I will admit that there are many times that I ask God “why?” If their brains were rewired just slightly differently, they would have been fine. Instead they are severely autistic, they are nonverbal, and because of their issues, they both live in group homes.

After getting over the “why” question, I have been able to see God at work. There have been many little miracles. Not long after confessing to my wife that my biggest regret was that my son would never tell me that he loves me, my son told me that he loves me. After seeing my daughter slipping away from us, distancing herself emotionally, she is back to her old role as the ultimate daddy’s girl with all the hugs and kisses.

I will never suggest that autism is easy. There have been many times that we have felt overcome with the burden, that we have grieved for the life that could have been. But we have also seen the goodness of God. He has provided for us more often than I can count. He has used autism to make us better people and has used autism to transform people around us.

At the church where I used to pastor, one of the leaders came up to me and said, “Your sermons are good, but it is your children that are transforming this church.” Jesus tells us in the parable of the sheep and the goats that his presence is among “the least of these.” If we have eyes to see, we will recognize the presence of Christ among those with disabilities.

I am a proud father. I am proud of my children who are as perfect as God designed them to be. I am also thankful to my Heavenly Father who has sustained our family.

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