In addition to handling the dance of life themselves as separate entities, parents are faced with how to coordinate the dance together as a couple.
After our older son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism, we were both shocked. Although we knew there was something wrong with him, we did not expect a diagnosis of autism. When I read the final report of his diagnosis, I came to the stark realization of the severity of his autism and how it might impact our lives. At the time of his diagnosis, we were taking classes in seminary in preparation for becoming medical missionaries overseas—but when Isaiah was diagnosed, it became obvious these plans would need to change so that Isaiah could receive the therapy and care that he required.
I was pregnant with our second son, Joshua, at the time, so after Isaiah received his diagnosis I searched the internet for a cure and for a way to prevent autism in the baby developing in my womb. I discovered an online support group of mothers just like me who were having success in treating their children’s autism with biomedical interventions. My husband was quite skeptical and he asked his medical colleagues about my findings. Dan was told that there was no research on autism biomedical treatments or diets, and that we should plan for our son to eventually be placed in an institution.
I insisted that we try these biomedical treatments, and Dan worked overtime to pay for them. Once he began seeing improvements in our sons, and attended an Autism Research Institute conference, he began to search the medical literature for himself and found that the research was out there—several thousand research articles on autism and potential treatments, in fact. Since then, he has made it his mission to write autism review articles summarizing the medical literature so that other physicians will see that there are treatments for the underlying medical issues affecting children with autism.
Because of the time commitments of Dan’s research, I have had to make sacrifices. Two years ago, when I was really struggling with feeling lonely, my cousin Isabelle told me, “A spouse can’t possibly meet all of your needs. You also have to have your needs met through friends, support groups, your church and God.” Her words of wisdom helped me tremendously, but we still had struggles and went through marriage counseling at our church. Our counselors suggested that I write down 10 ways that Dan could express love to me, and Dan did the same. It ended up just being simple things… for me, it was just being able to sleep in on a Saturday morning, or having my husband clean up the kitchen. For Dan, it was simple things as well. All of the things we listed were inexpensive and not difficult to do.
I also started a weekly prayer group for parents of children with autism, and we meet over coffee and snacks to talk and then pray about things going on in our lives. We get together often with our kids, since we all understand autism and don’t judge each other, and it has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I am also blessed with a husband who has always worked very hard to help support our children’s ridiculously expensive medical needs. I try to remember that when I get upset at him for silly things! No one will love our boys as much as the two of us, and together we are stronger. We now feel that Isaiah was given to us by God to help direct us into a new career path—helping other children with autism and their parents. We are blessed to have two children with autism, and our goal is to be a blessing to others who are similarly affected.