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What Would You Say to a Child Struggling to Accept the Autism Diagnosis?

March 26, 2012

Today’s guest post comes from the special needs ministry newsletter for Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas.  Each month Taylor Akers answers reader questions through her “Taylor Talks” column.  I loved the March 2012 column and couldn’t wait to share it with The Inclusive Church Blog readers.

Taylor is age 21.  In May Taylor will graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Child Learning and Development.  After graduation Taylor plans to pursue a Masters Degree, working towards becoming a Diagnostician.  Taylor also has Asperger Syndrome.  Taylor shares that people often ask her questions about what it is like to have Aspergers.  And she thought it might be fun and educational to address the questions through a recurring column in the ministry newsletter. 

Taylor’s proud mother is Wendi Akers, the Children’s Ministry Special Needs Associate at Lakepointe Church.  Wendi leads the SOAR Ministry, “Helping those with unique needs reach new heights.”    Thank you Taylor for allowing us to share your column here!  ~ Amy Fenton Lee

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Question to Taylor:  What would you say to a 9 year old who is struggling to accept a diagnosis of autism?

Time for a little lesson in neurology – the study of the brain and how it works.  Everyone’s brain is made up of electrical connections that send signals to the rest of the body.  These connections help us see, hear, touch, taste, move around, and understand the world we live in.  Before each person is even born, their brains form millions upon millions of connections, forming a circuit that will last a person’s whole lifetime.

Most people’s “brain circuits” are constructed in a certain way; however many other people’s circuits developed differently, before they were even born.  Some of these people – people like you and people like me – end up with Asperger’s Syndrome.  This mean that we have a type of brain wiring that ‘s different from the kind most people have.  And that’s all that Asperger’s is – a difference.  It’s a different way of looking at and experiencing things.  It is not a disease, or a curse, or anything to be ashamed of.  Lots of amazing people have it; people who have gone on to become authors, scientists, musicians, engineers, and so much more.  Anyone with Asperger’s can become the best person they can possibly be!

However, I won’t lie to you and say that Asperger’s is easy.  It isn’t.  Because our way of seeing the world is different from most people’s living in our society and dealing with other people can be very frustrating and tiring.  People may not understand or appreciate your differences.  Some people may make things tough for you or bully you.  If this happens, you need to remember one thing:  it is never, ever, EVER your fault.  If someone gives you a hard time, it’s because they have a problem, not you.  Talk to an adult you can trust if you ever feel scared, frustrated, or hurt because other people can’t understand how you think, or if you just feel overwhelmed.  Remember that you deserve nothing less than total respect, and that having Asperger’s Syndrome doesn’t change that!

I hope you keep this letter and remember what I’ve told you.  You are a unique person, created in God’s image, who will go on to do amazing things one day.  Don’t tell yourself that you’re anything less!

Sincerely,

Taylor

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To see the March 2012 SOAR newsletter for the special needs ministry of Lakepointe Church, click here.

To learn more about Lake Pointe’s special needs ministry, click here.

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