Sunday, June 10, 2007

Things I'm Learning from Autism (Part 1)

I've decided to start a series on my blog called "Things I'm Learning from Autism." It should give you a glimpse into the world of Autism and the kinds of things a parent of an Autistic child thinks about. I'm going to try to post something everyday for a month on this topic. For those of you who don't know, my son, Pierce (4), has Autism.

So, here's the first thing I'm learning from Autism:

Autistic people are in their own world and they're only capable of thinking of themselves. In light of that, it's very important to stretch them to think about others. Here's what that means for us: We have to set up our home in such a way that Pierce has to ask for anything and everything that he wants.

I'ver never thought about it before, but having to ask for what you want is an interesting way to teach someone to think about others, isn't it? We usually think that asking for what we want is selfish, don't we? I want a new car, but making that desire known would just make me look unrealistic and self-absorbed. We all want a million dollars, but try going up to someone on the street and asking them for that kind of money, and you'll get a strange look at best and a punch in the face at worst. If we went around voicing our desires, we'd look extremely narcisistic. So, why would we want to force our self-centered little boy to ask for everything he wants?

The reason we need Pierce to ask for stuff is becuase we need him to know that, in life, you can't just go around grabbing anything you want without asking. In other words, what I'm starting to learn is that it's not wrong to desire things, but it's very wrong to take action on those desires without asking. It seems to me that this is why God tells us over and over again in the Bible to ask for what we want. He says that we "have not because we ask not" (James 4:2), and states in Psalm 37:4 that we are to "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Ultimately God tells us to ask Him for what we want for that same reason that we ask Pierce to ask for what he wants. What God knows (and what I'm starting to understand) is that when you have to ask for things, you have to recognize that there is someone who controls those things. And, when you see that you are not in control of the things you desire, you come to a place of unselfishness. So, while taking assumes ownership, asking assumes a lack of control and a limitation of rights. In this sense, teaching Pierce to ask for what he wants is training him for a life of unselfishness. In the same sense, learning to ask God for what we want is designed to teach us how to delight in God's control and ownership, so long as we ask with the right motives (James 4:3).

Autism Lesson 1: Taking is selfish; asking is unselfish.


Clint said...

steve...i enjoyed our chat tonight. i also enjoyed the first three lessons from autism. keep writing as i know it will help you to see the lessons you should be learning. and for our benefit, the lessons we should be learning but are too self absorbed to see for ourselves.

Marc Mac said...

What a powerful truth. I have never put this thought together before - thanks for sharing about everything you guys are learning.

Melanie said...