Autism. It’s hard to read. My Gideon’s emotions can be very subtle, or GINORMOUS.
Anger and injustice are always 150% emotions.
Other emotions, like joy, are a more inconsistent read. Sometimes he is bouncing off the walls. We tried to watch a Transformers movie this weekend. He was SO excited that he couldn’t stop repetitive questioning or repeating the same observations that he was making. “That was funny, right mom? When he said that, it was funny?” **repeats funny saying** “It was like that mom? It was funny?” And I recognized it as his quirky attempt to join in with our enjoyment. It just made it darn near impossible to enjoy the movie.
Sometimes, when happiness is expressed about him, to him, he shuts down. He hides his face or retreats to another room.
When the poor little guy got his Covid-19 test, he rapidly blinked his watery eyes and produced (a very forced sounding) laugh. “That was funny, right?” It was like he was trying to retreat from the fear of the situation and the pain of the 6 inch cotton swab up his nose.
So it wasn’t odd to me when I looked at the video of his baptism today that I saw such an intense look on his face. Like he was concentrating very, very hard. But when his daddy smiled down at him, and asked him if he had accepted Christ as his personal savior, I saw a tiny smile twitch at the corner of his mouth.
“Yes.” A firm, certain, absolute response.
After, when I ran to kiss his wet face, and because I had tears running down my face, he asked me, “Are you happy?” My face was smiling, but my eyes were crying. He couldn’t make sense of it.
“Yes, baby. I’m crying tears of joy.” And Gideon responded in a very Gideon way. He purred back at me.
Yes, a literal purr. He really likes cats. I interpret this as joy that I don’t know how to show.
My son with autism, as with all people with autism, DOES experience emotion. It’s just a different emotional language than those who are neurotypical. I have a hard time understanding his, he has a hard time understanding ours. It’s taught me to be very explicit when I compliment him.
And yet, in all the areas of Gideon’s autism that we navigate, through all our failures and victories, and despite all the ways that we as humans don’t understand each other, God still got through to Gideon. Let my son be a reminder to us all that God is not limited by a social communication disorder, just like he is not limited by a cognitive disability or a mental health condition.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16
“And he took the children in his arms…” Don’t you just love that? Can’t you just see it?
My God wants to save me, yes. He wants to save you, absolutely. And he wants this little boy with autism?
Yes. That’s a firm, certain, absolute truth.
Today, Gideon made a public declaration that a few months ago, he came to Jesus. And although he wasn’t taken into the physical arms of Jesus, Gideon was taken into the welcoming embrace of his church family. And what’s more, he is now wrapped in the Father’s spiritual arms and sealed by His Spirit.
He’s God’s now. I cannot wait to see how He will use my boy for His glory.
“And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”