This week, at my quarterly psychiatric med review, my psychiatrist said, “Adults with autism have a hard time getting competitive employment because the lack of reciprocity creeps people out.” Now why did he say that? To help me grapple with reality, to temper my expectations and hopes; and/or was it a reflection of his own professional experience, his own despair?
As I was driving home, with tears running down my face, I wondered, what hope is there? To God I cried out. What now? Is all this work toward independence going to come to nothing? Is all their hard work and all of our work to come to nothing because those who have the choice of whether to hire them are “creeped out” by their autistic traits? What if they never find employment, or the employment that they do find is far below their abilities?
Then came to me with such force the words, “Rejoice, pray, give thanks.” At the times in my life that I cannot see beyond the next day, weeks, months, years, this verse from the Bible comes to my mind. I Thessalonians 5:16-18. “16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This was the Holy Spirit speaking in my life. A direction, a comfort (He is called the Comforter), an upwelling of faith and strengthening. I can’t explain it.
But I also see that the direction of my prayers for my children has been temporal, worldly, and selfish. When my husband and I married, I prayed at the altar that our children would be a blessing to others and that they would glorify God in their lives.* As I remembered that prayer, I realized the direction of my petitions should change. “Father, I pray that my children will be a blessing in the lives of others regardless of their employment status. I pray that they will be a blessing to their future employers and that those employers will be glad they hired them. Thank you for the blessing that they are in my life and the lives of others. Thank you for their faith. Thank you for their desire to work and for their strong work ethic. Thank you that they help around the house with little complaint above and beyond their paid chores. Even now they are serving you.”
Will sings in the choir and is helping out with the church website. Mary serves two afternoons a week at the local homeless shelter using her accounting skills in accounts receivables.
Children are a gift from the Lord. I remember that we live by faith, and not by sight.
*There was reason that I might never have had children; I had had stage IV endometriosis and one of my ovaries had been destroyed by the disease. At my first appointment for my third pregnancy, my doctor expressed amazement that it seemed so easy for me to get pregnant when others with far less disease struggled.