I introduced this book a while ago. Given the strong interest, I asked a friend who has an autistic child if she’d consider reviewing it. Here is her review:
This book was such a blessing to me! There is a plethora of information about autism available on the web and in books…everything from diets and supplements to special education law to Floortime, ABA, and social skills. I am grateful for all these resources, but I’ve also been struck by the dearth of help that is specifically Christian, that addresses the biblical responsibility for caring for my child’s heart. When I did my first Google search for “Christian, autism,” I got a website selling vitamin supplements. Which may help my child’s heart in some ways, but I was hoping for some guidance with a bit more of an eternal perspective!
Finding Your Child’s Way on the Autism Spectrum: Discovering Unique Strengths, Mastering Behavior Challenges by Dr. Laura Hendrickson, is a treasure and a must-read for every parent who longs to shepherd their child’s heart and train them up in the way they should go. In many ways it is a companion to Shepherding a Child’s Heart (by Tedd Tripp), providing clear direction and encouragement to apply a Christ-centered, Bible-centered parenting approach to the very daunting adventure of parenting a child on the spectrum. As the author writes in a review on the books’ page on Amazon,
“My book isn’t intended to replace any treatment or educational approach you may choose. Rather, it’s intended to supplement it. As your child comes home every day from school or early intervention, what can you do to help him grow in areas of function that are important to you, especially at home? This is the kind of question that it answers.”
Dr. Hendrickson is member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and a former psychiatrist. She’s also the mother of a young man (Eric) diagnosed with Autism as a child. Her son is now attending a competitive university and successfully pursuing the passions that God has given him. She is a wise and godly woman, and I was blessed to get to know her as she shared her heart and experiences in the book.
Finding Your Child’s Way includes the author’s own story, as well as direct advice and wisdom on what it looks like to parent a child on the spectrum: discipline, addressing stims and obsessions, helping your child work through their emotions, relationships and social skills, and some helpful considerations for and recommendations on treatment (though by no means comprehensive or intended to be so).
There is so much information out there about Autism, and caring for our children is so time intensive. But this book does not take long to read and is well worth it. Her practical and godly parenting advice is immediately applicable to you and your child no matter what age or where your child is on the spectrum. I was especially encouraged by her metaphor of the Disney character Dumbo, that God can use what may seem to be a defect to make our children soar. God created every child with a purpose. All through the book she talks about using and developing and encouraging the strengths that our children have.
And even if we can’t see that our child is “soaring” or has any hope of doing so in this lifetime, “…does it mean your child’s life is pointless, or that the things you’ve suffered have no meaning? By no means! As you walk by faith, you’re glorifying God through that very action. And as your child walks by whatever light that God has given him, he glorifies God, too.” (p. 111)
I hope you will read this book and be encouraged and helped as I was. I am so grateful not only for the “in the trenches” parenting wisdom, but for her model of how to trust God and view my child’s disorder and my role as her parent in a way that brings Him glory. I’ll end with this quote from Dr. Hendrickson:
“As you’ve learned throughout this book, I did everything I could to help Eric grow to his fullest potential. But I also trusted God to glorify Himself in Eric’s life even if his potential turned out to be very limited. God used Eric’s challenges in my life to cause me to grow in faith. I don’t believe that I’d have become the woman I am today if He hadn’t brought Eric into my life. What a privilege it’s been to raise him up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! Although I thought that his diagnosis was the worst thing that could possibly happen, it’s turned out to be a source of some of the greatest blessings I’ve ever experienced.” (p. 104)