I believe there are 5 phases to being a special-needs parent. You know you’re ready for phase 5 when you move past your pain and find your purpose. This is the purpose God planned for you all along, and He will be with you each step of the way.
As a special-needs parent, once you’ve accepted your new normal, you’re also ready to look around to see who needs help. You are called to bless the families around you. Unexpected Blessings
There are as many options for advocacy. You could work in the education field, helping other parents feel confident at IEP meetings. You could work toward insurance reform in your state. You could start a business that employs people with disabilities. Or like me and my husband, you could help churches welcome and support special-needs families.
If you’re ready to step into an advocacy role, I highly recommend the LOMAH podcast’s current series on advocacy. I’m her guest on today’s episode, Inclusion in Faith-Based Settings. She asks very thoughtful questions that I know will help many families.
- the study that found autism families are 8x less likely to attend church than a typical family
- that not going to church can hurt your marriage and hold back the typical siblings in your family as well
- how churches of any size can welcome special-needs families
- Key Ministry’s resources to help
How do you know what your advocacy calling is?
First you get to know yourself. Here are some questions I asked myself when praying about my advocacy calling:
- What are my passions? What could I talk about for hours?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses? What’s my personality type?
- What is reasonable for me to do in this season? What are my top priorities at this time?
Because my husband is a pastor, equipping churches is a natural choice for us. And it’s one we’re very passionate about. Since I’m a special-needs sibling, I’m also passionate about helping parents support the typical kids in their families. God uses our experiences, connections, and knowledge in these areas to help others! And God will use all you’ve been through to help others as well. He doesn’t waste a single struggle.
Another family you meet in the therapy waiting room, your community, your school system, your state—they need you. Make a positive difference in the life of one other family by using the gifts and knowledge God has given you. And if you feel led, make a difference for another family or a larger group of families. Unexpected Blessings
I’m praying for you as you think and pray about your advocacy opportunities. Remember, God’s plan and purpose for your life didn’t stop when you heard a diagnosis. It’s just the beginning!