When my son, Alec, was four and newly diagnosed, my prayer was that he would be able to go to a typical kindergarten classroom and make it through the year. Today, as Alec is finishing his freshman year of high school and is repeated included on the honor roll, I see how I underestimated not only Alec, but also God’s ability to do mighty things in and through that boy. Never estimate the power of God’s love, nor the power of a mother’s prayer and love!
That’s why I am so very blessed to share this post by author Ron Sandison, who was also diagnosed with autism. When I spoke last year with him, I was amazed and encouraged at just how far that love can take a child! Ron is now a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry, and an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. With a Masters of Divinity from Oral Roberts University. Ron is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House.
Ron has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes! I trust you will be blessed by Ron’s story as I am:
All Things are Possible
The lit up blue lights and the bright spectrum covered puzzle pieces celebrating autism awareness month always remind me of one word “Possible.” As Temple Grandin says, “I am different, but not less.”
When I was seven years old the Rochester school specialists labeled me as emotionally impaired. My mom refused this label and informed the professionals, “My son’s disability is not emotional but neurological.” She diligently researched the top professionals for learning disabilities in the area and paid to have me retested. A neuropsychologist from Henry Ford Hospital confirmed that my disability was indeed neurological and autism.
The educational specialists and doctors informed my parents that I would probably never read beyond a seventh grade age level, attend college, excel in athletics, or have meaningful relationships. They used the word “CAN’T.”
My mom was determined to help me succeed in life by developing my unique gifts for independence, employment, and relationships. She believed in the word “CAN.” She had faith that with God’s help and therapy I would be able to overcome my social and communication deficits.
The Oakland County special education department in the eighties was archaic. It had a mixed of children of all ages, with every type of learning and physical disabilities together. My mom told the special education administration, “You are only babysitting these children and not teaching them important life skills and empowering them for independence.”
My mom believed that by having me interact with typical children my own age I would learn essential social skills and by developing my talents I could gain independence and accomplishes my dreams. She quit her job as an art teacher and worked full-time using pre-ABA art therapy methods to teach me writing and reading skills.
My mom found inspiration in Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man skilled in his labor? He will serve before kings. He won’t serve before obscure men.”
In the 70’s and 80’s before the emphasis on inclusion in the classroom many children with autism and disabilities only learned skills to equip him or her to be employed as a janitor, grocery bagger, stock-boy, dishwasher, or pumping gas—serving before obscure men. My mom was determine that would not be me.
By using art therapy, creative writing, and playtime, she was able to help me develop my gifts and learn social skills. She also advocated for me to receive intense speech therapy.
When I was seven years old my speech development was so delayed that my nine year old brother Chuck boasted to his friends, “My brother Ronnie sounds weird. I believe he speaks Norwegian.”
When I entered eighth grade she advocated for classroom inclusion and had me placed in all regular education classes. She instructed my teachers to use visual teaching methods since I am unable to learn phonetically due to autism. When I speak at educational conferences I joke with the audience, “I have more memory ram then everyone in this room combined and can quote over 10,000 Scriptures word perfect, but I lack the phonetic software so if you listen closely you may hear me mispronounce names or words containing “TH” or “L” sounds.
My mom’s belief that all things are possible with God—paid off. I have bachelor degrees in theology and psychology with a 3.90 GPA and a Master of Divinity, with a minor in Koine Greek from Oral Roberts University with a perfect 4.0 GPA. I received an athletic scholarship for track and cross-country my freshmen year of college. I am happy married going on three years with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie, born March 20 at 3:13 am.
On April 5, Charisma House, a national publisher, published my book A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom. My mom was the inspiration behind my book. In writing my book I interviewed over 40 parents who have a child or children with autism who also believed in the power of the word “CAN.”
I had Kristine Barnett, author of the best seller, The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism, write the foreword for my book because her determination and hope reminded me of my own mom.
In the foreword for my book, Kristine Barnett, shares, “I decided if I could find even one “CAN” in my son, it was possible to discover it in other children. And once I looked very, very closely, it was there. People thought I was crazy to hope that there might be ability in my son and in the other children I worked with. They laughed at me and begged me to pull Jacob into more therapy hours, convinced that I was embracing false hope. But I learned there is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope. And hope is a choice.”
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016.
You can contact Ron at his website: