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Stimming and Spinning and Shining Your Light





This devotional was selected and published by (In)courage - a DaySpring Community on June 1, 2024. Click the above image to take you to their site.


I braced myself for what history has shown me would be an unsolicited lesson in parenting.


Our 19-year-old son non-verbal son, Thomas, on the autism spectrum thrives in routine and schedule. Saturday is no exception. His Saturday morning schedule? Chores, grocery shopping, and then a trip to the drive-thru of a specific fast-food restaurant for fries and a soda. Every single Saturday. 


On a recent Saturday morning grocery excursion, our son caught sight of a display of colorful ink pens topped with hats that would spin around when you pressed a button. He quickly decided his course of action.

Pick up the pen. 

Click the button. 

Spin the hat. 

“Wheeeeee!” 

Repeat for each pen. 

His distinctive squeal of delight pierced the air of the seasonal items aisle. I stood close by to appreciate his joy. 


And to protect him. 


In my experience, not everyone appreciates a 6-foot-tall man-child touching things in the grocery store.



 Not everyone understands the neurodiverse world of autism. 

An older gentleman turned the corner and looked our way. He paused for a moment before pushing his cart towards us. 

I thought,


“Oh no. Here we go.”


When it comes to autism and Thomas’s interactions with the world, we’ve landed on Luke 11:33 as our focus. 


“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light” Luke 11:33 ESV


Thomas holds the light of God in him.  He is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God just like everyone else.  Thomas isn’t to be hidden in a cellar or under a basket.  (It’s hyperbole. Don’t call the police.) If I hide Thomas away, how does that show others he has value? How does it show Thomas he has value? My experiences on our autism journey can be used to light the way for another family looking for the hope of Jesus on their journey. I can offer comfort and compassion because I’ve been there.


But what if no one knows I have been there?


An autism journey can be difficult. Sometimes it’s easier to hide. 

And far too often, I do just that. Hide.  


As the gentleman continued toward us, I checked my social and emotional energy tank. It was pretty low. Was it too late to run and hide? Did I REALLY need the items on my grocery list today? Why didn’t I put that invisibility cloak in my purse?


 I braced myself for what history has shown me would be an unsolicited lesson in parenting.  


The gentleman stopped, looked at me, and sighed.


“My daughter is 42. How old is your son?”


What followed was a brief conversation about his daughter and their journey as a family as she grew older. He told me I was doing the right thing bringing Thomas with me to the store. Showing our non-verbal son on the autism spectrum he had value in this world. Showing the world our non-verbal son on the autism spectrum had value.


“You’re doing a good job, Mom,” and he rolled his cart towards the produce aisle. Thomas continued to pick up and spin EVERY SINGLE colorful ink pen. 


That gentleman could have walked right by. He didn’t have to say a word. But he did. 


The comfort and encouragement he offered was the refreshing social and emotional fill-up my tank needed. The comfort he offered came from a position of experience. He had a special needs daughter. He might not know what my specific struggle was but he had at least lived in a similar spot. 


Isn’t it easier to talk to someone who’s been there?


I bear witness to Thomas’ life and allow him to be noticed by others. It isn’t easy but there is value in vulnerability. But received an unexpected spin on Luke 11:33 in the season items aisle that day. A compassionate gentleman bore witness to the value of the lives of Thomas and myself. He pursued us when he could have passed us. He made the effort to shine a light on two people he didn’t know: a tall stocky non-verbal young man spinning EVERY SINGLE colorful ink pen and his mom standing awkwardly nearby. That light made all the difference.


We all have a role in bearing witness to the value of another life and shining the light God has given us to share.


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