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‘Would he still be able to fulfil his dream?’ Lynette Peckett

Lynnette Peckett

This month’s guest Blog is from Lynette Peckett – author of ‘Lynnette’s Life’ blog. Lynette is married to Alan, Mum to two grown-up children, PCC Member at St Saviour’s Church in Sunbury and former Additional Needs Coordinator at Teddington Baptist Church.

Back in March 2015 our son, Kieran, received confirmation (after a four year wait) that he was on the autism spectrum with a diagnosis of Asperger’s. This was followed a week later by a diagnosis of epilepsy. He was 16 when he received these diagnoses. Although we had already worked out that Kieran was autistic, it was good to get the confirmation as it helped him to understand why he can sometimes react to situations differently from other people. I had worked as a teaching assistant in an ASD unit at a local school, so had some understanding of the autism spectrum, which made accepting the diagnosis easier. The epilepsy diagnosis was more difficult to come to terms with and left us with many questions including “What caused it?”, “Why was Kieran affected?” and “Would he still be able to fulfil his dream of working in IT?”. 

At this time, we did what a lot of people who attend church do – we called on friends to pray. It was reassuring to know other people were praying on our behalf as we came to terms with the diagnoses. We also had some church friends who were able to offer advice about being on the autism spectrum. One of them has a son who had already been diagnosed with Asperger’s. She would reassure me if I was worried about anything, often with the words “My son does that too!”. We’re thankful that Kieran has only ever had one seizure whilst at church. It was last December when he was setting up the tech for the service. My husband and I weren’t there at the time, but those that were knew exactly what to do. It resulted in an overnight stay in hospital. Our church family prayed for us, phoned/texted us and offered any assistance that they could give. They certainly made a difficult time that bit easier.

Going back to the question about whether Kieran would be able to work in IT following his epilepsy diagnosis – it was a resounding “Yes!”. He did an IT apprenticeship and now works in a local primary school as their IT Assistant.

How can you help families who have children with additional needs?

  • As parents of additional needs children, we don’t always want to be the ones that have to ask for help, so be proactive by asking the families if there is anything that they need. 
  • Each child is different, so just because you know a child with the same diagnosis it won’t necessarily mean that they find the same things difficult. Take time to get to know the child and learn from them.
  • Think about whether what you are going to say could be misinterpreted or even hurtful to the family. We had a lady at our previous church who said she couldn’t believe Kieran was autistic because “he seems so normal”. Whilst we knew she didn’t mean to be hurtful, it still stung a little.
  • Don’t stare, tut or sigh if the child is showing what you perceive to be ‘bad behaviour’ – it really doesn’t help! The child could be stressed, tired, uncomfortable, struggling with sensory overload, etc. Their behaviour is just their way of communicating it. The way you respond will make a difference.
  • Pray for the family. Ask them if there is anything specific that they need prayer for. They may have an important meeting coming up, something new that they’re struggling with or even something that they just want to thank God for.

In John 15:12 it says “Here is my command. Love one another, just as I have loved you.” (NIrV Accessible Edition). If we follow that command, I don’t think we’ll go too far wrong.

Read more of Lynette’s writing at https://lynnetteslife.wordpress.com

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