What a Roller Coaster Ride with my Autistic Son Taught Me about My Heavenly Father

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“Connor understands more than he lets on.” If I’ve heard that once I’ve heard it 1000 times. I believe it’s true. Autism might have left my son’s world silent but his mind is very active. People who spend any time interacting with him soon come to realize that there’s a lot going on upstairs.

But how much does he really understand? How much can he comprehend of this world around him? That’s always a big concern for us and it was in the forefront of our minds when we took Connor and Grace to Holiday World a few weeks ago.

Sit Connor down in a restaurant and he knows exactly what to do–wait for food. Take him to a park and he knows to go play on the slides and swings. But could he understand roller coasters? Could he comprehend a tilt-a-whirl? How would he react to a place designed to make you squeal, laugh, and take your breath away?

It was a little late to be asking those questions when we stood in line for The Voyage, one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world. We didn’t know what would happen, but Connor has been pretty agreeable all day. At very worst we thought we would probably get to the front of the line and find out that he didn’t want to get on the roller coaster.

And then, what is mother feared the most happened. He wanted to get on the roller coaster.

Connor loved the rollercoaster. His mother . . . not so much.

Connor loved the roller coaster. His mother . . . not so much.

He loved it! He snuggled up tight next to me in with a big grin on his face he squealed and laughed and enjoyed the ride. We even got a souvenir picture because he loved it so much.

But here’s the thing, I still don’t think Connor understands what a roller coaster is. I think he has no idea why we went up so high in the air or came down so fast or went around those curves at breakneck speeds. I think there’s only one thing Connor understands and I think that made all the difference.

His daddy was sitting next to him.

When he can’t comprehend the situation he can still comprehend the relationship.

Connor loves me, and he knows I love him. Connor trusts me and he knows I would not harm him. And I believe when he can’t comprehend the situation he can still comprehend the relationship.

Like a roller coaster, life has its ups and downs. It can take us on twist and turns that we never imagined. We end up asking “Why?” a lot. “Why this illness?” “Why this pain?” “Why am I going through this?” Like Connor, I don’t know that we will ever fathom this ride we are on. All we can do is know the one who is going through it with us.

We cling to Romans 8:28 and we rightly should. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The mistake we make a spending too much time looking at the “all things” and not enough at the One we love, the One who calls us.

The next time life takes you on the ride you’re not prepared for, just remember, your Daddy is sitting next to you.

Don’t focus on the ride, focus on the relationship.

3 thoughts on “What a Roller Coaster Ride with my Autistic Son Taught Me about My Heavenly Father

  1. What a beautiful story! As someone who has dedicated my life to providing therapy and education and support to families and individuals affected by non-speaking autism, it is wonderful to see Holiday World and Splashing Safari feature this story on their Facebook page! I would love to speak to you about your son and what I’ve learned about the Neurologic differences in autism that impact movement/motor planning, and therefore speech. My guess is your son is longing to have a reliable conversation with you about that ride on the Raven! Please reach out to us at Optimal Rhythms / ACCESS Academy in Newburgh, IN. We have a website and Facebook page. 812.490.9401

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