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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


When life falls apart, confusion sets in. Personal questions are unanswerable, emotions are uncontrollable, and strength seems unattainable; such are the realities of shattering circumstances. Special Needs Ministries represents a source of hope for people by offering sound teaching, resources, and personal counseling. We invite you to visit the Special Needs blog, managed by Colleen Swindoll Thompson, director of Special Needs Ministries and the parent of a child with special needs. Colleen is intimately aware of the daily challenges you face, and she is honored for the opportunity to interact with you.


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Thanks for sharing your story. I was in my car by chance when I heard you talking about your son, and the challenges you face. I know God had a hand in me hearing the program that day, because it had been a rough day with more bad news about my son.

You see, I have a son with special needs, and lately I've been overwhelmed and asked God, WHY, a lot. He is my oldest son of three children, and he is just so amazing, adorable, loving, and caring. He was born with some birth defects that started his life off shakey, causing him to have major surgery the day he was born, and many more surgeries and hospitalizations after that. He still deals with some medical issues, he has always been labeled as developmentally delayed, been put on the spectrum, and has had TICS since he was one, and now has Tourettes, which as you know is not only dealing with TICS, but ADHD, OCD and anxiety.

Lately, I have just been so overwhelmed, loney, sad, scared, burned out from all the therapies, and just down right tired.

For the past 2 years we have done most all of his schooling, therapies (OT,PT, speech, sensory intergration, tutoring, etc.) at home. He has really bad anxiety and social issues. Now we just found out he has hearing loss and we are dreading him having to deal with hearing aids with all his sensory issues.
I just cry thinking of all the anxiety life brings him and how frighten he stays. I want him to feel safe and not be scared.
I remind him that Jesus is always with him and we pray about his fears, but he just can't seem to deal with much easily.
I try each and every day to ask God, "what do you want me to do with this (my son's special needs situation) today? How can I help someone else through what I have gone through? Show me who needs my help."
But you know, there are days that I just get so angry and want to have a pity day or week, and I don't want to help or talk to anyone.
And you want to know what has really been hard, since my son's birth, we've had such a hard time finding a church home because my son can't handle a lot of noise, people, commotion, separation anxiety, so it has been really difficult. My husband and I both were raised in a Christian church and have always been involved in church. I miss that I can't go to church like I used to. I miss the fellowship. We've found that there are very few people that can relate to our situation. We also contacted over 70 churches in our area trying to start a special needs christian school (under the umbrella of an already established school) because there are NONE around our area and none of the churches wanted to even rent their facility. Anyhow, I just don't think there are many churches that understand the needs of special needs family.

I really appreciate you talking and writing about how you truly felt, because I feel so guilty when I get mad at God. And, I feel like I must be a really bad person. There are days that I think God has forgotten that we are here struggling no matter how much I pray and beg for help. Thank God, he has brought me through a lot of dark days and doesn't hold anything against me.
I love the verse that was mentioned on the radio in Ps. 139 - We are fearfully and wonderully made. I look at children and realize this with each one of them.
Another favorite scripture that has encouraged me is Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I try to remind myself every day that God had a plan for all our children, it may not be my plan, but God knows the best plan!
One last thing, life has been so very challenging, but I have to acknowledge that I am a different person for the better because of my son and his special needs. Would I have chose this road, absolutely not! But I see life so differently, and I've grown closer to God. I do look forward to Christ returning one day and there will be no pain, hurt or sorrows!
Take care and I will keep you in my prayers.

Thank you for your obedience in starting a special needs ministry. I am sure you are going to be reaching people who are hungry for comfort and support through a Christian based forum rather than just their local boards of Developmental disabilities. I have 5 children and my fourth child has a rare chromosome abnormality with mild mental retardation, ADHD, anxiety issues, severe speech and fine motor delay. She just turned 9 last weekend but also has growth issues so she looks like she is 4. She had a lot of feeding issues early on which was difficult and ended up with a feeding tube which was just removed this fall. The hardest part has been the lack of support from family and friends. I have to admit I have been very bitter at church people. I still attend church and even teach my daughter's sunday school class because I can't trust many people to be with her.
I also go so that my older children will have a good example with the whole family going together but am angry that non church going people are more friendly to her than church going people. Most people think her problems are behavioral and assume her cognitive status is higher than it is. They also forget her age due to her size. I am looking forward to listening to this series and am hoping for some healing. I don't have anyone to talk to. I am thankful for my older children and husband who are supportive but it is a lot to juggle their needs as well as a 3 year old who is higher functioning than the 9 year old but still 3.

Thank you, Thank you so much for speaking to my heart. I have been with Insight for Living since I was pregnant with my son who is now 9 years old. He and I suffered a traumatic birth, which left him severely handicapped. My first and continuous prayer to the Lord has been that He will "surround us with all of the right people." Through the hands of God, I have turned to your father's teaching to help me survive through the long overwhelming days. But Wow...I could never have imagined that God would give me you, your father, and Insight for Living to provide me with this amazing "tailor made" series. Little did you or I know, you and your father, and Insight for Living, would be "the right people Christ has surrounded me with" as an answer the special prayer I rely on. The Lord has consistently surrounded us with the right people, and it never goes unnoticed or without major gratitude. Praise God! Thank you, you have saved me more than you could imagine. I look forward to hearing more from you. Your honesty is very validating to me.

Thank you for starting this ministry. It's been recommended by many that I join an online support, but the support I crave is from a Christian perspective. My son just turned 13 and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This age marks what the medical industry labels as "end stage" of the disease. My only hope is in the Lord as I watch him grow progressively weaker, changing from able to move his limbs to unable, maturing and gaining knowledge of what's happening to him. As I watch the healthy teens around us strive toward their independent adulthood, my son's future will be complete dependence on others for his basic human needs. I've become a great actor, taking the stage each morning with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step when inside my heart is aching so badly. Thanks again.

As I sit here almost crying because there is finally hope that I do not need to do "this" alone... Thank you so much!! We have been given the God given privaledge of raising our 3 Special needs grandchildren (they now call us mom and dad and we call them our children, this is a very big step for all of us), ages 5,7,& 8 and we are 49 and 52 yrs old, (I have several times informed God that I am Way too old to be a mother of young children again, let alone of 3 special needs children, but in His wisdom and grace He has reminded me that I am NOT in control and that I should sit back and enjoy the "ride" and leave the details to Him. God has such a wonderful sense of humor!!! Humor sure does help!).

I am finding, though, that this is the toughest "job" that I have ever done, and I have had some difficult jobs and things happen to me in my life. Our 8 yr. old has ADHD, RAD, depression and other mood disorders, our 7 yr. old has ADHD,RAD, anxiety, and a seizure disorder, and the 5 yr.old has ADHD, RAD, and aspergers disease. needless to say we are extremely overwhelmed and at times not sure even what to do... if it was not for God there would be NO WAY that we could do this... We hold very tight to God, leaning on His Word and relying on His Promises!

Having 3 special needs chilren has affected our entire family, we also have an 18 yr old daughter still living at home, and has greatly affected my husband and my relationship... there is no time for us to even be a "husband and wife", we need to "tend" to our children 24/7 and we are exhausted and have more or less lost our marriage relationship, this makes me very sad and feeling lonely and at times even angry.

If anyone has any ideas or advise, or encouragement for us I would greatly appreciate it. I found that it was a true blessing, reading others messages, knowing that we are not alone. Thanks to you all!!

God Bless all of you other families that God has given the challenge and priviledge of raising children and grandchildren with special needs.

i was just reading these statement a tears was running out of my eyes because i weep for my ten year old son because he have adhd and mild retardation and poor soical skill it make so mad that i have to keep him on medication so much for to go to public school or play with other kids or to send him to before school or after school program so i can go to work because i am a single parent i alway look at other children and just prayed that my son could go without this medenice my hope is God that all i got. please keep me in your prayer and thank you for this minteries may God blessyou if anybody have any help for me please e-mail me.

These are just some thoughts/questions I have. I tried to organize them a litte; then just ended up sharing my heart. Hopefully, they will make sense....

A Special Needs life can be very lonely for the married couple, as well as a single parent. We need our church's support, time away together, time with our 2 typical children, and time to grow spiritually within a small group....none of which we have. We are around 50 year's old, have 2 SN children (of 4; our oldest is 15) and [I'll speak for myself] I am lonely, stressed and depressed. Why is it such an uphill battle to get the church as a whole to care? We have some dear friends who love us and our kids, and who give of themselves; and our parents have been great. But, why do we always have to ask....literally beg before the church will consider doing anything?

A few years ago our church had a Disability Ministry Sunday. Following that, we started a small respite ministry one night/month. This was an answer to prayer for us. We took our two Special Needs sons to respite and then took our two typical boys out---just them and us. All our children looked forward to this special night. However, after a year or so, workers stopped showing up and no one was willing to serve. So the ministry was discontinued. One option discussed was for workers to come to our house and we'd manage the worker list. However, though they didn't realize it, it only added more to our already full plate of responsibilities. The joy of the ministry was that all we had to do was show up.

We (my husband and I) have been trying to get into a small group for awhile. A few years back we were in a small group and then they changed nights to one that wouldn't work for us. We've been in one temporary group since then, but haven't found one that is open, is on a night we can attend, or lasts longer than 2-3 months. A “Special Needs” /support group was an option at one point, but other parents are in the same boat as us. Also, to be honest, sometimes we just want to be a part of a “normal” group.

My husband and I used to be able to get away for 4-5 days/year. In fact, I saw it as necessary for us the health/well-being of our marriage/family. Our parents were willing to step in and help. But we haven't done this for the past couple of years. With finances and our parents aging, it is difficult. We've gone away for a couple days, but frankly, it doesn't help much. It takes one day to detach/transition to vacation, and one day to transition back to home life. 3 days in-between really gives us the opportunity to reconnect and enjoy our time together. Other couples look forward to retirement years/being empty- nesters. We will never be....

My life is consumed with caring for my family. I know I'm suppose to be joyful, but teens, conflicts, financial stresses along with the responsibilities etc. of our SN children make being joyful nearly impossible. I've been a Christian for quite a few years. I am growing, use my gifts and experience. I'm caring. I think I sacrifice for my family. Yet, in most every aspect these days, I feel like a failure. There isn't enough of me to go around and I'm depleted.

The reality is that life goes on. And I know everyone else has problem's of their own....Life's tough. And, this is the load God's given me to carry. Am I to be considered “extra special” because we have “Special Kids”....a “Special family?”

I'm lonely. I long for a closer marriage relationship. I long for other couples to have fun with, connect with. I long to be part of a small group that my husband and I can grow spiritually in, encourage others and be encouraged.

Thank you for this ministry, for your encouragement and your prayers!

I haven't read all in this blog, but as a parent of a child/adult with special needs, and a minister to Special Needs Adults and their families it is so wonderful to find others with the same heart. My son is 25 and I only came to know Christ 13 years ago, I only wish I hadn't listened to that still quiet voice sooner rather than raging against a God I didn't know. In Tomball, the JOY Ministry at Graceview Baptist Church, we are committed to serving the special needs families in our community


Your laughter and goodness blessed my heart today when I listened to your interview on the series "Special Words for Special People". I think it is amazing how, without even knowing about your struggle, that God is ministering the same insight to me in my struggle. Your dad had mentioned that it might be good for Jonathan to know that he is different; but you had said that kids could become discouraged if they really know the details of their situation.

I have an amazing and beautiful daughter who has had learning challenges. Honestly, it is not a learning disability as it is a borderline slowness issue. She was diagnosed with ADHD as a child that eventually didn't fit her. I have watched her struggle year by year, be made fun of in school and now today, June 11th, 2009, graduating from high school. She has blossomed into an incredible young woman. I have never told her she is borderline - how limiting that would be to her. Instead, I have watched her grow as she discovers her own rich and amazing gifts the Lord has given her. She has a very "special" way about her - compassion and gentleness and amazing insight. People have begun to embrace her beauty and she has grown remarkably. I know she will have challenges ahead, but I can't help crying as I am writing this because she has been welcomed into college, disabilities and all. Gone are the days where I limit what God can do.

It has been a long and remarkable journey watching her struggle, with her wondering why she couldn't get a date, why it took her twice as long to do her homework. She is 18 now and went on her first date, attended prom, has ministered in Africa twice on mission trips, received the Service Award at church for community service and is off to college in the Fall. She is also reading large books - 500 to 700 pages plus - something we thought would be impossible. If anyone would have told me this would be possible, I would have been completely astounded and I know her grade school teachers would be as well.

Does she have struggles yet and do I fear the college expectations placed on her? Yes. But, I know God has a special plan for her and for our family. Kara is an example of Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us."

Your comments are so helpful not only for children with special needs, but also when I think about my husband who has Parkinsons and has trouble communicating, walking and thinking and a gammet of other problems. Compassion, strength and dignity is what I heard from you. I am so happy that this ministry is available through Insight for Living. God bless you and Jonathan and your family. Thank you for sharing. Margie

What a wonderful note…it’s time to celebrate! Your grand encouragement speaks to all people enduring hopeless challenges. The message titled “Unraveling the Mystery of Suffering” in the "Special Words for Special People" series was selected for this very reason…to encourage others in the midst of suffering. His words (II Corinthians 1: 3-4) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Thank you so much for sharing God’s faithfulness and goodness to you. As Parkinson’s remains, your daughter spreads her wings, may you be filled with God’s abiding strength and abundant peace.

Joyce: I spoke at Graceview several years ago for a women's ministry engagement. While there, I was given a tour of the special needs ministry department ... incredible! I often hear of families who have been hurt by a church...yours offers hope and healing. Way to go!!

Thank you for your special needs ministry. God gave me two children with special needs. Not something I ever expected. I had to change my attitude. It has been such a challenge but through my childrens eyes I see God's love. Every human being deserves to be loved and cared for. Because of my children I've become a better person and mother. Before their were tears now it has been replaced with hope and purpose. I have learned to trust God like never before. I thank you for your ministry. I'm excited to see what God is doing through your special needs ministry. Many will be blessed with your special calling. God bless you and your beautiful family. Grace H.

How in the world do you explain Asperger's Syndrome to the rest of the children.I have 5 ranging from 20 to 8.The child with ASD is 8 and has a twin sister.This has been a very hard issue to deal with as the ages are the same.If not enough I have 2 sets of twins.I am not complaining as each is a special gift,but now the 20 yr old is rebelling from God.So I have to deal with his fits of anger ,which does not help the ASD child who is plagued with anxiety which causes migraines for her.I have had to look him in the face and say OUT or STAY,if you stay the next time you throw something or verbally abuse, I will call the Law.He really got mad on a road trip and threw his laptop and hit 2 others in the head.I feel like my life is so messed up with all of this.And I feel like a failure as a Christian,let alone a Christian Mom

Dear Colleen, my heart was deeply touched with your story. My wife and I have had friends over the years with children that are specially wrapped. Currently we have been helping out with a family that has a child with downs. It started shortly after her birth and she is now 3 years old and we often have her in our home for 1 or 2 days a week and sometimes overnight to give the parents a break. We love it!! That does not mean there are not hard times but we do love it! We have learned so much from her and through her I can not thing of what life with be without her in our home.

As I heard your first interview with your dad I have been telling everyone I can about it and have purchased 2 sets of CDs. One we will keep and the second to share with others.

You are in our prayers along with the others in the Insight family.

Dear Colleen:
In the Serenity Prayer on the site you expressed, "that I may be reasonably happy in this life", which leads me to the need to know what should I hope for this life to offer as reasonably happy?
My disabilities are rather physical in nature though unapparent. People I meet assume I "should know" simply things like the question I'm asking. I don't. I'm sorry to say the life I've led never allowed me the same normal type of development others take for granted. Most special needs children know more and have received this information because of the kindness and love of good parents. I wasn't blessed that way.
My story is not about pity. I was chosen to lead a life by example, live the seemingly impossible to show what God can do.
I just need to ask questions in order to learn. If you know the answer to what I should expect out of this life in this prayer please, please tell me.
The Lord is all I've ever had and sometimes like today He helps me see what I need to learn.
In any case I am greatly touched by your words about your son and what he teaches you, your honor to be his mother and to learn from him the contrite heart God most desires for you. I am profoundly grateful for your choices of your father's sermons, they have really inspired me to think even more deeply about my life and how God moves in me.
Thank you for seeking as I the way of the Lord to find answers and share them with all of us. You are a gift to me, as is your father.
May God bless you greatly for the gift you and all the staff have been to me.

Dear Colleen, I am a special education teacher (25+ years now)I have been teaching children with autism over the past 10 years. I am a public school teacher, so having the luxury (I guess that would be the right word) of openly incorporating the Lord into my relationships of the parents of the children I work with is not always something that I feel I can do. I am so excited about all of the resources you are sharing and this blog site. I know that I should be bolder in sharing with the families I work with about the Lord, but it is not always an easy thing to do. I do not have any biological children with special needs, but my husband & I do have 5 children of our own, & I have a nephew with Downs. I know that working with special needs children & their families is my calling. I am so excited to see a Christian based web site dealing with Special Needs because there is so much stuff out there. I know I am rabbling I just want to thank you for your faithfulness in serving the Lord & following His calling to do the work you are doing. This will be a resource that I have already begun to share with some of my families & my collogues. The students I teach become as my own & I am very grateful to you for doing this. Sincerely Laura

To everyone: My hope is that you may be encouraged and filled with hope...please offer your thoughts. Grace and peace to you, Colleen

Colleen, I am the grandmother of two grandsons. While my daughter was visiting with her two sons, ages 2 and one half and 4 years old, I noticed signs of autism in the youngest. These signs did not appear until he was a little over two years of age. The prayers I have sent out are that they will realize what I saw, and also two other relatives noticed, will soon be seen by my daughter and her husband. They live in Alaska now,and I am in SC, and cannot see them for a while. When I asked my daughter if the doctor had said anything about autism, she said "No", so I dropped the subject. But since then I am not the only person who noticed what I did. I have been praying that they soon find out, one way or another about his condition. Please continue your this link to your father's website, it has been so very helpful, as has his. I listen to him each morning, along with Greg Laurie's and others. God be with you as you continue to be a blessing to all of us who need this help from God, through you.

To Colleen and all of those reading this blog,

Unfortunately, I do not know of a National network of care providers; however, I have recently become an Independent Provider with Carestar (State Medicaid) and MRDD (mentally retarded and developmentaly disabled) in Akron, Ohio. I am certified to provide transportatin, adult foster care, supported living and personal care, etc. I can also provide this type of home care (as self pay)on my own, under "Shepherd's Point", which is family owned and operated by my husband (a Deacon) and myself, if the individual is not eligible for state assistance. My CPR and first aide are current; I'vd had a background check and have excellent references. Most importantly, I see Jesus in the disguise of each and every 'special needs angel", and I am excited and eager to can provide individualized compassionate care with dignity and companionship for you and your loved one. If you know of anyone who might be in this area and praying for a compassionate caregiver, personal care aide or long term residential (non-medical) care for a loved one, please feel free to contact me through email.

My thoughts and prayers are with each and every special needs individual and their families.

God bless,

Janet: Where have you been all my life??? (smile) Often, care providers have proven to be untrustworthy, untrained, and best. Please let us know what you pursued for this position, what involvements were required, other state agencies that support this program, and various tips you would recommend. Such a wonderful addition to our blog discussion. Thanks so much! Colleen

Rosie: You are not alone in your anxieties. Often, parents are unable or unwilling to accept that their child may have challenges. No one can ever know the reasons why, but we are able to pray for God's direction and wisdom. I encourage you to research all you can related to your concerns: symptoms, sensory issues, local and national care groups, foundations, so on. Only our Lord can change one's heart; he often uses those who have personally pursued wisdom and instruction. Whether there is change regarding disability concerns, this has been placed in your life to bring all glory and honor to Jesus Christ our Lord. Keep us updated on any changes or progress. May God's comforting care guide you through life. Colleen

Dear Colleen, thanks once again for this ministry: I believe God used you to answer prayers. I have been reading daily devotions for a while and asI am getting more confident and able to have the access to the internet lately, I've begun to occasionly find or make the time to use this resourse. When you first began this page I was so pleased and yet typically I was shocked by such an opportunity to share. As I sat at the computer thanking God, all the 'dilemas' faded into oblivion as I wondered not just how to but what I would say to you. Its been a while now and since I have found myself sitting here trying to find clues or leads that may help to answer some of the needs that seem to drive me to distraction and desparate attempts to not only define problems but how to tackle them. Your messageabout naming the battle was just as overwhelming to me: I asked the Lord to tell me what it was and after a time of relaxing was able to read the message from Chuck and discovered the 'problem': enthusiasm. Not mine, because it fluctuates from absolutely incredible to absolutely nothing (ha ha). I have a teenage boy, the youngest of 4 who is in many ways like me, strong willed, fun-loving, sensitive and yet stubborn as. I try to fathom him but just when I think I can....and being a teenager , who could but God?

Finally got around to reading your blog again, suprised that no one had entered a comment since my last. I hope that what I've written previously was not too insensitive because I know that anyone reading this page is more than likely experiencing circumstances that I can't even imagine,at least that has been my experience. Iam encouraged by many things written here and my heart is changed by reading of other experiences of raising special needs children. There are many things I've learned that both challenge and exite me, among them: 1. that my child is a blessing from God 2. That God IS Sovereign- He chooses FOR us 3. That I can be going through such anguish and HIS grace IS Sufficient. Let me explain my recent dilema: As I was having trouble keeping my son from 'dropping out of school, I was searching for help as I was afraid for both him and me as to what his future might be with a recognition that God was not expecting me to be passive in the problem solving yet I have only as much 'control over my sons and my situation as God allows; so I kept praying and seeking and hoping and I am pleased to say that my son has attended a couple of days of school and a few part days since. I am still very concerned but thankful that the door to his education is not closed though I can't imagine where God will take us next. Persevering. The only thing is that I know that the smallest of acheivements can be overwhelmingly great in Gods plan (often hoping that others will see that too because the world seems to only honour GREAT acheivements) Seeing a child like mine master a certain skill that seems so ordinary gives me the most incredible feeling of joy and on the other end of the scale knowing that even being priveledge with that moment of glory, we could be starting all over again from 'scratch' as though it hadn't even been learnt and the methods we used to get to that place aren't always the ones that will work in the future! God indeed has Special Grace and He often does the unexpected; thats part of what seems so hard sometimes and yet in some of the most exhilerating attempts I have seen God do amazing things just by lifting His little finger. I've sometimes wondered what would happen if He lifted His whole hand and also thought many times "Please God can you stop hitting me! I just want an ordinary life." But do I? And who says whats ordinary anyway? I hope more that anything that the life I have lived so far is in some way an encouragement to others though it may be hard to see right now, one day I will see clearly and I know that I am coming forth as gold, God said. I hope thats true for my son and all of you readers as well.

Laura: It's awesome to hear that God is calling you to extend his blessing to families of kids with special needs. Like you, I find it's not necessarily easy to share one's faith at work absent a clear opening to do so.

Have you considered organizing some friends from your church to provide respite care to parents of the kids you and your colleagues serve in your classrooms? The divorce rate in families experiencing a significant disability is 80%, so the opportunity for parents to get a little time together knowing their child's needs and those of their siblings will be addressed for a few hours can be an incredible blessing. We're aware of more and more churches that are using respite care as an effective outreach strategy to reach families of kids with special needs. Of the churches our organization works with, somewhere between 25-40% of families that attend a church-based respite event will eventually attend a worship service at the church offering respite.

Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati is doing some tremendous things with respite as an outreach tool, including developing software for a website that will allow parents to access respite from networks of churches in their metropolitan area. Harmony Hensley is their pastor for disability services and outreach. Harmony does some training for us and has published resources for churches through Her E-mail is Another great resource for churches looking at respite is Nathaniel's Hope in Orlando. Their website is

If you're looking for other ideas to serve, feel free to contact us at Trust me, we'll think of something together.

Janet: What church are you associated with in Akron? There are some great things going on with special needs ministry in your area. Joni and Friends in Ohio is looking to revitalize their efforts in your area, and a number of churches, including both campuses of Akron Chapel, Faith Family Church in Jackson, and Johnson United Methodist in Norton have been training to better serve families with hidden disabilities. I'm sure they'd all be happy to hear about what you're doing.

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