Karen Jackson…A Personal Plea from an Autism Mom

2014-09-23 19.53.04If you know me, you probably do not see me often without a smile or busily engaged with my family, school or FIN ministry. I work hard to be a good wife and mom, to be productive at school and to help others and to bring support and awareness about living with disability to the people in my circle.

What you do not see is that I struggle, too, more than I would like to admit. Even though I have incredible support from my husband, from Christian friends who pray for me regularly, from my support group Living in Holland and even from an awesome counselor at times, I still struggle. The challenges that can present themselves via autism are sometimes overwhelming and I want to run to my room and hide-to just give up for a while. (And I share this because I have done this before!)

In light of the many devastating stories I have heard locally and nationally, I want to make a special plea to those who are friends with or know a parent raising a child with a disability. Do not ignore signs of depression, even mild ones. Take the time to ask the friend or acquaintance how they are really doing and engage in careful listening.

I admit that, when people ask me this question, I often give the standard “Everything’s great!” response, not really sharing that maybe I was up all night with my daughter or that I am very concerned about a certain behavior. But once in a while, a friend stops me, looks me in the eye and asks, “How are you really doing?” and I open up a bit. If they offer some help or prayer, I am so grateful because I know that this is God reaching out to me, His love and comfort wrapped in a friend’s concern.

And so I continue my plea…reach out to those caregivers who seem to have it together. Do not assume that all is well. Take a moment to offer an encouraging word or offer some support. You may make their day…you could also save their life.


Loving SamanthaKaren Jackson serves as Executive Director of the Faith Inclusion Network of Hampton Roads. Her book, Loving Samantha, is a collection of faith-filled stories of life experiences raising Samantha, a beautiful, 17-year-old who happens to have autism and is available at Amazon. She invites readers to contact her at faithinclusionnetwork@gmail.com.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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