Praying for My Neurodiverse Child

Marie Osborne

Marie Osborne
Updated Jul 27, 2023
Praying for My Neurodiverse Child

My biggest prayer for my neurodiverse child is that he will learn to pray. That as he grows, matures, struggles, and succeeds, he would turn to God and lean on him through prayer. And that I would, too. Today and always. 

One quiet Sunday morning, alone in the bathroom, I saw a line confirming my suspicion that I was indeed pregnant. One of the first things I did was pray: “Thank you, Jesus. Oh, thank you, Jesus. Take care of this baby growing inside me. And please, please, help me.” When I went to the doctor and waited to hear the heartbeat for the first time, I prayed. “Please, Lord. Please help me. Care for the child You are knitting together in my womb. Keep my baby safe. And please, please, help me.” 

Starting with Prayer

I prayed when he was born and held him in my arms for the first time. “Lord Jesus, please. Thank you for this beautiful child. Thank you for blessing us and trusting us with this life. Thank you for the joy, love, and awe I feel now. Take care of this precious child you have given me. And please, please, help me.” As he continued to grow, I prayed. Every month, I had new worries, concerns, and fears that I prayed through. With every milestone he achieved, I celebrated and thanked the Lord. I had no idea what I was doing, but my baby was healthy and happy. Our family was filled with joy and love, and peace. I was so incredibly thankful. So nervous and careful and concerned. It was all so new and hard and wonderful and difficult. So I prayed.

Forgetting to Pray

Then, at his 15-month checkup, his pediatrician noticed a delay. He wasn’t gesturing as much as she expected. I was shocked at her observation and immediately asked questions. How serious is this? What could it mean? Did I do something wrong? How can I help him? She assured me that these things often rectify themselves in time, but I could seek more assistance if I wanted to. I immediately jumped into gear, starting down the treacherous path of referrals, appointments, assessments, and therapies. 

I wish I could say, “Of course, I prayed,” but I didn’t. My doctor suspected some delay, and I got to work. Prayer came later. I researched and called and emailed, and scheduled. I made appointments, conversed, worried, researched, and read everything. I scoured the internet, social media, and the library for answers. This was part of my job now. This was part of my assignment as his mom, the assignment God had given me. Appointments, questions, conversations, reading, calling, emailing, scheduling, advocating, going, going. And sometimes, praying.

The Struggle to Pray

As the weeks, months, and years went by, I quickly learned my assignment wasn’t just administrative. It was physical, emotional, and very much spiritual. My child isn’t typical. My child is neurodivergent. My child processes behaves, thinks, learns, and communicates differently. I often feel like hosting a foreign exchange student in my home. I struggle to communicate with and understand him. He struggles to communicate with and understand me. Every day, I’m trying so hard to navigate this cross-cultural relationship and to make sure I do so while showing him how deeply loved and accepted he is, exactly the way God made him. It’s incredibly exhausting and far beyond my experience, ability, or capacity. 

I wish I could say, “Of course, I pray every day,” but I haven’t. Prayer has been something I have clung to, forgotten, and returned to over and over and over. There is always so much to do that I can easily fall into a pattern of pushing forward, plodding along, seeking, searching, and solving in my own power and strength. There are always many calls to make, books to read, and answers to seek. I feel like I have to keep going. And going and going and going. Working and working and working to find the right diagnosis, therapies, accommodations, and assistance for my precious boy. After a constant stream of appointments and disappointments, referrals, and rejections, my son and I cry alongside each other, yell at one another, and come to the end of ourselves together - sometimes daily. But I always end up remembering and longing for Jesus, desperate for His presence, strength, and help. I always come back to prayer. 

A Simple Prayer

I pray the same three basic things I have since the beginning: thank you, help him, and help me.

Thank you, Lord.
I am so incredibly thankful for this child. He is funny and curious, smart and silly, affectionate and passionate. He makes me laugh out loud. He warms my heart. He also challenges me, stretches me, and tests my patience. I have grown as his mom in ways I never thought possible. I’m different in knowing, loving, caring for, and struggling to understand him. I cannot imagine life without him, and am incredibly honored to be his mother. So, I thank God for him.

I also thank God for his neurodivergence. For the unique way, God created his brain. I thank God for his characteristics and traits and for the way he processes and communicates. I thank God for his “superpowers” and how they have blessed us and him. Even though having a neurodivergent child is incredibly hard, it is also a joy and honor, so I thank Him for it.

Help him, Lord.
I ask God to help him. Help him feel loved and known and accepted for who he is, just the way he is. I ask God to take care of him. I ask God to give him a purpose and a sense of belonging in our church family. I ask God to guide him and lead him and be near to him. To protect him and provide for him. I pray for God’s hand to be upon my neurodivergent child as he navigates this neurotypical world.

Help me, Lord.
I ask God to help me. Help me love him well. Give me wisdom in dealing with insurance, doctors, therapists, teachers, school administrators, and youth leaders. Help me to advocate for him and disciple him. Help me to provide a home filled with warmth and acceptance. Help me to know when to push forward and when to let go. Help me to trust You, not my own effort. Just help me. I need it.

The Need for Prayer

Ten years after that initial doctor’s appointment, where we started discussing a possible delay, I know how important prayer has been every step of the way. Prayer is more important than therapy, IEP, diet, or medication. Prayer has strengthened and sustained us all and will continue to do so. My biggest prayer for my neurodiverse child is that he will learn to pray. As he matures, struggles, and succeeds, he would turn to God and lean on him through prayer. And that I would, too. Today and always. The first thing, the best thing I can do for him is pray.

Photo Credit:©Getty Images/Martin Dimitrov