Special needs parents experience 5 phases as they adjust to their new role and family dynamic. The phases are outlined in my book, Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special Needs Family. They mirror the journey Paul was on in Acts 27 as he sailed for Rome but found himself in unexpected situations. The first phase is recognizing Plan B. Phase 2 is recovering and rebuilding rhythms that work for your family.
Do you know what changed when we got James’s autism diagnosis? Everything.
- Our school plans
- The doctors we saw
- Having therapists over every day
- Diet changes and supplements
- Adding safety features to our home
- Relationships with family members and friends
- Our church even had to change, developing accommodations for James and launching a special-needs ministry so families like ours would be welcome.
These changes were hard to adjust to! Some families are still adjusting or readjusting—it happens when a family member has a long hospital stay, it happens when a parent is out of town for the weekend, it happens when there’s a pandemic and we’re under restrictions for months!
God cares about the details of our lives, about the routines in our families.
When we check in on Paul and his shipmates, they were trying to adjust to the new routines and rhythms too. And they weren’t doing a great job at it. In verses 21 and 33 Paul points out that they haven’t eaten and need to do so.
Families who are in this stage and adjusting may also need reminders to eat. They may need help meeting practical needs. They need self care, soul care, and care from others.
One of my favorite stories of Jesus comes after His resurrection when He makes breakfast for His disciples before He gives Peter the mission of feeding His sheep. He takes care of their physical needs before He expects them to take the next steps with Him.