How Autism Grew my Faith

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Quality of Life and Special Needs: Who gets to define Quality?

Quality of Life and Special Needs: Who gets to define Quality?

Who does Scripture say should defend the “special needs” parts of the body of Christ?

Every Life Matters

Rev. Stephanie C. Holmes, MA BCCC

Certified Autism Specialist


I try not to get preachy. I really do.  But when I hear stories about parents killing their special needs children or petitioning a court to allow them to starve a special needs child, I cannot hold my tongue.  I have had to lessen the amount of news I watch because I simply cannot bear the stories of how a parent or caregiver killed or attempted to kill a special needs child- usually an autistic child. But the story that has upset me the most is about a parent petitioning a court to starve their special needs child.  The court argued the child does not have “quality of life”, therefore the mother’s actions are loving and kind. ( This incident occurred in the UK, but as Americans we are naïve to think that this could not happen in the USA.    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

That story in the UK brings up a vital issue that needs to be examined in the light of our Christian faith. Who decides what life is important? Who decides what life is viable? Who decides what life has value and what life is not valuable? Are we all made in the image of God, or just some of us? In this country we are hearing about certain lives mattering- do all lives matter or just some?  Are we all created equal, or is that just a quote in a document? This debate is upon us here in the USA and how will we as Christian therapists and counselors stand on the matter? Google topics on parents killing or attempting to kill an autistic or special needs child and watch how quickly the search engine finds you countless articles such as these:

These articles represent but just a few of the stories that occurred in 2014. I am not sitting in judgment of the parents, but I want to raise awareness that there are challenges to rearing a special needs child and in most cases it will be a life long journey. In these cases it was the parent or caregiver making the decision that the child’s life would not have “quality” or worse that the child’s existence affected their (the parent or caregiver’s) “quality of life.”

What does Scripture say?

Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Malachi 2:10 – Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Isaiah 44:24 – Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I [am] the LORD that maketh all [things]; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

1 John 3:16 – Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.

Ephesians 4:5 – One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 12:13 – For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Ecclesiastes 11:5
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

Isaiah 44:24
“This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

Psalm 139:13-14

13For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;…

            The story in the UK shook me to the core.  Our family often engages in “worldview” discussions during dinner.  Topics include news stories or movies to get our children thinking about the implications of those events and the repercussions they may have.

Both of my children have been classified as special needs at some point in their life. My youngest had hearing loss and speech issues and was diagnosed at age 3 with PDDNOS and mild ADD.  Before her testing we were very concerned she was mentally challenged due to her inability to speak and respond. My oldest is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and mild OCD so I wanted to hear their response to the story.  My youngest said “What if someone would have made a decision about me when I was younger when I had my issues?”  This child now has no learning issues, still has mild ADD, and is in the gifted program at school. There was no way to know that would be her course in life at the age of 3. So this raises the question by what age should a viable person be able to contribute to society in order for them to have quality of life? She endured surgeries, treatment and therapy to help her get back on track developmentally. My oldest said, “Woah, who gets to decide what ‘contributing to society means’ and who would get to decide what special needs deem a person’s life as ‘not having quality’.” Good question. We already offer screenings in this country for Down’s syndrome and other issues.  Those results give women the option to terminate their pregnancy so they do not bring such a child into this world.              Another article that got me thinking on this subject was this quote: By 2025, half the children born in the United States will be diagnosed with autism, says Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. (

If indeed half of our children were diagnosed with ASD, that would be a huge increase of cost for care, education, unemployment, disability etc.  Who would be helping with that cost? Tax payers. Would there be an outcry that certain people are too costly to keep alive? It was not even a hundred years ago that Hitler’s decision to practice eugenics on a race of people AND a class of people occurred. We often forget that Hitler first experimented and eliminated German citizens with mental or physical disabilities. Those he felt should not “breed” or could not contribute to society.

That would never happen in this country? It already did, in the 1920s Margaret Sanger, of Planned Parenthood, founded the organization for the purpose of eliminating those who were deemed inferior. She had a very broad view of those considered inferior based on race, intelligence, and disability.

On blacks, immigrants and indigents:
“…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.”  Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, referring to immigrants and poor people

On sterilization & racial purification:
Sanger believed that, for the purpose of racial “purification,” couples should be rewarded who chose sterilization. Birth Control in America, The Career of Margaret Sanger, by David Kennedy, p. 117, quoting a 1923 Sanger speech.

On the right of married couples to bear children:
Couples should be required to submit applications to have a child, she wrote in her “Plan for Peace.” Birth Control Review, April 1932

On the purpose of birth control:
The purpose in promoting birth control was “to create a race of thoroughbreds,” she wrote in the Birth Control Review, Nov. 1921 (p. 2)

On the rights of the handicapped and mentally ill, and racial minorities:
“More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of birth control.” Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12

On the extermination of blacks:
“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon

On respecting the rights of the mentally ill:
In her “Plan for Peace,” Sanger outlined her strategy for eradication of those she deemed “feebleminded.” Among the steps included in her evil scheme were immigration restrictions; compulsory sterilization; segregation to a lifetime of farm work; etc. Birth Control Review, April 1932, p. 107


            Today we are not as ruthless as Sanger in the techniques to eliminate those deemed without “quality of life” or those “unable to contribute to society” but the use and practice of medicine and science can be used to keep them from being born.  I fear eventually those with disabilities, the chronically ill, either physically or mentally, or the elderly will be deemed simply too expensive to care for.

            Those without a voice on the issue need us to stand up on their behalf. We need to speak out. Every created life matters and is here on this earth for purpose. As I say in seminars there is no exclusion clause in  Jeremiah 29: 11 “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.”  Just because you can determine that plan doesn’t mean it is non-existent.

I am sure you have concluded that my opinion, based on my understanding of Scripture, is that every life is created in God’s image and there is no exclusion for race, gender, creed, sexuality, socioeconomic status, religion, abilities, disabilities, addiction, choice of sin or other reason here. Persons matter. We are ALL created in the Image of God.


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