Dual Diagnosis

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This is a story of hope and grace.

It is the story of my son John who was diagnosed with autism when he was five years old. He was a beautiful child and high functioning which made it difficult to find where he would fit. With medication and various programs and special schooling, we seem to be doing all right, but at the same time I had the feeling that there was more and somehow he was not were he was supposed to be. Tears and prayers were my daily companion and the all familiar verse came to my mind constantly, that God had a plan for his life and a purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11)

As time went on and John reached his teen years, he developed mental illness as well. We were dealing now with paranoia schizophrenia as well as obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. Yet I could not let up on the prayer that God had a purpose for his life.

Last year we reached our lowest point. We had a new psychiatrist who saw John every two weeks. The doctor changed his medicine constantly and increased it to such a level that John was sleeping 16 hours a day. We saw him regress to the point where he could not get himself dressed or finish a sentence when he spoke. He could not go to school any more. We became very scared, but praise God we got another psychiatrist who cleared up the medication problems, and John was much better. Because of the complications of having to deal with dual diagnosis, we ended up on all kinds of waiting lists. After numerous meetings with no results, having hope became difficult. Nevertheless I would not give up on my prayer that God had a plan for John’s life. It kept us working on his behalf as a family. My prayer never changed, for I knew deep within my soul that God had his hand on John’s life.

Because of all the problems with the medication, John did not finish his program at school. The end of June 2008 was for him the end of his education, for he was 21 years of age, and there was nothing else waiting for him. September would come, and we were on waiting lists. Despite of all our efforts, we had nothing for him.

Here is where we saw God’s hand move mightily. We got a phone call in August that John was eligible for a three-month respite placement that would start in September. We could not have planned it better. John went and flourished there out in the country. His anxiety went down. His ability and motivation went up, and he became a different person. Halfway through the three months I got another phone call. There was a place for John outside of our region, where nothing was available. He was the first one ever to be placed in a different region.

Praise God for now he is in a place where he is learning and working in a program. He is happy and peaceful. We could never have timed all of this; it was God’s hand moving at the right time. God did have a plan for John’s life. We praise Him for never letting me give up on that. He helped me keep on believing that. He is in control even when things seem to be going in the wrong direction. It is his grace that brought this all about.

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