Diagnosis, A Defining Moment

I remember the moment perfectly. I was a counselor and was at a Burger King with a client when I heard the news about the planes hitting the twin towers in New York.  The rest of that day, my role was to help my clients process their own fears as the news unfolded.  Coming alongside the student who had hidden under his desk and was scared to come out and checking in with the rest of my families to see how they were doing.

There was a unification in our country as we mourned with the families impacted and we wanted justice. There was a time when it was no longer taboo to talk about God and how He comes alongside us.

The pain has faded for many and except for a posters on 9/11 saying “We Will Remember”, life has returned to normal for those who were not directly impacted.


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 For those of us with a child impacted by disability, there is another date that is cemented in our minds. We each have our own twin towers moment. That moment when our world came crashing down. My twin towers moment began with Sarah telling me, “I think our son has autism.” The rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur to me as she walked me through why she thought Jordan was autistic but I do remember the emotions.

I remember being flooded with denial and thinking that she was over-reacting and must be wrong. I remember the fear of the unknown and what it would mean for his future. I remember the feelings of being overwhelmed and the sadness that came with wondering if Sarah was right.

 After Sarah shared this with me, I went into work the next morning and sat down in the office of a trusted colleague who had a grandson that was diagnosed with autism. When he asked how I was, the first words out of my mouth were, “Sarah thinks Jordan has autism.” We talked, he listened and I went back to work grieving and eventually building a new normal, and a new dream.

If you and I were to sit down together, I bet you could tell me exactly when your child was diagnosed, where you were and how you felt. You could tell me what life has been like since then and about the people who were there for you in the beginning and who it is that still comes alongside you.  

You may still get a sense of anxiety and panic as you are in situations that bring back those memories. You may still be in that place of grieving and asking God those hard questions. That’s okay. Someday, you will be able to dream a different dream too.

Healing will come but we will always remember.  

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

 Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

Written by Jonathan McGuire


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Jonathan McGuire  is  the father of two sons and the co-founder of Hope Anew, a nonprofit that comes alongside the parents of children impacted by disability on a spiritual and emotional level. You can follow Hope Anew on Facebook here.