Coming to grips with a Mental Retardation & Autism diagnosis

Pastor Jimmy Bartz talks about coming to terms with his son's diagnosis of mental retardation and autism
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Coming to grips with a Mental Retardation & Autism diagnosis

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After I received the news that my child had an Autism and Mental Retardation diagnosis, it took some time for that to sink in. But I distinctly remember coming to grips with that as I was driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and I was talking to me older brother, who';s a physician on the cell phone as I was driving across the desert. When Jas was first conceived, and Cindy, my wife, was pregnant, I spent a lot of time as a priest in Texas engaging students who were dealing with their identity as gay or lesbian people and also their identity as Christians, as spiritual people, and finding that their families had some conflict around - is it okay for them to be Christian and okay for them to be gay? And I remember, I was having this conversation with my brother. And I told him, Reed, I just always thought that Jas my son would be gay. Because I remember, God, whatever kind of kid you want to give me. Just give me a kid. But in the back of my mind, I remember in my subconscious thinking God would give me a gay kid, and I would have a great opportunity to love that child for who he is. And I told my brother, I just didn't know that God was going to give me an Autistic and Mentally Retarded child. I thought he would give me a gay child. And there was sort of this pregnant pause on the line. And I was waiting. And my brother just eventually responded, you don't know that Jas isn't gay. I was like, yeah, that's right. I don't. So over time you just engage your kid for whoever he or she is. Whoever they are and whatever they are, all kids are different. And we as parents want to learn to love our kids for just who they are.

Pastor Jimmy Bartz talks about coming to terms with his son's diagnosis of mental retardation and autism

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Jimmy Bartz

Priest

Jimmy is the founder and convener of Thad’s—a spiritual community meeting on Sunday mornings in The Writer’s Bootcamp in Santa Monica. An ordained Episcopal priest, Jimmy has spent most of his professional life leading communities in the work of making a love-spreading difference in the world that surrounds them.

His recent work includes studying the relationship between the outdoors and positive, psycho-spiritual health. When not in the office, he can be found in the ocean or in the mountains, usually with his wife, Cindy, or his two children, Jas and Jade.

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