Parenting a Special Needs child over a decade

Pastor Jimmy Bartz discusses his experiences raising a special needs child
Special Needs Parenting Tips | Parenting a special needs child over a decade
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Parenting a Special Needs child over a decade

How has my experience with an autistic child changed from the day he was diagnosed at 18 months until half way through his 12th year today? Night and day is the experience. I mean there is the devastation that gets wrought with a challenging diagnosis like Autism Spectrum Disorder or Mental Retardation or Pervasive Developmental Disability. Yet over time in the day-to-day practices that we engage as parents of special needs children, we see a side of the world that a lot of the rest of culture doesn't get to see. My family and I regularly interact with an incredibly generous, compassionate constituency of people who have devoted their lives to engaging people who are challenged or disabled or who have special needs. And interacting with those people is the deepest privilege. In my own family experience, my child is 12 ½ years old and non-verbal. But I've seen how a human being can communicate without spoken language. Through touch and pictures and moving emotions. And it's made me such a more open, responsive, compassionate, empathetic person, by having to use my intuition and learn how to cultivate a relationship with someone who I couldn't rely on for the regular, every day tools that most of use to cultivate relationships with.

Pastor Jimmy Bartz discusses his experiences raising a special needs child


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Jimmy Bartz


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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